Today in Postal History



France to England
July 30, 1920

This early airmail special delivery (express) cover was sent from Paris to London.
The cover has 5 CDS from the post office at Rue du Fauberg, St. Denis, Paris 26.
It was marked with a script Par Avion as well as a red Par Avion etiquette.

There are two handstamps concerning the special delivery service.
The black oval EXPRESS is, I believe, from Paris.
The boxed purple EXPRESS FEE PAID 3D was from London.**

It was backstamped on its arrival with a London E.C. 17 H handstamp dated 31 JY 20.

Three of the stamps are from the 1900-29 issue showing Liberty and Peace.
They are: 50c.  bister brown and lavender, 1Fr.  claret and olive green,
and 5Fr. dark blue and buff (Scott 123, 125, and 130).
To complete the franking there is a 5c. green Ceres from 1906 (Scott 159).

The total rate of 6Fr. and 55c. included the 3d. for the Express Fee in London.
The rate was made up as follows: 20c. for regular postage for 20 g.
plus 30c. for the express service, plus a double rate for the airmail at 3Fr. per 20g.**
I'm not sure why the regular postage was for 20g. while the airmail rate was for 40g.
At 3Fr. per 20 g., one can see why the first 20c. was not too consequential.
The overweight may also help explain the wrinkled condition of the cover.

Airmail service between London and Paris was begun by
Aircraft Transport and Travel, Ltd. (A.T.&T.) on August 25, 1919.
This was the first regularly (daily) scheduled
international commercial airline flight anywhere in the world.
The pilot was Lieutenant E. H. Lawford.
He flew from Hounslow Airdrome to Le Bourget in 2½ hours.
He had one passenger, a small load of newspapers, leather, grouse, and Devonshire cream.*

There were other carriers.
By early 1920 at least Compagnie General Transaerienne was providing a competitive service.
I cannot tell which company carried this cover.

*AIR MAIL an illustrated history 1793-1981, Donald B. Holmes, Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1981.
**Thanks to Dave P. for correcting my reading of the boxed Express Fee marking.

Thanks, too, to Paul Barsdell for the rate information.

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