What are Cinderellas?
Expanding the Definition
Stamps or Labels ?
Auditor's Duck Stamp
Australasian New Hebrides Co.
Catalan Separatist Stamps
France - Boulanger Fantasies
Hotel Sherman Stamps
Mexico's Madero Issue
UNESCO Gift Stamps
WWII Free Franks
Airmail etiquettes have long soared in popularity
As flying the mail becomes the rule rather than the exception, the airmail etiquette
also becomes superfluous and more collectible. Interesting on cover, these small (usually)
cinderellas also are sought after in their mint state. Not just aviation buffs can
appreciate the adhesives that directed "Via Air Mail" in many different
languages, styles and colors. Booklet collectors can hunt down the many varieties of
etiquettes which were issued in that form. Country collectors will enjoy adding their
particular nation's etiquettes to a good all-around collection. One can collect by
specific airline as well. Topical collectors will find a gem now and then and advertising
and charity collectors can also find material to spice up their collection.
fig. 1: A grouping of eight airline-specific
ettiquettes for airmail service.
||Begun as a way to alert the postal authority that a piece of
mail required specific handling, the air mail etiquette, like other postal labels, soon
went beyond the utilitarian in design. Early examples were most often simple words on a
colored background - many still are. Soon other refinements made their appearance. Colors,
shapes, graphics all added to the variety and interest of these labels. Issued in sheets
of stamps, booklet form, even enclosed in small matchbox-like containers, airmail
etiquettes were in every home and office. No wonder that Man, the Collector, began to
gather as many different examples of these little pieces of paper as he could. A
collection is born.
fig. 2: Commemorative
airmail etiquettes memorialized special events - along with the airline's name. These
commemorate Air Mail Week, the New York World's Fair and the Swedish Pioneer Centennial.
fig. 3: Many labels were highly decorative both in
color, design and shape.
So what are some of the varieties that our collector can find? It is
possible to go all the way from the throw-away common to types that cost hundreds of
dollars a sheet. We can find types so simple that, without reference material, we would
dismiss as nothing and others elaborate and colorful and commemorative of special events.
This is an area that, at first glance, appears very straight forward and upon closer
examination, becomes a fly-specker's nirvana. Language differences - Par Avion vs. Per Via
Aerea - type faces, paper and perforations all make a difference when determining the
provenance of the lowly airmail etiquette.
fig. 4 Not to be outdone by airlines, many hotels
also offered their customers airmail labels with their names prominently displayed.
At least we have some help available to aid our search. In 1947, Frank Muller's
catalog ( in French) of Airmail Etiquettes , 2nd edition, was published. For
many years this was not only the Bible of this collectible, it was the only reference
available. That is changing. "Etiquettes: Par Avion - By Air Mail" by Frank G
Jones came out in 1992 as an overview of the collecting area. In 1998, "Les
Etiquettes Postales Suisses" by Georges Guignard and Louis Vuille covered a very
specific area with a considerable amount of depth. In the U.S., The Postal Label Study
Group has produced "The Mair Airmail Label Catalog" and five supplements
covering 201 countries with 3289 illustrations.
fig. 6: The language identifies the Italian
connection of both of these labels. Without a catalog, it would be impossible to know that
the top label was for use in the Italian Colonies, whereas the bottom example comes from
fig. 5: Even the most mundane labels could catch the
attention and do a little advertising.
Are you ready to extend your horizons and undertake a voyage of discovery? It
isn't a completely uncharted realm as some cinderella collecting has been. But it is an
area of expanding knowledge, so that we can define a great many of the pieces of paper we
own, but many areas of this fascinating collectible remain Terra Incognita. Grab your pith
helmet and tongs and start your journey.
fig. 7: A Swiss air parcel post label is one of many
special handling etiquettes.
This column first appeared in Stamp Collector and
has been edited for online presentation. This page was last updated June 03, 2005