Arago: Pioneer Period (1783-1918)

Pioneer Period (1783-1918)

Aeroplane mail flight stamped envelope

Scott Catalogue USA: U406
American Air Mail Catalog: 84

Gustave Stromer, owner of the airplane manufacturing company in Tacoma, Washington, constructed a hydroplane that provided daily passenger service between Tacoma and Seattle, a distance of about twenty-five miles. The first passenger was Miss Jane O'Roark, a musical comedy actress.

On February 20, 1915, the date of the first flight, Stromer arranged with Postmaster F. R. Stocking of Tacoma for the transport of a pouch of mail.

Officials postmarked about forty-five pieces of mail at Tacoma at 10 a.m., which were flown to Seattle under the care of Miss O'Roark, who had been sworn-in as an aerial mail carrier. Upon arrival in Seattle, Miss O'Roark personally delivered the mail pouch to Seattle's postmaster, Edgar Battle. The pouch included several special delivery letters. There are no known records verifying that the flights continued on subsequent days.

A Tacoma Post Office penalty envelope is known postmarked on February 18. This envelope bears the cachet that was applied to all flown mail - "AEROPLANE MAIL / Carried between TACOMA & SEATTLE / By GUSTAVE STROHMER." Collectors believe that this cover was held until February 20 and then flown by Stromer. Stromer's name was misspelled on the cachet.

Newman S. Pratt, a Tacoma-area merchant, mailed this card to his father, LeRoy Pratt, department store proprietor in Seattle, on Stromer's February 20 flight. It bears the cachet mentioned above as well as two postmarks, one from Tacoma and the other applied in Seattle. Though the Tacoma postmark bears the date February 20, 1915, and time 10 a.m. The Seattle postmark indicates that the cover was returned to the sender as unclaimed on March 3. A straightline killer bar announcing the World's Panama Pacific Exposition, 1915, cancels the 2-cent indicia. It also appears in the lower left corner.

February 20, 1915
paper; ink
Museum ID:
Place of Origin:
Tacoma, Washington
Place of Destination:
Seattle, Washington
The Benjamin K. Miller Stamp Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

  • 1915 Tacoma-Seattle, Washington flight stamped envelope
  • 1915 Tacoma to Seattle, Washington experimental hydro-airplane flight stamped envelope
Additional Records

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