Synoposis (of a 30-page article): an examination of a simple-looking interim period cover postmarked at the Haifa head post office on 6 May 1948 reveals extraordinary findings. First, we learn that the Haifa head post office came under interim control as scheduled on 6 May – contrary to what has been written in several key books of specialized postal history literature. Second, by way of investigating an unusual “via Taxi Kesher” routing notation on that cover, we learn that there was a phenomenon of mail from northern Mandate Palestine / interim Israel that was sorted in the north but postmarked in the south, at Tel Aviv, without any sorting office or transit markings – this we glean by observing Nahariya “emergency mail” whose unusual instances as these are sometimes called mail “carried by taxi”, but why?

 

To understand that phenomenon we first learn how mail entered the posts and was processed, we further learn that some cornerstone information from first-hand sources is inaccurate and that we need to study matters from the bottom, up: we learn about the types of postal markings used by the public counters and sorting offices, and we learn about postal routes and handling which would explain when and why we would see these markings; we learn that mail of the Nahariya type that was postmarked in Tel Aviv entered the mails through the Haifa head post office; we also learn – by studying situations in which we should expect to see sorting office and routing marks – that from the Haifa HPO there was a marked declined in these markings from about mid-April 1948, indeed that the sorting office markings ceased completely around that time.

 

We factor in historical circumstances to get a better sense of what occurred in the city at that time, and how this may have affected postal operations. We then consider how postal operations were handled here as opposed to at head post offices in the rest of the country: by studying mail we see clear and overt signs that there was a backlog of work at Haifa and that various postal functions were either curtailed or stopped altogether. A byproduct of our study reveals that there were multiple postmark devices of the same type in use at the HPO during the Israeli postal administration.

 

Marshalling documentary evidence from press reports from the period we uncover that indeed there were staffing and service shortages specifically at Haifa; that taxi services had been contracted in the past by the Mandate for the transit of mail – but that here in April-May 1948 – there was a special connection between the Haifian postal service and the Taxi Kesher company, and that the use of external transport services to augment the nascent Israeli Haifa postal service continued well into 1948. We end with the case of a cover return addressed from Tel Aviv and addressed to Haifa – but postmarked in Haifa, and posit that this may be mail of the same taxi transported kind, sent in the reverse direction.

 

The primary source book by Norman Collins, “The Crown Agents Requisition Books” - a compilation of postal supply orders from the Mandate era - was one of the last books I acquired, just a few months ago. Until then I’d built my philatelic library piece by piece, subject by subject, sparing no expense or effort in acquiring the books I needed to progressively understand different periods and subjects. Here though was a book whose name I came across from time to time but felt that as a compilation of orders it contained information that I wouldn’t really need know.

 

However as I became more immersed in philately and began specializing more in very specific subjects, like Mandate coil stamps, booklets and paper types, I found this source mentioned more and more, not just as a source of order quantities but as a primary - almost exclusive - source from which information was being extrapolated and conclusions inferred, sometimes by way of linkages between specific stamp types and orders which appeared in the compilation. Particularly when I began encountering stamps that didn't match the published data, such as dates of use or paper types used, I felt I had to get the book - urgently - and I did, but quite quickly I found many inconsistencies with the information and upon further research I reached the conclusion that this source is vastly incomplete and that at a minimum we must be very careful drawing conclusions from it. This article shares my research and findings:

New research shows that the domestic air mail service that existed in Palestine a) lasted much longer than previously known, and b) included not just mail between Tel Aviv and Haifa, but also mail from Jerusalem. All the details are in the latest edition of my free Handbook (https://jerusalemstamps.com/Handbook_Holyland_Postal_History.pdf) - see the relevant entries starting 28 Oct 1938 until August 1940.

 

In short, mail was flown (by Palestine Airways) between Tel Aviv and Haifa (and vice versa) from 28 October 1938 using the Tel Aviv Municipal Air Port (i.e. Sde Dov).

After an unexpected absence I’ll try closing the week with something interesting: this is mail from the last transport of mail out of besieged Jerusalem in 1948, 27 April.

 

What is it: a 24 April 1948 postmarked business-card sized cover, deposited at the Jerusalem head post office and charged the 10 mils letter rate.

 

By its small dimensions it actually qualifies for what the Mandate post termed “embarrassing postal packet” (in Hebrew, more accurately “troublesome mail” - doar mafriim)