France, Germany, and Italy: 1917-1919. Album. Approximately 300 covers from the AEF to a Paris office of the Farmers Loan and Trust Company; all mailed via the Army’s postal service. In nice shape; all neatly sliced along three sides by an automatic opener. No enclosures or letters. A descriptive inventory list will be provided.
From over 120 different Army Post Offices in France, Italy, and Germany, they include all the standard postmark types and many variations. (Copies of Van Dam’s The Postal History of the A.E.F. and B.P.M No. 264, “Les cachets des postes militares americaines en France in 1917-1919” will be included.)
Many have scarce markings, frankings, and usages including:
Franking with French Stamps – The relatively few known covers franked with French stamps and sent via the AEF’s postal system have long been assumed to be isolated soldier ‘souvenirs.’ The 15 rare banking- examples in this collection belie that assumption, and no doubt there is an as yet undiscovered order or regulation that will shed light on this type of usage.
Registered Mail – AEF registered covers are scarce. This collection has over 40 including some franked with 10c and 12c stamps, strips of five 2c stamps, pairs of 5c stamps, blocks of 3c stamps, and French stamps.
Low-Number Postmarks – When the mail system was first established, its initial offices were numbered 1 through 19; soon these were renumbered 701-719. APOs 6, 7, 10, 11, 15, 18, and 19 are present.
Provisional Postmarks – When postal officials occasionally struggled to supply postmark devices as the AEF expanded, clerks made their own. Provisionals in this collection include 752, 753, 754 (hand-drawn), and a previously unreported “Nimes Gard” handstamp for APO 941.
800 Series APOs – All 800 markings are scarce, and Van Dam lists only a few numbers. There are 19 covers with 800 postmarks in this collection; one is registered. Numbers unlisted in Van Dam include 806, 808, 824, 839, 842, 843, 845, 846, 851, and 899. Additional examples in the collection provide clues to the use of three other unlisted numbers: 822 has a APO 902-G (Villafranca de Verona, Italy) return address, and the return address of 848 and 849 are tied to the 79th and 90th Divisions.
Buffalo Soldier Mail – There are two covers from the 92nd Division (Colored), APO 766, one registered.. Very good. Item #009770
The Farmers Loan and Trust Company was one of only three financial institutions authorized to provide in-theater banking services for the AEF. Specifically, it provided currency exchange services and acted as fund depository for payments to and from Army paymasters and disbursing officers. (See “War-Time services Performed Through . . . American Trust Services” in Trust Companies, April 1918.
Although covers like thes are occasionally seen online or in dealers’ booths, because of the nature of the trust services, relatively few examples documenting their valuable war service exist, This extensive collection of intra-theater mail is loaded with unusual and rare frankings, markings, and uses. Nothing similar is for sale in the trade. If sold individually, this collection could easily total $7,500.