Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Couldn't Get Much Closer

Today was a day of close, but not quite.  But, as they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Hey, I didn't make that one up.  But, I suppose I am guilty of passing it on.  Sorry about that.

Case Number One

This is a magnified portion of the radar from about 7pm on June 29.  To be honest, I had pretty much given up on getting any additional rainfall from the system that has been stationed over Iowa for the past week.  Then, I saw this thing blowing up and it appeared to be heading our way.  

I could see rain falling to our south.  No, not on the radar.  I could see it as I looked south out of a second story window.  It was about half a cornfield away.  Yes, that yellow and red patch was about as near a miss as we could get.

I suppose it would only have given us a tenth of an inch at most.  But, that would have been ok.

However, it is possible the rainfall discouraged someone from coming to visit us Tuesday evening - leading to....

Case Number Two

We made the moderately difficult decision that we would attempt to sell Durnik, our Ford 8n/2n tractor.  Durnik joined the Genuine Faux Farm in 2010 and represented a move on our part to scale up and raise more quality food for people.  After four or so years it became apparent that we needed just a bit more than Durnik - though he is a willing tractor - could handle.  

We thought we might be making a sale on Tuesday, but the little, black, rain cloud to our south may have deterred the arrival of our prospective purchasers.  

The reality is this.  This is a band-aid situation.  I tend to prefer taking the band-aid off quickly.  So, I, at least, was hopeful we could get this done.  We didn't.  And, like so many things on the farm, it will go some other direction than what I might expect.  Another opportunity to learn!

Case Number Three

The row of sunflowers in Freyr Field are ALMOST open.  

Well, ok.  ONE flower IS open.  And there it is - in all of its glory.

We got this row of sunflowers in pretty early and they managed the late May frost pretty well.  That means we'll have some pretty early sunflowers this year.  I am hopeful that some of these varieties (we planted a mix) will have an extended bloom season.

I've been meaning to find the time and energy to take more pictures, but this is the first time the camera took a trip around the farm with me in June.  You could call that case number three point five.  I ALMOST took pictures several times this month.  But, it no longer qualified for this post because I DID take some pictures.  HA!

Case Number Four

We almost threw these Gerbera Daisies into the compost this Spring.  

You see, we managed to over-winter them in the house this past year after they did well in pots outside the house most of the Summer last season.  they were looking a bit rough by the time we got to April, but we never quite got the gumption to carry them to the compost pile.  Instead, we kept giving them a bit of water on and off.

And now, this particular flower has rewarded us with a half-dozen blooms and I see the one behind it is starting to bloom as well.

I might just take them inside for the Winter again if they keep this up!

Case Number Five

We thought the snow peas were done once the hot weather in June halted their production prematurely.

First, let me say that the peas we grew did reach our goal of 50 pounds of production for the row.  I typically consider one half pound per row foot to be a reasonable return.  Fifty pounds is more like two-thirds of a pound per row foot.  So, I am good with that.

But, we got a little rain and we irrigated that plot and it cooled down for a week.  

And the snow peas, even though many leaves were yellowed, put on a flush of blooms.  And we have a small batch of peas we can harvest and eat.  I tasted a couple - they taste good!  So, now we just have to get to them.  I ALMOST harvested them today.

Case Number Six

The sun was ALMOST down when I took some of these pictures.  I was doing the rounds and doing the "pre-chores."

What's a pre-chore?  Well, those are the chores you do before you do the chores, dontcha know?!?

We know that the broiler flocks are more likely to go into their buildings for the night if we move their food and water inside the building before the sun goes down.  So, I've taken to doing that pre-chore (along with putting away equipment and closing up buildings) around 8pm so I can then write a blog before I go out and do the chores.

Speaking of the blog.  I almost did not write a blog for today.

But I did - so all is well on that front.

I hope you enjoyed this blog and I wish you the very best today.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

By the Way

 Well everyone, our grand total for rainfall from the "stalled weather system" that has brought heavy rains to some places also has succeeded in providing little rain for others.  The Genuine Faux Farm has received a half inch which, while appreciated, isn't going to keep things green long.

Actually, I am not going to complain about that much.  We DID get some rain and it came down in such a way that it all soaked in pretty well.  And it also made weeding REALLY nice today.

So - today's blog is going to be a bit of a farm report/announcements and other stuff type of post.  So, if you're curious about farm doings, this is the post for you.  If you aren't curious about farm doings - well...

What?  You aren't?!?  Goodness - and you even admitted it to me out loud?  Well, read it any way, it will do you some good!

The bee hives are doing pretty well so far.  Tammy knows it is time to add a super (another level) on these hives, but she hasn't quite found the time/inclination to do it.  We'll target this weekend and get it done.  You see, Tammy has another issue - and that is the boot that is now surrounding one of her feet.  It seems she's got a bone spur that is causing her Achilles tendon some issues.  So, things like putting on the bee suit just got a bit harder.  

Alas.  Well, we'll figure it out.  I suspect Farmer Rob will become Temporary Beekeeper Rob for a little bit.  I hope she gives me good instructions!

I can see it now.  "NO!  You do NOT eat the honey directly out of the hive.  See!  I told you.  Now your tongue is going to swell up and you'll sound really silly when you try to talk."

The broilers date for going to the Park is coming up (Friday, July 2) and it is coming none too soon as far as the farmers are concerned.  It is at this stage that a few of the birds, in particular, get pretty aggressive with each other.  And, while it is amusing to hear some of these birds trying to learn how to crow, it becomes much LESS amusing when there are a couple hundred of them considering taking up Chicken Opera as a pastime.  

So, if you are interested in Genuine Faux Farm broiler chickens and getting an unfrozen whole bird or two or three, you should contact us now so we can arrange to get them to you.  

A few of our laying hens have gotten broody, so the egg numbers have declined somewhat.  But, we still have plenty of egg production.  We've actually taken to making some donations to local food banks because the demand is not there for the eggs.  Our next egg delivery is a week after Wednesday.  I suspect we'll have plenty.

We recently had a nice visit and got a little help washing eggs, harvesting scapes (anyone want scapes?  We have lots) and eating berries.  Christine was kind enough to post some pictures from some of their farm exploration on Facebook.  I hope she doesn't mind that I grabbed them and put them here?  

Well, actually I asked.  But, full disclosure, I downloaded them and started thinking about a blog using those pictures even before that.  Maybe I need to work on the ordering of when I do things?

The picture above shows the precious golden raspberries that hide in a special area on our farm.  We do not tell just anyone about them!  So there!

 And the mulberries have had a good year.  The cherries were pretty weak.  The apples don't look like they'll have much.  But, the mulberries?  Very happy.  

