29 Jul 2019

100 years of airmail: SingPost issues special stamps to mark centenary since first aerial mail service

Singapore, 29 July 2019 – Singapore Post Limited (SingPost) will be issuing a special pair of stamps on 31 July 2019, Wednesday, to mark 100 years of airmail at the SINGPEX 2019 36th Asian International Stamp Exhibition, held at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre from 31 July to 4 August 2019. The two stamps, valued at 60 cents and $2 respectively, celebrate the centenary since the first airmail was flown from England to Australia in a special race commissioned by the Australian government in 1919.

The first airmail from England to Australia

In 1919, the Australian government offered a prize purse of 10,000 Australian pounds for the first flying machine manned by Australians to fly from London to Australia within 30 days. A total of six groups began the race, but it was Captain Ross Macpherson Smith with his brother Lieutenant Keith Macpherson Smith who ultimately completed the race within the stipulated time.

The brothers, both Royal Air Force pilots, operated a Vimy bomber aircraft together with mechanics Sergeant W.H. (Wally) Shiers and J.M. (Jim) Bennett. The Vimy left Hounslow Heath in London at 8am on 12 November 1919. The aircraft operated over 11,000 miles, with a total of 14 stops between London and Darwin, including Rome, Cairo, Calcutta (Kolkata), Singapore and Batavia (Jakarta). The crew eventually reached Darwin at 4.10pm on 10 December 1919, clocking a total of 27 days and 20 hours. The Smith brothers each received a knighthood for this expedition. The aircraft was eventually presented to the Australian government and is now displayed at Adelaide Airport.

Stamp design

It is believed that a total of 364 pieces of mail were carried on the first airmail flight from the United Kingdom to Australia via Singapore. Of these, 11 covers have been identified as originating from Singapore by the stamps affixed, the back address or the letter enclosed; and two of the covers were thought to bear Straits Settlements stamps.

The 60-cent stamp features the photo of both Ross and Keith Smith along with the Vimy bomber aircraft that the duo operated from England to Australia. Also found on the stamp was one of the covers believed to be carried on the maiden flight from Singapore.

The $2 stamp features another image of the Vimy bomber aircraft, along with an image of another cover believed to be carried on the flight. This cover is unique as it bears the stamps of 10 countries that the flight stopped over along the way, and is addressed to Mrs Andrew Smith, the aviators’ mother.

SingPost Chief Executive Officer for Postal Services and Singapore, Mr Vincent Phang, said that the stamp issue is a special milestone for the philately community.

“The first airmail took four weeks to be delivered from England to Australia a century ago. Things have indeed come a long way since, and we are able to deliver anywhere in the world today in a much shorter time, with the aid of technology and with an established network of postal service partners around the world.”

The stamps (valued at S$0.60 and S$2 respectively), Miniature Sheets (S$2.75), Precancelled First Day Covers (S$4.05) and Presentation Packs (S$5.10) will go on sale from 31 July 2019 at all post offices and the Philatelic Store @ GPO, as well as at the SingPost booth at SINGPEX 2019. All products are also available online at shop.singpost.com, while stocks last.

In addition, SingPost will also be selling limited edition versions of the stamp exclusively at SINGPEX 2019, including imperforated printer sheets of the stamps (80 stamps on a sheet, S$150), imperforated printer sheets of the Miniature Sheets (15 miniature sheets-in-one, S$150) and serialised Miniature Sheets (S$18 or S$68). These limited edition items will go on sale from 9am on 31 July 2019 at the exhibition venue.

For media enquiries:
Shannon Lim (Mr)
+65 9728 8580

About Singapore Post Limited

For more than 160 years, Singapore Post (SingPost), as the country's postal service provider, has been delivering trusted and reliable services to homes and businesses in Singapore. Today, SingPost is pioneering and leading in eCommerce logistics as well as providing innovative mail and logistics solutions in Singapore and around the world, with operations in 19 markets.

Building on its trusted communications through domestic and international postal services, SingPost is taking the lead in end-to-end integrated and digital mail solutions. The suite of SingPost eCommerce logistics solutions includes front end web management, warehousing and fulfilment, last mile delivery and international freight forwarding.