Transatlantic Airmail rarities sell at Cherrystone


03 February 2023
A range of airmail rarities went under the hammer at Cherrystone Auctions recently, including items from the Great Transatlantic Race, the daring competition to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.


This 1919 airmail cover proved to be one of the highlights of the recent Cherrystone Philatelic Auctions sale thanks to the dramatic story behind its journey from Newfoundland to London.

However, the cover eventually arrived in Britain by ship rather than aeroplane as had been intended. British aviators Frederick Raynham (pilot) and C.W. Fairfax Morgan (navigator) were the second pairing to attempt to cross the Atlantic by plane, but after taking off from Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland, the daring duo only travelled a few hundred yards before crashing into the ocean.

Another attempt was made in July, with the same results, and Raynham eventually returned to England by safer means, bringing the bag of mail with him, the letter being posted in London on 7 January 1920.

The cover on offer featured the a handwritten overprint applied by Postmaster General J. Alex Robinson on a 3c Caribou, tied by a St. John’s machine cancel, dated 19 April 1919. The ‘received in London’ manuscript and ‘8 January 1920’ datestamp hinting at the unplanned mailing.

According to the auction house:

‘Letters with manuscript overprints (which were made by W.C. Campbell, the Secretary of the Postal Department) arrived safely, but the contents of the mail bags had been damaged by water. As a result, many of the Newfoundland stamps had floated off the envelopes. Less than 20 covers are known.’

SOLD FOR £15,360

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The confidence of Alcock

Cherrystone’s sale also included this June 1919 corner card cover sent by John Alcock, the pilot of the first non-stop transatlantic flight from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland.

Franked with a $1 Trans-Atlantic surcharged stamp (comma, no stop variety) the cover included a letter stating Alcock’s confidence in the enterprise and the rivalry with the Handley-Page team.

The lot description explained:

‘one of only a few known from the legendary John Alcock, signed Diena (On 15 June 1919 a telegram arrived at the Royal Aero Club with the message: “Landed Clifden, Ireland, at 8.40 am Greenwich mean time, June 15, Vickers Vimy Atlantic machine leaving Newfoundland coast 4.28 pm GMT, June 14, Total time 16 hours 12 minutes. Instructions awaited.” The message was from pilots John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown announcing to the world that, for the first time, an aircraft had flown non-stop across the Atlantic.’

SOLD FOR £6,875

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