Meanwhile, the ditch lilies are opening and Yellow-billed Cuckoo has taken to serenading us throughout the day.  Although, I am not certain "serenade" is the best description... nor is "song."  Well, whatever, the Cuckoo talks to us regularly.  And the Common Yellowthroat still hasn't come out of the bushes when I say "pish!"

Ah well.  We'll just keep trying.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

To and Fro - Postal History Sunday

It's Postal History Sunday on the Genuine Faux Farm blog!  It happens every seven days - and I keep asking myself how that could possibly be true.  Then someone reminds me that Sundays are seven days apart.  I guess that makes sense.

Now, put those troubles and worries into the bed of an open pickup or the roof of a car.  Once you get onto the open road, make sure you remove any tie-downs you might have used to keep those things in place.  Then, take a nice drive - preferably on a gusty day.  Those darned troubles will be so scattered you'll have a tough time finding them again.

Note: This is a quick reminder that if you want to see a larger version of any of the image on these blogs, you can click on them to view a magnified image.


Mail between the United States and the United Kingdom

One of the areas of postal history I enjoy very much would be mail that crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the 1860s.  As many of you know (and the rest of you will soon know), I have been focusing on mail featuring the 24 cent stamps issued by the United States from 1861-1868.  Below is an example of the type of mail that catches my interest.

This is an 1862 letter from Boston (United States) to London (England).  The Boston postmark indicates to me that the letter was put in a mailbag which was then placed on the Cunard Line's Asia that departed Boston on August 6 so it could cross the Atlantic Ocean.  The Asia arrived at Queenstown (Cork, Ireland aka Cobh) on August 16 where the mailbag was offloaded.  A train took this bag of mail to Kingston (now known as Dún Laoghaire) where it would board a steamer to cross the Irish Sea to Holyhead.   From there, it would ride another train to London.

Finally, the letter was removed from the bag and given an August 18 postmark to record its official arrival at the English exchange office in London. 

This is the mail service this postage stamp was primarily intended to be used for.  The United States and the United Kingdom agreed in 1848 that a letter weighing no more than 1/2 ounce could travel from the US to the UK for 24 cents.  This rate was effective from February 1849 until the end of December of 1867, so it would be tempting to think that these stamps were available for that entire period of time.

Interestingly enough, the first time a stamp with the 24 cent denomination was issued was 1860!  Until then, a person would have to apply two 12-cent stamps (or some other combination of stamps) to pay the postage.  From 1851 to 1859, you could buy stamps with 1-cent, 3-cent, 5-cent, 10-cent and 12-cent denominations.  In 1860, the United States added the 24-cent, 30-cent, and 90-cent denominations in response to the growing use of mail to foreign destinations.

This stamp is part of the series of postage stamps introduced in August of 1861.  The new stamps were issued in response to the secession of the southern states.  But that, as they say, is another story (and another Postal History Sunday).

Now - because I entitled this one "To and Fro," we should take a look at a letter that came back the other way (from the United Kingdom to the United States).

This thick folded letter has a dateline of August 24, 1867 and a Liverpool postmark on the back.  The New York marking on the front is dated September 4th.  And, the docket at the top left reads: paid Per "Persia" via Cork.

*** A Quick Reminder - We All Start Somewhere ***

Now - as a bit of an aside - when I first started looking at some of these letters from this period, I was confused by these dockets that said things like "Per Persia."  Not knowing much about Atlantic ships at the time and the convention of dockets on mail, I would see the word "Persia" and think - Wow!  This thing went to Persia!  Ummm.  But, why would it go from Liverpool to Persia and then Houston, Texas.  Hmmmm?

Of course, once I figured out that many ships were named after places, it made more sense.  

I just want to remind all of us that it is ok to be confused by something that is new to you and it is fine to ask questions.  Why?  Because it means we have an opportunity to learn something that is new to us!  And learning is always cool - even if it is difficult, embarrassing, or inconvenient.

*** Back to the regularly scheduled program ***   

The Cunard Line's Persia did leave Liverpool on August 24 and arrived at Cork August 25.  Because the date is not readable on the Liverpool postmark, I can't say for certain that this letter boarded the ship at Liverpool or if it was sent by train to Holyhead, crossed the Irish Sea to Kingston and then by train to Cork just to catch the ship there.  The speedy trains could very well get a letter to Cork prior to the ships departure to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

Either way, it did take the Persia to New York, where it did arrive on September 4.

The postage was paid by two stamps, a one shilling and a two shilling, with a total of three shillings in postage paid.  The same agreement that set the postage rate at 24 cents for the United States to the United Kingdom required one shilling for the 1/2 ounce.  So, this letter must have weighed over one ounce and no more than 1 and 1/2 ounces.  In other words, this was a triple weight (or triple rate) letter.

There is certainly more to tell about this letter to Houston, Texas and I suspect we'll see it again in another Postal History Sunday.  In fact, the first letter may show up for different reasons in another PHS as well!

Mail Between the United States and France

The United States did not have an agreement for mail with France until April of 1857.  This agreement set the rate of postage at 15 cents for every 1/4 ounce of mail and continued until the end of 1869.  However, there was no 15-cent stamp to pay for this rate until 1866, when a stamp was issued in memory of Abraham Lincoln after his assassination in April of 1865.

Until that time, a letter to France would most typically be paid by a combination of a five-cent and ten-cent stamp.  But, the example I am showing you today has a 15-cent Lincoln mourning stamp on it to pay the postage.

The letter above was mailed from New York and set sail on the Cunard Line's Tripoli on March 18, 1869.  

As an aside - if you sometimes wonder about what attracted me to this specific item, you might enjoy knowing that our farm is near Tripoli, Iowa, which is NOT the location this ship was named after.  I suspect the ship was named after the city in Libya since Tripoli, Iowa had yet to reach 100 inhabitants by 1880.  Meanwhile, the United States had already fought Barbary pirates at Tripoli, Libya in the early 1800s.  So, I suspect Tripoli, Iowa might not have the same clout for naming rights.

The Tripoli arrived in Queenstown, Ireland on March 30 and entered France at Calais on April 1st.  

A postal historian actually gets more than one opportunity to find out more about a cover between the US and France because both countries provide some clues with their markings.  This is important because not every old letter has clear markings.  Sometimes they are smudged or inked lightly and you can't read all of the information.

This blue French marking tells me several things.  First, the letter came from the United States (Et.-Unis).  Second, it came on a steamship that was under contract with the US (Serv. Am.).  Third, the letter was taken on the train from Calais to Paris and this served as the French exchange office for the US mailbag this letter traveled in (Calais).  The simple fact that it entered France in Calais suggests it went via Queenstown (Ireland) or Southampton (near London).  This, and the date, can help confirm which ship carried the letter across the Atlantic.

