Edited by C.S. Holder
Prepared in digital format by Mark Hayhurst
Copyright © 1974. The France & Colonies Philatelic Society of Great Britain.
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A pneu, during its journey from the sender to the addressee, might have to be transferred from one tube line to another and when this occurred the office of exchange applied its date stamp on the back. Using date stamps incorporating times, the times of each stage of a journey could be ascertained. At the big exchanges of Central and Bourse a stamp was mechanically applied.
Around 1930 a date stamp of the 'Rotoplan' type was introduced with the year appearing at the bottom; shortly afterwards there was another on the same pattern but within the year in the central slug. This is not an exhaustive list of the postmarks but served to illustrate the principal ones.
Figure 12a. Postmarks of the Pneumatic Post.
Figure 12b. Postmarks & sundry cachets of the Pneumatic Post.
The auxiliary marks on the conventional post have also been applied to pneus, often in a particular context. A pneu put, not into the correct and smaller box, but into an ordinary post-box would, on being sorted, receive the post office date stamp and also the mark 'TROUVE A LA BOITE' before being transferred to the telegraph counter where the telegraph date stamp would be applied. In much the same way, a pneu put into a box attached to the rear of a tram would be taken to the post office adjacent to the Paris terminus of the route of that tram, receive there the post office date stamp and 'B M' (for boite mobile) before being transferred to the telegraph counter where again the telegraph date stamp would be applied. Other postal marks such as 'AFFRANCHISSEMENT INSUFFISANT' or 'PARVENU SANS ADRESSE' or 'RETARDE FORTUITEMENT' were equally applied to pneus. In the early days of the pneumatic post, pneus might be addressed, by accident or otherwise, beyond its boundaries; they were then endorsed in manuscript 'Hors limites' or 'Hors service' and transferred to the post. The sorters tired of writing and made up their own handstamps for these and other annotations. In this category of individual initiative handstamps is 'BOURSE B' (B for banlieue) applied to pneus arriving at Bourse for the suburbs after the last despatch and held there overnight.
A handstamp often found on pneus of 1938 and the five following years refers to the registration of pneumatic mail. The 2 francs letter-card of 1938 contained on the back the information that pneumatic mail could be registered in the same way as ordinary mail and this facility was widely publicized by a cachet applied by hand to the front of a pneu. There are numerous varieties, those of 1938 show that there was a special registration fee of 1.50 franc for pneus but the later cachets merely announce the facility.
Also from individual initiative came handstamps for deficient payment, such as PCV for 'à percevoir', and T 0 0, writing in a digit between the two zeroes to show the tax. The pneumatic service was for a long time less severe than the ordinary post in taxing a deficiency and until 1926 only the simple difference was taxed. The original compulsory use of the official postal stationery and the weight limitation of 7 grams made underpayment impossible but after the concessions of 1896 and 1898 underpayments could and did occur. If a pneu or a privately printed envelope bearing postage stamps appropriate to the tariff for 7 grams weighed more than this (but not more than 30 grams) the addressee had the option either of paying the simple difference or of refusing to pay in which case the item was transferred to the ordinary post and delivered later. After 1926, under the same conditions, double the deficiency was required although items were subsequently retained in the pneumatic post provided they were prepaid to at least half the correct fee but still the addressee could not immediately receive them unless he paid the amount due.
When pieced together, it was found that the petit bleu contained a message to another French officer, Esterhazy, implicating him in the offences attributed to Dreyfus. Thus started the chain of events which culminated in 1906 with the ceremonial restoration of his commission to Dreyfus in that courtyard of the Ecole Militaire lying just behind the Pavillon de l'Artillerie which had housed the telegraph office Ecole Militaire until its closure in 1891.
The engineering aspects of the service are recounted in 'Le réseau pneumatique de Paris' M Gaillard, Revue des PTT de France, 1, 1959.
