First Air Mail Covers

Page 9. Stamp Collectors Seek First Airmail Covers. Postmasters and Commercial Club Receive Thousands of Requests. Philately, sometimes known as stamp collecting, is the great indoor sport of America in the opinion of such Greater Grand Forks dignitaries as Postmaster J. Harry NcNicol, John Hulteng, president of the city commission, and W. W. Blain, secretary of the Commercial club and Mayor T. A. Sullivan and Postmaster Theresa Thoreson of East Grand Forks. The approaching opening of the airmail service through Grand Forks has threatened all five of these officials with writers’ cramp, as it seems that philately has ceased to be purely a collection of stamps and now includes envelopes and all. First flight airmail covers have become specially prized by collectors as they are gaily decorated with cachets of cities and other organizations. In addition to these marks the philatelists now ask that the covers bear the autographs of public officials.

The red, white, and blue striped bordered envelopes of the airmail service which will be used on the first flight of the service Monday with the winged airmail stamp have proven especially attractive to philatelists over the country. Up to this morning more than 10,000 of these envelopes addressed to collectors through the country have been received by the three officials to be stamped, postmarked and the stamp cancelled for the first flight. Not only does the modern stamp collector want a letter bearing the stamps or cachets of the first flight, but many of them want the signatures of the mayor, the postmaster and various other officials. Many of the letters containing envelopes to be mail out ask for particular routings on the first flight. Some request that they be sent to Pembina on the north flight and then returned to the addressee. Mr. McNicol stated that he did not have any idea that there were so many ideas in stamp collecting as his correspondents have suggested.

For the past week R. J. Darling and Dave Galbraith have donated practically their entire time to the Commercial club to place the various cachets on the letters that will leave Grand Forks on the first flight of the international airmail service. The first of these cachets is an oblong stamp taking the full width of the envelope, which shows a map of the mail route from Fort McKenzie, Canada to Buenos Aires in South America. This is put on by the Northwest Airways, Inc., and shares the face of the envelope with a large round stamp, supplied by the United States government, which carries an outline drawing of the state mill and elevator encircled by the words, “First Flight, St. Paul-Pembina Extension.”

The stamp of the city of Grand Forks is placed on the back of the cover. This is a round stamp in red ink, assuring the world that the heart of the Red River valley is Grand Forks and the climate is not too wet, hot, cold or dry. All three of these cachets are stamped on all the envelopes and cards for the first flight in addition to the cancellation of the stamp, which is done by the regular post office machine. Many of the collectors have asked that the city officials autograph the envelopes, and this is being done where requested, which is the reason for the threat of writers’ cramp to the officials. The envelopes to be mailed come from all parts of the country. Some are addressed and stamped. Other

Page 14. letters enclose money in cash, certified checks, or postal orders asking that the envelopes be purchased here and addressed to them. Requests From All Sections. Stamp collectors have no special region for their abode, the letters show. Requests have come from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and almost every other large city of the country in the East, West, North and South. They have also come from Rambert’s Landing, Alabama; Van Emmett, Michigan; Biggs, Oregon; Mayhew, Maine and Northern Star, Missouri, as well as hundreds of intermediate points. In numbers the envelopes vary from one consignment of 200 self addressed and stamped envelopes with autographs requested to single ones. The 200 envelopes were requested by a dealer in philatelic supplies and will undoubtedly be placed on sale to collectors who failed to take advantage of the opportunity to secure envelopes sent on the opening flight.

Mailing Here Is Heavy. These in addition to the thousands of letters and cards that will be mailed by Grand Forks residents and business houses. The Commercial club already has distributed more than 7,500 souvenir cards, which bear the three stamps and a schedule of airmail times. The supply of bordered envelopes was exhausted in Grand Forks Friday night, but another supply was obtained and estimates by Postmaster McNicol of the number of letters that will leave here on the first flight has been steadily rising the past week. Thursday it was 17,000, but this has been increased and he now believes that it will be closer to 30,000, with still another day of mailing remaining. Postal officials at Winnipeg, Pembina and Fargo report the same rush of letters to be sent out on the first mail, and thousands also have been sent to the St. Paul post office. (Grand Forks Herald, Sunday, February 1, 1931, Volume 50, Number 80)

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