Asking for food behind a stamp – Holocaust IV

Enjoy” a run of posts, a sequence of bad memories on paper that we certainly have to remember… 

Asking for food …the hard way! 

Although mail between concentration camp prisoners and their families was limited to one or two letters or cards per month each way, and Nazi censors checked all incoming and outgoing mail, some inmates occasionally managed to slip secret messages past the censors, risking severe punishment. The following piece belongs to Spungen Family Foundation.


Lorenz Janowski concealed a note to his wife beneath a pair of 6-pfennig stamps on this August 16, 1942, letter. Written in Polish, the secret message acknowledged receipt of clothing and asked for bread. The normal letter inside, written in German as required, contained only the permissible platitudes. Prisoners were allowed to request parcels from their loved ones, but they were not permitted to request specific items. 

The ingenuity and perseverance of the prisoners was unthinkable! Although bans and strict custody by Nazis, they have always found a way to communicate!

Primarolia for eCharta

The rarest stamp of the world!

There were at least two unsuccessful attempts by the English on the conquest of the land, which will later be called British Guiana. Efforts were made in the 17th century when the Dutch had already colonized the region in two points: the Essequibo, which in commanding by the Dutch West India Company and Demerara, which was under the command of West India Company (fig.1).


Fig. 1: Map of British Guiana dated 1690

In 1796, during the French Revolutionary Wars, the English managed command and control, since then the Dutch were under the domination of French and English with the French were at war. An English expeditionary force, initiated from its own colony of Barbados for the conquest of territories that they were under the French domination, the so-called Batavian Republic. The settlers retreated without resistance and English, to meet the existing situation and policy have not changed the long existing laws in the colony. In 1802 the colony was returned to the Batavian Republic under the terms of the Treaty of Amiens, but the UK sized the colonies again less than one year later upon the resumption of hostilities with France in Napoleonic Wars in 1803. The colonies officially ceded to the United Kingdom, with the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. The British continued to have a separate administration in the colonies, when finally in 1831 were combined together and became a united colony known as British Guiana, with its capital Georgetown (Demerara). Guyana went on to become independent of the United Kingdom on 26 May 1966.


Nobody thought then that this British colony will issue the rarest stamp in the world today: the black on magenta 1 cent of British Guiana.

In 1856, the Postmaster of the British colony of Guyana, E T E Dalton, literally got frustrated when he heard that a cargo which included the British colonial stamps, failed to arrive in Georgetown! Because he believed that he could not leave the people of the colony without this much-needed and still relatively new, service facility, via a local printer, who edited and the local newspaper, the Royal Gazette, ordered the immediate production of stamps. The print was in black ink in various colors of paper depending on the denomination. These prints, which are quite rare, are known as “ cotton-reels”, because of the printing press used. Once the three types of stamps printed (a 4 cents in blue paper, a 4 cents in magenta paper and 1 cent in magenta for posting local newspapers) (fig.2), Dalton found that the printer did not fulfill the simple requirements that he had suggested and tried to put on print creative contribution, putting a ship emblem. Dalton did not like the design and ultimately used it as an urgent and necessary need. The stamps were without perforation with the colonial motto “Damus Petimus Que Vicissim” (We give and expect in return). He also ordered at all the post office clerks to sign the stamp to avoid phenomena of counterfeiting or other fraud. He would be astonished to hear that today his name is still mentioned as a result of these provisional stamps.

Fig. 5: The two provisional stamps of 4 cents, one in magenta and one in blue, printed at the same time with the rare one-cent stamp

Fig. 2: The two provisional stamps of 4 cents, one in magenta and one in blue, printed at the same time with the rare one-cent stamp

Vaughan Vernon, a Scottish student, discovered a stamp of 1 cent in magenta paper (fig.3), cut into an octagon shape, in one of his uncle’s letters in Georgetown (Demerara), the capital of British Guiana in 1873. The stamp bears a heavy postmark of the local post office and the initials of the postal clerk E D Wright, who implemented the policy of Dalton. This was the beginning of the great tour that was made by the rarest stamp in the world.

