The following article appeared in APF News in June 2000. It is intended to serve as both a general introduction to the competitive exhibiting
class of aerophilately as well as an encouragement to visitors
to philatelic exhibitions to take a closer look at, appreciate
and enjoy the subject of aerophilately.
delivery of physical mail by air is taken very much for granted.
Within Australia, mail for most intrastate locations and interstate
capitals is delivered within 24 hours and only a small proportion
of letters take longer than two days to reach their destination,
despite the huge distances of Australias outback. Of course it was not always like that. Before air services, mail to
Europe and most other parts of the northern hemisphere took several
months by sea; even the first air mail services over these long
distances took around a month.
study of the development of air mail is a fascinating one; it
is as much about human endeavour, the pioneering spirit and conquering
the elements as it is about simply getting letters from A to
B. Whilst to some, its name conjures up visions of nothing but
frames full of covers that all look the same, the truth is that
aerophilately is far more dynamic, challenging and entertaining
than these criticisms which are sometimes made of it. The aerophilatelist
takes great pride in showing his or her subject and making history
come alive, as well as showing aspects of philately that are
often not possible in other classes of philately. So what is
aerophilately really all about?
formal definition of an aerophilatelic exhibit is one that it
is "composed essentially of postal documents transmitted by Air bearing evidence
of having been flown (ref. GREV Article 2.3)". Immediately, one word in this definition is noteworthy - "essentially".
closer examination of the FIP regulations for this class reveals
in fact that aerophilately "represents a study of the development of air mail services and a collection of
documents pertaining to such development". This means that the exhibit can include:
Postal documents dispatched by air.
2. Official and semi-official stamps issued especially for use on Airmail,
in mint or used state, but principally on cover.
3. All types of postal and other marks, vignettes and labels relating to aerial
4. Items connected with a particular means of aerial transport, not conveyed
through a postal service but deemed important to the development of air mail.
5. Leaflets, messages and newspapers dropped from the air, as a way of normal
postal delivery or on the occasion of postal services interrupted by unforeseen
6. Mail recovered from aircraft accidents and incidents.
it is important to the development of the exhibit to include
items documenting the pioneer period, e.g., air-forwarded forerunners
to regular air postal services or early airmail flown by other
carriers where postal services were not available, are considered
important to the development of airmail services and therefore
exhibits may include ancillary items, such as maps, photographs,
timetables and the like as long as they are considered vital
to illustrate, and draw the attention to a particular point or
situation. They should not overpower the material and accompanying
text on display. In addition, any such supporting material should
relate to a particular detail which, although important, cannot
be otherwise represented. Memorabilia (e.g., menus or the like)
should not be used.
aerophilatelist is primarily interested in mail such as envelopes
(covers), postcards, stationery, newspapers wrappers, etc. which
have been transported by air and which usually bear dates and
indications of the mode of their transportation. Items prepared
to be flown but not flown for a legitimate reason, may be included
in an aerophilatelic exhibit. The study of routes, postal rates
and markings are frequently relevant to the development of the
subject. Maps and drawings may be included if they highlight
a route or flight, but maps should be restricted in number and
used only if relevant to the documentation. The contents of a
cover may be included in the exhibit, if they enhance the understanding
of the theme or confirm the authenticity of the subject. Duplication
of items should be avoided, regardless of value.
stamps issued or overprinted specifically for use on airmail
are part of aerophilately, even when used for other postal purposes.
Postal stationery, including aerogrammes and airmail postcards,
issued specifically for airmail use is aerophilatelic material.
An exhibit may also include related material, such as Essays
and proofs, a study of printing methods or reconstruction of
printing or overprinting plates, a study of paper varieties,
watermarks, perforations, etc., or printing/overprinting errors.
Vignettes or labels used on flown covers may also be included
in an aerophilatelic exhibit, but vignettes or labels should
not dominate an exhibit.
exhibit should have a clear beginning, a central theme, and a
logical ending. The display must begin with an introductory page
in which the exhibitor defines in full what the subject is, explains
how it will be developed, and specifies what the self-imposed
limits are. The plan should be used to provide relevant general
information on the subject and to indicate areas of personal
research. It may also include a short list of the important documentary
sources used. Remember, the judges will use this information
to evaluate the material shown in relation to the aims that the
exhibitor has set.
is entirely up to the exhibitor to define and demonstrate the
structure of the exhibit. This can be done in many way. Chronological
development is an obvious approach, however other approaches
include development of airmail by a geographic area (e.g: country
or associated group of countries, route, airline, service e.g.,
army, navy aircraft manufacturer); and development of airmail
by means of transport (e.g: pigeon, lighter than air - i.e balloon,
heavier than air - i.e parachute, glider, aircraft, and rocket).
transportation of mail by air may also be shown in several ways:
by adhesive stamps, vignettes, labels, cancellations, cachets,
transit, route and other explanatory markings, written endorsements,
backstamps and relevant signatures. Material which does not show
any treatment by an organised postal service should be restricted
to a minimum.
for Evaluating Exhibits
Treatment and Philatelic Importance
Philatelic and related Knowledge, Personal Study and Research
Condition (10) and Rarity (20)
and Philatelic Importance
total of 30 points may be given for treatment and philatelic
importance. This is divided into 20 points for development, completeness and correctness and 10 points for philatelic importance. When evaluating the treatment and importance of the exhibits, judges will look
development of the subject;
of the material shown in relation to the scope of the exhibit;
philatelic significance of the subject shown.
should ensure that the exhibit is cohesive and avoid combining
largely unrelated subjects. The judges will assess whether the
material exhibited is relevant to the scope of the exhibit. The
exhibit must be developed and balanced in the periods and areas
outlined in the title and the plan.
