The Thirty-cent Prexie

Airmail to Europe

Airmail postage to Europe was thirty cents per half ounce from April 28, 1939 until November 1, 1946.

Airmail to Italy that made it through about three months before war was declared.

And airmail to Germany that got through in November of 1941, with a "BUY DEFENSE SAVINGS BONDS and STAMPS" cancel, at that.

This cover, mailed December 2, 1941, did not make it to Germany before the outbreak of war. It was not back in New York until July 26, 1942. Note the "pointing hand" handstamp, "Return to sender, service suspended."

This cover was sent to an American internee in Switzerland on September 15, 1944. The special airmail rate of six cents to prisoners of war or detainees appears to have only applied to those held in enemy-controlled countries, and Switzerland was neutral. The cover bears the note "Escaped" which probably explains why it was returned to sender. A postmark on the back indicates it was in New York on March 17, 1945.

Domestic mail from prisoners of war and civilian detainees held in the United States was free beginning November 6, 1942, but foreign airmail postage had to be paid at the full rate. Much of such mail that has survived shows signs of chemicals used to detect "invisible" writing, such as this cover mailed home by a German Doctor in March of 1945.

This cover appears to be from a Czech soldier attached to a British army unit using an APO to mail a letter from France to the Czech Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland in June of 1945. The APO number is virtually unreadable, so origin in France is a best guess. APO's used the same postage rates as the U.S. mainland for airmail to foreign countries.

A cover mailed to the Prisioner of War Office of the Red Cross in Geneva in November of 1945.

This cover was mailed from Meeks Air Base in Keflavik, Iceland to Denmark, almost certainly in June of 1946.

A cover that was mailed from an APO address in Hawaii to Switzerland in 1945. This was still during the period when normal airmail from Hawaii to Europe required airmail postage to the mainland plus to Europe, or forty-five cents, but as this letter was sent from an APO address it was treated as if mailed from the mainland.

Post cards did not get their own foreign airmail rates until June 1, 1954. This Christmas postcard was sent to Germany via airmail in December of 1941. The civil censorship marking "EXAMINED BY 6373" would indicate that it was mailed after war was declared, but the exact date is unreadable. It was returned to New York on March 30, 1942, and the penciled address indicates that the senders were tracked down so it could be given back.

Airmail postcards sent by prisoners of war also cost thirty cents, such as this one sent by a German lieutenant being held in Trinidad, Colorado to his daughter on Valentine's Day of 1945. It did not leave New York until March 7.

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