Posts by Bjoern

    Dear all,

    I would like to inform you, that the collection of Denis Vandervelde wil be sold at Cavendish-Auctions (in total 230 lots, including many unique or rare items). This will be a festival for disinfected mail and to honour Denis as the founder of our Disinfected Mail Study Circle and mentor regarding postal history and disinfected mail in special for many of us I wish that as much as possible will pay attention to this unique offer.

    The auction will take place on 8 March 2023.

    The catalogue will be on-line by 13 February, and can be accessed at . The printed catalogue will be available week beginning 13 February.


    The following "biography" was provided by Cavendish-Auctions:

    Denis Vandervelde’s interest in Postal History began while he was a student at Oxford University in the early 1950s. He is undoubtedly a truly Pioneer Postal Historian because he has been collecting for over 60 years; he is the preeminent collector of disinfected mail and the principal world-renowned expert in that field. Denis’s interest in disinfected mail was recently chronicled in the 2021 book ‘Until Proven Safe’, by Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley. This book includes more than 20 references to Denis and specifically quotes him several times. For example, he told the authors that when evacuated from London during the Blitz in 1940, he realised that he would never excel as a philatelist because he was both “penniless, and worse, colour-blind”…! Focusing subsequently on prestamp mail was clearly the ideal solution. In recent years, Denis has sadly suffered very poor health following a fall, and so he has now decided to part with all of his collections, because it is no longer possible for him to enjoy them. He very much hopes that other collectors will enjoy the material in the lots that follow as much as he has done (in some cases for over half a century!).

    This is probably the largest collection of Disinfected Mail ever to have come under the hammer, and so this auction undoubtedly represents a unique opportunity for collectors to add many ‘finest available’ and/or ‘one of a kind’ items – as well as many other rarities - to their collections. Denis joined the prestigious Society of Postal Historians in 1963, served as the society’s Secretary from 1967 to 1971, edited its magazine ‘Postscript’ from 1972 to 1981, and is now a Life Fellow. He has significantly added to our knowledge of worldwide disinfected mail over many years, writing numerous articles that greatly expanded the available information first published in Meyer’s superb 1962 “Disinfected Mail” handbook. Denis founded the Disinfected Mail Study Circle in 1973 and edited its newsletter, Pratique, for decades. In addition, he has maintained an active interest in Holy Land Postal History (especially crash mail) and he is a former editor of both the Holy Land Philatelic Society magazine and of the TPO and Seapost magazine. His collections of these other areas are also very significant; they will be offered along with his other varied collections in another Cavendish auction later in 2023.

    Denis has aimed to gather together examples of every available lazaretto wax seal and handstruck (or manuscript) marking on covers, alongside many fascinating printed or manuscript public notices that document quarantine regulations from all around the world which led to the disinfection of mail (from the 17th to the 20th centuries), together with ‘health passports’ both for individuals and ships. The collection also includes special studies of Leper Colony Mail and covers related to Vaccination or animal and plant importation restrictions.

    Dear Roland,

    unfortunately Andre passed away 16 month ago (he was only in his 50es - he died due to cancer).

    This in one reason that there is no much traffic in this forum within the last 2 years.

    I would be interested on the following letter due to the early date:

    "Berlin to Bordeaux Aug 27th 1831 , which seems an early date, "Prusse par Forbach" entry"

    Can you show us a picture of this letter. Thanks in advance.



    Sorry - I have no expertise in this topic. I just can tell that in book of K.F. Meyer "Disinfected Mail" (page 234) it is stated for Duchy of Parma:

    "... A folded letter from Genova addressed to Parma, dated 1836, in the collection of K.F. Meyer shows six uniformally arranged rastel punch holes. This type of perforation for disinfection was common in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire but not in the Italian Duchies or Kingdom. It may have been used at Parma."




    attached you can find a scan of the requested article about Portugal from Denis Vandervelde in Pratique Volume XXIX N.2

    Hope that this will help you - if you have any interesting you would like to share we are happy the hear your conclusions.




    • Pratique.pdf

      (4.35 MB, downloaded 13 times, last: )


    this looks very interesting, but I am not sure if this is a device to puncture letters. I have never seen such a pattern. The "spikes" are very close together and they seem not very deep so in case of a "thick" letter they may not go through the paper.

    Also the area seems quiet small. But all of this is hard to judge just by seeing the pictures.

    What is the size of this device? How does the pattern look like after treating a letter? Can you please try it on a 4 layer paper and show an example how it looks like afterwards?



