This page includes Back Roads of Philately columns from the 2002 issues of Across the Fence Post.
January issue No column this issue
February issue No column this issue
_By Russell White, Wisconsin Postal History Society
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
The words "Gold Rush" bring to mind 1840s California, but there were others. The Yukon was the site of rushes in the 1890s and 1920s. Northern Quebec and Ontario were the sites of a rush in the 1920s,
Airmail service officially began in 1928 as Canada expanded its postal service network. There was, however, a precursor service begun in 1924 that had the flavor of an old-time serial cliffhanger. Weather often grounded flights and occasionally planes crashed.
Airplanes were the fastest way to get to the mining fields in Canada's north. Many supplies and some people came in this way. In 1924, the Canadian government began authorizing several private flying services to run a semi-official airmail service. Separate from the postal service, these pilots were authorized to carry mail for which they were allowed to charge a fee. Most early flight services charged 25-cent per letter and substantially more for packages and supplies. Each service created its own "stamps" to show payment for mail delivery.
Several services were based out of Haileybury, Ontario. The first service flying mail was the Laurentide Air Service Ltd., which flew from Haileybury to Rouyn and Angliers, Quebec. Laurentide created five different stamps, each a little different, between August and October 1924 (Figure 1). The service ran until late fall and then disappeared.
In 1925, a new service ran this route, Northern Air Service. The first mail ran on. May 18, but stamps for covers didn't appear until June 27. Heavy winter ended service in November.
In 1926, several services competed. One of the former Northern Air Service pilots, Jack V. Elliot, began operations on March 7, 1926. First flights were to Red Lake, Portage and Sioux Lookout, Ontario (Figure 2a).
Within two weeks, Elliot merged with Fairchild (another former Northern Air pilot), and by March 21, Elliot-Fairchild Air Service (Figure 2b) was serving Red Lake (Elliot's route) and Rouyn, Quebec (Fairchild's route) (Figure 2c). This continued until August, when Elliot crashed. Fairchild continued the rest of the season, serving Rouyn, Quebec and northern Ontario (Figure 2d).
In July 1926, the Patricia Airways and Exploration Co. Ltd. began competing on routes from its base in Sioux Lookout. Flights went to gold fields at Woman Lake, Pine Ridge, Red Lake, and Birch Lake in Ontario; and to Rouyn, Quebec. Flights also ran between Haileybury and Rouyn, directly competing with Elliot-Fairchild. Patricia discounted its initial 25-cent charge, attempting to gain business by undercutting Fairchild. The Patricia rate between Haileybury and Rouyn dropped to 10-cent, and between Sioux Lake and the Red Lake district it tried a 5-cent rate. Patricia created several values – 5-cent, 10-cent, 25-cent and 50-cent - and stamps for various routes.
A similarly named company was formed to run routes in 1928, but entirely different people ran it (Figure 3).
In 1927 and 1928, the Yukon beckoned and several airlines tried carrying mail there. By 1933, all services ended and merged into the official airmail service that began in 1928 running between cities, with many of the same airlines running contract routes for the government until World War II.
Canada's semi-official airmail service stamps are listed in Unitrade's Specialized Canada Catalogue as CL1-CL52. Covers exist, but are now fairly scarce.
March issue No column this issue
Newspaper Stamps or Not?
By Russell White, Wisconsin Postal History Society
The U.S. postal system was not founded primarily to move letters. Many people did not write and costs were high. The primary items in the system were government documents and newspapers. Newspapers were considered important for an informed electorate and were granted a concessionary (reduced) rate. The United States was but one country that considered newspapers important to mail service. Newspaper stamps were used in the United States during the 1870s but fell out of favor after only a few years of use.
Austria has a longer history of newspaper stamps. Austria created them in 1851, just six months after its first postage stamps, and continued on with newspaper stamps until 1924. As an empire of considerable size, Austria also created stamps for a number of its territories.
One such territory was Bosnia and Herzegovina. Famous as the spot that sparked World War I, or more recently the site of the 1984 Olympics (and subsequently another conflict), Sarajevo is the capital city. Originally part of the Ottoman Empire, Bosnia became increasingly under Austrian influence. Between 1879 and 1908, mail was handled as part of the Austro-Hungarian field post system.
The first stamps were created for Bosnia in 1879 but they had no name on them, only a coat of arms. Purportedly, this was done to mollify the Turks. In 1908, Austria virtually annexed Bosnia and the postal system became its own extension of the Austrian system, using its own stamps.
On October 15, 1913, Bosnia issued its only newspaper stamps (Scott P1-P4, Figure 1). This imperforate typo graphed set continued to be used until October 28, 1918. Several shades exist.
