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The PAQUEBOT Marks of Southern Africa

As there is a lot of interest in PAQUEBOT marks I attach a few here and encourage others to do the same.

R. M. Hosking, author of 'Paquebot Cancellations of the World",  is the authority on Paquebot marks. Like most books tied to paper and print, his work has been outdated by new discoveries and knowledge. Like Ralph Putzel who gave us the cornerstone on which to build our knowledge of SA postmarks, his research and documentation is a start, not an end, rather a constant work in progress. Aler Visser now continues Ralph's work but who continues Hosking's?

1]. Suitably, the first cover is a LUDERITZ PAQUEBOT mark on cover addressed to Hosking, dated 26 SEP 67. I found this among my SWA accumulation. It will be a part of my planned SWA display. I am reluctant to part with it.

2]. The second is an 'Airmail' CAPE TOWN/KAAPSTAD PAQUEBOT mark from the "ATHLONE CASTLE" THE UNION-CASTLE MAIL STEAMSHIP COMPANY LIMITED dated '23 SEP 48'. I imagine the addressee, Gerald P. Todd., was, like Hosking, a Paquebot mark collector. A brief search on Todd reveals nothing. What are these worth? I think they are great!

3]. The third is another but different 'Airmail' Paquebot mark, also addressed to Todd, this time from the "ARUNDEL CASTLE", with CAPE TOWN over KAAPSTAD at top.

4]. Here is a PC that throws up a more traditional Paquebot mark query. This is a CAPE TOWN KAAPSTAD  PAQUEBOT MC (machine canceller) from 'SEP 20 1920'. It is taken from the SAPC's forthcoming SA & SWA King's Head Postal History display. Has this PAQUEBOT MC been previously recorded? I imagine it must have but can find no info on it.

Uploaded files:
  • Luderitz-Hosking.jpg
  • CT-Athlone-Castle-1948.jpg
  • CT-Arundel-Castle-1953.jpg
  • CT-KH-PC-Paquebot-1920.jpg

My 5d worth.

Uploaded files:
  • SAPC952.jpg

Only worth 5p? Never! Well, if that's the case, here are three more throwaway Cape Town Paquebot items.

I imagine that these letter were sent from the ship in Cape Town to notify the importer, Burmeister & Co. of East London, of the incoming cargo manifest, sailing and arrival times, etc.  The letters travelled overland by rail.

1]. From SS Clan Forbes bearing the dumb (no town, no date) PAQUEBOT canceller of WW2.

2]. Two low-res images from the SS Perthshire bearing standard Cape Town Paquebot marks of the time,  1944 - 1950.
TOP: I imagine that this is the more modern of the two.
BOTTOM: The 'dumbness' suggests this was a WW2 canceller. It is probably being used here in Cape Town post-WW2.

Uploaded files:
  • Burmeister-Paquebot-Only-DC-49.jpg
  • Burmeister-Paquebot-SS-Perthshire.jpg

I have decided to start a Club Collective display on Paquebot marks, if only for myself. I have found that I have quite a few of these covers despite never actively collecting this area. I have found Ralph Putzel's 'The Postmarks of South Africa' unhelpful'. He only lists Paquebot marks under Cape Town and Durban but not elsewhere under a town. He does include a short, rather hodge-podge Paquebot section under 'Maritime' but this is far from a helpful broader reference.

In order to gain greater knowledge of Paquebot marks I recently bought the 'Paquebot Cancellations of the World And More", from Mike Dovey who with Keith Morris has updated Hosking's original work. While this contains a mass of detail and many images of these marks, it gives only a generic number to a type without showing or listing the varieties fully, as Putzel attempts to do. See below. This is a reference to my Cape Town Paquebot machine cancellation shown above in the first post and also below. The accompanying image for this listing does not show the same circular datestamp. I reported my cover as a new discovery to Mike Dovey only to be told that no, the listing says 'circular portion varied'. It would be helpful if this variation was shown as an example. It would cut out this confusion. Anyway, the good news is that I can and will show all three examples of this machine canceller, and more if they are found.

I think that a 'Paquebot Marks of Southern Africa, including Angola, South and South West Africa / Namibia and Mozambique' that shows and describes all southern African Paquebot marks including varieties will provide the South African collector with a quick and easy to use reference work. I will post a section on Mossel Bay which will provide a tentative format for presentation and discussion.

Below, how you would identify the postcard (bottom) using 'Paquebot Cancellations of the World And More". Note that it spells Cape Town as 'Capetown', so searching on 'Cape Town' will not find this section of the PDF file.


Uploaded files:
  • Paquebot-Cancellations-of-the-World.jpg
  • Paquebot-Cancellations-of-the-World-Capetown.jpg
  • CT-KH-PC-Paquebot-1920-200.jpg

Here is a wartime paquebot cover that may be "philatelic" I suppose. Sent from a paymaster at Naval Headquarters at Tricomalee, Ceylon to South Africa. Censored using Type n.710 Naval censors stamp in Ceylon, and post marked using the "dumb" Durban paquebot canceller.

Uploaded files:
  • paq13.jpg

Very nice. Yes, I would guess "definitely" philatelic. 

So here's my continuing beef with the standard Paquebot mark reference book - "Paquebot Marks of the World - and More". Your (this) postmark is recorded in it but not illustrated. The earlier pre-war version of this postmark showing 'DURBAN' top and 'PAQUEBOT' at base is listed as No. 2775 with a reference that says  ' 1937 - 44 .... Also with 'Durban' removed during WW2'.  That may be enough for some but I am more 'visual' and like to see illustrations. This is, after all, an important but common wartime Paquebot mark.

I think a substantial alteration to the postmark, as used on your cover above, deserves an illustrated example. But no, you won't find it in the "standard Paquebot reference" book. This is because it aims to cover all the world's Paquebot marks of which there are simply too many to include every variation. As a result, only the original is shown with a text reference to any changes made.  I think that if we try to produce a Paquebot reference for southern Africa, the exercise will be do-able due to a much smaller number of marks, each one of which can be shown with all its varieties, rather like Putzel's 'Postmarks of South Africa'.

I wonder if anyone can advise about this cover. What intrigues me most is the postmark cancelling the 'stamp'. This is not a SWA postmark. Sadly it is incomplete and faint but I believe it says 'MAIELLA' at the base of the postmark. Someone has also written 'Maiella' in on the LHS of the postal stationery cover. I believe this refers to the Maiella, an Italian cargo ship built 1913 and owned by Lloyd Triestina. She was sunk by British submarine HMS Una near Straits of Messina on 05/04/1942.

This Paquebot cover  is most unusual. Paquebot covers are typically stamped when they come ashore by the forwarding postal authority, not on board ship. What's going on? If anyone can advise, please help!

I have tried to enhance the postmark in the second image, alas to no good effect.

Uploaded files:
  • Walvis-Bay-Paquebot-1.jpg
  • Maiella-Walvis-Bay-Paquebot-1.jpg

I emailed Mike Dovey, co-author of "Paquebot Marks of the World - and More" about this cover. He replied:

"Re: your MAIELLA cover, it all seems OK to me and I have to assume you have the right ship although I would check a fleet list for the company just in case there is a ship with a similar name MAILL........, you never can tell. It is a nice cover and if the ship is correct you have some good info on it". Thanks Mike!