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Stamp News    March 2009

                              Philately of Epic Proportions 

From sunny Carribbean to sunny Sydney

The British West Indies haven't visited us in this column, in our quest for the highest franked commercial airmail articles to Australasia. B.W.I. is another of those regions from which only small mails to Australasia emanate. Generally one encounters little more than base airmail rate covers, or the odd postcard from tourists. That all changes this month, with the featuring of an unusually highly franked cover, from Bermuda. My thanks to Torsten Weller, who is gifted in unearthing exciting covers, such as this.

Here we have a registered airmail cover, serviced at Hamilton, Bermuda, on 8th December 1945. Endorsed "Via AIR MAIL/all the way", it would have been carried by the Pan American Clipper service, which had resumed following the conclusion of WWII. The bombing of Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941 had brought about an abrupt end to the transpacific Clipper mail services. Backstampings indicate it reached San Francisco on the 10th, Honolulu 12th, and Sydney 21st.

The postage rate of 14/6d was for the 4/9d ½oz. airmail rate x3 = 14/3d + 3d registration fee = 14/9d. This is far and away the highest franking I've recorded for a postal article Bermuda-Australia, in this period. It's particularly pleasing that the franking composition includes handsome key type high values of KGVI, the 10/- (catalogue £65 used) being a scarce stamp on commercial cover.

Incidentally, a perusal of this series' listing in the Stanley Gibbons "British Empire" catalogue suggests specialists need not be faint of heart. With so many printings, and expensive listed varieties (some £6000 each) for every printing, specialists do need to be well-heeled. This series is a contender for my Philatelic Masochists' Choice award. Please keep sending me scans of highly franked (ie high aggregate franking) articles from any overseas country to Australasia, for any era.

Rod Perry's other column, Woodchip-free Zone, appears in Stamp News. Rod invites owners of highly franked covers of the world to send scans of their items to him at rap@rap.com.au.