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Let's See Your Territorial Covers!

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Posted 07/26/2013   08:12 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add northernvirginiaguy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks wt1. Really interesting info.
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Posted 06/09/2016   02:47 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Territorials are among my favorite covers, so when I found this topic I decided it needed a bump. How about a few from outside the Lower 48?

Here are two from Alaska, one from Hawaii, and one from the Philippines under U.S. administration. Star Air Service, as I understand it, was supposed to be for short term temporary airmail routes during emergencies, and airmail rates weren't charged. Of course, in Alaska, that was often the only way to get mail into the interior, so Star routes were in service for years.







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Posted 06/09/2016   08:10 am  Show Profile Check paperhistory's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paperhistory to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Marietta, Northwest Territory, 1799.

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Posted 06/09/2016   2:21 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jamesw to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Some amazing covers in this thread. And here's me thinking I didn't have any US Territory covers, but OF COURSE Hawaii was a territory pre 1959.



And I know the Philippines were a possession and not a territory, but since GregAlex open it up, I'll include these two items.



The bottom piece is the back of a registered letter sent from Magdalena Laguna PI to Toronto via Victoria. Someone tore the stamps off the front in a previous life, but I still thought the reverse was interesting.
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Posted 06/09/2016   3:06 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"Here are two from Alaska, . . . Star Air Service, as I understand it, was supposed to be for short term temporary airmail routes during emergencies, and airmail rates weren't charged. Of course, in Alaska, that was often the only way to get mail into the interior, so Star routes were in service for years."


I am not sure I have heard about this "emergency" service about Star Air Service. What I know about "Star Air Service" is that this was simply the name of one of the three airlines that were started in 1932 and based in Anchorage and flew regular flights. In 1934 they merged with McGee Airways (on of the other 3) and as the new Star Air Service they became the largest airline for passengers, cargo, and mail in Alaska. In 1937 it was sold to some new investors and renamed Star Air Lines. In 1942 it was bought out and merged with some smaller Alaska based air lines and renamed Alaska Airlines and it continues to operate today.

Do you have a reference to this being some kind of emergency flight?
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Edited by Kimo - 06/09/2016 3:07 pm
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Posted 06/10/2016   2:05 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I've had the "Star" cover in my collection for many years. I was curious when I first got it, so I sent it to Linn's resident airmail expert, Fred Boughner, for some background. Here's what he wrote:

"There were 14 so-called STAR routes flown in Alaska between 1924 and 1954. There were also a few STAR routes within within the USA proper. The government authorized a STAR route whenever there was to no other way to get mail from one point to another in the normal first-class postage manner, i.e., trains, trucks, etc.

"STAR routes are really emergency routes -- or at least they were so within the continental U.S. In Alaska, they lasted as "emergency" routes for years since for a long time there was no other way to get mail around in Alaska, save by air.

"By 1922, more than 200 towns in Alaska had been linked with STAR route service. These authorizations from the post office called for all first-class mail offered to the route operator to be delivered promptly, but not NECESSARILY by air. In point of fact, all the first-class Alaska STAR mail did go by air because that was the only way to move it. No STAR routes were scheduled from private contractors who did not have planes available to fly same.

"The cover you have is not a first flight or a first "anything." It is simply a nice, representative cover flown by STAR service from Anchorage, probably on the Anchorage southern route to Homer or possibly from Anchorage to Kanatok. (Without backstamping there is no way to be certain.) Please note that your cover does not have airmail postage or rate. All STAR mail was at the current surface first-class rate, though it actually did go by airmail."

So that's where my information came from. My take is that the letter actually originated from Anchorage at a time (Jan. 7) when mail could not go out by ship because the port was iced in. Since it was addressed to Hartford, CT it makes little sense that it would be routed to Homer, more likely Juneau or Haines where it could be transferred to a ship. But it's all guesswork at this point.
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Edited by GregAlex - 06/10/2016 2:09 pm
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Posted 06/10/2016   2:14 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Btw, paperhistory, your Northwest Territory cover is incredible! That would now be Marietta, Ohio, correct? That was the first outpost west of the Ohio River and in 1799 it had only been established for about a decade. If there is a letter within would you mind posting it?
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Posted 06/10/2016   6:49 pm  Show Profile Check paperhistory's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paperhistory to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Greg - turns out I made a mistake. I own a Marietta 1799 cover but it's not the one I posted - the one I posted recently came through eBay and had a letter written by Ohio Company founder Rufus Putnam about a power of attorney and surveying. (Putnam is portrayed on the Northwest Ordinance stamp of 1937). I didn't buy it, which I now regret.

