Airgraphs, 1941- 1945

A new paper story from eCharta, about not very notable paper items! The WWII airgraphs or V-mails!

The airgraph was invented in the 1930s by the Eastman Kodak Company in conjunction with Imperial Airways (now British Airways) and Pan-American Airways as a means of reducing the weight and bulk of mail carried by air. The United States adopted the Airgraph Service, renaming it “victory mail” or “V-Mail” on June 15, 1942, and it was in use until April 1, 1945.

Early in the Second World War II communications were very problematic between Britain and its forces broad. The Mediterranean Sea had been closed, enemy activities endangered ships, there were few aircraft available and petrol supplies were short. At the same time large numbers of troops abroad, needed to write, send and receive letters. Then a new mail service, the airgraph service was the solution.

Letters were written on a letter sized blank airgraph form contained space for a letter of about 100 to 300 words, the address of the serviceman or -woman to whom the letter was to be delivered, the address of the sender, and a circular area for the censor’s stamp of approval. Form was then photographed. The negative was a mere 12 x 16mm and 5000 could be included on one roll of film. At their destination, the negatives were enlarged, printed out, packed in envelopes and delivered. The original letters were kept and if the films were lost in transit the airgraphs could be sent again.

The scheme operated for four years until the end of the war, during which time 135,224,250 were sent!

So, through all these designs and subjects it’s logic to have a paradise for the collectors and the thematic philatelists. We see in the pictures airgraphs examples with attractive and very stimulating images.

Three airgraphs with outstanding image design!

You can visit eCharta to list some airgraphs for sale!

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Operation Bernhard

Trying to make a tradition in eCharta blog we’re publishing a paper story once a week. Your paper stories are welcome!

This time I’d like to go through a really exciting and known story. All 2nd World War enthusiasts I’m sure they heard about it!

Adolf Hitler had been warming up his engines, both before and during World War II, in order to exterminate certain groups of human beings considered as persona non-grata on this planet. But some other stories occurred during this holocaust dark period of our modern history.

In the concentration camps you could find many capable people for any job that you could take advantage of their talents!

So, in the summer of 1942, the Germans undertook Operation Bernhard, in which a skilled group of Jewish prisoners was gathered at Sachsenhausen to forge British banknotes. Under a lot of time pressure -and not only – they made pieces of art! Notes like these £ 20 or 10 are considered the best fake British money ever made, and were successfully passed off around the world, even circulating in England. These notes passed the test even in Bank of England!

Their story was featured in a recent film, “The Counterfeiters.”

A strong paper story…

20 British pounds made by Operation Bernhard in 1942 with date: Aug 15, 1935

10 British pounds made by Operation Bernhard in 1942 with date: April 16, 1935

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