Although it was a disappointing attendance of seven at the Bournemouth day meeting on 8th September did not detract from some excellent displays:

Anglo-French mail (1830-70)’, which included small POs including Rural Box, ‘OR’ covers and ‘BM’ rural carrier’s mail, bureau de distribution cursives, plus UK small sub-office and receiving house mail.

Marianne de Beaujard’ followed by other Marianne issues, all beautifully presented.

A fascinating and unusual ‘time-line’ display of French definitives used to pay the letter rate.

Unusual ‘Sabine’ material.

‘Cross-Channel Rail Mail’ and ‘The French Ambulance’.



French Colonial Aviation 1925-1955: Seven members attended the meeting. The first part of the display opened with two frames of maps and colonial stamps to assist us in the location and identification of the colonies and outposts of the French colonial empire.

The speaker proceeded with a brief history of Pierre-Georges Latécoère’s pioneering aviation company from its creation in 1918 as the Lignes aériennes Latécoère and through its rebranding as the Compagnie générale d’entreprises aéronautiques (CGEA) and the Compagnie générale aéropostale until it was dissolved and merged with other aviation companies to form Air France in 1933. Members were then shown material relating to flights to and within South America including 1925 proving flights from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires and from Pernambuco to Rio and Columbian covers from Paris bearing the Columbian Air Transport Service issues overprinted ‘F’ for France. Also shown was a 1931 cover from Venezuela to Trinidad and a crash mail cover from a 1932 flight from Saigon to Beyrouth. The next two frames were mostly devoted to mail flown out of Guadeloupe between 1935 and 1939 including internal mail and foreign destinations such as Dutch Guiana and the USA. The frankings were varied and colourful and accompanied by illustrations of the flying boats of the period such as the Latécoère ‘Lieutenant de Vaisseau - Paris’ and the Air France ‘Saigon’.

The second part of the display began with examples of Zeppelin covers to Buenos Aires with French acceptance. These included a 1932 cover franked with a splendid pair of the 1926 5F + 1F Orphelins and a 1934 cover franked with a 10F Merson used alone, a prized cover for the ‘seul sur lettre’ enthusiasts. The speaker returned to the French West Indies with a range of covers from Martinique and Guadeloupe between 1937 and 1955 and from the opposite side of the world we saw covers flown between New Caledonia, New Hebrides and Tahiti. The remainder of the second display was devoted to first flights, from 1948 onwards, to and from France by a variety of piston-engine aircraft.

The star of the third and final part was a 1936 ‘Hindenberg’ Zeppelin cover from Orange, France, to St Pierre-et-Miquelon via Marseille, Berlin, Frankfurt, Lakehurst (NY) and Canada, also shown was a cross section of flight covers via various airlines to French colonies especially those in Asia. The display closed with a magnificent array of mint airmail etiquettes in multiples, rarely seen, from colonies including Madagascar, Morocco, French Somali Coast, Senegal, Syria and French Sudan.

After a fine lunch, members reassembled for the afternoon session devoted to members’ displays.

First came a miscellany of Paris related items which started with examples of postcards printed by the Bénédictine Company for the 1900 Paris Exhibition. The exquisite detail and fine engraving were much admired. Then followed a selection of provisional ‘jour de l’an’ cancellations including examples of an office number, PP, anchor, lozenge and Paris star strikes and a fine dumb cds. An exceptional item was a cover cancelled by the rare Paris Seine Bureau N°21 oval strike. An explanation was given on the economic turmoil after the French Revolution and the creation of paper ‘assignats’ as currency. By 1796, hyperinflation had made the assignat worthless and only hard currency was accepted by the postal service. A cover from that year illustrated such a cash transaction with the red cachet en numéraire. The speaker closed his display with a selection of Napoleonic Wars material (Figure 1) followed by Paris Paid transit marks including a Phrygian bonnet, PPPP (Port Payé en Passe Paris) and the inscrutable PSPS (Port Payé jusqu’à Paris).

To close the afternoon several frames of Coat-of-Arms combining dated corner blocks and covers illustrating their postal usage

J282 p146

(Figure 1) A paid letter dated Hanover 23 Germinal an 13 (13 April 1805) addressed to Paris and with two hand stamps of Napoleon’s army in Hanover: BAU GL ARM D’HANOVRE in red and BAU GL PORT PAYÉ ARM D’HANOVRE in black. On arrival in Paris on 30 Germinal an 13 it has received a paid arrival stamp – P.P. in a rectangle; postage of 7 décimes was prepaid.



The Northern Group meeting at Adlington, Cheshire attracted an attendance of ten people who were treated to an exceptional display on the Franco-Prussian War divided into four distinct sections. It encompassed the War itself, the Siege of Paris and the Armistice, the aftermath of the Siege and finally the War and the German occupation of Northern France 1870-72. The display contained some real gems covering virtually every aspect of this fascinating period of French history and postal history. Other displays were Anglo-French mail, items on the Mont Cenis Railway and material from Italy under Napoléon (1796-1814).



The autumn meeting of the Wessex Group took place at Harnham, Salisbury on 8 October. The invited display was ‘Aspects of Type Sage – a series of projects in progress’. The object was to consider in more detail everyday use of the operations of different categories of post offices, in this case, the bureaux and recettes auxiliaires, the workings of the rural posts, post boxes, mail handed directly to postmen, moveable boxes and relationships with the railway system.

Another case study was that of the background to the financial services offered by the post office under the heading of the articles d’argent and the various uses noted with this particular handstamp. The avis de réception of registered and insured mail was also considered with the different methods used following changes in the UPU arrangements. Another subject was the avis de réception of goods received at railway stations with the different forms used by the various rail companies and those relating to the postal parcels with their particular forms and stationery. The display finished with a short cameo of the Type Sage and the Boer war, correspondence to South Africa and then to prisoners on St Helena and Ceylon together with patriotic cards and support for Kruger. In the afternoon a variety of short displays was shown.

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