Today in Postal History

British East Africa to Austria

May 31, 1894

This postal card was sent from Lamu.
Lamu is on an island about 250 km northeast of Mombassa
on Africa's Indian Ocean coast in present day Kenya.
Lamu was even served by a German Post Office at one time.

The coastal area here was under the protection of the Zanzibar sultans.
The first European settlement was by a few missionaries in 1844.
The Imperial British East Africa Company began operations
in 1888 under a concession from the sultan.
Their administration included operating a mail system.
Note the name on this postcard.
The company faced bankruptcy in 1895.
The British government proclaimed a protectorate on June 30, 1895.
(Here's an interesting page on British East Africa.)

This postal card was cancelled with a single squared circle for Lamu.
The routing to its destination in Vienna first took it
500 km south to Zanzibar where it arrived on June 3.
There it would have been put aboard a steamer
with a Royal Mail contract to its next port, Aden.
It arrived in Aden on June 11.

How it got the remainder of the way to Vienna is not revealed
by postal markings although, after it passed through the Suez canal,
I think it probably entered Europe at Brindisi, Italy.
That would have been an appropriate entry point for mail addressed to Austria.
That would also have been consistent with its arrival there on June 24.
I think that a voyage through the Mediterranean and
on to an English port for subsequent transit to the
continent would have taken longer than 13 days.


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