Cover Gallery

The postal rates in use at a particular time are often difficult to assess because so may letters sent from Liberia are clearly over-franked. Even non-philatelists would use extra stamps on their covers for decoration because of their exotic appearance. Consequently, some items shown in this cover gallery cannot be taken as examples for correct franking.
The rates given below have been compiled from various sources and supplemented with my own findings, but I do not claim this listing to be complete or even error-free.

Letters (Surface Mail)

In 1860, Liberia issued her first postage stamps matching the rates of 6 cents per half-ounce or fraction thereof for local letters, 12 cents for distant towns and Sierra Leone and 24 cents for international mail. The next two decades saw numerous changes, with different rates applied to different foreign destinations, until Liberia joined the UPU in 1879. In the following, new stamps were issued in 1881/1882 for the rate of 3 cents per ½ oz. for inland mail and 8 cents for international mail. In 1892, the rate for foreign mail was lowered again to 5 cents per ½ oz. (5c and 10c stationery envelopes of 1893, triangle stamp of 1894). The 5 cent base rate essentially remained unchanged until 1968 [1], but sometime between 1923 [2, p.80] and 1928 [3] the single rate changed from half-ounce to ounce. Furthermore, in 1928 the 5 cent rate only applied to the first ounce, with heavier mail being charged at 3 cents per additional ounce [3] (see also [4] confirming the same rates for 1939).
By 1893, there was also in effect a cheaper inland rate of 2 cents per ½ oz. for correspondence between townships of the same county [2, p.69] – hence the 2c stationery envelope - but this “class no. 1” rate was only available until 1912 at most [2, p.71]. The inland rate later changed to 2 cents per ½ oz. for all destinations for a few years, probably sometime between 1918 (“3 CENTS” surcharged triangle stamp) and 1923 [2, p.80], but by 1928 it had changed again to 3 cents per ounce [3]. In the early 1950s the rate changed to 3 cents for the first ounce only, and 2 cents for each additional ounce [5, p.1119] [2, p.86].

Postcards

At first, the rate seems to have been 3 cents flat, irrespective of destination (all stationery postcards are 3c), until about 1910, when it was lowered to 2 cents. By 1923, the special postcard rate had been dropped, now classifying postcards as first class mail like regular handwritten letters requiring the same franking of 5 cents [6]. Despite [3] stating the postcard rate of 1928 to be 2 cents, all my postcards of 1928 or later are franked with 3 cents. The 2 cents rate is confirmed as inland postcard rate for 1950 [2, p.86]).

Airmail

 [4]

Letters sent to or via Europe through the first regular international airmail services beginning in 1937 were charged at 21 cents for the first quarter-ounce, plus 15 cents per additional quarter-ounce. The first rate changed to 25 cents sometime between June 17 and 21 1939 and remained constant until June/July 1940, when all air service was suspended due to WW II; however, the total franking found on some covers of that period - 43 cents at first and 46 cents later - suggests two different second rates, most likely reflecting another rate change in March 1940 (H. Chlanda, pers. comm.). A 50 cents per ½ oz. rate, obviously planned for 1941, was finally set into effect on February 14, 1942 (“First Flight Liberia–US 1941” 50c overprints, but no airmail seems to have left or reached Liberia during that year). The next change came on June 17, 1942 with a 90 cents per ½ oz. rate [7], reduced to 70 cents per ½ oz. about twelve months later. Stamps complementing the 1942 airmail set were issued in 1944 for the new rates including values covering a new inland airmail rate of 12 cents per ½ oz. [8, p.96]. On March 1, 1947, the rate for international airmail was reduced to 25 cents, which remained unchanged until the end of the 1970s.

Printed Matter

A rate of 1 cent for newspapers and other non-handwritten mail was probably introduced at the same time the newspaper wrapper was issued in 1892. This 1 cent rate for all printed material appears to have remained constant until the early 1920s, when new postal regulations began to distinguish between periodicals, e.g. at least quarterly appearing magazines, charged as second class mail at 2 cents per pound [6], and all other “printed matter”, e.g. circulars, at 1 cent per 2 oz. (third class mail, see [6] and confirmed for 1928 in [3]). A special airmail rate of 12 cents for printed matter can be inferred from covers sent out around 1960 and later.

