Special delivery plus: hybrid express stamps

Apr 30, 2021, 8 AM

By Rick Miller

The Refresher Course column in Linn's issue of Dec. 27, 2004, discussed special delivery stamps. This column will expand that discussion by looking at stamps that provided for special delivery plus an additional service or purpose.

Special delivery is a service providing expedited delivery of mail. Special delivery is also sometimes called express mail, especially since the 1990s.

Special delivery airmail stamps are stamps that paid for the combined postage and fee for airmail and special delivery service. The catalog numbers for these stamps are prefixed with the letters "CE" in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogueand other Scott catalogs.

Strictly speaking, the first United States airmail stamp, the 24¢ carmine-rose and blue Curtiss Jenny airmail stamp (Scott C3), shown in Figure 1, was really a special delivery airmail stamp. It paid for airmail service between Washington, Philadelphia and New York as well as special delivery service to the addressee.

The 24¢ Curtiss Jenny airmail stamp was issued May 13, 1918. Despite not being listed as such, it is actually the world's first airmail special delivery stamp.

Those with a bent for consistency might expect the Scott catalog editors to renumber this stamp as an airmail special delivery stamp.

This probably will never happen because of the long tradition of listing the stamp as an airmail issue.

The first stamp Scott lists as an airmail special delivery stamp was issued by Spain in 1930. Spain overprinted "Urgente" on the 20-centavo ultramarine and rose Asmodeus and Cleofas stamp (Scott CE1) to create its only airmail special delivery stamp.

The first purpose-designed airmail special delivery stamp was issued in 1932 by Italy. The 2.25-lira+1-lira Anniversary of the Death of Giuseppe Garibaldi airmail special delivery stamp (Scott CE1) is shown in Figure 2.

Italy was the most prolific user of special delivery airmail stamps, with nine issued from 1932 to 1934. Special delivery airmail stamps were also issued in the 1930s for the Aegean Islands, Italian East Africa, Libya, Tripolitania and the general Italian colonies.

The 16¢ dark blue Great Seal of the United States airmail special delivery stamp (Scott CE1) was the first U.S. airmail special delivery stamp to be listed as such by Scott. The stamp, issued Aug. 30, 1934, paid the 6¢ airmail letter postage and the 10¢ special delivery fee in one fell swoop.

During 1933-34, U.S. Postmaster General James A. Farley supplied a few imperforate sheets of then-current stamp issues to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other government officials.

When collectors found out about the practice, their demands forced the government to release for public sale 20 issues as mostly imperforate and ungummed sheets. The special printings of these stamps became known as "Farley's Follies."

In 1935, a Farley's Follies version of the 16¢ airmail special delivery stamp (Scott 771) was issued imperforate in sheets of 400 and without gum.

A centerline block of four 16¢ stamps from an imperforate sheet is shown in Figure 3. Scott lists the imperforate stamp with the other imperforate special printing stamps rather than as an airmail special delivery stamp.

The United States issued only one additional airmail special delivery stamp, a 16¢ stamp with the same Great Seal of the United States design, but in red and blue.

Canada came late to the club, issuing two airmail special delivery stamps in 1942-43. The 16¢ Trans-Canada Airplane and Aerial View of a City airmail special delivery stamp (Scott CE1) is shown in Figure 4. In all, Canada issued four airmail special delivery stamps, the last coming in 1946.

Military stamps are stamps that are issued by a country for use by its military personnel. Italy issued a 2-lira Airplane and Sunburst military airmail special delivery stamp (Scott MCE1), shown in Figure 5, and a 1.25-lira King Victor Emmanuel III military special delivery stamp (ME1) in 1943.

Semipostal special delivery stamps are sold at a price greater than special delivery fee, with the additional charge dedicated for a special purpose. They are prefixed with the letters "EB" in the Scott catalogs.

The special purposes for which semipostal special delivery stamps have been sold include the Red Cross, restoring a cathedral damaged by war, raising money to support trade fairs and poor relief.

In 1923, San Marino became the first country to issue a semipostal special delivery stamp. The 60-centesimo+5c brown-red Allegorical Figure semipostal special delivery stamp (Scott EB1), shown in Figure 6, is that republic's only entry in the category. The surtax was for the benefit of the Red Cross.

Semipostal special delivery stamps have also been issued by Libya, Rhodes, Spain and Spanish Morocco.

A Libyan 1.25-lira+30-centesimo Camel Caravan semipostal special delivery stamp (Scott EB1) is shown in Figure 7. When I look at this stamp, I hear Benny Goodman and Vaughn Monroe. The surtax was for the First Sample Fair held in Tripoli, Libya.

Tangier issued a single local semipostal special delivery stamp (Scott LEB1) in 1926. Local stamps are valid within a limited area or within a limited postal system. Local post mail requires the addition of nationally or internationally valid stamps for further service.

Canada and the Philippines are among the few countries to have issued special delivery Official stamps, prefixed "EO" in the Scott catalogs. Official stamps or stationery are issued solely for the use of government departments and officials.

An overprinted Philippine 20-centavo dull blue Special Delivery Messenger stamp (Scott EO1) is shown in Figure 8. The "O.B." overprint stands for "official business."

One way to think of special handling stamps, prefixed "QE" in the Scott catalogs, is as special delivery stamps for parcels. Special handling stamps paid a fee in addition to parcel postage, so that a package would be handled as first-class mail.

Special handling stamps have been issued by Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the United States. A 2-heller vermilion Lightning special handling stamp (Bosnia and Herzegovina Scott QE1) is shown in Figure 9.

Spanish delivery tax stamps, prefixed with the letters "ER" in the Scott catalogs, are among the strangest of special delivery stamps.

Prior to 1931, recipients of domestic special delivery letters were required to pay the postman who delivered the letter 5 centavos in coin as a delivery tax. Special delivery letters from foreign countries were exempt.

Evidently not all of the 5c coins were finding their way into the post office's coffers, so in 1931, the post office created the 5c black delivery tax stamp (Scott ER1), shown in Figure 10.

The stamp allowed the sender to prepay the delivery tax, and kept the 5c coins from disappearing into the delivery man's pockets.

In August 1931, after the delivery tax was incorporated into the standard delivery fee, these stamps were authorized for use as postage stamps.

In countries where the post office has enjoyed a monopoly on the delivery of mail, private delivery services have sometimes been authorized to make deliveries, but only if they pay an authorized delivery tax.

In the United States, the tax was the equivalent of the full postage rate for the same delivery service. Placing the letter or cover inside a postal stationery entire was the preferred method, although postage stamps could also be used.

Italy and Trieste Zone A are the only postal authorities to have issued special stamps for payment of the authorized-delivery tax. They are prefixed "EY" in the Scott catalogs.

Italian authorized-delivery stamps are inscribed "Recapito Autorizzato." An Italian

1-lira bright greenish-blue Italia authorized-delivery tax stamp (Scott EY6) is shown in Figure 11.

Only Czechoslovakia and Slovakia have issued personal delivery stamps, prefixed "EX" in the Scott catalogs. A letter franked with one of these stamps was to be delivered to the person to whom the letter was addressed and only to that person.

Each country issued two personal delivery stamps, one for prepayment of the service and one showing that the fee was to be collected from the recipient.

A Slovakian 50-halierov indigo and blue personal delivery stamp (Scott EX1) is shown in Figure 12.