The postal markings of the 1 9th century are studied in 'Oblitérations du service des pneumatiques de 1879 à 1900' R Cantais, Feuilles Marcophiles, 168, 1966.
The present writer warmly acknowledges his debt to these authors, and, additionally to M Gaillard for arranging visits to the installations in Paris, and to M Cantais who, until his death in 1971, was always ready to pass on the results of his researches at the Musée Postal. Recent research, as yet unpublished, by Dr. G Rykner has also generously been made available to the author.
Tribute is due to the A.C.E.P. members who contributed to these excellent catalogues, the numbering of which has been respected in the abbreviated listings which follow of the postal stationery.
The writer expresses his gratitude to M A Fileyssant for permission to reproduce the hexagonal postmark of place Ventadour and to Mr J E Colley for drawing the postmarks shown in the illustrations.
The catalogues of the postal stationery are:
'Catalogue des entiers postage de France' Association des Collectionneurs d'Entiers Postaux 1965,
and, with more specialist detail,
'Catalogue complet des entiers postaux de France et Colonies' A.C.E.P., with Supplement 3, 1969
These listings are very similar to those in the American Postal Stationery Catalogues published by Higgins & Gage, but the catalogue numbers do not quite correspond.
|1896||(17 September)||50c||up to 7g|
|1f||7 - 15g|
|1,50f||15 - 30g|
|Up to 7g||7 - 15g||15 - 30g|
|1||1879||75c Sage modified TELEGRAMME|
|4||1882||50c with map of Paris, blue shading at west|
|5||1883||50c -do-, blue shading at west and north|
|6||1884||50c -do-, no shading|
|7||1885||50c No 6 with 'Valable pour tout Paris'|
|8-15||50c no map||(differing perforations)|
|1f with reply coupon|
|16-26||1897||50c CARTE PNEUMATIQUE FERMEE||(differing inscription on back)|
|1f with reply coupon|
|27-70||1902||30/50c||(on previous types and with differing surcharges)|
|71||30c black on blue CARTE PNEUMATIQUE|
|72,74||30c red on blue||(differing inscription on back)|
|73,75||30c + 30c|
|76||1907||30c Sower||(differing inscriptions on front and on back)|
|84||30c + 30c|
|89-92||1927||1.50f (differing colours)|
|99,100||1950||45f (differing inscription on back)|
|103,104||1960||1.25f (differing colours)|
|106-109||1965||1.60f (differing inscriptions on back)|
|1||1879||50c Sage modified CARTE TELEGRAMME|
|2||1880||50c Sage Chaplain|
|3||50c + 50c|
|4||30/50c Sage modified|
|6||30c + 30c/50c + 50c|
|8||30c + 30c|
|9||1882||30c with map of Paris, blue shading at west|
|10||1883||-do-, blue shading at west and north|
|11||1884||-do-, no shading|
|16,18,19||1885||30c No. 11 with 'Valable pour tout Paris'|
|17||30c + 30c No. 8|
|20,22||30c no map|
|21,23||1887||30c + 30c no map|
|24,25,27||1897||30c CARTE PNEUMATIQUE|
|26,28,29||30c + 30c|
|1||1885||75c TUBES PNEUMATIQUES|
|6-8||1897||50c (two formats) ENVELOPPE PNEUMATIQUE|
|9-15||1902||30/50c on previous types|
|17-19||1907||30c Sower (differing inscriptions on back)|
|23,24,25||1928||1.50f (differing colours)|
|1||1884||30c + 30c Chaplain on card|
|2-5||1890||30c + 30c on paper (differing inscriptions)|
|6-8||1909||30c + 30c Sower (-do-)|
|9-10||1921||60c + 60c Chaplain (-do-)|
|11||1925||1f + 1f|
|12-14||1928||1.50f + 1.50f (-do-)|
|15||1939||2f + 2f|
|16||1943||3f + 3f|
|17||1947||6f + 6f|
|2||30c + 30c|
|6,7||1929||1.50f (differing colours)|