Registration

has remained constant at 10 cents from 1882 until sometime before 1950, when it changed to 20c for ordinary and air mail, staying at 10 cents for domestic mail [5, p.1119]. International registration fees were raised to 55 cents in the 1960s. Ben Hamilton indicates in [3] that the 15 cents stamp of the 1928 issue was intended for the registration and return receipt fee combinded, but it is unkown since when and for how long this rate was in effect.

  • Literature:
    1. Weaver, Kent E. (1998): The postal rates of Liberia 1858–1970. LPS Journal Jan./Mar. 1998: 3–7.
    2. Cockrill, Philip: Postal History and Stamps 1835-1945. LIBERIA series booklet 25. Published by House of Antiquity.
    3. Hamilton, Ben Jr. (1937): The 1928 series of Liberian stamps. Scott’s Monthly Journal Oct. 1937: 259–264.
    4. Chlanda, Henry (1989): Liberian air mail rates 1937 to 1947. LPS Journal Jan./Mar. 1989: 2–14.
    5. Price, Frederick A. (1950): The Republic of Liberia. In: First Liberia Stamp Exhibition November 20, 1950—January 6, 1951, National Philatelic Museum 2(9).
    6. Karnga, Abayomi (1923): Liberia Official Postal Guide. Published by the Montserrado Printing and Publishing Company, Monrovia, Liberia.
    7. Rice, Stanley R. (1950): First flight – Liberia–US stamps. Aero Philatelist’s News Vol. 5(9).
    8. Rogers, Henry Harper (1971): A Century of Liberian Philately. Published by Kasimir Bileski. 204pp.
  • Airmail

    • to 1945

      • Monrovia → Harper 1936

        First flight cover sent on February 28, 1936 by the Bank of Monrovia from Monrovia to W.T. Runals, Firestone Plantations, Cape Palmas; franking of 6 cents covering special flight rate
      • Monrovia → Washington 1937

        First flight cover sent on March 5, 1937 from Monrovia via Air France to the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., USA; franking of 21 cents covering first rate (21 cents)
      • Monrovia → Washington 1937

        Registered airmail cover sent on June 19, 1937 by the U.S. Foreign Service from Monrovia to Washington D.C., USA; franking of 61 cents covering third rate (21 + 2*15 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → New York 1937

        Registered airmail cover sent on March 26, 1937 by W. Baccus Page from Monrovia via Air France to Nicolas Sanabria, New York City, USA; franking of 50 cents covering second rate (21 + 15 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → Scotia 1937

        Airmail cover sent on May 29, 1937 from Monrovia to Scotia, New York, USA; franking of 22 cents covering first rate (21 cents)
      • Monrovia → Paradise 1937

        Airmail cover sent on July 24, 1937 from Monrovia to Paradise, Pennsylvania, USA; franking of 68 cents covering fourth rate (21 cents + 3*15 cents)
      • Monrovia → Hamburg 1937

        Registered airmail cover sent in September 1937 from Monrovia to Hamburg, Germany; franking of 42 cents covering first rate (21 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → Port Gentil 1937

        Airmail cover sent on November 8, 1937 from Monrovia to Chargeurs Réunis, Port Gentil, Gabon; franking of 56 cents
      • Monrovia → Hamburg 1938

        Airmail cover sent on January 22, 1938 from Monrovia to Hamburg, Germany; franking of 26 cents covering first rate (21 cents)
      • Monrovia → Amsterdam 1938

        Airmail cover sent on May 21, 1938 from Monrovia via Air France to Amsterdam, Holland; franking of 66 cents covering fourth rate (21 cents + 3*15 cents)
      • Monrovia → Hamburg 1938

        Airmail cover sent on September 10, 1938 from Monrovia to Hamburg, Germany; franking of 36 cents covering second rate (21 + 15 cents)
      • Monrovia → Bikfaya 1938

        Registered airmail FDC sent on September 12, 1938 from Monrovia via Beirut to Bikfaya, Lebanon; franking of $2.25
      • Monrovia → New York 1938