That's a lot of information in one postal marking.

And now for a letter coming back the other way from Bordeaux (France) to New Orleans (US).

The rate for mail from France to the US was 80 centimes for every 7.5 grams.  The letter above has an 80 centime stamp that pays the postage for this letter.  The letter boarded a train from Bordeaux to Paris on November 16, 1859, then traveled on the train from Paris to Calais the next day.

The instructions given on this letter state that it was to go "by the first steamer from Liverpool."  I don't think you can get more explicit than that!  And, to no one's surprise, the letter left on Cunard Line's Europa from Liverpool on November 19th and the rest is history.   The Europa actually arrived at Boston late on the 1st of March and the letter was processed on March 2nd.

This handstamp found in the middle of this cover reads "Br. Service,"  which indicated the letter traveled on a steamship that was under contract with the British.  This is a hint to me, as a postal historian, that I should be checking for Cunard Line sailings if I want to figure out how the letter crossed the Atlantic. 

from France to US 

from US to France

The Boston marking for this cover tells us the equivalent to 15 cents was paid in France.  There are NO clues as to which shipping line might have carried this letter.

The New York marking from the previous cover gives us the number "6," which tells us that six cents were due to the French postal service and nine cents were kept by the US.  This included the money needed to pay for the Atlantic crossing, so that gives me a clue regarding possible shipping lines based on that information.  It would have to be a shipping line under contract with the United States.  

Now - if you are paying attention - you will have noticed that the Cunard Line carried BOTH letters (remember that Tripoli thing?).  What's up with that?

It is true.  The Cunard Line was under contract with the British to carry the mail across the Atlantic for the entirety of the postal agreement from 1848 until 1867 between the United Kingdom and the United States.  However, when a NEW agreement was reached to begin on January 1, 1868, things changed.  And the letter that was carried on the Tripoli was mailed in 1869.

As of 1868, for a letter that was leaving the US for the UK, the Cunard Line was sailing under a US contract.  If the letter was leaving the UK for the US, the Cunard Line was sailing under a UK contract.

Ain't postal history grand?!?  Just move a few years forwards or backwards and everything you think you know changes!   Well, ok.  Not everything.  But, you do have to pay attention because you shouldn't assume the processes for mail carriage have always stayed the same.


Thank you for joining me for Postal History Sunday.  I hope you enjoyed reading this and that, perhaps, you learned something interesting and new to you.

Next week's topic is already set (July 4th), but if you liked this topic, I may follow up with a second "To and Fro" with letters between the US and Rome, US and Prussia, and maybe.... the US and Russia.  If you like that idea, let me know.  Or, if you have a better idea, send it along in a comment or an email - or post it as a reply to our social media post.

You never know, you just might be the person who provides the inspiration for a future Postal History Sunday.

Have a great remainder of the day and a fine week to come.

Want to Learn More?

I have written a much more detailed blog regarding mail between the US and France that can be located on the GFF Postal History blog.  It was last edited in August of 2019 and I see a few things I could add to it (and may do so in the future).  Also, if you want to see the actual text of the convention that set the postal rates between the US and France starting in 1857, you can go here.  

If you want more detail regarding the mails between the US and the United Kingdom, this blog post might serve your purpose.   Perhaps, I should work on a more definitive resource for that topic as well during my spare (snicker, giggle) time.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Goings On

 Never a dull moment at the Genuine Faux Farm - that's for certain.  Ok.  If there ARE dull moments (and I am not saying there are) we wouldn't tell you about them - because that would be - dull.

With the dry weather, we have to admit that our flowering plants are doing less than they have many years.  Much of our clover is drying off.  The daylilies aren't looking terribly happy either.  But, some plants have the benefit of being close to a water source.  One of those plants is the Jackmanii clematis near the front porch of the house.  

Because we need to water the houseplants on that porch, we will periodically reward "Jack" for being nearby and give it some water as well.

The reward has been a nice bloom that has lasted longer than many flowers in a dry season.  At the very least, we would like a little rain to revive the clover.  Our pollinators would like that.

The picture above is from several years ago when Durnik, the Ford 8n/2n tractor, was the ONLY tractor on the farm.  Durnik has been sitting in the Poultry Pavilion for ... oh... about as many years as we have had Rosie on board as our main tractor.  

It's not that we do not like Durnik.  We do.  But, the realities are Rosie is a stronger and safer tractor for us to use with the implements we have.  And, yes, she's got a loader/bucket as well.  And, older tractors require older tractor care.  Neither of us have professed to want to be mechanics, so...

Well, Durnik came out to play recently when our good friend, Steve, wanted to see if we could get the old tractor started.  Surprisingly, it wasn't all that hard and Durnik is now out where we can see him.  That means, of course, that we have to decide exactly what to do with him.

This year is shaping up to be a year where the insect pests are going to be a bit more aggressive than they are most years.  We did not see all that many Cabbage Butterflies, but the few we have seen have apparently been busy laying eggs.  The result is we've got a lot more larva munching on our brassica plants.  

Some of this has to do with the drought conditions.  With many of the plants in our natural areas suffering from lack of water, our crops are looking much nicer for the pests than they might be most years.  On top of that, some of our companion plants are not as robust as they might be most years.

The result is - we're just going to have to accept that we'll have more of the irritating green worms in our broccoli this year.  I am not certain I can tell you how annoying that is.

This year we identified some key crops.  Bell peppers, cucumbers and green beans for Seed Savers contracts.  The bell peppers look good.  Most of the cucumbers died in the late frost (we're trying to get a second batch going now).  The beans haven't germinated.

We are growing garlic for the Food Bank contract and... of course... broccoli.

I begin to think I should just not target any crop for a research project or a contract.  I can have ten years of success with something, but the moment it is identified as critical...  

Alas for us.  Don't worry, we'll figure it out.  This was just my evening/morning whine (depending on when you read this).

 Another fatality of the weather will be out 2021 apple crop.  The picture above is from a few years ago.  While it is a bit early to see much for visible apples, we should be able to see fruit developing.

Well, this year, there isn't much on our trees.  The cold weather cycle prior to our late May frost actually hit our apple blossoms pretty hard.  This sort of things happens - we're just hopeful the local orchards were able to survive the weather.  If we don't have many apples, we will be fine - but disappointed.  It's a bit different when you try to run a profitable orchard.

