Today in Postal History


Great Britain to Denmark
February 22, 1971

British postal workers went on strike January 19, 1971.
Shortly thereafter, Parliament suspended the government monopoly on mail handling.
The objective was to provide a legal foundation for alternate carriers.
Private alternate carriers sprung up all over.
Stamp dealers were among those who started delivery services.
Of course, mail from abroad was embargoed because
there was no provision for handling it when it arrived.

The strike ended in early March.
The United States embargo was lifted March 8 and
registered mail bound for Great Britain was accepted the following day.

As a result of the many private carriers that popped up, collectors
scrambled to gather as many examples as possible of the the private posts.

I cannot identify the source of this particular item;
however, Special Courier Mail provided service to a number of countries.
The 'stamp' used was a one-color replica of the British flag on the left,
a one-color replica of the flag of the destination country on the right,
and this legend between:



The replica flags also have a legend on them.
The British flag has
JAN. FEB. 1971
The Danish flag has a similar legend:
JAN. FEB. 1971

The 'stamp' was tied with a rectangular boxed handstamp with the following:
Authorised by Ministry
Post and Telecom.  27171 2271
                                        Feb 1971
Special Courier Mail

The mailing date was placed in the open space by a separate datestamp.
The 27171 was a reference to the order which authorized these carriers.
I don't know what the 2271 meant although it sounds like a date.

After the courier arrived at the destination country,
in this case in Copenhagen, the mail was placed in the mail for delivery.
I do not know whether the stamp for the destination postage was applied
before leaving Great Britain or on arrival in the destination country.
This cover was franked with a 1967 60o commemorative marking the
150th anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Sonne (Scott 445).
This was the current domestic rate in Denmark.*

The use of an out-of-date stamp suggests that this courier service may have been
the work of a stamp dealer and that the stamp came from stock.
Bridger and Kay, Ltd., stamp dealers on the Strand, prepared some 'stamps' like this example.
The stamp was cancelled on arrival in Denmark with one of two Copenhagen airport CDS.*

From Copenhagen, the cover proceeded to Lyngby (Kongens Lyngby)
about 10 km north northwest of Copenhagen.*

In addition to private carriers operating internally and
carrying mail abroad, there were also some inbound services.

I am sure there is a lot more to tell about the postal history
of the private carriers which sprang up during this strike.
I'd appreciate any additions or corrections to this page.

*Thanks to Knud-Erik Andersen for his help in the rate,
the airport cancel, and in locating Kongen Lyngby.


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