Lot #: 80255

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Description

**1st Day ISRAEL 15 MAY 1948 mail** OVERSEAS-bound cover with Mandate & interim markings (3 period cover): handwritten letter in German dated [Thursday] 13 May 1948, sent from Ahuza HAIFA to LONDON, on 25 mils pre-franked Mandate-era Air Letter stationary (the period rate for air mail to the UK) - here refranked 23 mils (2m underfranking) using interim stamps, probably because of the expected demonetization of the Mandate franks on 16 May (noted in the Post Office circulars of the period; interim franks would be tolerated until the 22nd) - and tied by 2 strikes of the HAIFA interim postmark; as backstamped 13 MY 48 at MOUNT CARMEL on Elhanan Street (which used interim cancellers), this is probably the post office which received the cover & cancelled the interim franks, using the Mandatory canceller as a dating device.
For whatever reason it took additional time + an extra transit point to process the mail, here on 15 MAY (the official 1st day of Israel as an independent country) - Saturday night/Jewish start of Sunday (after Shabbat) - at the AHUZAT SAMUEL postal agency on Moria Avenue (closer, ironically, to the sender's address), which per Fluri p.44 "kept irregular hours due to the patriotism of its manager and her desire to help people" (though he didn't have documentary evidence to show that it operated on the 15th). This is very rare and undocumented by any source: only 2 more post offices are known to have operated on the 15th, Pardess Hanna & Safed (and possibly also MOUNT CARMEL - see lot #81143) - and this is the only such dated overseas mail known to us.
The Ahuzat Samuel post office was so small it was not issued an interim cancelling device and only had the Mandate-era date cancel (GD-117), and this - correctly, per the new postal procedures, was used to cancel the Mandate franking for overseas mail (interim postmarks were not to be used to cancel franks on overseas mail, and interim franks were not to be used on overseas mail - a postal catch-22 at this time).
The additional franking is not for registered mail as the cover is not marked as such: though intended for airmail to the UK and in principle correctly franked for such it was unlikely sent by air as few air mail links existed in this period and the schedule was improvised; the 1st outbound shipment was via CSA to PRAGUE only on 26 May, and postal relations with the UK were re-established only on 22 July. Likely posted by surface mail (20m fee), and in this case it may be the 1st outbound surface mail from Israel, carried by the SS Franconia or the SS Argentina, from Haifa on 16 May - predating the famous outbound shipment (of mail to North America) by the American ship SS Marine Carp by 4 days. Stamped/certified on the inside corner by the noted Chicago philatelist Samuel Ray. POSTAL HISTORY GEM - a discovery piece.