Sometimes it seems every other post is going to feature a poster, so I’m always on the lookout for other things. Here’s a great one-off on the blog, thanks to my friend and colleague Maurice Austin. An airmail pad, or ‘writing tablet’. The aircraft is fitted with unusually effective landing lights!
Over to Maurice: “It’s amazing what you forget… Found this piece of ephemera at the Flea Market today. An Air Mail writing pad complete with the necessary blotting paper, and the guide line sheet to place behind what is essentially tissue paper. The legend on front was only indicative of an 8 page letter including envelope that would weigh 1/2 oz. The pad actually has 70 pages of ’tissue’ and appears unused. The stylised DC-3 could place this anyware from 1937 to early post-war. There was an Invicta exercise book that had a similar DC-3 superimposed on an Australian map showing the air routes of the time (1937). I don’t have one of those!”
Of course airmail paper had to be light as the postage was VERY weight sensitive, in a manner we just don’t see these days. The other often used, later item was the Aerogram, a single piece of paper that could be folded into another weight limited letter, making its own ‘envelope’ thanks to pre-gummed tabs. They were sold all including the value of the ‘stamp’ which was printed on, and usually, of course, with ‘Airmail’ details. A great history from the Australian philatelic perspective here.
Three images above show a Royal Mail version, featuring a VC-10 airliner on the ‘stamp’, one with a Welsh overprint, the third showing the side tabs. The last is an Australia Post one, with a de Havilland DH-106 Comet ‘stamp’, and the airmail border. Note they were often very limited colour prints, often on blue paper, and unsurprisingly featuring aircraft motifs, as seen in the introductory airmail paper pad cover. Designed to be a simple, reliable one piece airmail product, they did have variations such as re-rating for postage value, officially, or when used, with extra airmail sheets included (and extra stamps for the extra weight) and sometimes extra stamps added to revalue a aerogramme that had sat in a drawer for too long…
James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.
Maurice’s Facebook post on the topic here.