Today in Postal History

Kenya and Uganda to Germany
March 8, 1931

This air mail cover provided some interesting surprises while it was being analyzed.

The cover was sent from Mombasa, Kenya, as can be seen on the double rim CDS.
It was franked with two stamps from the George V series of 1922 to 1927.
There is a 20c bright orange (SG 83a) and a 50c grey (SG 85).
(This is the only series of stamps issued for Kenya and Uganda after it
became a Crown Colony in 1920 and before it was joined with Tanganyika in 1933 to make KUT.
There are 29 stamps in the series with denominations
running from 1c - 100c equaled 1 East Africa shilling - to £100!
The £100 has an astronomical catalog value.
The whole mint set is valued at over £150,000 by Gibbons.)

What is most interesting about this cover is the story behind the address and the forwarding.
The addressee was Herrn Kapitan Zelle of the harbor steamer Tanganjika.* **
The sender sent the message in care of the Hamburg Amerika Linie
in Hamburg in the belief that was where the Kapitan could be found.

The cover was forwarded to Woermann [Line] which was another shipping line.

Now, the question is, did the letter get transferred from Woerman to the Deutsche Ost-Afrika-Linie
which had the ship built in 1922 and operated it until 1935 or had

Herrn Kapitan Zelle gone on to work for the Woerman Line
and was no longer associated with the Tanganjika?
Unfortunately, I don't have the answer.

It is even more interesting when the rest of the history of the Tanganjika is reviewed.

She was sold to the Hamburg Amerika Linie in 1935
Further, in the middle of 1936, she was transferred to the Woermann Line!
This cover seems to foretell the future five years ahead!

*Just a bit more about the Tanganjika:
She was built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, in 1922 for the German East Africa Line.
She was a 8,540 gross ton ship, length 449.1ft x beam 58.3ft,
one funnel, two masts, single screw and a speed of 14 knots.
She could carry 449 passengers and had a crew of 154.
Used by German East Africa Line from 1922 to 1935,
she was then acquired by Hamburg America Line
and on June 30, 1936, transferred to Woermann Line of Hamburg.
From 1939 she was used as a depot ship at Wilhelmshaven and
on November 4, 1943, was sunk by bombs.
In August 1947 she was raised and broken up at Dover.
[Merchant Fleets by Duncan Haws, vol.4, Hamburg America Line] 

**Thanks to Knud-Erik for helping me understand the Kapitan's name.

Index

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.