On the other hand, Tammy and I have been happy with our snow pea harvest - even if it was cut short by the hot weather.  The first batch of green beans have been great and we have had a few heads of broccoli from the early planting in Valhalla.  In fact, everything to do with Valhalla and Eden has been pretty good this year.  So, we'll take that.

We look forward to the first broiler batch taking their trip to the "Park" on July 2 because that reduces some of the daily work for a little while.  They are looking good and we're pleased with the health of the flock.  The turklets are their normal curious selves.  The henlets have figured out how to go into the Summer Cottage for the night (always a relief when they figure it out) and the Stu and the hens continue continuing.  

And, I'll be honest.  While a drought is not a good thing in and of itself for our farm, I am still enjoying walking about the farm without walking through puddles and mud.  I hope that's not wrong of me to feel that way - but we've dealt with such a high percentage of days like that since 2013 that I might be forgiven.

Next chance for rain is likely Friday night.  Here's hoping.

Thursday, June 24, 2021


 It has been really dry on the farm this year.  I'll give you that.  So, why is it Tammy and I get jumpy whenever the forecast calls for multiple inches of rain over a period of several days - even when it is clear we really could use it?

Well, for starters, this is a picture from just last year.

So, is it odd that we actually have kind of celebrated a bit of a drought in our neck of the woods?  After all, we haven't have a really dry spell since 2012.  And... oh... that was the year we had a spray plane fly over our farm with the nozzles on.  Hmmmm.

But, getting back to the weather.  Here is a screen shot from last year.

Yup.  that little black rain cloud with the arrow on it went right over our farm and dumped a whole lot of rain on us.  

That's how it works in years when you have plenty of moisture and you really could use a week or so of dry days just so you can walk without sinking up to your knees in mud.

This year, if you have been watching radar loops, the rain clouds tend to split around our farm.  So, someone ten miles away might report an inch of rain and we get... one hundredth of an inch.

But now, I see graphics for the coming rain system for the tail end of this week.

 Forgive me if this makes me jumpy.  I still have pictures like the one at the top to remind me of what excessive rainfall looks like.

Here's hoping for a NICE rainfall.  I'll take that.

After all, we are quite dry throughout most of the state.  Of course - if you compare where the need is greatest to the area where the amount of rain looks least likely in the map above - we can't expect much of a dent on the drought where it is most severe.

Again.  A NICE rainfall.  We'll take it.  But, let's avoid the giant, broiler chicken wading pool types of rainfall please.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021


There is one ability I have had a fair measure of pride in throughout most of my life.  I typically have been able to concentrate well when I decide that I WILL concentrate.  But, what happens when something you feel is a strength feels like it has abandoned you for a time?

To illustrate that point, I show you this photo of green bean plants with flowers.  What does it have to do with today's topic?  Nothing!  Well, maybe I'll find a way to tie it in  We'll see.

First, let me do the full-disclosure thing: I do not pretend that I am always able to concentrate fully on whatever it is I am doing at any given moment.  Like most everyone else, there are annoyingly large portions of my life where I could not be bothered to focus on something - even though it should have been important enough for me to do so.

What I am trying to say is that when I decide I am going to put my focus on something and I put some energy into it, I typically will stick with it until it is done.  This is true even if the job gets tedious or I become mentally and physically tired.  The difference here is that I might not choose to concentrate fully on something - which can be disappointing.  Right now, I am not sure I can fully concentrate even when I DO choose to do so.

I am the same person who, as a child, sorted through ALL of the jumbled nails, screws and other fasteners on Dad's workbench when I was a kid.  To be clear - Dad was a siding contractor at the time and he often would dump his pouch of fasteners into jars or other containers without worrying about which thing went where.  What was important for him was that he could find what he needed in his pouch while at the job, so he needed to start fresh with each job.  The leftovers and what was on the workbench were not exactly the same thing.

I suppose you could argue that sorting these things should not take too much concentration.  That might be true if you weren't also trying to learn the different fasteners at the same time you were sorting. I will say that I did learn a fair bit about them.  And some of it has even stuck with me to this day.  (Let's not bring up all of the things I have FORGOTTEN since that time...)


I am talking about a different kind of concentration - not the kind that you use when you harvest a row of green beans (see!  I did it!) or walk rows of potatoes looking for potato beetles to remove.  In those cases, your brain does not have to engage fully in your task.  You can listen to a book tape, have a conversation or just let your mind wander.  The task requires that you keep moving and keep certain senses alert, but concentration is not completely on the task.

Note - those are some nice potato plants in the photo just above us.  See, I tied them into this blog too!  Yay me!

In any event (see Rob try to pull his concentration back into line again), it seems that the next part of my recovery is re-establishing my ability to fully concentrate when I need to.  I've been doing my best to exercise my body and now I find I need to expend more effort on my mind as well.  Yes, it is true that I expect a very high level of concentration when I choose to use it.

So, why has this been a problem for me?  

Well, you could actually argue that it hasn't been a problem because I HAVE been concentrating very hard on recovering from surgery.  Perhaps I dedicated my will-power to that purpose so much that I should not expect to concentrate at a high level on other things?  The lead up to surgery, the worry that is cancer, and the process of healing can be pretty distracting from... well... everything else.

So, I have chosen to accept that this is simply a part of the recovery process and I will work through it so that my concentration will return to where it once was.  And, perhaps, my will-power to use it more readily when I should may grow to a greater capacity than it once was.

Because I appreciate it more now that it I feel it has (temporarily) abandoned me.


And - here's to a nice day that was a good bit cooler than it has been.  The farm received a little over a half inch of rain on Sunday - something we were needing desperately.   We could have used a bit more, but we know better than to cry for more rain - when we have, we get way to much....

Have a good day and an excellent week everyone!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Favorites - Postal History Sunday

Welcome to this week's edition of Postal History Sunday on the Genuine Faux Farm blog - the place where I get to share something I enjoy and we all have a chance to learn something new!

Before I start with this week's topic, take your troubles and worries and put them in a file folder.  Or, if you do things all electronic now, put them in an electronic folder.  Name that folder "Not Today" and put it in a random drawer or directory.  If you are like me, you have so many files and folders that you may never see this particular one ever again!

If that doesn't work, put the folder some place "special" so you can remember where you can find it in the future.  If you are like me (and so many other people in the world) you won't be able to find that "special" place when you go looking for it.


I have had people ask me what my favorite postal history items are in my collection more than once, so I thought those who read the blog might enjoy it if I showed three favorite items and give my reasons for selecting them as favorites here.

But, first, you need to understand that my favorites change over time as I discover new things.  And second, you probably won't be surprised if I tell you I have a LOT of favorites.  You can take a guess that if I feature a particular item and give it its own blog post, it may well be a favorite of mine (or maybe it became one as I gave it the attention a blog requires).

