Seldom does one find details about the growth of commercial air traffic on a mailed cover, but the 1938 example in Figure 1 provides a lot of information, even with the envelope contents missing.
The cover was mailed from Chicago, Ill., to Washington, D.C., using a 9¢ Thomas Jefferson definitive stamp perforated gauge 11 by 10½ (Scott 641) that paid three times the 3¢ first-class rate for more than two ounces.
The cover’s significance is in the chart in the upper left corner of the envelope, shown in Figure 2, titled “Traffic carried by member airlines.” It was sent to members of the Air Transport Association of America.
The association has since been renamed Airlines for America and currently advertises itself as “America’s oldest and largest airline trade association.” The group states that its affiliates transport more than 90 percent of United States airline passenger and cargo traffic.
Commercial airmail effectively began with the first scheduled airplane flights in 1918, and profits from that service became one of the drivers of expanding scheduled airline service nationwide. Paying passengers were another driver. The chart shows the incredible growth of passenger traffic and cargo starting in 1930 and extending year by year until 1937, just before this letter was mailed.
Highlights of the delivery statistics for 1930 show 417,505 passengers flying; 458,571 pounds of express (primarily parcels); and 8,513,675 pounds of mail.
In 1937 it jumped to 1,289,784 passengers; 8,948,677 pounds of express; and 20,114,605 pounds of mail.
Comparable figures for the present era are not so easy to find, but a good indication is that domestic passengers in 2011 numbered 640 million, and, in 2010, the U.S. Postal Service handled 80 billion pieces of first-class mail, much of which would have traveled by air if sent over longer distances.
This provides quite a picture of how the airplane and the airline industries have changed our lives and made a major improvement in the speed of mail transmission over the more than 80 years since 1930.
The cover shown in Figure 1 was addressed to the managing editor of a newspaper in Washington, and it would seem that the Air Transport Association of America was doing a bit of preening on behalf of its members over the growing importance of air transport.
It makes a nice addition to an airmail collection, even if the cover itself did not go by air.
Thanks go to all of you who write in with corrections, reports, comments and ideas for items on U.S. philately you’d like to see covered in this space.
A weekly column allows considerable latitude, but I could fill twice the space and still have material left over. In balancing the content to appeal to the widest possible range of readers, I must apologize that I can’t quote all correspondents or cover every issue that comes up. If you write, please include a stamped addressed envelope if you wish a reply.
October 09, 2015 02:00 PMLinn’s managing editor Charles Snee reported the recovery of a block of three of the 1845 5¢ New York postmaster’s provisional stamp, once part of a block of 10 that was stolen from the Benjamin K. Miller collection in 1977. Read More ›
blogThis month marks my fifth anniversary writing the monthly auction report for Linn’s Stamp News. That’s 60 columns, totaling more than 100,000 words (enough for a decent-sized novel), all about our favorite hobby. Read More ›
blogWhen this cover was listed on eBay in mid-September, it didn't take long for some knowledgeable collectors to recognize this piece of postal history for the gem that it is: an early trans-oceanic survey cover for a Pacific route that included Midway Island, which would become famous as the location of a pivotal 1942 naval battle during World War II. Read More ›
blogIn mid-September I traveled to London, England, to attend Autumn Stampex, one of two British national stamp shows sponsored by the Philatelic Traders’ Society, Great Britain’s national stamp dealers association. The show took place Sept. 16-19 at the Business Design Centre in Islington (central north London), a comfortable and attractive venue for a stamp show. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses current events that relate to the stamp hobby, including the relocation of a stamp show in Sweden due to the Syrian refugee crises, and new stamps honoring Pope Francis and the British monarchy.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke talks about a record fifth win for wildlife artist Joseph Hautman in the federal duck stamp art contest, and see the painting that will appear on next year’s federal duck stamp
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz questions Bolivia’s choice for the design of a 2013 stamp honoring the country’s efforts to protect its migrants in foreign lands.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses the discovery of the upright Jenny Invert pane received in an order from Stamp Fulfillment Services in Kansas City, Mo., and also reports on the Confederate Stamp Alliance.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.