After World War I, much of Europe was a shambles. Governments rose and fell. Services were chaotic at best. In theory, Yugoslavia was formed by the League of Nations in November 1918, comprised of six provinces: Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Carinthia, and Macedonia. Carinthia was split in 1920 after a plebiscite vote, with much of it returning to Austria.
Prior to that time, each province created and ran its own postal service with varying levels of service. The Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities created new postage stamps by using existing supplies, including the newspaper stamps. Perforated 11 1/2, these stamps were issued in December 1918 for "regular" postage, not newspapers (Scott 1L17 - 1L20, Figure 2).
Two imperforate stamps were created in January 1919 by overprinting "3" on the 2-heller stamps and "5" on the 6-heller stamp, with two black blocks obliterating the old value (Scott 1L21 and 1L22, Figure 3).
All regional stamps were replaced by national Yugoslavian issues in 1921
May/June issue No column this issue
July/August issue No column this issue
September issue No column this issue
More From the Back of the Book, Eh?
By Russell White. Wisconsin Postal History Society
Sometimes "back of the book" refers to postal stationery. If your interest is United States postal stationery, you simply look to Scott's or a similar catalog.
It gets a bit difficult if your interest is outside the United States. There are numerous options, no one of which meets everyone's needs. For some countries, there is a local catalog. As an example, Michel has multiple catalogs for various aspects of German postal stationery, and these catalogs are in German.
For some countries, there are no catalogs, but there is still Higgins & Gage, a large multivolume set of information about postal stationery on a worldwide basis. If you collect multiple areas, you may be able to justify the hefty price tag for this fine reference.
Some specialty societies also publish reference materials. As an example, the Eire Philatelic Association and Germany's FAI (an Irish philately organization) regularly publish updates to references on Irish postal stationery.
For some countries, there are both societies and one or more catalogs. For Canada, for instance, there is a general society, a specialized society, and no less than two catalogs. The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada is a general philatelic society that produces the bimonthly general interest magazine, Canadian Philatelist. The British North American Philatelic Society publishes their specialized quarterly magazine. BNA Topics, which has spawned many specialized books based on their detailed articles covering a wide variety of Canadian topics.
The catalogs are the Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps, and Webb's Postal Stationery Catalogue of Canada and Newfoundland The Unitrade catalog began as Scott's Canadian specialized catalog, which Unitrade has continued since the first couple of issues It uses the familiar Scott numbering prefixes of U for envelopes and UX for postal cards, etc. There is considerable information in the Unitrade catalog, which includes postage stamps as well. The catalog is updated annually.
The Webb catalog is updated every few years and is a more specialized catalog that uses its own numbering system. The detail in the 8th edition is phenomenal.
If you are new to the field, 1'd recommend starting with a copy of the Unitrade catalog and see if it meets your needs. If you collect Canadian stamps, you may already have one.
Illustrated here are Unitrade UX 16, UX37 and UX109. •
Must Topicals be Stamps?
BY Russell White Wisconsin Postal History Society
Recently an acquaintance was bemoaning the lack of a few stamps he needed to finish a thematic exhibit. Those who pursue traditional philately often have the same complaint; they need one expensive (or hard-to-find) stamp. We all live to learn and dream of when we might find that elusive second British Guiana 1854 1-cent issue or that scarce Presidential usage on a cover to Ghana.
In 1987, I ventured into postal history as a new area. Laid off at the time, I was looking for something where I could learn, collect material that was not too expensive (well, there are expensive covers, but I would need a lot of the common material long before 1 ever got to anything scarce) and, perhaps most importantly, have some fun. As a resident of New Hampshire, I started there. When I moved to Wisconsin, I joined tile Wisconsin Postal History Society. As somewhat of a neophyte to the field, there was once again much to learn.
While talking to my friend, I was reminded of advertising covers. Although they were once relatively inexpensive, today some command lofty prices. Shown here are a couple of inexpensive items from my collection. Both were acquired for other reasons but surely both could fit into an agricultural or horticultural theme.
Although many covers are not expensive, knowledge is important. One cover shows the Iowa Territory Centennial issue and is addressed to a nursery in New York. Franking on the other cover pays the registration and postage rate to a farm-related magazine. Registered covers in the era of Washington-Franklin head postage use often had money enclosed for some type of payment. This cover is from May 1915 and likely contained the subscription fee, or was an order for something from the services department.
With a few more covers, I'd be on my way with a thematic exhibit that shows knowledge of both topic and postal usage. If desired, stamps could be used to augment it, but I suspect that there are literally hundreds of covers alone that could extend this to a large exhibit.
Oh, and if I were really lucky, I'd find a samples envelope with the 1-cent paid fourth class letter rate from a nursery in the 1870s. Well, I said we can all dream'
December issue No column this issue
Latest update: June 14, 2005