Salvaged Mail Comet Crash Near Calcutta 1953

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comet crash 1953

Crash covers are one of the branches in aerophilately that are not planned (compared to first day cover) and represent a ‘true postal history’.

They often bear the trauma of the tragedy, and are constant reminders of such events. Crash covers are not particularly easy to come by and the thrill of finding one is elating.

On the 2nd of May 1953, a BOAC Comet-1 flight brought 43 people on board from Calcutta, India for London. The plane was thought to have crashed 6 minutes after taking off due to exceptionally severe tropical storm. All 43 people on board the ill-fated flight died in the tragedy.

Salvaged mails from in the aftermath of the crash often bear a special cachet and are quite rare, at least from the region of British Borneo. They are highly sought after.

The cover

This interesting cover from North Borneo which was spotted from previous Gosvenor Auction is a testify to the tragedy that happened near Calcutta in 1953. The cover is a registered post from Sandakan to Messrs. Harrisons & Crosfield Limited, London. It is unusually franked with high value stamps of North Borneo totalling $24 – one stamp washed out so total franking should be higher.

The mail is marked with the usual cachet of “Salvaged Mail. “Comet” Crash Near Calcutta. 2nd May 1953″ and bears the trauma of the tragedy. It is mildly water-damaged with some faults on the stamps.

Sold for £230

comet crash near calcutta 1953

Further reading on the comet crash.

3 thoughts on “Salvaged Mail Comet Crash Near Calcutta 1953

  • May 7, 2016 at 2:23 am
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    It is interesting to see this cover online looking rather differently. I am the current owner of it and had gotten it from an auction house from Australia. I had never seen this image but instead, what I was presented was a “cosmetically” enhanced. I believe one of the past owners, or the auction house that have bought this cover repaired it. The stamps are no longer creased and placed in a much presentable position (although I would be gladly pleased with the condition of image you have posted). May I know when was this sold?

    Reply
    • May 7, 2016 at 9:55 am
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      Hi Johnson, first of all, congratulation on possessing such a nice cover! The cover was auctioned in March 2005 in Grosvenor. You raised an interesting point there that the cover has been cosmetically enhanced from its supposedly original appearance. From the perspective of crash covers, I think any features associated with the catastrophic incident including but not limited to creases, missing stamps, stains, tear etc. are somewhat more desirable. However, I am not sure if a cosmetically improved crash cover would sell better in an auction.

      Reply
      • May 7, 2016 at 10:29 am
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        It did, I paid way much more than what it originally sold for against another bidder as I bid solely based on the image supplied by the auction house. The stamps have been “rearranged” (as the earlier image, the cover must have been wet and the stamps not in the original position) and the pair of $2 flattened out. Looks like it pays to read older auction catalogues!

        Reply

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