So, here is the rules of the game:

  1. I can't select a cover that has been featured in its own Postal History Sunday blog.  So, even though the item in this blog post is one of my all-time favorites, I can't show it this time (you'll just have to visit the blog post I linked in).
  2. I can't pick more than one item with a 24 cent 1861 stamp on it.  Again, even though this has been the focus of my collecting for a long time, I only get ONE slot.  This is made easier by the fact that I do have a number of blog posts that show other favorites with 24 cent stamps on them (such as this one). 
  3. I can't have the same reasons for picking each of the three items I choose for this article.

Let's Get the 24-cent Item Out of the Way

I actually surprised myself a little with this selection because I do have many others that would make me very happy to show you in this slot.

This is an 1865 letter mailed from New Orleans (USA) to Leipzig, Saxony.  At the time, Saxony was part of the German-Austrian Postal Union (GAPU) and it qualified for the 28 cent rate per 1/2 ounce via the Prussian mail services.  It actually has 30 cents in postage applied (one 24-cent stamp and two 3-cent stamps), so it qualifies as an over-payment for the rate required.  

So, why is this one a favorite of mine?

Some of the basics that make a cover attractive to me are here.  The markings are clear.  The hand-writing is legible and, actually, pretty nice.  The overall condition is actually quite good for an item that is 150 years old.  But, I have other items that fit the same criteria.  There must be something more.

First, you won't be surprised if I tell you I like this because the item has multiple story lines I could choose to dig into.  For example, if you look at the top, you will see the words "per Fung Shuey x first Mail."  This docket was intended to instruct the post office that the sender wanted this letter to go on this particular ship as it left New Orleans for New York City.   Most examples in my collection show dockets identifying the ship that would carry the letter across the Atlantic.  It isn't often that I can catch an instruction for steamship carriage for a different leg of the voyage.  

The Fung Shuey was part of the Cromwell Line of steamers.  Records I have found are unclear as to whether this ship was chartered from another company or owned by the Cromwell Line.  However, one source indicates that it was chartered starting in 1865.  With a January trip, it is actually possible that this would have been taken on the first voyage the Fung Shuey took on behalf of Cromwell - wouldn't that be neat?

The New York Times on May 19, 1865 summarizes some of the available passenger lines to the Southern states and includes the following paragraph:

The Cromwell line of steamers for New-Orleans direct have been running to that port ever since 1862, and consists of four screw steamers, the Star of the Union, George Washington, George Cromwell and the Fung Shuey. These steamers leave Pier No. 9, North River, every Saturday, at 3 P.M., and are thoroughly adapted to the New-Orleans trade, invariably passing the bar at the mouth of the Mississippi without detention. The accommodations for passengers on this line are unsurpassed; fare to New-Orleans, $60. H.B. CROMWELL & CO., No. 86 West-street, are the agents.

Another newspaper clipping from the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Oct 9, 1866 illustrates the other end of a journey from New York City.

If we put two and two together, we can guess that travel was typically about six to seven days between locations.  The letter in my collection backs that up with a January 21 departure from New Orleans and then a departure to cross the Atlantic from New York City on January 28.

The other reason for liking this one so much?

There happens to be some postal historian history attached to this item as well.  It should be no surprise to you that I am only the latest caretaker of this artifact of history.  This item has connections to other postal historians that also favored material with the 24 cent stamp who have gone before me.  As I began the process of learning about my area of interest, I came across the names of Leon Hyzen, Clifford Friend, and William Herzog.  It was records of their collections that informed me as to what might be available in the world that I could study and collect.

This particular item was part of the well-respected Leon Hyzen collection and was listed in an article in 1982 as being a rare shade of the 24-cent stamp by Herzog.  While the status of this item being a rare shade can be debated*, it is the connection to these individuals that makes this item special for me.

* more in a future blog

There you have it.  It's a favorite because it looks nice, it illustrates an aspect of its travel that I don't see with most items in my collection and it makes a connection to others from a prior generation who liked some of the same things I do. 

It's Just Pretty (to a Postal Historian)

Sometimes an item becomes a favorite because I just like looking at it.

This item was mailed by being folded over and then having a wrapper band placed around it.  The postage was then used to hold the folded content in place within the wrapper.

This is, again, a piece of mail from 1865 - which just happens to be a coincidence.  And it illustrates a local letter that was also sent as a "registered" piece of mail (note the Charge marking).

The condition of this item is excellent and it is a favorite of mine, in part, because it looks different from much of the rest of my collection.  How often does one find a rose-colored wrapper band holding an official notice?  Not often.  

The thing is - the simple use of the stamps to help hold the wrapper and content together certainly invited the recipient to tear things apart to read what was there.  Either they did not bother, or, they took great care as they gently unfolded it (as I did to scan the insides) and then refolded it. 

Since I collect paper items from a time where colored paper was very much an exception, getting a splash of something different attracts the eye and makes it hard to forget this item.  But, looks aside, there is also a fair amount of digging I can do as I learn the stories that surround this piece of postal history.  I haven't done that digging yet.  Once I do, I doubt it will become any less of a favorite.

Puzzles are of Interest

The third favorite item I selected for today is one I enjoy because it masquerades as one thing, a fairly astute postal history dealer recognized it as another thing - and it turns out that neither of these descriptions tell the whole truth.

The busy looking envelope shown above has a 1 penny red stamp from Great Britain and was mailed in 1859.  The penny red would be the stamp used for all of the regular mail within the United Kingdom.  So, if you see that stamp, all by itself, on an envelope or folded letter AND you are a postal historian, you tend to assume it is a typical (and common) letter mailed from one location in the United Kingdom to another.

And - oddly enough it IS that.  Sort of.  Look just to the left of the stamp and you will see a round marking that reads London S JA 18 59.

You see, the item was mailed from London on January 18, 1859 and it was received in Leamington on January 19.  The penny red stamp was placed on it to pay for that mailing service and it was accepted and delivered as it should have been.

The thing about it is...  that is not the beginning of the story.

Here is what the person who sold me the cover noticed:

The conclusion they reached was that this item was mailed from Hamburg and the postage was paid in cash, not in stamps.  Once this letter reached London, the person it was mailed to was at a new location.  So, the people at the old location put a 1 penny red stamp on it to mail it to that person at their Leamington address.

Once again, this is true.  But, it is ALSO not the beginning of the story.

I'd already seen one clue that there was more to this story, but we'll get back to that.  Instead, let's look at the back of the envelope.

