Sunday, 7 October 2007

French Balloon Post for Denmark - A Rarity

At the Internet pages of the French auction house Lugdunum Philatélie I noticed the above fantastic letter. The letter was posted in Paris on October 7th, 1870 its destination being Denmark: Mrs. R. Valentin, Amagertorv 27, København. It was posted by the son of the addressee. I presume that at the time he was attached to the family business in Paris, Valintin & Frankfurter, 4 Passage Violet, Paris. Anyhow, that is how the return address, which can be seen on the front of the letter, reads. The letter is franked with two Napoleon III stamps (with a laurel wreath), the 20c blue and the 30c brown, in all 50c which sufficed as postage for Denmark according to the red box mark PD on the front, " Payé à Destination".

What makes this letter very special is, however, that it left Paris in a pile of letters placed in a balloon. This fact emerges clearly from the letter front: "par Ballon libre". I am not a collector of French postal history and therefore it is with a certain reservation that I reproduce the following information (in other words do consult my source of information): As I understand it there were two kinds of balloons, manned balloons and un-manned balloons. Whether a letter was sent by the one or the other, can in certain cases be determined by the front of the pre-printed correspondence cards, which were very quickly put on the marked by private firms. If it said "par Ballon libre" the balloon was un-manned, if it said "par Ballon monté" it was a manned balloon. Out of the in all 67 balloons 55 were manned. The postage, the weight and size permitted, varied according to the type of balloon employed. That the manned type was soon preferred to the un-manned is self-evident.

Our letter was sent by an un-manned balloon on October 7th, 1870. In all three balloons were despatched that very day, out of which at least one was manned namely the balloon with the name of the famous George Sand. Another was called Armand Barbe and the third either had no name or was called Piper No 1. They landed in the non occupied areas of France and the letters were handed in by the finder at a near by Post Office for further attention. Of course the finder received a neat compensation for the trouble caused and a reward.

The contents of the letter sound the following:

My dear Mother
I confirm my letters from last week. We are still under siege, but have the best of hopes; the Prussians die outside Paris! I am in good health and I hope the same is the case for you, my dear Mother, and that all the family is in good health. My very best wishes to all of you, your affectionate son
J Valentin.

If we did not already know here is the explanation why the mail leaving Paris was shipped by balloons. The French-Prussian war rages and Paris is under siege. The war was declared by France on July 19th, 1870 and ended by the signing of an armistice agreement on January 28th, 1871.

To those collectors who look for more information about this period or about the postal history of France dating 1848 – 1878 I would recommend to turn to a beautifully illustrated book published this year by Michéle Chauvet and Jean-Francois Brun.

Mr. Brun informs that an estimated two to three million letters were shipped out of Paris by balloon during the siege most of them to destinations in France itself. How many balloon mail letters exist with Denmark as their final destination I do not know? I have been told about the existence of one other letter so maybe there are indeed two of them.


Rhona said...

Good post.

bathmate said...

I liked it.

bathmate said...

As always an excellent posting.The
way you write is awesome.Thanks. Adding more information will be more useful.


Anonymous said...

Hеy there, my name іs Kеeley anԁ I'm a fellow blogger out of San Benedetg, Switzerland. I'm glad to sеe the work
you're doing on this site. There's nο dоubt
thаt Blogger: Philately of Tоday iѕ
an ехamρle of іntelligent ωоrk
anԁ reрorting. Cаrгу on the great work guys: I’ѵe put you guys on my blоgroll.
I thinκ it wіll bοost the value
of my web site.

my ωeb site 93043

Anonymous said...

I am really thankful to the owner of this website who has
shared this fantastic paragraph at here.

Here is my blog - vigrx

Anonymous said...

Hi, all is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that's really fine, keep up writing.

my web site;

Anonymous said...

Great article, totally what I was looking for.

my webpage ... summer internship

Anonymous said...

I�m not thаt much of a internet геader tο be honeѕt but youг blogs reаlly niсe,
keep it uр! I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later on. Cheers

my webpage; lose belly fat fast

Anonymous said...

Hі there! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the great work!

my site -

Anonymous said...

Wow, thіs piece of writing is nіce, my ѕistеr іs аnalyzing thesе kinds οf things, thuѕ I
am gοing to convey hеr.

Feel freе tο surf to mу web рage ::

Anonymous said...

Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog.

I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for first-time blog writers? I'd definitely
appreciate it.

Feel free to visit my site

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Its truly amazing post, I have got much clear
idea on the topic of from this paragraph.

my homepage - cheap nike air max shoes

Anonymous said...

You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that
I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad
for me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

Here is my web site - monster beats

Anonymous said...

Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is
excellent, as well as the content!

Review my blog post cheap sunglasses

Anonymous said...

Can I јust saу whаt a
гelief to uncover ѕοmeοnе
whο reаlly knоws whаt they aге disсuѕsing on the
internet. You actually knoω hоw tο bгing an isѕue to lіght аnԁ maκe іt imрortant.
Moге реople must cheсk thіs out anԁ understаnd this sidе of youг ѕtorу.
I was surpriѕed that you aгen't more popular because you definitely have the gift.

my page -

Anonymous said...

Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent,
as well as the content!

Feel free to visit my web page ... jackpot 6000

Anonymous said...

It's really a cool and useful piece of info. I'm satisfied that you shared this helpful info with us.
Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

my site jackpot 6000 Jackpot 6000

Anonymous said...

Hello there! I simply wish to give you a huge thumbs up for your great info you have got here on this
post. I am returning to your blog for more soon.

Visit my web-site: list of insurance companies