Today in Postal History


Belgium to China
March 2, 1938

This registered airmail cover originated in Brussels.

The sender designated routing  via Marseilles, France, and
Hanoi, French Indo-China, to its destination in Kunming.
The sender used an airmail etiquette in French and Flemish
(not surprising as those are the languages of Belgium).

Registration was noted by the preprinted label.
Note the serial number with the 1 in black denoting
the Brussels staion and the red 709 for the serial number.*

There is also a bold black IMPRIMÉ indicating that the contents were printed matter.
This probably provided a rate advantage.

The cover received four Brussels CDS including the one on the back.

The cover was addressed to Monsieur Félix Maniot at
Poste Restante (General Delivery) in Kunming, Yunnan Fou.
Kunming is in southern China nearly 600 km northwest of Hanoi.
There is a receiver CDS on the front indicating
arrival in KUNMING | YUNNAN FU on March 13.

At the time, China was in the midst of the Sino-Japanese War.
I have not researched what the situation was in Kunming at the time.
Later Kunming was the Chinese terminus for supplies flowing in from Burma.
Kunming was also home base for the FlyingTigers, American
volunteers flying Curtiss P40s in support of the Chinese.

Apparently, the cover languished in poste restante.
On April 26 the sender's instruction on the rear was honored.
The instruction was "If not delivered in 5 days, please return to:"
followed by a stamped return address.
The return address was in Eghezée which is nearly
50 km southeast of Brussels near the Meuse river.

It was at this time that the the back received a Kunming CDS and the return
instructions in Chinese were pasted on the back with another Kunming CDS.
There is also an April 28 transit mark from Hanoi on the back.

There is also a faint indication that a large rimmed postmark
of some sort went on before the return instructions were added.

The cover is franked with two 1930 5 franc brown lake
showing a Fokker VII over Brussels (Scott C4).
There is also a 1935 10c olive bister coat of arms (Scott 267).

While clearly philatelic in intent, the cover is quite interesting
in showing the means for adding Chinese instructions.

*Thanks to Knud-Erik Andersen for correcting
my interpretation of the 1 in the registry label.


Today in Postal History
January February March April May June
July August September October November December

Pastnotes Index - The First 300 and the Next 208
provides more tidbits about stamps and collectors.

Comments? Send me an e-mail
Please include a reference to this item.