Auction preview: 1919 Newfoundland Air Post cover expected to bring $24k USD

Cherrystone Auctions will begin a two-day U.S. and Worldwide Stamps and Postal History auction today at its New York City galleries.

The 1,032-lot sale offers rare stamps and postal history of the world, including a strong British Commonwealth section that includes an array of Canadian material, beginning with an 1851 Nova Scotia cover as Lot 381. This is followed by Canada from Lot 382-398; Air Post Officials as Lot 399 and 400; Air Post Semi-Officials as Lot 401 and 402; a 1915 war tax stamp as Lot 403; Newfoundland Air Post from Lot 404-406; and Newfoundland Dornier Do X Flights as Lot 407.

Among the sale’s top highlights is Lot 405, a 1919 three-cent “Martinsyde” manuscript with an “Aerial Atlantic Mail, J.A.R.” handwritten overprint applied by Postmaster General J. Alex Robinson on a 1919 three-cent “Trail of the Caribou” stamp (Scott #117). The stamp is tied by St. John’s machine cancel dated April 19, 1919 on cover with “Per Aeroplane Raymor Newfoundland to Britain, by courtesy of Major Morgan and F.P.Raynham Esq.” in manuscript in the corner. The cover is backstamped London on Jan. 7, 1920 and re-addressed with a Great Britain 1.5-pence George V adhesive added to pay local forwarding charges.

The cover has an opening bid of $24,000 USD (about $31,000) and a catalogue value of £30,000 (about $51,380 Cdn.).

THE MARTINSYDE ATTEMPT

In 1919, London’s Daily Mail offered a £10,000 prize for the first non-stop flight over the Atlantic Ocean. The first plane—known as the Hawker—was forced down in the ocean more than 1,000 kilometres away from the coast.

A second plane—the “Martinsyde” Raymor, piloted by Major Frederick Phillips Raynham and navigated by Major C.W.F. Morgan—also competed for the Daily Mail prize. The crew arrived at St. John’s on April 10, 1919 and assembled their plane in the shortest time possible. The first attempt was made on May 18, 1919; however, the aircraft dipped on takeoff and its landing gear dug into the ground before causing the aircraft to hit the ground and experience some damage. Morgan sustained injuries that would incapacitate him for a second attempt.

Following the failed attempts, Raynham sailed for England on the SS Grampian with the Martinsyde mailbag.

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