Local letter was a type of mail delivery that lasted for the whole duration of the M30 period of use. Local letter was, however, discontinued quick after M30 was retired, on 30.6.1963 – a half-year later. The local letter is a letter that has been sent within a municipality or a city, or within an area that is considered a ”local rate” area. The maximum weight of a local letter was 500g and heavier letters were carried by using the regular letter rate.
The local letter rate changed twelve times during the 33 years of M30 period of use. In this article, which is the first part of a series of articles describing local letters, I will present some postal items from the first four local letter rate-periods; during the four first periods there were no ”local rate areas” they were instituted in 1946.
When collecting local letters it is to be noted that as Helsinki is the largest city in Finland there are significantly more local letters travelled within Helsinki. As a matter of fact the case has been this even to the extent that any local letters from outside of Helsinki are to be generally considered ”better” or ”more difficult” objects. Local letters travelled in other major cities are also quite common, but items that have travelled within small cities or municipalities can be considered sometimes even difficult objects and are far more desirable as exhibition pieces. This has been stated also in a recent article about local letters by Juhani Kerppola, one of the better known M30 postal history collectors, in ”Filatelisti”*.
The normal surcharges such as express delivery, registration, insurance, collect (cash) on delivery, and acknowledgement of delivery were in effect also for local letters and any combination of surcharges are also possible, also postage due items exist. What is not ”possible” is air mail, at least it does not make any sense. Pictures of some interesting local letters are visible in the article by Kerppola.
When one is building an exhibition collection of local letters one should include also in addition to the basic local letter rates also ”specialities” that is, different kind of rate and surcharge combinations and other than first weight class items, preferably from small municipalities or cities. I still have some way to go….
First rate-period (15.1.1926) 1.1.1930 – 30.11.1931, from the beginning of the period of use of M30 definitives, rate time 1y 11mo.
Second rate-period 1.12.1931 – 15.6.1940, lenght of the period 9yrs 6½mo
Above: Registered second weight class local letter 1.3.1932 in Helsinki. Rate (21-125g) 3,00mk, registration 1.12.1931 – 31.8.1942 2,00mk, total 5,00mk.
Above: A registered express delivery local letter in Helsinki 3.10.1935, M30 5mk St. Olav’s castle, 2mk blackblue and 50p green, total 7,50mk. Rate: Local letter (-20g) 1,50mk, registration 1.12.1931 – 31.8.1942 2,00mk, express surcharge 1.1.1935 – 24.7.1942 4,00mk, total 7,50mk. Above: A local letter 33.2.1938 in Helsinki. The sender has tried to send a local letter with 6pcs M17 30p green stamps, a total of 1,80mk. Rate: (-20g) 1,50mk. M17 stamps’ validity ended on 31.12.1930 that is over seven years earlier. Because of the invalidity of the M17 stamps the letter has been marked postage due, stamped with the ”T” stamp, and a postage due label has been attached. The postage due rate was twice the missing postage (starting on 15.1.1926 and running through the whole validity of the M30 definitives) in this case 2x 1,50mk = 3mk). The postage due has been done by cancelling three M30 1mk orange stamps with a pen. Above: Postage due on a local letter in Helsinki 15.9.1933. Rate (-20g) 1,50mk, but the sender has attached originally only a 1,25mk yellow M30 definitive, making the the letter 25p under the rate. Postage due 50p (twice the missing postage) and paid by cancelling two 20p green and one 10p grey with a pen.
Above: A ship letter ”Laivakirje – Paquebot” from Sweden (Stockholm) to Turku, where arrival stamped in 1933 (date visible on the cover by looking against bright light) and at the same time stamped ”T” postage due stamp, and attached a postage due label. Postage due 3,00mk twice the local letter rate, as the letter is a local letter. Most likely this is an arrival notice already ”packed” in Stockholm by the shipping company that has been put in a mailbox / posted in a post office in Turku on the ship’s arrival. [Comment: A similar object was sold, not long ago, for a lot of money – this one was purchased in an auction in the beginning of 2014 for less than ten euro]
Third rate period 16.6.1940 -31.3.1942, length of period 1y 9,5mo
Above: A large size local letter in Helsinki 30.6.1941. M30 2mk carmine red. Cover stamped with a message cancel and then only the stamp has bee attached and stamped presumably by hand. Rate: Taksa (-20g) 2,00mk.
Fourth rate-perios 1.4.1942 – 31.8.1942, lenght of the period 4mo; the rate of the first weight class local letters remained the same as during the preceding rate-period, but all the other weight classes were changed. The division into weight classes changed that is, the number of weight classes was changed from four to three and this caused also the weights assigned to each weight class to change.
I have ways to go on the first and the fourth rate period, luckily postal history and philately are hobbies that do not incur time pressure and will never be ”complete” either for that matter. The best thing about this local letter thing that I found is that by going through one’s own piles of letters and postal items one sometimes finds very nice ”new” local letter objects.
*Juhani Kerppola, Postilähetyslajit 1930 – 1962, Osa 3. PAIKALLISKIRJE, FIlatelisti, 2/2013, s.46 -49