Today in Postal History



Samoa to Switzerland
June 5, 1916

Samoa is a group of 14 islands about 1400 miles northeast of New Zealand.
After considerable contention in the 19th century,
an agreement was signed in 1900 under which Germany gained control
of the western Islands and the United States gained control of the eastern islands.

This registered cover was sent from Apia on the western island of Upolu.
Apia was the principal city in German Samoa.

On August 29, 1914, after the start of World War I, the German authorities
in Samoa surrendered to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
The New Zealand military administration remained until 1920.

The first stamps were confiscated German stamps demonitized and overprinted with sterling values.
These stamps were overprinted by the newspaper in Apia and put into use on September 3, 1914.

By the 29th of September, New Zealand issues overprinted SAMOA were issued.
This cover is franked with both a 1d. carmine with black overprint
and a 2d. mauve with red overprint (SG 116 and 117).

 The sender requested registered service and the cover was marked in red script R | apia | 255.
The cover also received the obligatory pencilled blue cross on both sides.

The cover was also censored in Apia.
Since there are no seals indicated, the letter was probably brought
to the post office unsealed where it was censored and then sealed.

The cover was addressed to St. Gallen.
St. Gallen is about 10 km southwest of the southwest corner
of Lake Constance at the eastern end of Switzerland.

The route taken is shown by the transit stamps.
The first stop was Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on June 30.
Next it proceeded to Montreal where it arrived July 5.
From Montreal it proceeded across the Atlantic and arrived in St. Gallen on July 22.
All in all, this appears to me to be a pretty good transit time
considering the wartime difficulties in North Atlantic shipping.

The 'paddle' stamp with 598 was not applied in Samoa.
It was likely that it was applied somewhere along the way to Switzerland.
I have had a correspondence with Nigel Sawyer of  the UK who suggests that it was applied in France.
He is a Samoa specialist and is convinced that the paddle is not a Samoan marking.
His suggestion of France is based on the similar paddle stamp with 541
shown on a cover from Samoa to the Netherlands
which could have been routed through France as would this cover to Switzerland.

A second question arises as to the function of the numbered paddle mark.
Was it a registry mark applied to identify transit items in the country which applied it?

Can someone extend my understanding of this paddle marking, please?

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