News, Views and Holyland Postal History

JDC #4JDC #6Leath #1Leath #13aOver several recent blogs I have discussed various categories of postal history and philately comprising the scope of SIP interest. These are listed on our website home page by clicking on “Our Fields”  and then clicking on the individual field you are interested in, following which a screen highlights the nature of that specific area. Not that the 16 listings aren’t adequate to satisfy a gamut of interests, however, today I plan to discuss yet  another source of investigation- international mail to and from the Holyland and its postal history implications.

Postal communications to and from the Levant open up an intriguing number of fascinating postal history vignettes that broaden the philatelic and historical experience immensely. Here are just two such covers that lend themselves to raising the curtain on great stories:

Figure 1  is a WW II communication  addressed to a Mr. Benno Gross in Haifa, Palestine during the time of the British Mandate, sent through the US Army Postal Service from APO 742, the legal division of the US military government in Germany. The mailing is from the Tracing Office of the American Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) and entered the mail stream in New York City. By doing a Google search and then expanding the story through Ancestry. com and several other easily accessible search engines, a marvelous story develops on the history of the AJDC and its 100 year history as a humanitarian organization serving millions of both Jews and non-Jews in 85 countries since WW I and into the present era. Figure 2 gives you a taste of the nature of work by the AJDC in refugee rescue worldwide. To appreciate the full story read my article when it is published in the SIP journal, The Israel Philatelist, in the near future.

Figure 3 is an envelope posted in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1938 to a Presbyterian reverend in New Jersey using an envelope with a return address on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The address turns out to be the exquisite French gothic, Presbyterian Building (Fig. 4), with a remarkable history of sustainability through multiple reincarnations. The story of the recipient of this letter, Reverend Leath adds to the flavor of this postal history study, and will see the light of day in a future issue of The Israel Philatelist.

Both these envelopes came to me without their original letters; yet, the envelopes themselves- the “covers” as postal historians call them- yield amazing stories available to novice and experts alike through the use of the internet. An added benefit is that many of these covers are readily available at nominal cost through philatelic auctions, dealers and shows. The use of internet search engines are either free, or available with affordable subscriptions. Additionally, the original letters are not infrequently still contained within the cover, adding yet another great discovery.

Well then, international mailings- even more to add to our philatelic experience in the Holyland.

Jesse Spector


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