Fig. 6: The famous stamp of 1-cent in magenta of British Guiana

Fig. 3: The famous stamp of 1-cent in magenta of British Guiana

Vernon sold it a few weeks later, a few shillings, about $1.50 in today’s match, at a local collector, N R McKinnon, as his stamp catalog had not a reference for it. Despite the dismal situation, the stamp is the only unique piece existed. The price begins to climb, passing through the hands of small and large collectors and dealers. But as a huge and rare philatelic item, attracted the large solitary collector of that time, Philippe Ferrary! Around 1880, Ferrary buys it for $750. During the 14 auctions of the sale of Ferrary’s collection from the French Government in 1922, Arthur Hind buys the stamps for more than $36,000 and after his death his widow disposed it for $40,000 to an engineer from Florida, USA. In 1970, a syndicate of investors from Pennsylvania, headed by Irwin Weinberg, bought the stamp for $280,000 and spent much of the decade, presenting it in a world tour. The athlete, philatelist and ornithologist John E. du Pont bought it for $935,000 in 1980. In 1997, John E. du Pont, convicted for the murder of his friend, Olympic wrestler David Schulz (fig.4). The court, after du Pont had no rational motive to kill his friend, decided that he suffers from schizophrenia. Today, as the owner is serving a sentence of 30 years, the stamp is guarded in a bank deposit. Experts estimate that the stamp is worth more than $7,000,000. For now it is hidden from the world.

Fig. 7: John E. du Pont while he was arrested

Fig. 4: John E. du Pont while he was arrested

The line between fantasy and reality is often confused around this rare stamp. Sometimes there were allegations that the rare stamp of 1 cent was a four-cent counterfeit stamp in magenta paper, since they are very similar to each other. These claims were denied. Around 1920, a reputation was developed about a second copy that was discovered. The owner of the “unique” stamp known, Arthur Hind, bought it quietly and completely destroy it, making his first stamp unique again! Neither this reputation is established.
In 1999, a copy was discovered in Bremen, Germany. The stamp was found by Peter Winter, who is widely known for his production of many counterfeit copies on classic philatelic items, that he printed them on modern paper. Two European experts, Rolf Roeder and David Feldman, said that the stamp is genuine. The Royal Philatelic Society of London, having considered the stamp twice, concluded that this copy is a counterfeit 4-cent stamp!

The 1 cent magenta of British Guyana is so famous, that they brought it into play in cinema!
“The Saint in Palm Springs” is the name of a thriller movie screened in early 1941 (fig.5). It’s the film that inspired the well-known series “The Saint” with Simon Templar. The stamp was used as a plot device in the project and its value in the film was $65,000.

Fig. 8: Poster from the movie “The Saint in Palm Springs”

Fig. 5: Poster from the movie “The Saint in Palm Springs”

The stamp appeared along with the long known hero of Walt Disney, Donald Duck. In the comics of Carl Barks “the gilded man”, Donald, a philatelist, says in its story that the stamp “worth more than fifty thousand dollars!” (fig.6)
Certainly, all philatelists, but also all the collectors-investors, which they financially withstand to buy such a rare object, waiting anxiously the day when a famous auction house will announce the sale of the 1-cent in magenta paper of British Guiana.

Fig. 9: A page from Carl Barks comic

Fig. 6: A page from Carl Barks comic

I wish them good luck!

Primarolia for eCharta

Bibliography – Websites:

1. Carlton, R. Scott (1997). The International Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Philatelics. Iola, WI: Krause. p. 36. ISBN 0873414489.
2. Rachlin, Harvey (1996). Lucy’s Bones, Sacred Stones, and Einstein’s Brain: The Remarkable Stories Behind the Great Artifacts of History, From Antiquity to the Modern Era. Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-6406-0.
3. W.A. Townsend and F.G. Howe, Postage Stamps and Postal History of British Guiana, London, Royal Philatelic Society (August 1970) ISBN 0900631015
4. Proud, Ted. The Postal History of British Guiana. Proud-Bailey Co. Ltd., 2000. ISBN 1872465269
5. Sheryll Oswald, “Peter Winter and the modern German forgeries on eBay” (28 July, 2001)
6. “British Guiana 1c, 1856: Weltrarität oder Fälschung?” Bund Deutscher Philatelisten (BDPh) e.V. (in German)
7. “Is the British Guiana 1c unique?” Stamp Online
8. “The Saint in Palm Springs”, IMDb
9. “Donald Duck: The Gilded Man” COA
10. Website of Wikipedia

