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New Book: Airgraph Postal Stationery by Wayne Munez


Catalog of Postal Stationery Airgraphs

Finally, a catalog about postal stationery airgraphs! This 80-page, full-color book covers the issues of the eight countries that issued these WW II forms prepaid, rather than as formulars (the vast majority). And, for the first time, a definitive history of the development of the Airgraph idea and an in-depth and copiously illustrated description of the production processes. The book gives insight into the magnitude and scale of this innovative solution to the problem the United Kingdom faced to provide rapid communications between the large number of it far-flung troops and their families at home. The British operational system was complex and constantly evolving, and these are explained in detail.

The catalog portion includes many items never previously listed, and untangles the erroneous listing attempts of others. An up-to-date and accurate assessment of the catalog values of Airgraph forms (the mint paper forms) and Airgraphs (the developed photographic prints sent to the addressees) is included. All items are illustrated, and in color.

This new book is available for $27.60, or $34.00 to non-members, postpaid to USA and to foreign addresses.

 Order now from UPSS Publications, P.O. Box 3982, Chester, VA 23831, or from website at: (Virginia residents add 5.0% sales tax).

Catalog of Postal Stationery Airgraphs

United Kingdom – East Africa Command – Ceylon – Egypt – India – Palestine – South Africa – Southern Rhodesia.

World War II prepaid forms for microfilming and resultant letter photographs.

Reviewed by Lars Engelbrecht RDP, FRPSL

Postal stationery includes a wide range of different kinds of pre-paid items – one of them being prepaid airgraphs, and this book by Wayne Menuz is the first to describe all pre-paid airgraphs.

Airgraphs are letters written on standardized forms, microfilmed near the sender, the microfilms were then flown to special development centers where they were developed into prints and sent to the receiver. Airgraphs were introduced by the British forces in April 1941 and were an innovative solution in a situation where the capacity for mail was limited and became very important for the fast and secure communications in wartime.

Several counties issued airgraphs, and this book focuses on issues that were prepaid – issued by the eight countries noted in the title. The vast majority of Airgraphs were given out as “Formulars”, that is, the user had to apply postage stamps, and are therefore not covered in this work.

The first plus-point of this book is that, in three chapters, it covers the technical development, production and system in great detail. Every aspect of the service is described and illustrated with more than 50 wonderful photos,  of the cameras, the film, the developing machines and the operators censoring, taking the photos, checking the print, cutting the airgraphs etc. This is philatelic story telling at its best.

Another very positive plus point is that the second half of the book has a comprehensive list of all recorded items of pre-paid airgraphs. The listing is made country by country starting with an overview of which countries had the service during which time period. Then, all pre-paid airgraphs are described and listed together with illustrations – even of proofs and varieties. The listing includes a realistic price indication for both mint and used items.

The author has done a tremendous job in finding material from all countries with the help of numerous collectors from all over the World who have contributed with scans of items.

The book concludes with a bibliography and the only objection I have to the book is that it deserved a hard bounding. It is a remarkable work which is at the same time extremely readable.


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All philatelic research is worthy but I question why this is not posted free on-line where anyone interested can access and download it. The world has changed and philately must move on. At heart, this is someone's display with contributions from others, rather like the Club's Collective Displays. Displays are to be shared, not sold. The SACS (South African Collectors Society) embarked on a similar project some years back. They took members' displays and bound them into a series of printed books to be sold for reference purposes. There was a certain amount of vanity in that project. There has been no rush to buy them. The majority have gone unmarketed and unsold, wheeled out at annual meetings in the hope that someone who saw them last year will change their mind and buy one this year. If those and this were free on-line, any interested party could download them for research but while the knowledge is locked up in the closed printed pages of a book awaiting purchase who benefits? Too many philatelic reference books do a grand job of nothing but gathering dust. At the very least, there is software that will give authors and publishers on-line pay-to-view options.