importance of an exhibit will be measured in relation to the
overall development of airmail transportation. The aerophilatelic
exhibit of an area with greater contribution to the development
of the infrastructure of world airmail services lies higher on
the scale of importance than an exhibit from an area with a lesser
contribution. As a general rule:
wide geographical area is generally more important than a narrow
pioneer period is generally more important than a modern one.
long period is generally more important than a shorter one.
the General Regulations indicate, the aerophilatelic interest
of an exhibit is also a contributing factor.
and Related Knowledge, Personal Study and Research
total of 35 points may be given for philatelic and related knowledge,
personal study and research.
and related knowledge is demonstrated by the items chosen for
display and their related comments. Personal study is demonstrated
by the proper analysis of the items chosen for display. For exhibits
where original research (presentation of new facts related to
the chosen subject) is evident, a large proportion of the total
points may be given for it. For subjects which have been extensively
researched previously, judges will look how far this research
has been successfully used in the exhibit.
mail services, particularly in the pioneering period before WWII,
attracted much public attention, and hence reports of first flights
and inaugural air mail services were often well documented.
Patience when researching aerophilately will often be rewarded
with unusual but relevant facts that can enhance the exhibit.
For flights where large mails are known, the astute exhibitor
will look for that unusual variation such as a rarer intermediary
flight or perhaps a cover cancelled incorrectly such as on the
day after the flight departed.
information given should not overwhelm the philatelic material
shown. A well thought out plan may avoid otherwise lengthy descriptions
in the exhibit.
total of 30 points may be given for condition and rarity. This
comprises 20 points for rarity and significance and 10 points
is directly related to the philatelic items shown and the relative
scarcity of material of the type shown, and in particular to
the aerophilatelic rarity. Rarity is not always equivalent with
or proportional to value. Often covers from less prominent flights
can be more elusive to collectors than are covers from more high
profile flights. This is because the latter, although lesser
in number and more expensive, usually attract attention in the
philatelic market place, whilst the former can sometimes be hidden
in bulk lots at auctions or their relative scarcity not well
understood by the vendor.
condition varies for aerophilatelic items, judges will consider
the quality obtainable. In general, good condition, clear legible
postal markings and cachets, and a good general appearance will
be rewarded, while poor quality will be penalised. The stamps
on covers and other items should be in good condition (crash
covers are an exception to the general rule on condition, however
the postal markings applied to salvaged covers should be as clear
as possible). Repaired items should be mentioned in the description.
Obviously faked or repaired material which is not described as
such will be penalised by the judges.
displaying covers from air services where large quantities of
mail are known to have been carried, particular care should be
taken to avoid including poor to average condition covers.
may be given up to 5 points. Presentation should complement the
treatment of the exhibit by its general layout and clarity. Judges
will evaluate how the presentation enhances the understanding
and attractiveness of the exhibit.
it is desirable to illustrate significant markings on the reverse
side of a cover, they should either be drawn or illustrated with
a reproduction (photograph or photocopy), but a reproduction
should be apparent as such to the observer. Colour photocopies
or photographs should be at least 25% different in size from
exhibits can encompass a wide range of philatelic and historically
important non-philatelic items. As such, they help bring history
to life, and help us to understand and appreciate one of the
most significant aspects of the development of communication
of the past century.
build an aerophilatelic exhibit is like researching and re-writing
a little piece of history. Why not take the time out at the next
philatelic exhibition you attend to look more closely at and
Australian Airmail Society Inc.
Australian Airmail Society was founded in South Australia during
October 1968 when a meeting of aerophilatelic enthusiasts gathered
in the office of Nelson Eustis in Gawler Place, Adelaide. Ted
Roberts was elected President and Nelson Eustis the Secretary,
positions each held for a long time, Ted until a few years before
his death in 1997 Nelson is still Secretary with thirty two years service. Today, the society
is still based in Adelaide and meets at SAPHIL House, 22 Gray
Court, Adelaide every two months . The society has an extensive
specialised library holding which is housed at SAPHIL house.
from fostering aerophilately generally, the society has organised
a number of re-enactments of important pioneer flights. The most
ambitious was that which in 1969 commemorated the epic Ross Smith
1919 England Australia flight. This resultant highly successful operation was brought about
with the cooperation of almost every postal administration en-route,
especially Australia. Scheduled airlines brought the official
commemorative airmails to Singapore where they were transferred
to a TAA DC-3 chartered by the society. From Singapore the DC-3
with a full complement of society members, flew the mailbags
via Indonesia and Portuguese Timor through to Melbourne.
important re-enactments have featured the 1926 Pacific first
flights on the 50th anniversary in 1976. The 1910 first Australian flight at Bolivar, near Adelaide;
the 1917 Adelaide-Gawler and Captain Harry Butlers Minlaton mails have been commemorated a number of times.
1988 the society organised Aeropex 88, an exhibition of airmails
with international participation, in the Adelaide Town Hall.
It was such a great success the society staged a repeat
show, Aeropex 94 in the same venue and with similar success.
members magazine, The Australian Aerophilatelist, is published quarterly by the society
and is included in the yearly subscription of $A15. The society
has many overseas members, particularly
in the UK where Australian aerophilately is very popular. Membership
enquiries should be directed to the society at GPO Box 954, Adelaide,
society has always been favoured with famous people as patrons,
beginning with Sir Hudson Fysh and followed by Nobby Buckley, Ernie Crome and Scotty Allan. The current patron is Nancy-Bird Walton and the vice-patron Dick Smith.
Commission for Aerophilately
Mail Society of New Zealand