Updated: Jan 26
Charles A. Lindbergh became a household name after he made the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris in May 1927. But he didn't rest on his laurels after that feat. To the contrary, he used his fame to promote airmail service. This cover is from one of those promotional flights.
On February 20-21, 1928, Lindbergh flew a series of flights between Chicago and St. Louis on a route referred to as "CAM-2."
CAM stands for "Contract Air Mail." In the 1920s, in an effort to help create a private aviation industry, the postmaster general contracted with private companies to carry mail over specific routes. CAM-2 was the route between Chicago and St. Louis (with intermediate stops in Springfield and Peoria) and was awarded to the Robertson Aircraft Corporation (RAC). Lindbergh was hired by RAC in 1925 and flew mail over CAM-2 until he left in February 1927 to work on the Spirit of St. Louis in San Diego. Lindbergh's notarized "Certificate of the Oath of Mail Messengers" for CAM-2 is shown in Figure 3.
So less than a year after his historic flight to Paris, Lindbergh was carrying mail on his old airmail route, but this time with considerable fanfare. Ten of thousands of self-addressed covers were carried by Lindbergh over this route.
Figure 4 is a photo of Lindbergh standing next to his Douglas mailplane prior to departing Chicago in the early morning hours of February 21. The mail compartment was just forward of the rear cockpit, so that is where this cover - and many more like it! - was stowed.
This particular cover was postmarked in Milwaukee on February 20, 1928 (Figure 1). It was received in Chicago early in the morning of February 21 (see upside-down postmark in Figure 2). It then made the flight to St. Louis where it was received and postmarked around 11:00 a.m. on February 21 (also Figure 2). It was then delivered to an addressee in St. Louis.
The cover has a nice bright red cachet depicting the Spirit of St. Louis and an eagle - that would be "The Lone Eagle," one of Lindbergh's nicknames. There's a horseshoe-shaped stamp with "Lindbergh Again Flies The Air Mail" and a "Via Air Mail" stamp noting the route was "C.A.M. 2."
The stamp is apropos. It was issued on June 18, 1927, as a tribute to Lindbergh. It was the first time a living person was honored on a US stamp. It depicts the Spirit of St. Louis and Lindbergh's route over the Atlantic Ocean. In the US Scott Catalog, it is number #C10, "C" being Scott's designation of an airmail stamp. The denomination of 10-cents covered the rate for an airmail letter at the time.
The addressee on the letter was Mr. Ernest Agustus Moseley of St. Louis. Ernest was born in 1892 in Bloomfield, Missouri, about 155 miles south of St. Louis. He married Gertrude Johnston in Bloomfield in 1916, and one of his two daughters was born there in 1917. By 1920, he was living in St. Louis where his second daughter was born. I don't know why he moved to the big city, but he lived in that metropolitan area for the rest of his life. He passed away at age 84 in 1976 and was buried at Mount Lebanon Cemetery in St. Louis. He was survived by his two daughters; his wife Gertrude passed away in 1974.
Who addressed the letter to Ernest from Milwaukee is a mystery. Based on census reports, it doesn't seem like Ernest had a job that would have required him to travel for business. He worked as a bank clerk or teller and held other clerical positions like a mail order clerk. None of his immediate family members lived outside of St. Louis. It was probably sent by a friend.
I purchased this item in December 2021 for $19.00 from Buystamps, a HipStamp and APS member dealer.
Figure 1 - Front
Figure 2 - Back
Figure 3 - Lindbergh's mail messenger oath
Figure 4 - Lindbergh prior to Chicago-St Louis Flight, February 21, 1928. Source: Henry Ford Museum.