Post Card sent by Overland mail

Some time ago I asked to our friend Rainer Fuchs about how many postcards he knew used by Overland mail during the period 1923 to 1929 when the mandatory surcharge was required. I admit it: I already had something in my hands which I considered very rare and I wanted to get a confirmation from him. And who better than Rainer he could subscribe to the rarity? So what follows, rather than a normal article on a theme of postal history, I would like to become a due act that symbolizes the gratitude to those who give us philatelic information in a disinterested way.

Something that I thought was very rare is the only recorded postcard sent from Lebanon via Overland mail in the period 1923/1929, but let’s go by order.

In September 1923, the Haifa-Beirut-Baghdad trans-desert service began to operate. It became known after numerous studies based on an intuition born in the mind of the Nairn brothers to combine transport and speed through modern vehicles of the period. So far the envelopes sent through this service are very well known, but little was known about the postcards. Here then a sample of the very few recorded, almost all of them supplied by Rainer Fuchs.

Post Card sent from Baghdad on 6 October 1924 to Berlin, Germany. Postage of 3 Anna was considered underpaid because the required rate was 1½ Anna for the post card sent to foreign countries and 3 Anna at the time for all items sent by Overland service without distinction, for a total of 4½. The taxed applied was excessive: 60 cents of gold-franc, wrongly considered like a letter’s taxation double deficiency.


Post Card sent from Baghdad on 24 February 1926 again to Germany. This time the postage of 3 Anna applied was considered quite right. It is very likely that a modification of the rates took place in order to adopt a decrease to 1½ Anna for the Overland surcharge applied to postcards. The cancel of Port Said, applied only five days after, confirm the transport by Overland.

Fascinating but late use for this British stationery card of 1 penny mixed franked with 2 Anna Iraqi stamp. This type of postage was consider regular using the possibility to pay the supplement fee for a service (air mail, express, registration or overland fees) on a postcard with reply paid. Unfortunately, the postcard was sent only on 6 March 1929, after six days that the additional fee for the overland mail was abolished, furthermore the surcharge rate of 2 Anna was wrongly in excess of ½ Anna. 

Another underpaid post card, this time the nice real photo was sent from Abadan, Persia, on 18 December 1924 to Germany. Underpaid with 6ch, the taxation applied was 25 cents of gold-franc.

This time the rate was rightly applied for this exceptional and virtuous Italian post card sent from Baghdad on 6 March 1928 to Rome. The 25ct was the sum required in Italy for printed matter sent to foreign, considered them ⅓ of post card rate (75ct) with a lake of  ⅔ of rate. In this case the lake of 50ct of Lira was redeem by 1 Anna, equivalent to ⅔ of Iraqi post card rate. The other 1½ Anna applied was the fees for Overland rate.

Here we come to the star of the article, a postcard written in Persian where something is understood about a trip made by Baghdad. The postcard was sent from Beirut on 13 June 1925 to Teheran, transiting from Baghdad on 17 June, just before the Great Syrian Revolt began in the following July. At the time the rate for a postcard written with more than five words for abroad was 2½ Piastres. The postage applied on the postcard amounting to 5 Piastre makes us immediately assume that the concept of “doubling”, manifested by the decree of the French administration concerning the rate applicable to the overland surcharge for letters, had also been applied to postcards.

Since this is the only known postcard sent via overland, we can not determine how the surcharge was dealt with afterwards, especially when this was reduced by about 3/5 compared to the Lebanese letter rate. But that of the rates is another story that we will discuss in the future.

Bernardo Longo