The Last Four Berlin Aerograms
by Ingeburg L. Fisher
from German Postal Specialist, July 2001, pp 280-284
In a paragraph in "Kaleidoscope" on Berlin air letter sheets in the January / February 2001 German Postal Specialist (page 22), editor Rudi Anders raised some interesting questions concerning the issue dates of the last four Berlin aerograms.
He notes that both the Michel Ganzsachen-Katalog Deutschland and the 1993 third edition of the Greiner-Katalog Aerogramme von Europa list the 60-pfennig Berlin aerogram that Michel catalogs as Berlin LF 3 as having been issued in 1950.
Due to other pressing matters, my collection and study of Berlin aerograms has been resting, and the article by Walter Schiessl in No. 98 of the Arge Bundespost that Anders mentioned — asserting that research has now shown that Berlin LF 3 was issued on 1 January 1952 — was not known to me.
However, past research has always thrown serious doubts on the issue dates of the last four Berlin aerograms as published in the Michel Ganzsachen-Katalog Deutschland.
Figure 1. A 60-pfennig Berlin aerogram cataloged by Michel as Berlin LF 3, used to New York 1 Jan. 1952, with a private "First day cover" handstamp.
As far as Berlin LF 3 was concerned, I have in my collection an aerogram used to New York, NY, on 1 January 1952, with the private marking "First day cover / Ersttags-Stempel" on the face. This aerogram is pictured in Figure 1.
The dates of usage of the six examples of Berlin LF 3 in my collection are: 26 May 1952; 29 May 1952; 25 August 1952; 19 December 1952; 13 January 1953; as well as one aerogram used in the Anglo-British Zone of Occupation on 11 March 1952, sent to the United States. (Berlin aerograms could be used in the Bizone beginning 20 January 1950.)
In years of independent research, dates of usage of this item prior to 1 January 1952 had never been seen.
Figure 2. Another example of the same 60pf Berlin aerogram used from Brunswick 2, where it was postmarked on 11 March 1952, to Baltimore, Md.
Figure 2 shows Berlin LF 3 postmarked in Brunswick [(20b) Braunschweig 2] on 11 March 1952 and mailed to Baltimore in the United States. This usage in turn leads me to the conclusion that the subsequent aerogram cataloged as Berlin LF 4, listed in the Michel Ganzsachen Katalog as issued 1951, probably was not issued until 1953. The earliest usage in my collection dates from 10 January 1953, and no earlier use had been recorded.
Figure 3. The 60pf Berlin aerogram listed by Michel as Berlin LF 4, sent from Berlin-Zehlendorf to Audubon, N.J., postmarked 10 January 1953. This is the earliest use of the Berlin LF 4 aerogram recorded in the author's collection.
Figure 3 above shows that earliest known use in my collection of Berlin LF 4. It is canceled with the circular datestamp of "BERLIN—ZEHLENDORF 2," dated between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on 10 January 1953, and was sent to an address in Audubon, N.J.
The 1951 issue date shown in the standard references for the 60pf aerogram Michel lists as Berlin LF 5 is equally problematic.
Figure 4. One of two examples from the author's collection of the 60pf aerogram Michel catalogs as Berlin LF 5, both favor-canceled 5 February 1953.
Figure 4 shows one of two examples of the Berlin LF 5 aerogram in my collection, both of which were favor-canceled on 5 February 1953. The aerogram is discernable as Berlin LF 5 by the top-right corner inscriptions "LUFTPOSTLEICHTBRIEF / DURCH / LUFTPOST / PAR / AVION."
This cancel is, of course, not definitive proof that Berlin LF 5 was issued on that date. However, the existence of these examples could indicate that this might have been the date on which these aerograms were first available at the Berlin post offices.
Usages of Berlin LF 5 in my collection date from 10 April 1953 through 16 August 1953. These dates raise another puzzling question: Could the Berlin aerograms LF 4 and LF 5 been issued only such a short interval apart? And, if so, why?
The scarcest of these last four Berlin aerograms is Michel LF 6, distinguished by the top-left inscription "LUFTPOSTLEICHTBRIEF / AEROGRAMME" and the simulated trilingual blue airmail etiquette printed at the lower left.
Usage was known from 15 August 1954 to 28 October 1954 — a span of only 75 days. With these dates in mind, one might logically assume that this aerogram was issued in 1954. My notes show that Godinas gives an issue date of 1954, and Dahmann more specifically listed a date of 20 May 1954. Unfortunately, I have no further details about these publications.
Figure 5. The scarce, final Berlin aerogram, cataloged by Michel as Berlin LF 6. This one was sent from Berlin SW 11 to Chicago on 15 September 1954.
Figure 5 shows an example of the elusive Berlin LF 6 canceled at Berlin SW 11 on 15 September 1954 and sent to Chicago, III.
Berlin aerograms were valid until 1 January 1955, although their sale ceased on 30 September 1954.
Why are the last two Berlin aerograms — LF 5, and especially LF 6 — so difficult to find?
I believe that the growing availability of an airmail service without restrictions, such as Joint-Export-Import-Agency service or International Reply Coupons, in the early 1950s, as well as the generally expanded services to an ever-increasing listing of countries, simply made letter mail more convenient and easier to use.