An Aerogram or Air Letter, also called an aérogramme, is a thin lightweight piece of foldable and gummed paper for writing a letter for transit via
airmail, in which the letter and envelopeare one and the same. Most postal administrations forbid enclosures in these light letters, which are usually sent abroad at a preferential rate.
The majority of aerograms have a pre-paid
indicia, except New Zealand, Rhodesiaand Ireland and many more countries, which sold, or sell, unstamped aerograms. The unstamped aerograms are referred to as 'formular aerograms'. They can be issued by either postal authorities or by private companies. Senders are required to write their name and address on the reverse.
The aerogram was largely popularised by its use during the Second World War (1939-45), after Lieutenant Colonel R. E. Evans,
Royal Engineers, Assistant Director Army Postal Service Middle East Force (MEF), proposed that a lightweight self-sealing letter card that weighed only 1/10 oz be adopted by the British Army for air mail purposes. He recommended its use to Sir Anthony Eden, the Secretary of State for War during his visit to the Middle East, in late 1940. By January the following year, General Archibald Percival Wavell, the Commander-in-Chief, MEF was told by Eden that "Your Assistant Director Army Postal Services may forthwith introduce an Air Mail Letter Card Service for the Middle East. Use British stamps from all countries, including Egypt."
1 March 1941, the air mail service between the Middle East and the UK was started, using a combination of Imperial Airways seaplanes and military transport. The private nature of the air letter ensured its popularity among its users and that popularity, with its lightness, brought about its continued use as today's civilian air letter (aerograms) and the British military "bluey".
The production of
United Statesaerograms has ceased, and when the stock of aerograms has been depleted, including the current USPS60¢ "Voyageurs National Park" aerogram that is still on sale, it will not be reprinted. [Airpost Journal: vol 78, no.2, February 2007 pub: [http://www.americanairmailsociety.org/ American Air Mail Society] ]
* [http://www.upu.int/acts/en/2_letter_en.pdf Letter Post Manual] (
Universal Postal Union, Berne, 1985). Sets out UPU regulations applicable to aerogrammes.
* [http://www.remuseum.org.uk/specialism/rem_spec_pcsww2.htm#airletter Royal Engineers Museum] Army Postal Services (1939-45)- origins of Aerogram
* [http://www.aerogramme.com Aerogramme Society website] a comprehensive source on aerogram related topics
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