History of airmail development in Mossgreen auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 30th March, 2017

The development of mail being carried by aeroplane and the significance of how individual letters came to be selected for the purpose as a historical narrative is largely revealed in the second auction of well-known Canberra collector Tom Frommer’s extraordinarily diverse aerophilately collection. 

Mossgreen carried out the first auction in September last year and this time has divided the sale into three sections – international pioneer airmails, Australian aerophilately, and the airmails of Papua & New Guinea.

The next public auction of Frommer’s collection, scheduled for June, will include the more bulky accumulation of covers, photographs, books and ephemera.

This sale, from 1pm Tuesday April 4 at 926-930 High Street Armadale, can be viewed at the auction location and – from 10am-6pm Thursday and Friday, 10am-5pm Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday at the Melbourne Stamp & Coin Expo Stand Number 26 at Caulfield Racecourse.

Normally arranged by country, the international pioneer airmails have been organised chronologically to give a sense of the pace at which pilots and planes conquered the tyranny of distance.

For example, from the 1910 English aeroplane mail that managed to travel just seven miles, it is only nine years before the first crossing of the Atlantic and the first England-Australia flight.

Events rapidly heated up after that with the 1924 United States Army Service circumnavigation of the globe, the 1926 Commander Byrd flight over the North Pole and the 1928 Sir Hubert Wilkins Antarctic aerial survey.

Items from these flights are featured in this auction, including the early unofficial airmail on the August 1910 short flight from Blackpool to Southport by Claude Grahame-White, one of the first Britons to qualify as a pilot.

Another highlight is the October 14, 1919 postcard carried by Poulet and Benoist in an unsuccessful France to Australia journey and, on the same flight, an equally rare cover addressed to the Chamber of Commerce secretary in Karachi.

A postcard carried on the April to September globe circumnavigation is another attraction, along with the cover carried on the May 9, 1926 North Pole fly over and the letter commemorating the December 20, 1928 Antarctica flight.

The Australian aerophilately section commemorates such early pioneer aviators as Ross and Keith Smith, Bert Hinkler and Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.

The airmails of Papua & New Guinea show the development of a mail service in one of the harshest environment on earth.



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