Zeppelin Flight LZ 127 to Italy and the Greek Postal Interest

The Zeppelin flight LZ 127 from Rome was scheduled to take place on 29th and 30th May 1933. This was considered to be a very significant event. For that reason special sets of postage stamps were issued which were exclusively used for that flight only. The stamps were not only issued by Italy and San Marino but also by the Italian colonies and even Greece. A special set was issued by the Vatican but it used the Italian set in combination with its own postage stamps.

Both letters and cards were sent to Rome from different parts, by regular airmail, so that they could be received by the Zeppelin which would, in turn, forward and deliver them to various different destinations such as Germany and other European countries as well as North and South America. Generally speaking, as the bulk of the correspondence carried on that flight was absolutely huge, one may notice a host of remarkable cases of philatelic interest.

Officials in Rome did not seem to have the time required to stamp all the correspondence until the departure date (29th May) of the Zeppelin. It was for this reason that a certain part of it received a 30th May-date stamp and was sent to Friedrichshafen by rail. There again, after the arrival of the Zeppelin, and having been through the loading / unloading cargo procedure for its next destinations, the mail bags heading for South America were not opened so the correspondence did not receive an arrival date stamp. However, the bags containing correspondence for Europe were opened and stamped with the green arrival date stamp of Friedrichshafen. The bags whose destination was North America received, apart from the above mentioned date stamp, the commemorative three-line green stamp of the second Zeppelin flight of 1933. At the same time, it appears that there are cards and covers that received all postmarks of that flight without even flying with it at all! This is the part of the correspondence which was transported on 30th May from Rome to Friedrichshafen by rail and whose destination was other European countries.

Apart from the well-known three stamp set, Greece also used a commemorative red cancellation stamp and, rarely, a blue one:





27TH MAY 1933

The charge amounted to 150 drs for a card and 250 drs for a letter. Covers not having the right number of postage stamps were stamped with a special postmark:


and were sent to their destination by ground means of transport.

From Greece, there were cards and letters sent from Athens, Alexandroupoli, Patras and Iraklio. The Italians used special commemorative cancellation stamp depicting the Capitoline Wolf of Rome in different colors  blue, blue-violet, marine blue, blue-grey, green and black.

There were 1,170 cards and letters carried on that Zeppelin flight. From all the countries that took part in that flight, it was only in Greece that fake covers were made (original postage stamps with fake cancellation stamps). However, apart from the set issued by the Greek Post, the Italian Post of the occupied Dodecanese, at that time, circulated a six value set with the following denominations: 3, 5, 10, 12, 15, 20L.

3L    for a card to Italy or any other European country

5L    for a letter to Italy or any other European country

10L  for a card to South America (Brazil)

12L  for a letter to South America (Brazil)

15L  for a card to any other country of South America

20L  for a letter to any other country of South America

There also registered envelopes, very rare indeed, with the full set on them.


1 – Registered card from Athens to Germany. The commemorative arrival postmark, Rome 29/05/33, can be seen at the back. 