The lower left marking reads KDOPA Hamburg with a date of 1-16 (January 16).  The "KDOPA" references the Danish post office in Hamburg.  You see, the free city-state of Hamburg hosted post offices for many countries within its borders.  This tells me that the letter probably did NOT originate in Hamburg, but that it either started in or went through Denmark or it was carried on a Danish ship.  Hmmmm.

Then, I noticed the marking at the top left that reads Christiansand January 13 (the date is very hard to figure out).  This city is a southern port city in Norway.  That means the letter may have started out in Norway.  Not Hamburg.  Not Denmark.  Double Hmmmmm.

Which brings me back to this:

Some of you may have noticed there is a second marking by the London marking.  This one reads Svinesund and I think it may read January 12.  Below is a quick snapshot from Google maps.  The red dot is where Svinesund is located, on the border of Norway and Sweden.

Svinesund is a body of water known as a sound.  The sound separates the town of Halden in Norway form the town of Strömstad in Sweden and is part of the Idde Fjord.  At the time this letter was written the Svinesund marking could indicate a letter from either Norway or Sweden, we really can't tell.  But, we can assume it boarded water transport at this time.

Sadly, this is where the trail runs dry.  There are no additional markings that tell me exactly where this letter originated and there are no contents with the envelope to give me further clues.  

What we can say is that this letter likely originated somewhere near Svinesund, it then went to Christiansand in Norway.  From there, it went by water either to some point in Denmark or it went directly to Hamburg on a ship that had a contract with the Danish postal services.  

This piece of a postal history is a gift that keeps on giving.  I think I can still uncover more details about how the item went from Hamburg to London and I have not yet figured out how much was paid in postage (among other things).  It is a favorite because I have made progress on a puzzle that I think others have missed and the roller coaster ride that is my discovery process is ongoing - so there is more fun to come!


And there you have it.  Three favorites - all with different reasons to receive the honor (such as it is).  I did, sort of, break the rule that they couldn't have the some of the same reasons for being a favorite because I learned something new from each of them and that is often good enough reason for me to like a piece of postal history. 

Thank you for joining me once again on a Sunday (or whatever day of the week you happen to visit and read).  I hope you enjoyed your time here and I do hope you learned something new in the process.

Feel free to ask questions, offer suggestions and (of course) make corrections if you see I've interpreted something wrong.  After all, I like learning something new too.

Have a great weekend and a fine week to follow!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Farmer Update

Yes, you read the title right.  This is a farmer update, not a FARM update.

Although, you might be on to something if you figure there can't be an update of the farmers without some farm thrown in.

You may recall that I did have surgery to remove a cancerous kidney on April 28 of this year.  By May 5, I was able to write my first blog update for those who wanted to know how I was doing.  And, on that same day I went out into Eden and pushed a seeder and did a tiny bit of cultivating with a stirrup hoe.  I didn't last too long - about 15 minutes - but that's how long everything seemed to go at that point.  Some of the milestones we celebrated as I recovered were pretty humbling.  

I am now seven and a half weeks post-surgery.  I had my check-in with the surgeon and he pronounced me "still alive," which I considered to be a good thing as I agreed with him.  All formal lifting and activity restrictions are removed at this point, though he did tell me I should "listen to my body" and not get too crazy.

Well darn it.  I was going to hoist a piano over my head and toss it over the Harvestore silo.  

I guess I'll wait until next week to do that.

I think most people who have had a chance to observe would say that this has been a pretty quick recovery.  But, I would like to add that while I have been fairly aggressive with keeping moving, I have been playing the long-game by quickly identifying movements that would require caution.  

Happily, most motions are approaching some level of normalcy.  I can hoist the water and feed buckets and put implements on the tractor.  The biggest difference is that I am still rebuilding strength that was lost when I wasn't doing any of this lifting. 

On other fronts, I still have some trouble with concentration, especially on writing or office tasks.  At this point, I suspect it has more to do with building endurance.  Similar to the loss of some of my muscular strength because I was not using them as I was prior to surgery, I lost some of the 'muscles' for these other tasks.  I just have to build them back up.

I no longer flinch if something touches the incision areas, but I still don't care to have a cat decide she wants to knead directly on them and I don't think about my recovery every other moment of the day as I had been just a few weeks ago.

The biggest difference, however, is the relief I feel that I can pull my own weight at the farm and in our household.  And who knows, maybe I'll be able to offer help to others when they need it too.

It's good to be on the off-ramp from recovery and back onto the highway.

Friday, June 18, 2021


It's been a pretty sparse week for blogs on the Genuine Faux Farm blog and I actually have a pretty good reason for it.

June is filled with days with the most daylight hours.  If you don't need further explanation, then you have either worked on a farm like ours or you have enough familiarity with what we do here that the mention is good enough.

With the long string of hot days with strong sunshine, we've been getting up fairly early to try and do as much of our outdoor work as we can before it gets to the hottest part of the day.  Of course, our poultry like to be let out of their buildings early, it is important to get high tunnels open to prevent them from heating up too much, and if it is a moving day for the broilers (every other day) it is best to get their buildings moved as soon as possible.

On the other end of the day, we need to close everything up.  But, since the days have been warm, the poultry aren't too anxious to go inside.  After all, the temps are finally nice and the brutal sun is not baking them.  They want to hang out until the last drops of daylight fade away.  They don't really care if the farmers are pretty tired and just want to finish chores so they can clean and then catch some sleep.

Mid-June is also the point in time when the turklets make their appearance on the farm (Thursday).  The prelude to their arrival requires a thorough cleaning of the brooder room, feeders and waterers.  We often realize the day before that there are some supplies we need (including turkey starter food -which is much higher in protein).  Or, if we realized we needed these things earlier, we still end up going and getting them in the days just prior to their arrival.

We usually get a call around 6:20 AM from the post office telling us they want the noisy little creatures taken away and getting turkeys situated becomes the top priority..... um... after all of the other top priority things get completed.  Normal June day.

In any event, this has been a bit of a week for us.  Lots of balls in the air and we're trying hard to not let any of them fall.  On top of that, we're starting to figure out adjustments for the lack of rain.  While some folks reported rain in the area, we only had a rumor of it. 

Well, ok, the weather station claims we got .01" of rain.  Our sum total for June so far? 


So, we got half of our rain for the month so far in yesterdays little display.  We saw more lightning than anything from this thing.  Since I am writing this the day prior to its publishing, it is possible we'll get something overnight.  But, I'm not counting on it.

To make our long story less long - we're a little tired right now.  It's a combination of working in heat, which we've noticed has a cumulative effect on us and the confluence of lots of things needing attention at the same time.  But, the biggest issue is just the fact that the days are LONG.

