Rates and Operations: 1.10.1916 to 3.4.1938

Rates and Ops: index 1875 to 30.9.1916 4.4.1938 to 1945 1945 onwards

Effects of the war

The expansion of the pneumatic system had slowed somewhat after 1900, but it was abruptly stopped by the declaration of the First World War. During the war itself only Wien 53 had to close (in 1914, reopening in 1921), and the operations of Wien 34 when in 1917 the office moved. During the war years the pneumatic trains ran every 20 minutes instead of 10, on some lines trains ran only when necessary, and others replaced trains with hourly messenger journeys. However, as the war continued there was a severe shortage of coal; this lasted into the post-war years. In winter 1918-19 the shortage of coal became especially acute and forced the stoppage of all machinery driven by steam engines. The pneumatic trains could run only as long as air produced by electrically-driven machines was available to drive them; only a central core remained functional. (Details in Hajek's History of the Viennese Pneumatic Mail.)

Wien 111 (as well as a number of non-pneumatic post offices) had to be closed temporarily during the winter of 1919-1920. There was a severe restriction of the tram service especially in the evenings, and earlier closing of Post Offices during the winter months. In the period 1921-1924, the unfavourable financial situation of the government forced the closing of nine pneumatic services: the offices at Reichsrat, Wien 8, 10, 13, 25, 53, 68, 85 and 111.

Changes to regulations

From 1.10.1916, according to Schneiderbauer, 2nd edition (1981) pp209-210 and Hajek pp 51-52, the basis changed. The new Postordnung at 98 prescribed that, by paying in addition to the normal postage a charge equal to the express delivery charge, one could send an item of ordinary mail by the pneumatic post, and have it delivered to the destination address. The special stationery of letter-cards and post-cards continued to be issued until 1922, with imprints of 27H and 25H. The last envelope was the 45H Jubilee issue in 1908. See here for when the special stationery became formally invalid or effectively useless; and here for the addition of imprints to uprate old stock for new rates.

The first issue of the fundamental Postal Decree was in 1916***. Hajek at the bottom of page 51 says "Durch die 1. Ausgabe der Postordnung im Jahre 1916..." printed in "Post und Telegraphen-verordnungsblatt Nr 76, Wien den 24. September 1916". It was first issued as 1916 RGB 317; it is 82 pages long, and came into effect on 1 October 1916. Section 98 deals with Rohrpost. It is important to note that with a Circular-Verordnung or a Post- und Telegraphen-Verordnungsblatt, the date in the heading is that on which the document was formally issued; and the date at the end is that when it was filed; neither is the date when it came into effect, which may be earlier or later unless the text is explicit. Where independent confirmation of a date is possible one usually finds that such documents record what has already taken place.

*** Note. A more accessible source of Post Office Promulgations is the two books by Karasek, "Inflation in Österreich 1918-1925" and "Österreich 1925-1938". Be aware, however, that there are several gaps in the information. One of the larger gaps was the 1926 issue of the fundamental Postal Decree. Karasek seems never to have found that document, and to have taken all the amendments he did find to be changes to the previous (1922) Decree.

The second issue was in 1922. Hajek (middle of page 52) says "Durch die zweite Ausgabe der Postordnung (PVBl 35/22)". It is 1922 BGB 406, 64 pages, effective from 15 July 1922.

The third issue was in 1926: 1926 BGB 329, again 64 pages, issued 17 November, gazetted 22 November, effective from 1 December 1926.

The fourth issue was during 1931; it was the third issue with all the 1926-31 amendments incorporated.

From 1.10.1916 to 1918, a partially-franked item would be forwarded by pneumatic post provided it carried at least the pneumatic surcharge (Postordnung 98); any deficiency was (according to 48 or 50) doubled then rounded up to the next 5 above, and the amount which the recipient had to pay indicated with Postage Dues. If an item didnt have enough to cover the surcharge it was treated as underpaid surface mail. The second (1922) issue of the Postordnung reversed this change to 98: only fully franked items would be forwarded by pneumatic post.

After 1922, pneumatic mail had to have "Rohrpost" written on it, or a red vignette with black imprint "Rohrpost". Later, instead of the cachet "Auf dem Briefkasten" on pneumatic items wrongly posted in the yellow postboxes instead of the red, a sticker was used. If mail was marked "express" and correctly franked, then since the same surcharge applied for pneumatic and express delivery the Post decided for themselves whether or not to use the Rohrpost. Thus the Rohrpost became (especially after 1945) an internal postal forwarding facility. The "Instradierungs-Chiffre" are found on the mail right to the end.

