The Fifty-cent Prexie

William Howard Taft, the twenty-seventh President of the United States, is featured on the fifty-cent value of the Prexies. The likeness came from a bust by William A. Roach and the stamp itself was designed by Mr. Roach. Fifty-cent Prexies were issued in sheet format only. They were first released on December 8, 1938. A total of 615,638,040 were issued through 1956.

In domestic mail, solo fifty-cent Prexies can usually be found in connection with registered mail. One possibility is a registered letter, minimum indemnity, with return receipt, from the beginning of 1952 until mid 1957. Another is a registered special delivery airmail letter, second step indemnity, with return receipt, from late 1944 until late 1946. Registered penalty mail posted outside Washington, DC or other free franked mail cost fifty cents from mid 1957 to mid 1961, or earlier if a return receipt and/or higher than minimum indemnity was included.

A registered letter with restricted delivery and return receipt could have been sent to or from a serviceman outside the United States for fifty cents from March of 1944 until October, 1946. Airmail letters moving between Guam and Puerto Rico, Guam and Guantanamo, Cuba, and Guam and the Virgin Islands cost fifty cents from late 1937 until mid 1945, and between Guam and the Canal Zone from early 1945 until late 1945. And an airmail letter to or from the Philippines was fifty cents per half ounce from 1937 until late 1946, although mail was suspended from late 1941 until late 1945.

A registered, special delivery letter sent airmail between Hawaii and the mainland cost fifty cents for a short time in 1944. Before that, it would have required registry for more than the minimum indemnity.

Airmail letters routed to a number of African areas through Miami and then Brazil were fifty cents per half ounce from late 1941 until late 1946. Other African areas, India, and Pakistan were served by routes through Europe for fifty cents at various times from 1939 to 1940 and later, some as late as 1946. Other routes for that rate involved mail sent surface to Capetown and air to Egypt, Aden or Greece. Airmail to New Zealand was also fifty cents from late 1939 until late 1946.

Airmail from Hawaii could be sent for twenty cents less than it would have cost from the mainland to Pacific Rim countries from mid 1939 until late 1946. Until early 1945 the airmail rate from Hawaii to Europe was twenty cents more than from the mainland also.

Registered letters with return receipt service sent airmail to countries with a thirty-cent airmail rate cost fifty cents from the beginning of the Prexie period until February of 1945, and countries with a twenty-five cent airmail rate from then until 1949. Registered letters sent airmail to certain countries or regions from February 1, 1945 until July 1, 1957 could require a fifty-cent franking as well for various basic airmail rates as the foreign registry fee went from twenty cents to twenty-five, and then to forty cents over the period. Airmail special delivery to any thirty cent airmail rate country could also produce a fifty-cent solo cover up to July 1, 1957.

Other Articles airmail cost fifty cents for the first two ounces to Paraguay and Cyprus in the 1950's.

Multiple weights and charges, both domestic and foreign, could also result in use of a solo fifty-cent prexie.

Finally, while I would not normally include a First Flight cover in this survey, there was one which had its own fifty-cent rate for two days, and for which no non-philatelic covers are likely to exist. This was the first Foreign Airmail Flight around the world in 1947.