No announcement yet.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Transpacific Airmail and South Africa

    Transpacific airmail or 'Pacific Clipper Postal History' is a fascinating area for collecting and some covers, particularly those to or from South Africa, can be extremely sought after/valuable/special.

    In June 1940 when Italy entered the war the airmail routes over the Mediterranean were effectively closed. This meant that to send a letter all the way by air from Europe to South Africa would require connection with the Pacific Clipper airmail service from the West Coast of the USA and over the Pacific.

    For example, a letter from Europe to South Africa would be sent by air over the Atlantic and then from the East Coast of the USA to the West Coast of the USA, then on to Hong Kong or Singapore and then to South Africa. This is called 'two-ocean airmail.'

    The same would be true of any airmail sent from South Africa during this period. It would have to go via Singapore or Hong Kong to the USA and/or then on to Europe.

    Prior to June 1940, airmail from the USA to South Africa would have gone via Europe. In 1940 and 1941 airmail from USA to South Africa had to go via the Pan Am Pacific Clipper service via Hong Kong or Singapore. Interestingly, during 1940 and 1941 the airmail rates from USA to South Africa represent the highest rates of any USA airmail ever (except for the Zeppelin airmails). The rates from the USA were $0.95 for most of 1940/1941 and then $1.10 for a brief period in 1941. The $1.10 rate from the USA to South Africa in 1941 is very rare and can sell for a few hundred dollars.

    Pacific Clipper airmail service ended after Pearl Harbor. If you have any airmail covers to or from South Africa from June 1940 to December 1941, you may have something very special and maybe even valuable in your collection. The same applies to airmail to and from other African countries. The thing to look out for is a Singapore or Hong Kong Censor marking or a very high franking. Some covers are even endorsed 'Via Pacific Clipper' or 'Transpacific service' or 'Via North Atlantic and Transpacific'.

    Does anyone know the South African international airmail rates prior to 1940 and post December 1941? I wonder if there is anything published on this subject? I have only ever seen one example of Pacific Clipper airmail from South Africa to the USA. That rate is 2 shillings and 6 pence. I would like to know how this compares with an airmail from South Africa to the USA prior to June 1940 or after December 1941.

  • #2
    Hello Robmac

    Thanks a lot for this post.

    I have never thought about mail from USA / Europe to SA in this light. Very, very interesting. It is frightening when you realise that you have now comprehension of how much you do not know!


    Philately starts where the catalogue stops.
    Items I have for sale.


    • #3
      Hi Robmac

      Great post, you have now given me something new to think about, not that I did not have enough already. I have infact seen the Hong Kong cachet you are refering to and may have one somewhere. I know at the time I wondered why the hell the cover went via Hong Kong. Very interesting, thanks

      Items I have for sale.