Your Heller or Mine? Underpaid Mail between Austria and Czechoslovakia 1920-1921.

The March 2018 issue of "Czechout"carried a most interesting article with the above title, written by Michael Furfie. Anyone can read it on-line here – or join the CPSGB and get it printed on paper! I’ve expanded the Austria-to-Czechoslovakia part of Furfie’s table to include all the Austrian "Inflation Periods". I have managed to fill in some of the gaps from my Austrian sources, and am able to explain an apparent anomaly in early 1920.

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The second paragraph of Furfie’s article says "Mail between Austria and Czechoslovakia continued to be charged inland rates until early 1920. Sources are not unanimous over the date or dates of the change to foreign rates. There is widespread agreement that it occurred on the 15 March for mail from Czechoslovakia to Austria – a date on which Czechoslovak inland rates were increased. I think it almost certain that the change for mail in the opposite direction also occurred on this date. Bernardini and Pfalz say it was 15 January, when all Austrian rates were increased, but the treatment of the letter shown as Figure 1 is not consistent with their date."

With the help of the Austrian Post Archivist (danke, Eva), the mystery is resolved. Briefly: until 14 Jan 1920 letter mail from Austria to Czechoslovakia was treated and charged as inland. From 15 Jan 1920 it was listed separately as a foreign country but still charged the Austrian inland rates. From 15 March 1920 it was charged full foreign rates. And from 1 Jan 1922 it was charged at a reduced foreign rate.

Table A1. Austrian Rates from 12 November 1918

Rates for postcard and lowest-weight letter mail to Czechoslovakia are highlighted in bold.

Refs & Notes Date Inflation Period Inland Letter Inland P’card Foreign Letter Foreign P’card Reduced Foreign Letter Reduced Foreign P’card
A 1.9.1919 1 20h 10h 25h 10h N/a
B 15.1.1920 2 40h 25h 1K 40h
C 15.3.1920 40h 25h 1K 40h
D 15.4.1920 3 80h 50h 2K 80h
E 1.2.1921 4 2K 1K 5K 3K
F 1.8.1921 5 4K 2K 10K 6K
G 1.12.1921 6 10K 5K 25K 15K
H 1.1.1922 20K 12K
K 1.5.1922 7 25K 12K50 75K 45K 60K 35K
L 15.7.1922
M 21.8.1922 8 100K 50K 300K 180K 240K 140K
N 18.9.1922 9 200K 100K 600K 360K 480K 280K
O 1.11.1922 10 400K 200K 1500K 900K 1200K 720K
P 1.8.1923 11 600K 300K 2000K 1200K 1600K 900K
Q 1.12.1923 12 1000K 500K 3000K 1800K 2400K 1400K
R 1.12.1924 13 1500K 700K 4000K 2400K 3000K 1800K
S 1.6.1925 K-g mix 15gro 7gro 40gro 24gro 30gro 18gro

Note: The links to the 'critical' PVOBs and the RGBs are configured as 'spawning pages' - that is, they will open in a new window (or a new tab - which, and its size, are set by how your computer's browser is configured not by here), which you close when you are finished with it; and the link has a different background colour.

Row Says who?
('RGB', 'PTVBl' & 'Kroiss' - see below)
A 1918 RGB 294; PTVBl 37/1919 Nr 107; Kroiss 27 & 31 Austria-Czechoslovakia postal treaty of 1919 confirming and continuing the 1918 rates.
B 1919 SGB 527; PTVBl 2/1920 Nr 5; Kroiss 27 & 31 Czechoslovakia became "foreign" but most mail to Cz was charged at the new inland rates.
C PTVBl 11/1920 Nr 31; Kroiss 23 Most mail to Cz now charged at foreign rates.
D 1920 SGB 130; Kroiss 27 & 31  
E 1921 BGB 060; PTVBl 3/1921 Nrs 3 & 12; Kroiss 27 & 31  
F 1921 BGB 360; PTVBl 37/1921 Nr 23; Kroiss 28 & 33  
G 1921 BGB 620; PTVBl 56/1921 Nr 28; Kroiss 28 & 33  
H Kroiss 36 Reduced rates began for mail to Cz and three other countries
K 1922 BGB 200; Kroiss 28, 33, 36  
L 1922 BGB 406 Complete new Postordnung issued (the actual rates remained unchanged)
M Kroiss 28, 33, 36 In this period, the PTVBl usually said "the foreign rates shall be increased as set forth in the appended new Postgebührenweiser". However, it needs luck to find a copy, as they were usually recycled when the next issue arrived.
N Kroiss 29, 34, 37
O Kroiss 29, 34, 37
P Kroiss 29, 34, 37
Q Kroiss 30, 35, 37
R Kroiss 30, 35, 37
S Kroiss 30, 35, 37 K-gro mixed franking on postal stationery allowed till 30.6.1925

The critical PTVBl, highlighted in bold above, state as follows.

PTVBl. 37/1919 Nr. 107: Vorläufiges Übereinkommen über die Regelungen des Postverkehres zwischen den Postverwaltungen der deutschösterreichischen und der tschecho-slowakischen Republik: Artikel V: Für Briefpostsendungen einschließlich der Zeitungen, für Wertbriefe und Packete, die zwischen den beiden vertragschließenden Staaten ausgetaucht werden, gelten die Gebühren des inneren Verkehres. Artikel XII: Dieses Übereinkommen tritt am 1. September 1919 in Kraft…

That is, Austria-to-Czechoslovakia letter mail (including newspapers, value-letters, and packets) would be charged at inland rates. This took effect on 1.9.1919, although the actual rates didn’t change from those at the end of WWI.

PTVBl. 2/1920 Nr. 5: "Die neuen Postgebühren Teil II" states that on 15 January 1920 new postage rates take effect. An accompanying Beilage contains a multi-page "Postgebührenweiser" with the details; page 2 thereof has column 3 for "Inland", column 4 for Germany, 5 for Czechoslovakia, 6 for Hungary, 7 for SHS, and 8 for "UPU Countries". For letter mail the UPU rate is 100h; for all the other countries it is 40h. The layout of the table means that Czechoslovakia et al are classified as separate foreign countries, even when the rate is the same (corresponds to Bernadini/Pfalz).

PTVBl. 11/1920 Nr. 31: "Gebühren im Verkehr mit der Tschecho-Slowakei". Artikel 1: Der Artikel V des vorläufigen Übereinkommens über den Postverkehr zwischen Österreich und der Tschecho-Slowakei (PTVBl. 37/1919 Nr. 107) ißt bezüglich der Gebühren abgeändert werden. Artikel 2: Vom 15. März 1920 angefangen gelten im wechselseitigenVerkehr zwischen Österreich und der Tschecho-Slowakei mit den unter 3. Angeführten Ausnahmen die für den Verkehr mit Ländern des Weltpostvereines festgesetzten Gebühren (außer für Blindendrucksachen, Pakete und Zeitungen).

That is, from 15.3.1920 on, the rate for letters to Czechoslovakia became the full UPU rate. Braille, packets and newspaper rates were not changed by this instruction.

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©Andy Taylor. Last updated 3 March 2019