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Show & Tell

Week of December 30, 2013

No.25 The famous "London to London" Semi-Official Airmail - Canada #CLP6, 1927

Aviation and philately have always been closely tied, so it is no wonder that airmail stamps and postal history are so popular. The stamp shown here tells an interesting story.

In 1927, flying across the Atlantic was all the rage. Lindbergh completed a Trans-Atlantic flight in May, but a dozen others lost their lives in other attempts. The world was fascinated by the daring aviators who attempted the dangerous flight. Carling Breweries of London Ontario offered a $25,000 prize to any Canadian or British pilot who could fly non-stop from London Ontario to London England. Since it was not possible to fly that distance on a single load of fuel, the rules were changed to allow a landing in Newfoundland for refueling.

The plane 'Sir John Carling' piloted by Captain Terrence B. Tully and Lieutenant James Medcalf took off from London Ontario on 05 September 1927. After stopping at St. John's Newfoundland, Tully and Medcalf headed across the Atlantic carrying mail franked with a special 25¢ airmail stamp that bore their portraits (#CLP6). The plane never arrived in England. The letters, plane and pilots were all lost at sea, probably off the coast of Newfoundland and no letters bearing these stamps were ever recovered.

In 2010 the stamp, about nine genuine ones known, was featured in an auction sale. The stamp realized $29,900 which turns out to be even more than the prize of $25,000 originally offered for the flight. (fa)