        Registered airmail FDC sent on September 12, 1938 by W. Baccus Page from Monrovia via Pointe Noire to F.W. Kessler, New York City, USA; franking of $1.11
      • Monrovia → Amsterdam 1939

        Registered airmail cover sent in 1939 from Monrovia to Amsterdam, Holland; franking of 31 cents covering first rate (21 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → Rostock 1939

        Airmail cover sent on July 1, 1939 from Monrovia to Rostock, Germany; franking of 43 cents covering second rate (25 + 18 cents)
      • Monrovia → Washington 1939

        Airmail cover sent on September 30, 1939 by the US Foreign Service from Monrovia to the Department of State, Washington D.C., USA; franking of 25 cents covering first rate (25 cents)
      • Monrovia → Paris 1940

        Airmail cover sent on January 18, 1940 by the Bank of Monrovia from Monrovia to the National City Bank of New York, Paris, France; franking of 25 cents covering first rate (25 cents)
      • Monrovia → Chicago 1940

        Registered airmail cover sent on February 22, 1940 by the Department of Justice from Monrovia to Chicago, Illinois, USA; franking of 56 cents covering second rate to USA ? (25 + 21 cents ?) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → Washington 1940

        Airmail cover sent on June 6, 1940 by the Foreign Service of the United States of America from Monrovia to Washington D.C., USA; franking of 46 cents covering second rate to USA ? (25 + 21 cents ?)
      • Monrovia → New York 1942

        "FFC" Liberia–USA (actually carried by ship) sent on February 14, 1942 from Monrovia to New York City, USA; franking of 60 cents covering first rate (50 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → Cadillac 1942

        Censored airmail cover sent on March 16, 1942 from Monrovia to Cadillac, Michigan, USA; franking of 90 cents covering first rate (50 or 90 cents ?)
      • Monrovia → New York 1942

        Airmail cover sent on October 27, 1942 by the Department of State from Monrovia to New York City, USA; franking of 90 cents covering first rate (90 cents)
      • Monrovia → New York 1942

        Censored registered airmail cover sent on December 29, 1942 from Monrovia to Walter F. Walker, Liberian consul general, New York City, USA; franking of $1.90 covering second rate (2*90 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Robertsfield → West Englewood 1943

        US military cover (APO 605) sent on April 12, 1943 from Robertsfield to West Englewood, New Jersey, USA; franking of 6 cents (US)
      • Monrovia → New York 1943

        Censored registered airmail cover sent in July 1943 from Monrovia via Clipper to J. & H. Stolow, New York City, USA; franking of $1 covering first rate (90 or 70 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → Dakar 1943

        First flight cover sent on September 15, 1943 from Monrovia via Aéromaritime to Chargeurs Réunis, Aéromaritime, Dakar, Senegal; franking of 20 cents covering West African rate (20 cents)
      • Monrovia → Dakar 1943

        First flight cover sent on September 15, 1943 from Monrovia via Aéromaritime to Chargeurs Réunis, Aéromaritime, Dakar, Senegal; franking of 20 cents covering West African rate (20 cents)
      • Monrovia → New York 1944

        Airmail cover sent in June 1944 by the Department of State from Monrovia to Walter F. Walker, Liberian consul general, New York City, USA; franking of 70 cents covering first rate (70 cents)
      • Monrovia → Dakar 1944

        Airmail cover sent on July 2, 1944 by the South American Cable Company from Monrovia to Dakar, Senegal; franking of 25 cents covering West African rate (25 cents)
      • Monrovia → Cotonou 1944

        Censored airmail cover sent on August 4, 1944 from Monrovia to Dabou, Ivory Coast, and redirected to Cotonou, Dahomey; franking of 25 cents covering West African rate (25 cents)
      • Monrovia → Kansas City 1945

        Registered airmail cover sent on October 11, 1945 from Monrovia to Kansas City, Missouri, USA; franking of 70 cents covering first rate (70 cents)
    • from 1946 on

      • Monrovia → Woodside 1946

        Registered airmail cover sent on March 25, 1946 from Monrovia to New York City, USA; franking of 80 cents covering first rate (70 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → New York 1946

