Monday, December 4, 2017

Ambridge memorabilia: National Air Mail Week cacheted envelope, 1938

Ambridge National Air Mail Week postal cover
May 19, 1938

I've added postal cachets to my growing list of "random things I now know something about only because I've been researching Ambridge's history":

This envelope, postmarked May 19, 1938, in Ambridge, was part of a U.S. Postal Service week-long promotion of air mail. I think most of us now assume that mail going any distance travels by air. But not so in 1938, when mail primarily traveled by trucks, trains, and ships. Cross-country or overseas letters could take weeks to arrive at their destination.

The Postmaster General at the time, James Farley, declared May 15 - 21, 1938, "National Air Mail Week" (NAMW) to mark the 20th Anniversary of the first scheduled delivery of mail by plane. All local postmasters were encouraged to create a unique commemorative NAMW “cachet”-- that design on the left side of the envelope--to mark the event. And they were supposed to bring attention to the benefits of air mail. Citizens were urged to send at least one letter by air mail during the NAMW celebration.

May 19, the day of the postmark on the never-mailed envelope above, was the day chosen for special NAMW events. Among the events were one-time-only NAMW plane flights, with planes carrying mail between the many towns celebrating NAMW. Many of those towns didn't have airports, but landing strips for small planes were prepared on local streets and fields.

Ambridge's NAMW cachet, featuring Old Economy Village, was one of an estimated 10,000 that were used in towns across the country. I don't know if a plane landed in Ambridge on May 19, 1938, but I'm going to try to find out. I'll update this post if I find any more information.

Here's a closeup view of the Ambridge cachet:

Ambridge NAMW cachet

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