I mentioned way back in January that first flight covers exist with March 4 dates on them. Today while cleaning off an area of my workstation, I found a first flight cover that I purchased a while ago and meant to post about here. So, without further delay, here it is.
The first flight in question on this cover, as we can see in the cachet design, was TWA FAM 27 from Boston, Massachusetts, to Milan, Italy. The cover is a prestamped air letter sheet, Scott number UC16, a design that was originally issued on April 29, 1947. Since I haven’t researched early air mail service yet, I find it interesting that the cancellation shows RMS, which is an acronym for Railway Mail Service (this practice was likely normal until the last RPOs were operated in the 1970s). I wonder why there appears to be a remnant of a cancellation to the right of the stamp image… could it be that the person cancelling the cover started to put the cancellation directly over the image and realized that this cover was for a collector and then repositioned his canceller? Unless we can find the person who cancelled the covers that day, we may never know.
We do know that this cover actually did fly on March 4 because there is a backstamp from Italy on March 5, presumably when the cover re-entered the mail stream on its way back to Kansas City. I wonder how it was returned to the U.S. Could it have come back on the second flight from Milan to Boston (assuming that the first flight from Milan to Boston was also on March 4)?
This backstamp shows me that when I go digging through the cover boxes at stamp shows, that I should look for Italian covers that read something like “–4.3.XX” for the date because that would indicate March 4.
I don’t have my records handy on when I purchased this cover, but it’s likely that I got it from one of the auction sites on the web and that I didn’t pay more than a few dollars for it. That’s probably the best part of this collecting topic – the majority of pieces that are included can be purchased for very little money.