2 – Registered card with the full set from Alexandroupoli to Brazil (Rio de Janeiro). It has not received the Italian commemorative arrival stamp at the back


3 – A single letter from Athens to France via Barcelona (the Zeppelin on its journey from Friedrichshafen to Brazil made only two delivery drops: in Barcelona and the United States) with the full set and all the related postmarks


4 – Registered letter sent from Athens to Pernambuco – Brazil with the full set and all the related postmarks


5 – Letter from Athens to Germany with reduced charge, which was forwarded by ground means of transport and was marked with special postmarks


6 – Letter with the full set. All departure and arrival stamps are fake


7 – A card from Rhode to Italy with right airmail charge of 3L including all the commemorative cancellations (violet commemorative cancellation)


8 – Registered letter from Rhode to Germany with the correct airmail of 5L and all the related postmarks (green commemorative cancellation)


9 – Registered letter from Rhode to Germany with the correct airmail of 5L and all the related postmarks (blue-violet commemorative cancellation)


10 – Registered letter from Rhode to Bahia – Brazil with the correct airmail charge of 12L and all the related postmarks (green commemorative cancellation)


11- Registered card from Rhode to Pernambuco – Brazil with the charge of 15L (the correct charge is 10L) and all the related postmarks (green commemorative cancellation)

Registered letter from Rhode to Germany with the full set and all the related postmarks (blue-grey commemorative cancellation) This is the only cover that bears, at the back, an identical arrival date stamp to the Italian one but it is written in German. Covers with the full set are very few indeed

Registered letter from Rhode to Germany with the full set and all the related postmarks (blue-grey commemorative cancellation) This is the only cover that bears, at the back, an identical arrival date stamp to the Italian one but it is written in German. Covers with the full set are very few indeed

Enjoy your Zeppelin Flight!!!

KO for eCharta

Plane crashed, mail survived!

Many airplane accidents and crashes occurred in history. But what happened with the mail, the covers and the postcards that was on those planes?

Let us tell a story of one of these…

The following cover departed from BOMBAY FOREIGN 1936.1st, India with a final destination to Sussex, England. The cover made a transit stop in ALEXANDRIA. Then changing plane departed for a second transit destination to Brindisi, Italy with the hydroplane SCIPIO.

The flight initiated but the flying boat had engine troubles and had to make a forced landing in Mirabella Bay in Crete, Greece. Attempting this landing a sudden cross wind swung the plane around, it crashed and sank in a few minutes. Two passengers were killed in the crash and one was seriously injured. The 38 postal bags were recovered and dried.

All covers canceled with the 2 line cancellation “DAMAGED BY SEA WATER”.  The stamps are missing on nearly all covers. Very few are known today. One of them is the following… This cover is currently for sale on eCharta!

An exciting paper survival history in 1936!

KO for eCharta

Paper stories and a sailor

It’s incredible what a piece of paper could tell us! What story it could contain, what emotions could be revived and what events could be described! A piece of paper, of history, a piece of our own or of a bygone era…

This envelope is an extraordinary piece of postal history and it was sent by a lady, named Mary Solomou. It left Piraeus with a postmark dated 30th September 1957 and with the postage stamp value of 7 drachmas and 30 lepta, strangely enough, as the current rates for a single letter were 3 drachmas for the first 20 grams and 1.80 for every extra 20 grams. Its destination was the offices of ESSO PETROLEUM in London in order to be forwarded to the “Master Peter” ship and, thus, reach the hands of its receiver: Dimitrios Arifis, probably another seaman.

The front side of this unique cover

It arrived in London on 3rd October 1957, as the date stamp bears witness – “RECEIVED MARINE DEPARTMENT” – at the back of the cover, where it was discovered that the actual ship had been anchored in Port Said, Egypt. The name and address of the shipping company: “Cory Bros and Co LTD Port Said” along with an air vignette and a small “Air Mail” stamp were attached in order for the letter to be forwarded there. In addition, there were two postage stamps 1 and ½ d respectively with Queen Elizabeth with ESSO perforation and one of them was cancelled with a “LONDON 3 Oct 57” date stamp.

The back side of the cover with many cancellations

The cover finished its journey on 8th October 1957, going by the cancellations it received at the back of it – “Cory Brothers and Co Ltd 8 Oct 1957” and “Port Said 8 Oct 1957” along with the slogan postmark of the Egyptian Post: “EGYPT LAND OF CHARM AND BEAUTY”.

Finally, we notice that there is an Egyptian censorship hand stamp at the front of the envelope on the address adhesive label.

What this sailor felt like when he was reading the lines written by hand from his dearest person?

You could imagine…

By KO – for eCharta