Wien 53

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Summary: according to Hajek, office Wien 53 didn’t provide any pneumatic service from 1914 to 1921, only from 1895-1914 and 1921-1923. However, items are known with a pneumatic-type Wien 53 cancel at a date within the closed period. The least unlikely explanation is that, because of wartime contingencies, the office had been closed and the remaining staff redeployed to the Südbahnhof office, taking their cancellers with them.

According to the system maps, Wien 53 was on the pipe route from Wien 57 (Gumpendorf) via Wien 54 (Taubstummengasse) to Wien 76 (Sudbahnhof). See for example the 1913 map at left. Maps dated 1924 and later do not show Wien 53. We haven’t found any maps from the period 1921-1923 when Hajek says the office was reopened. The seven examples below cover the period 1899 to 1917.

We have read somewhere, almost certainly Hajek, that when an office was taken out of service they physically linked it out, either by putting in a U-bend of adequately large radius inside the office, or by digging up the street outside and changing the pipework. They *had* to do this, as otherwise they’d have needed to retain the closed-office’s staff to receive and re-send the Büchse; and they had a squad of workmen available anyway, to deal with blockages. So taking an office out of the system was relatively easy.


List of exhibits

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10h card sent on 5 May 1899 from WIEN 4/2 53 to WIEN 1/1 2. All normal.
25h card, sent 29 May 1908 by C Tragest in Wien IV to Herr Foltz in Wien XIII/I Steckhovengasse 15. It was cancelled Wien 4/2 53 r at 0830; Wien 14/2 127 r at 0850; 13/1 Wien 88 *P* at 0930. The blue 31 must be the number given to the card since office 31 never had pneumatic service. Routing 53 to 127 to 88 is reasonable. Wien 88 is Hietzing which is Vienna 13. district and Steckhovengasse is indeed in Vienna 13. So what's wrong? Office 88 didn't do pneumatic until some date between 1918 & 1927; and its predecessor, office 89, didn't open till 1912! The item must in reality have travelled to office 127 (Rudesheim; opened 1893) by pneu then onwards by messenger - presumably in bulk to office 88, who cancelled it with a pneu-type cancel then sent it out individually. This Wien 88 cancel is Stohl R0046a, a pneumatic type, used he says from 1906. What else is wrong? The despatch cancel is dated 1907, the arrivals 1908!
35h letter card franked 1 Aug 1914. This is the special rate for letter cards, valid till 1.10.16. Bridge cancel 4 WIEN 53 / / *P* which is our VIII-082 and Stohl's R0025c (give or take the dot after the P - I wonder if the 'service' cancel had no dot and the spare did?) Addressed to the Grand Hotel, Kärntner Ring 9 and Chiffre'd 15 which is very reasonable.
Sent express from Mahr. Ostrau to Wien. The double-ring despatch cancel on the stamps can't be read, but what can be seen is consistent with Votoček 1341.15 which is the commonest for that period. There is a very clear Bridge cancel 4 WIEN 53 / 27.IX.14.IX.30 / *P* It also has a blue crayon cross; blue crayon scrawl Express, underlined; blue crayon 50; and even a heavy blue crayon underlining the WIEN in the address! The cross extends underneath the adhesives; there is a red-on-white Express label applied over the scrawled Express.

On the back is a blue 53 and a resplendent seal. This should then be a standard express letter, handled pneumatically in Vienna. Rates: inland letter 10H, inland express 30H, total 40H and it is indeed franked 2 x 20H. WIEN 53 is in Wieden, Bez IV, and the address is Wien IV Somethinggasse 7 - so that’s sensible. But how to account for the markings? Here’s one idea!

This letter would have arrived at Nordbahnhof; they treated it Express, so sent it pneumatically to Wien 50 but failed to cancel it. Wien 50 also failed to cancel it, but looked up their book (or knew that the delivery address was at the other end of the Bezirke) and decided to send it on to Wien 53 – who *did* cancel it, and delivered it. This shows somebody using the W53 pneumatic canceller on 27 Sep 1914, but not where! Hajek does not specify the month of "closure": the war began at the end of July 1914 and mobilisation took some weeks, so it is possible that Wien 53 had not "closed" by 27 September; or maybe it had, but the closure was actually a migration of the service to another office, possibly Sudbahnhof. It's also possible that the letter was pre-sorted on the mail train to Nordbahnhof, and sent with others in a packet to Sudbahnhof – hence escaping a Nordbahnhof cancel.
45h letter card sent on 11 April 1917 from 12/1 WIEN 82 (Meidling); routed to and cancelled at 4 WIEN 53 (Wieden III).
38h postcard cancelled 27/12/1917; 38H is the special rate valid to 1.9.1918 for cards with imprints. Bridge cancel 4 WIEN 53  27.XII.17.XI.50  *P* Sender's address stated as Belvederegasse 12. Delivery address Herrn Leutnant Drasler Karl, Wien III, Hornesgasse (?) 15. Sent to office 45 which is Weissgaerber in Wien III.
80h letter card with 12Kr20 of added adhesives, totalling 13Kr, posted on 16 Sep 1921. Letter rate 3Kr + express rate 10Kr = 13 Kr. Posted at 10:50am at office 60 to office 53 in Wien IV but redirected to office 50 – perhaps it was nearer? Arrived 11am.
2Kr letter card with 2Kr of added adhesives on the front plus 9Kr on the back. Letter rate 3Kr + express rate 10Kr = 13Kr. Posted at 4:10pm on 16 Sep 1921 at office 24 to office 50 in Wien IV. Redirected to office 53 – perhaps it was nearer, perhaps 50 had closed for the day? Arrival cancel 4 WIEN 53 P

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