But let me up the ante. Here's an 1802 territorial cover from Chillicothe. Chillicothe's postmaster, Edward Tiffin, became the first governor of the state. He and Thomas Worthington are viewed as the two "fathers" of Ohio - and the cover is addressed to Worthington, while he was in Washington agitating President Jefferson to push for Ohio statehood. No letter, unfortunately - probably in an archive somewhere. One of my all-time favorite Ohio covers, and I do own this one.

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Posted 06/10/2016   10:33 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
That is simply amazing. And no street address, just City of Washington! Back when DC was a small town. :-)
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Posted 06/11/2016   12:47 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
With all due respect to Fred, I think he is 95% in his description. He is correct that every airmail cover in Alaska starting from 1924 was by definition a STAR Contract route, but that partially ended in 1938 when Foreign Air Mail Contract (FAM) Routes 15 and 16 were inaugurated on May 3 of that year which included all airmail from the cities of Fairbanks and Juneau. Then on June 22, 1940 Ketchikan was added under FAM-20. While he is likely correct to a great degree that airmail marked covers did go by aircraft, it was not a requirement and the STAR Contract holders could use surface or sea means when they thought it would be faster in a particular circumstance. The vast majority of airmail flown during this time was not emergency related. A small percentage was was and those are listed in the Alaska section of the American Air Mail Catalog. Of course one could argue that weather conditions in Alaska could get very difficult and say that heavy snow was an emergency, but I would argue the other direction and say that it was generally expected, routine, and in most cases well planned for by remote communities hence not really meeting what I think of as an emergency need. The last area that I would disagree with Fred is in regards to your particular cover. It is not marked "STAR Route" or "STAR Contract Route" or "Emergency Flight" or anything like that. It is marked "Via Star Air Service". This is the very specific name of the largest airline in Alaska at that time, and it was based in Anchorage from where this cover was sent. They did have STAR Contracts from the Post Office, but there is no evidence that this was an emergency flight rather than an ordinary carriage by air mail under their standard STAR contract with the Post Office to carry the mail from Anchorage and many other towns around Alaska.
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Edited by Kimo - 06/11/2016 12:48 am
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Posted 06/11/2016   01:03 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I like the cover to Washington. The population at that time was a bit over 3,200 so I would imagine that one could not just say City of Washington and expect mail to get to the majority of the people there, but for well known and highly placed people such as Colonel Thomas Worthington I am sure he would have been easily recognized and had his mail delivered to him with little address and no delays. He was successful in his agitation for statehood for Ohio in getting through the Enabling Act of 1802 to set up Statehood for Ohio which was finalized the following year - in 1803. He then became of the new State's first two Senators in 1803. His home was in Chillicothe so I would imagine that he and the postmaster there were political allies in the push for Statehood at that time. I agree that it would have been so cool had there been the letter inside this as I can imagine it could have been an insight into the machinations at that critical time in Ohio becoming a State.
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Posted 06/11/2016   07:05 am  Show Profile Check paperhistory's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paperhistory to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Another one while we're at it - Cincinnati, 1802. There are several reported covers from this correspondence. Not as fun as the one that recently sold at a Rumsey auction addressed to William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) but this one is in better condition.

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Posted 06/11/2016   6:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Beautiful stampless cover! What do the contents have to say?

Getting back to Star routes, I would agree that Boughner wasn't entirely accurate in his description. And after a little research, it appears that most Star routes never stamped anything on the mail (unless it was philatelic), since it was effectively just another way to move first-class mail.

So I guess my question is, why would Star Air Service bother to rubber stamp this cover? It doesn't appear to be philatelic. Was it just a little free publicity?
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Posted 06/11/2016   9:05 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Al E. Gator to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Breckenridge to Alma, Colorado Territory, probably sent sometime
between 7/1873 and 8/1876.

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Posted 06/11/2016   9:38 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It is possible that Star Air Service might have had a rubber stamp to promote themselves and this could be something like that. It is also possible that some local companies, businesses, individuals and philatelists might have had rubber stamps made up to apply to their outgoing mail to try to ensure their correspondence went on Star Air Service's flights.

I agree that for the most part there were no cachets on STAR Contract mail since every piece of ordinary air mail during those decades was a so called "STAR Contract" carried piece of mail. When I do see notations they tend to be on the actual emergency flights that are listed in the AAMC and are usually handwritten or typewritten on an envelope. On rare occasion there is a specific cachet for that particular emergency flight.
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