From 1 August 1925, letters sent via the pneumatic post to a Vienna railway station post-office for onward transmission as an ordinary (non-express) letter were charged only half the pneumatic surcharge. See 1925 RGB 228, amending 98 of the 1922 Postordnung. This is repeated in Wurth (vol 11 p99) and Hajek (pp53-54); the latter gives P.u.T.V.Bl.50/25 as the authority. Also from that date, items sent via the pneumatic post could be registered (same decree).

On 1 Jan 1930, the previous difference between express mail and pneumatic mail was eliminated (see 1929 RGB 404 (repeated, Hajek says, as P.u.T.V.Bl.56/29) which announced changes to 98 of the Postordnung. The half-rate concession was withdrawn, and the whole and half-price pneumatic surcharge was replaced by the full express fee. The difference had consisted mainly in that "express mail" paid only for express delivery at the delivery destination, while "pneumatic mail" paid for express delivery only in Vienna as well as for the pneumatic forwarding. However, since 1899 any express mail item suitable for pneumatic forwarding had been transported thus in Vienna. In reality, the abolition of the difference between express and pneumatic mail had only legalized an already existing practice and given to some extent to the sender of express letters the right to the free pneumatic forwarding of the item. The removal of the formal difference between the methods of sending also had the consequence that from 1.1.1930 express printed matter, samples, "mixed sendings" and "business papers" which were suitable for pneumatic forwarding received it; this also made for better utilisation of the pneumatic system.

Table of rates, 1.10.1916 to 3.4.1938

The "Surcharge" column is from Wurth "Österreichische Postgeschichte" vol XI (1988) p97ff, and is the additional charge; it is identical to the express surcharge until the Anschlüß. Karasek has different data for letters in the period 1.3.1925-1.9.1932; but Wurth, Schneiderbauer, and Michel - not to mention the Postal Decrees listed in Hajek p52 - all give the data listed here.

From:LetterPostcardPneu Schg




1.10.191615H10H [8H]30H45H40H [38H] 
1.2.19211/2K100H250H4K L3K
1.8.19213/4K2K10K13K L12K
1.12.19217/10K5K20K27K L25K
From:LetterPostcardPneu Schg




Letter is "inland mail rate for a lowest-weight letter"; entries like "1/2K" are local/inland rate where these were different. Pneu Schg is the special pneumatic surcharge. Column 5 is "Local letter plus Pneu Schg" ie the total charge for a Vienna-to-Vienna Pneumatic Express Letter; column 6 is the same for a Postcard. Column 7 is the concession half-rate for items sent to a railway station for onward posting. The results of these additions are the same as other sources' tabulations of "the pneumatic rate". G is groschen.

Note in particular that the Express Delivery Fee and the special pneumatic surcharge were not both charged! In 1916, the [8H] postcard rate is the Ganzsache rate; the sender of a card with the 8H imprint could add 30H in adhesive stamps for pneumatic use; and the Pneumatic Correspondence Carte of 1916 had a 38H imprint. Non-imprinted cards had to pay 40H.

Registered Post

The mail itself was not numbered by the pneumatic system, the previous practice of so doing having been dropped before 1900. The operators however had to fill in record cards for it, every time it changed station! Each bundle of registered mail was accompanied on its journey from A to B by such a card; if it required debundling en route at C, new cards would be prepared for the bundles leaving C. It was thus possible to track a registered item through the system - this data would be required if a trace-request (Nachfrage) were issued.

From 1.8.1925, the pneumatic system was authorised to accept registered items "subject to additional regulations" (see 1925 BGB 228, amending 63 of the 1922 Postordnung). From that date, express registered letters and postcards were accepted at the pneumatic offices in the mornings of Sundays and public holidays for dispatch by the Rohrpost, if they were addressed to outside Vienna (so would be forwarded by train) and were franked with half the pneumatic surcharge (plus for express items the full express fee) in addition to the postage and registration fees (decree of 30.7.1925, P.D.Z.11-2289/25: see Hajek p 55). Incoming and centre-to-suburbs registered express letters were added in October 1927, and from 1.1.1930 registered express mail (and perhaps non-express registered mail also) to and from anywhere was whenever possible sent by the pneumatic system.

The registration fees for the relevant period are: From 1.3.1925: Inland (& Germany till 1945) 30G, Foreign 40G; from 1.10.1925 30G & 60G; from 1.9.1932 40G & 70G. Note that these are surcharges, payable as well as the normal postage and any pneumatic & express surcharges. G = groschen. There was no change in the registration rates at the Anschluβ date, contrary to the tables in many catalogues.


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8 Dec 1916 26 Nov 1917 Nov 1919 1919
20 Oct 1923 9 Mar 1931 22 Jun 1931 Apr 1934
From 1930, following the London UPU treaty, incoming air mails received express delivery at no additional charge.
5 Nov 1934 3 Sep 1935 28 Apr 1937  

Rates and Ops: index 1875 to 30.9.1916 4.4.1938 to 1945 1945 onwards