    Dear all,

    a friend of mine showed me the attached letter:

    November 14th, 1873: Letter from Luebeck (Germany) to Palermo (arrival November 20th 1873), vertical slit and discolored paper (disinfection ?).


    Unfortunately I could not help him out. Does anybody can help out regarding the following questions:

    1. Where did the disinfection took place?
    2. Was there any special epedimic as reason for an disinfection at this specific time?

    Thanks in advance,


    Another letter with this rare cachet "GEREINIGT VON AUSSEN NÜRNBERG".

    The letter was written on July 12th 1805 in Livorno (refer to scan of the letter content), maybe taken by a forwarder to Bavaria (due to the fact that the letter is missing any postal remark from Livorno) and then running by the post via Nuernberg and Prussia (probably Berlin) to Riga.

    Unclear is the cachet "R" on the front of the letter. Similar types of such a cachet were used later (from 1826 onwards) on letters from Russia to Prussia - but not so early like this one (1805) and not for letter going the other way round into Russia.


    Bavarian-rate: 6 Gutegroschen x 4 = 24 Prussian Groschen = 24 russian Kopeks (refer to red 6 on the front-page)

    Prussian-rate: 44 Prussian Groschen + 1,5 special border postage for letter to baltic areas = 45,5 russian Kopeks

    Russian-rate: 28,5 russian Kopeks

    --> in total 98 russion Kopeks (69,5 Kopeks for Prussia) [refer to "tax-tree" on the back-side)

    Has anybody any idea regarding the cachet "R". May it be Italian?


    in the actual auction of Auction Galleries in Hamburg another letter to Livorno is on offer:

    "1672, letter to Livorno (Leghorn) addressed to Francisco Venturini, sent via the Thurn & Taxis postal system (the postal service from Hamburg via Cologne was established in 1616), endorsed ”franco Mantova”. An early disinfected letter showing discolouration due to baking or treatment with vinegar."

    Please refer to attachment.

    Where took a possible disinfection place?



    Mail Bombs are in a way related to the subject of disinfected mail:

    • the mail is potential dangerous to the recepient
    • authorities are taken actions for defenses, to ensure save communication

    Definition: Mail bombs are mostly explosive devices in, generally, two categories: Parcel bombs and Letter bombs

    Defending against mail bombs: e.g. education, X-ray machines and sniffer dogs

    A good overview is given by:

    Dale Speirs: The History of Mail Bombs, Postal History Journal No. 122 (June 2002) & Postal History Journal No. 123 (October 2002) & Postal History Journal No. 124 (February 2003)

    Just to get a first impression refer to actual warnings by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (link and attachment):

    By accident I found an interesting notice in the exhibition catalogue of the Stamp Exhibition 1935 in Hannover:

    Within the exhibition class XI "Pre-Philately" (in German: "Vorphilatelistische Briefe und Ganzsachen") there was the following collection (No. 97):

    Kumpf-Mikuli, Major, Wien (Viena): "Cholerabriefe" ("Cholera letters")

    In the exhibition catalogue the collection is introduced by a quiet long (German) explanation:

    "Um die Ausbreitung von Seuchen zu bekämpfen, wurden in den verschiedenen Ländern sanitäre Maßnahmen getroffen, denen auch die Briefe aus verschiedenen Ländern unterlagen. Besonders als im Jahr 1831 die Cholera von Asien über Rußland auch das übrige Europe bedrohte, begann man, aus postalische Abwehrmaßnahmen planmäßig vorzunehmen. Man unterzog die Briefe einer Desinfektion an den Grenzämtern. Das Desinfizieren geschah entweder derart, dass der Brief geöffnet und gereinigt wurde, oder man versah in mit Löchern und Einschnitten, damit die Desinfektionsdämpfe in der Innere dringen konnten. Solche gereinigte Briefe erhielten dann Sanitätsstempel. Siegel oder handschriftliche Vermerke. Die Cholerabriefe sind postalisch und kulturhistorisch interessane Zeugen einer vergangenen Zeitepoche, wo der Schreckensruf "Pest" und "Cholera" Europa ebensoin Atem hielt wie blutige Kriege; es ist daher begreiflich, dass sie gesuchte Studien- und Sammelobjekte sind."

    The collection was awarded with a bronze medal (refer to Germania-Berichte No. 6, June 1935).

    Maybe the first special collection of disinfected mail which was presented in a competitive stamp exhibition by the famous phe-philatelic collector Kumpf-Mikuli. (It would be nice if we could prove the provenience of disinfected mail out of this collection "ex Kumpf-Mikuli".)