Beginning in November 1934, the rate for international letters sent via air mail within the United States was reduced to 8¢ per ounce.1 This price included domestic air mail service plus surface transportation to the country of the addressee, and remained in effect until the summer of 1938.
At first glance, this cover postmarked in Honolulu, Hawaii, on April 16, 1935, and mailed to Fritz Neumann of Berlin, Germany, appears to qualify for the 8¢ rate. Why, then, does it have a solo copy of the American Indian stamp paying 14¢ postage?
The answer is found in the air mail rate charts applicable for Europe. Beginning in 1932, letters originating in the United States could receive air mail service from France to other points in Europe at a rate of 3¢ per half ounce. An envelope weighing more than half an ounce but no more than one ounce therefore faced an air mail surcharge of 6¢.
In other words, this cover was for 8¢ transported by ship from Hawaii to the continental United States, by air across the country to New York City, as indicated by “Via Air Mail in U.S.A.” handstamp and accompanying manuscript “to NY,” and then by ship once again from the United States to France. From there, the envelope was flown to Germany at a cost of 6¢, giving us 14¢ total postage paid.
Allthough this particular rate was possible from late 1934 nearly until the American Indian stamp was supplanted by the 14¢ value from the 1938 definite series, use of the stamp by itself to pay that rate as illustrated by this cover is extremely uncommon.
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- Beecher, Harry W., and Anthony S. Wawrukiewicz. U.S. International Postal Rates, 1872–1996. Portland, Oregon: Cama Publishing Company, 1996.