That's ok.  Longer days just mean there is more time to enjoy living.  Maybe not so much time to write a blog - but plenty of time to live.

Have a good day today!

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Benefits of Changing Habitat

This weekend, Tammy and I were pleased to look out the front windows of our house and see a Brown Thrasher hopping around in some of the bushes we have put into the front yard area that sits between our house and the gravel road.

It is entirely possible that the thrasher has a nest in this thicket of Redosier Dogwoods from the Iowa DNR State Forest Nursery we put in about six or seven years ago.  After a little taming a year or so ago, it appears to be achieving the multiple purposes we hoped for when we put these bushes in.  Yes, they catch some of the dust.  They also slow the wind down that had often whipped around this corner of the house - causing various problems.  And, the wildlife has apparently discovered this is a pleasant place to be.

We were delighted further when we recognized that we have a pair of Common Yellowthroats that seem to like this little thicket as well.  We can't recall hearing these little birds at our farm until the last four or five years.  It is possible they were here and we just didn't recognize their song.  But, I believe it is more likely that the changing habitat that we offer at our farm has provided them with an opportunity to thrive here.

You see, Redosier Dogwoods (we personally call them Red Twig Dogwoods) are not the most attractive landscaping bushes you could select for a feature by a house.  Maybe if we groomed them more?  But, they are serving the purpose we desire of them right now - and we are thrilled by the role they are playing in making our farm more habitat friendly.

It has taken some time for some of these Yellowthroats to find our farm and to determine it is friendly to them.  But, this should not surprise us.  Nature is constantly changing habitats.  Sometimes with catastrophic events such as a derecho, hurricane or wildfire.  The changes to the landscape often make the area much less amenable to many of the species that had once thrived there.

But, as the area recovers, other species find the new environment to be a good place to do what it is they do.  It takes time, but nature has its ways of healing - ways that can be quite amazing if we take a moment to observe them.

More Habitat Changes at GFF

For those of you who have not been to the farm in a while - or those who have never been on the farm - you have all witnessed the results of a "habitat change" of sorts if you have been reading the blog for the past fourteen months.

You see, I have been thinking (a dangerous pastime you know!).  And, I am realizing that the pandemic has certainly been stressful and limiting to most of us in some fashion or another.  In short, there has been a catastrophic change to our habitat that has enforced change.

Many people who had thrived (or thought they were thriving) in the world before Covid-19, found themselves at a loss.  And I understand that.  There are many things that we once enjoyed but have not out of necessity.

On the other hand, the pandemic created an environment that allowed some people to thrive in new and beneficial ways.  I was just noting that a few musical artists who had moved on from their music careers to take jobs so they could feed their families were suddenly finding themselves motivated and able to create music once again.  In addition, some new creative voices were finding the motivation and desire to share what they do - and people, such as myself, were finding that we were hungry for their artistry.

It was the pandemic that caused me to consider writing more frequently than I had in previous years.  Some might say I was reasonably prolific (for a farmer) prior to the pandemic.  Now, they just think I am insane (or at least a little imbalanced).  But, there is no denying that I have become a better writer.  And I am amazed by how much I have learned in the process.

I would be hiding the truth from myself if I did not recognize that the changes in the world and in my life that came about from this pandemic presented me with... a gift.  One that I hope to keep on sharing with those who enjoy reading these blogs.

Bigger Picture

As I considered this topic - all motivated by Brown Thrashers and Common Yellowthroats - I was reminded that sometimes discomfort is necessary so a new population or a different group can have its time in the sunshine.

We have moved away from the perfectly manicured landscaping around our house (both intentionally at times and involuntarily when we run out of time).  Our natural inclination is to present some beautifully maintained perennial gardens - and we would still like to do some of that.  But, the reward of naturalizing has netted us the opportunity to talk to Common Yellowthroats.

You see, the All About Birds site suggests that if you know these little birds are in a thicket, and

 "If you don’t spot one after a while, try making a “pishing” sound; yellowthroats are inquisitive birds and often pop into the open to see who’s making the sound."

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to trying that one!

But, I am also reminded that there are many, many people in this world who are not as comfortable with the "norm" as many of the rest of us seem to be.  Sadly, we don't seem to be motivated to find ways to help these people to thrive when everything seems to be following regular patterns.  It takes a catastrophe - then maybe some of these people can thrive for a time - while others struggle and suffer.  I guess its a silver lining to the storm clouds.  But, I would rather we found ways to give a broader range of habitats for more people to thrive without a pandemic, or wildfire, or whatever....

So, this is all a reminder to me (and to you) that my comfort zone is not always your comfort zone.  And, sometimes my comfort zone is not always the best place for me to be because I am often not motivated to be my best when I am wholly comfortable.  It is also a reminder that we can make changes to our habitat without a disaster.  And, perhaps, we can make changes in hopes that we make someone else more comfortable so they are able to create, live and maybe even thrive.

And maybe my blogs are the equivalent of a "pishing" sound.  I'm just trying to see what will pop out from the thicket.


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Hyper - Postal History Sunday

Welcome again to Postal History Sunday on the Genuine Faux Farm blog!

For those who may be unfamiliar with Postal History Sunday or the Genuine Faux Farm blog, I thought I'd give a brief re-introduction this week.  The GFF blog is our farm's blog and has been active since late 2008.  Content runs the gamut from farm doings, to thoughts on agriculture/horticulture and poultry, maybe some philosophical things, policy suggestions, flowers, birds, music, and whatever else comes up for me.

Postal History Sunday became a regular weekly post in August of 2020.  The idea was that PHS would provide me with an opportunity to share something I enjoy with people who may have interest - whether it is merely a passing interest or you already enjoy postal history.  My goal is to allow persons who don't have expertise in these topics a chance to see why I find these pieces of paper so interesting.  At the same time, I hope to be able to provide some tidbits of information to other postal historians that may be of interest to them.  The hobby has a wide range of sub-topics and there is always something new to learn.

If I do it right, a wide range of people should find these posts enjoyable.  If all else fails, I typically find that I learn something new - and that makes me happy.

Now, pack those troubles and worries away for a time and let's see what we have in store for us this week.


This week, we're going to take a look at an area of postal history that fascinates many people, but is not in my area of expertise.  Of course, that does not mean I can't find my way around the subject - but it does mean that I will miss subtle differences that a person who concentrates on this area will see.  If you are that person, feel free to feed me more information if you think I am missing something.

The period of time after World War I was difficult for Germany after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.  The treaty caused Germany to forfeit their overseas colonies as well as contested areas Europe.  Limits were placed on their military and Germany was forced to pay 132 billion gold marks in reparations to compensate for civilian losses due to the war.  The amounts that were actually paid and the timeline for that payment are another story that you can find if you are interested.

