This page includes selected articles from the 1991 issues of Across the Fence.
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Diplomatic Pouch Mail
Covers bearing foreign postage stamps with U.S, postmarks present an unusual sight to many philatelists. Such covers were personal mail from diplomatic missions and embassies to the United States. The cover illustrated is personal mail from the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade Jugoslavia to the Herald Tribune newspaper in New York City. For some unknown reason, the New York Herald Tribune Belgrade office was typed out and the U.S. Embassy name was typed in. Authorization for sending this letter may have been required as evidenced by the "OK" and initials in the lower left cover corner.
The American embassy and mission staff members sent their personal mail franked with stamps of the country they were in and at that country's international airmail rate to United States.
The mail received no postmark abroad as it was not processed by a foreign postal service. The mail was carried in diplomatic pouches as air cargo then processed at the main Washington D.C. post office where it was postmarked. The handstamp " This article originally mailed in country indicated by postage" was frequently put on the covers. Some occasional diplomatic covers have been sent to other U.S. towns and postmarked there.
After July 2, 1964, the use of foreign postage on diplomatic pouch mail was left up to the ambassador or mission chief as he could now authorize U.S. postage stamps for such mail. Diplomatic pouch mail was classified as domestic U.S.mail on Oct. 1, 1966. Most personal mail from embassies in foreign countries now has A.P.O. (Army Post Office) or F.P.O. (Fleet Post Office) post-marks.
Further information can be gotten from an excellent work on the "U.S. Diplomatic Pouch Mail" by Col. Leonard H. Smith Jr., which appeared in the S.P.A.Journal. Vol. 30, No. 6, Feb., 1968, pp. 369-381.
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Latest update: June 12, 2005