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Stamp News    August  2007

                              Philately of Epic Proportions 

Paris to Sydney in the Golden Age of Airmail

                                                     Figure 1

Featured this issue are two 'Epic' items for the price of one. Actually only Figure 1 rightly qualifies. The mission of this column is to feature the highest denominated franking from a given country, sent by air (wholly or partially) to Australasia. Two distinct time periods are monitored; prior to the end of World War II and post-war.

Figure 1 is the highest franked item from France in the first time zone so far recorded. This 22 Jul 1938 article from Paris to Sydney is franked at 425F 75, which is high indeed. The 1st weight step for airmail to Australia at this time was 6F 25, and the 2nd weight step was 10F 75. I don't have access to Official postage rates beyond those levels (sadly, my ordered Tables of French Postal Rates 1849-2005 had not arrived by the time I needed to submit copy), but assuming that the 'gap' between each weight step cost 4F 50, this article is a 90 times airmail rate, approximately!

The airmail rate in the opposite direction, from Australia to France, in 1938 was 1/9d for the first ½oz., and 1/8d per additional ½oz. Therefore, a 90 times rate, say, would have involved approximately £7.5.0d if the same article had been sent from Australia to France. Such a franking could have included no less than three £2 Kangaroos. Tantalising.

Figure 2, although at 164F 75 well below the record franking, is 'along for the ride' as a particularly attractive franking, including as it does three example of the famous 50F 'Banknote' stamp. Another 1938 article from Paris to Sydney, to a France specialist such a franking is closely akin to what having an item with three 5/- Sydney Harbour Bridge is to an Australia specialist. And wouldn't such an item be a treat.

I will be delighted to receive from readers images of highly franked postal articles from any country to Australasia by air. The number of stamps on an article is not necessarily what we're looking for, but rather the aggregate denominated franking. The presence of highest then current denominations, such as in Figures 1 and 2 is always particularly desirable. Who doesn't like the wow factor!

                                                       Figure 2