The aftermath of the war in Germany set the stage for something called hyper-inflation which was, in part, fueled by the unrestrained printing of paper money and government debt.  Of course, the situation was much more complex than that and if you would like to read a fairly easy to follow piece that explains hyper-inflation in Germany better than I will - please check it out on the PBS site.   

To give you an idea of the type of inflation were are talking about "prices that had doubled from 1914 to 1919 doubled again during just five months in 1922."  Prices continued to increase rapidly throughout the rest of 1922 and throughout 1923.  As 1923 progressed, people looked at the first five months of 1922 wistfully because merely doubling prices seemed pretty tame by October of 1923.

And here is where postal history intersects with fiscal history.  By collecting old letters from Germany in 1922 and 1923 you can get a real lesson in what hyper-inflation looks like.

A Domestic Letter in 1920

I'm going to start with a simple letter sent in November of 1920.  The cost of sending a letter that weighed no more than 20 grams to another destination within Germany's border was 40 pfennig (100 pfennig = 1 mark - not unlike our cents and dollar in the US).  This rate was effective from May 6, 1920 until March 31, 1921.  Prior to World War I, the postage rate had been 10 pfennig, so we can already see that the simple act of mailing a letter was already four times more expensive.

I suppose at this point, people might already have been a little bit disgruntled by the higher postage rates, which accurately mirrored prices of other items, such as milk, bread, paper and other common items.  

This rate would increase to 60 pfennig on April 1, 1921.  Certainly annoying, but it would be nothing like the next jump in the postage rate.

The January 1, 1922 Increase

Just like every business in Germany at the time, their postal service was finding that their expenses were rapidly increasing and their employees were demanding greater pay so they could stay ahead of the cost of living trends.

The cost of a single letter, that weighed no more than 20 grams, was pushed to 2 marks (200 pfennig).  The letter below was mailed on April 12 of 1922 and shows a 2 mark postage stamp.

Let me put this in perspective. Here are the letter rates in the United States during the first part of the 1900s.  This table was first shown on this Postal History Sunday blog.

 Letter Mail Rates in the United States

Effective Date
July 1, 1863
3 cents
half ounce    
October 1, 1883                  
2 cents
half ounce
July 1, 1885
2 cents           
November 2, 1917
3 cents
July 1, 1919
2 cents ounce
July 6, 1932                 
3 cents

The postage rates in the United States went up one penny to help pay for the war effort, but it was then reduced after the conclusion of the conflict.  The rate did not increase to three cents again until 1932.  Our current price in 2021 to mail a letter is 55 cents.

This rate increase would be like jumping our 55 cent rate for one ounce to two dollars tomorrow.  While I know few people send much mail anymore, you can still imagine how this would be received.

Rapid Increases Followed

People who specifically collect and study German mail from this period have a lot to look for and plenty to enjoy.  From January, 1920 to December of 1923, there are twenty-four changes in the domestic letter rate, with the shortest rate period lasted just SIX days.   

The letter below required 75,000 marks to pay for a domestic letter that weighed no more than 20 grams and this rate was effective from September 1 until September 19, 1923.  Nineteen days until the rate was increased again... to 250,000 marks.

The exceptionally short rate periods found the postal service unable to respond with new postage stamp designs for each change.  So, to cover the demand for stamps, they started overprinting existing postage stamps with values reflecting the new postage rates.  

The letter above actually has a 1000 mark stamp that was overprinted with the new 75,000 mark value.  And, of course, with all of the changes, there are likely many examples of incorrect postage that was accepted.  In fact, in August of 1923, the German post offices allowed for cash payment without requiring the use of postage stamps simply because it was difficult to get the stamps to every post office in the country quick enough.

Be a "Millionaire" to Mail a Letter

The rate from October 1 to October 9 of 1923 was actually 2 MILLION marks for a letter weighing no more than 20 grams.  The letter shown below was mailed on October 8.

One of the things we need to remember about all of this is that "two million marks" did not represent the same value that "two million marks" once held.  In late 1923, you could have trainloads of German paper money and it would actually have very little value.  People who were able to had moved towards acquiring physical property that would retain some value.  The PBS essay mentions that many families purchased pianos, even though no one in the family played them - just so they would have something of value for their money.

I was curious if there was a good summary as to who was able to handle hyper-inflation in Germany and who might have struggled.  There is an excellent summary of the most commonly accepted stages of hyperinflation in Germany in this BBC article.  Of interest to me is the following from that page on June 12, 2021.

"Hyperinflation winners:

  • Borrowers, such as businessmen, landowners and those with mortgages, found they were able to pay back their loans easily with worthless money.
  • People on wages were relatively safe, because they renegotiated their wages every day. However, even their wages eventually failed to keep up with prices.
  • Farmers coped well, since their products remained in demand and they received more money for them as prices spiraled.

Hyperinflation losers:

  • People on fixed incomes, like students, pensioners or the sick, found their incomes did not keep up with prices.
  • People with savings and those who had lent money, for example to the government, were the most badly hit as their money became worthless."

As a farmer, I might suggest that farmers may have coped well because they were in a population that is often more willing to accept barter agreements.  But, I am not an economist, so we'll not go there!

Back to "Normal"

In December of 1923, Germany issued a new currency and allowed for an exchange rate of 1 trillion marks for a SINGLE new "Renten-Mark."   The postage rate was reset at 10 pfennig (in the new currency) and the hyperinflation period was over.

But, before this blog is over, I thought I would share one more.

A favorite item in my own collection has an Iowa connection.  This letter was mailed on April 23, 1923 to Muscatine at the cost of 300 marks.  This rate was effective from March until the end of June.  I would not be horribly surprised to learn that this may have been yet another German businessperson investing in the US dollar and abandoning the German mark. 

And... there you are!  A journey to Germany in the early 1920s - all without leaving your seat (unless you like to read and walk at the same time?).


Thank you for joining me for this week's Postal History Sunday!  I am always happy to receive questions, suggestions and corrections if you have them.  If there is something you would like to me talk about in a future PHS, please let me know and I'll see if I can find the time and brainspace to make it happen.

Have a great remainder of the weekend and a wonderful week to come!

Want to Learn More?

The small booklet by Gerhard Binder titled The Postal Rates in Germany from 1906 to 1923: The High Inflation 1923 is a wonderful resource that helped me to get the basic knowledge I needed for German postal history at that time.  

If you enjoy postal history and want to see what a person might do if this was a topic they wanted to focus on, you can look at Extraordinary Frankings from the German Inflation: 1919-1923 by Charles L Williams.