Kelleher to auction India airmail postal history

May 2, 2021, 8 PM
The upcoming Kelleher auction will include this India cover from the first official airmail flight by airplane, Feb. 18, 1911, from Allahabad to Naini.

By Michael Baadke

Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions will offer the Vora collection of India airmail postal history in a June 20 sale.

The public auction will take place at Kelleher’s offices in Danbury, Conn.

The 58-lot sale is presented in association with the India Study Circle for Philately. The study circle will be offering additional items from the collection.

The first lot to come up for bids is an artifact of a special airmail flight on Feb. 18, 1911, one that is commonly acknowledged as the world’s first official airmail flight by airplane.

During her stint as chief curator of philately for the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, Cheryl R. Ganz wrote about the 5-mile flight in India “from an Allahabad polo field, over the Yamuna River, to Naini.”

French pilot Henri Pequet (1888-1974) carried some 6,000 pieces of mail on the journey with the cooperation of the post office. The flight, therefore, is identified as the first official mail flown by airplane.

The example in this auction, though folded horizontally through the address, is described by Kelleher as “popular and scarce cover, a chance to own a true first.”

The cover is offered with an estimate of $300 to $400.

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Most of the covers in this sale date from the 1920s to 1940s, with first flights, unusual cachets, exhibition souvenirs and more.

Individual items and their descriptions can be viewed online