        Airmail cover sent on March 27, 1946 from Monrovia to New York City, USA; franking of 70 cents covering first rate (70 cents)
      • Robertsfield → Columbus 1946

        Airmail cover sent on April 1, 1946 from Robertsfield to Columbus, Ohio, USA; franking of 70 cents covering first rate (70 cents)
      • Harper → Springfield 1946

        Airmail cover sent on August 5, 1946 from Harper to Springfield, Missouri, USA; franking of 70 cents covering first rate (70 cents)
      • Harper → New York 1946

        Airmail cover sent on October 17, 1946 from Harper to New York City, USA; franking of 70 cents covering first rate (70 cents)
      • Harbel → Winterthur 1947

        Airmail cover sent on March 18, 1947 by Firestone Plantations Co. from Harbel to Zürcher Kantonalbank, Winterthur, Switzerland; franking of 25 cents covering first rate (25 cents)
      • Buchanan → Eugene 1947

        Registered airmail cover sent on April 8, 1947 from Buchanan to Eugene, Oregon, USA; franking of 34 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Harbel → New York 1947

        Airmail cover sent on April 22, 1947 by Pan American World Airways System from Harbel to the U.S. Maritime Service Institute, New York City, USA; franking of 50 cents covering second rate (2*25 cents)
      • Monrovia → Rostrenen 1948

        Registered airmail cover sent on November 26, 1948 by the Legation of France from Monrovia to Rostrenen, Côtes-du-Nord, France; franking of 45 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (20 cents)
      • Monrovia → Lancaster 1949

        Aerogram sent on August 15, 1949 from Monrovia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA; franking of 10 cents covering air letter rate (10 cents)
      • Harper → Kansas City 1950

        Registered airmail envelope sent on October 11, 1950 from Harper to National Bellas Hess, Kansas City, Missouri, USA; franking of 70 cents covering second rate (2*25 cents) + registration (20 cents)
      • Harbel → Winterthur 1951

        Airmail cover sent on October 24, 1951 from Harbel to Winterthur, Switzerland; franking of 25 cents covering first rate (25 cents)
      • Monrovia → Washington 1951

        Aerogram sent on October 24, 1951 from Monrovia to Washington D.C., USA; franking of 10 cents covering air letter rate (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → Aachen 1954

        Registered airmail cover sent on February 26, 1954 by the Legation of the Federal Republic of Germany from Monrovia via Dakar to Aachen, Germany; franking of 45 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (20 cents)
      • Robertsfield → New York 1955

        Philatelic cover sent on March 5, 1955 ? from Robertsfield to Paul Sheridan, Fulton, New York, USA; franking of 72 cents
      • Monrovia → Springfield 1956

        Diplomatic mail sent on April 14, 1956 by Ina Jean Kinsey (FSS) from Monrovia via State Department, Washington to Lemuel H. Randolph, Custodian at Chamber of Commerce, Springfield, Ohio, USA; franking of 25 cents covering first rate (25 cents)
      • Harbel → Ann Arbor 1958

        Registered airmail cover sent in January 9,1958 from Harbel to Prof. Harley Harris Bartlett, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; franking of $1.20 covering fourth rate (4*25 cents) + registration (20 cents)
      • Monrovia → London 1958

        Pan Am aerogram sent on February 17, 1958 from Robertsfield to London, England; franking of 10 cents covering air letter rate (10 cents)
      • Paynefield → Hamburg 1960

        Registered airmail cover sent on October 28, 1960 from Paynefield to Hamburg, Germany; franking of $1.55 covering fourth rate (4*25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Skokie 1960

        FFC Monrovia–Amsterdam sent on November 7, 1960 from Monrovia to Skokie, Illinois, USA; franking of 25 cents covering first rate (25 cents)
      • Robertsfield → Montreal 1962

        Airmail cover sent on December 14, 1962 from Robertsfield to Montreal, Quebec, Canada; franking of 12 cents
      • Monrovia → München 1967

        Airmail cover sent on January 29, 1967 from Monrovia to Munich, Germany; franking of 25 cents covering first rate (25 cents)