Reply Paid Cards in International Mail

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17 July 2020
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Eric Scherer's exhibit, provided courtesy of the Royal Philatelic Society London, aims to lead International Reply Cards out of their fringe existence in philately and enhance the common knowledge.

From the very first introduction of double cards with prepaid reply, their usage was permitted across different postal regions. As a consequence, international stamps were accepted as regular franking. In 1879 double cards with prepaid reply became a standard form of mailing under UPU regulations on a voluntary basis.

Their acceptance was declared mandatory by 1892, and remained so until the termination per 30.06.1971. In a philatelic perspective reply cards eke out a fringe existence and suffer only superficial knowledge. Still, the fact, that returned reply cards combine franking and postmarks from two different countries give them a fascination of their own.

OBJECTIVE AND SCOPE

The main objective of this exhibit is to lead International Reply Cards out of their fringe existence in philately and enhance the common knowledge. Thus this exhibit is both, lexical and educational. It aims at giving a holistic view on international reply cards, with historical development, areas of usage, regulations, and alternatives. A specific focus is given to postal practises and the frequent occurrences of misunderstandings and misuses so profoundly typical for a form of mailing that breaches one of the basic paradigms — the fact that foreign stamps are not valid for postage outside the country of issue.

MATERIAL AND AVAILABILITY

To highlight the internationality of reply cards, a wide variety of philatelic artefacts from almost 80 countries and postal regions are shown. The exhibit shows many rarities, some of them well known ones, like the Heligoland or Rhodes reply cards, some scare only due to their handling marks. Even though it is difficult to judge scarcity, the exhibit highlights remarkable items through red ink for the description.

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How to view the exhibit

  • View the exhibit using the video above (just click pause if you'd like to stop on a particular page)

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