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 from about 1960 on, raised to 15c in the late ’60s.

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.
  • Registered Mail with Label

    • type 1

      • Monrovia → Frankfurt 1908

        Official letter sent on December 31, 1908 from Monrovia to Frankfurt am Main, Germany; franking of 20 cents covering second rate (10 cents) + registration (10 cents)
    • type 2

      summary of labels listed so far:  “BUCHANAN”: July 19, 1913 / September 10, 1920
      “HARPER”: August 12, 1916 / December 11, 1926
      “MONROVIA”: September 21, 1912 / January 27, 1919
      • Monrovia → Camden 1912

        Registered and uprated stationery envelope sent on September 21, 1912 from Monrovia to Camden, New Jersey, USA; franking of 15 cents covering first rate (5 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → Rastatt 1913

        Registered letter sent on March 3, 1913 by the Imperial German Consulate from Monrovia to Rastatt, Germany; franking of 35 cents covering up to fifth rate (25 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → London 1913

        Registered official letter sent on April 30, 1913 by the Department of State from Monrovia to the Pulvermacher Institute, London, England; franking of 15 cents covering first rate (5 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Buchanan → Hamburg 1913

        Registered and uprated stationery envelope sent on July 19, 1913 from Buchanan to Hamburg, Germany; franking of 17 cents covering first rate (5 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Harper → St. Gallen 1916

        Censored registered letter sent on August 12, 1916 from Harper to St. Gallen, Switzerland; franking of 58 cents
      • Monrovia → New York 1919

        Censored registered letter sent on January 6, 1919 from Monrovia to New York City, USA; franking of 30 cents covering fourth rate (4*5 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Monrovia → Bern 1919

        Registered letter sent on January 27, 1919 from Monrovia to Bern, Switzerland; franking of 5 cents covering first rate (5 cents)
      • Buchanan → Rochester 1920

        Registered letter sent on September 10, 1920 from Buchanan to Rochester, New York, USA; franking of 15 cents covering first rate (5 cents) + registration (10 cents)
      • Harper → Buchanan 1926

        Registered letter sent on December 11, 1926 by A. Woermann trading post (Caper Palmas) from Harper to A. Woermann trading post (Grand Bassa), Buchanan; franking of 14 cents covering second internal rate (2*2 cents) + registration (10 cents)
    • type 3

      summary of labels listed so far:  “MONROVIA”: May 10, 1951
      “ROBERTSPORT”: October 26, 1955
      • Monrovia → Kansas City 1951

        Registered airmail cover sent on May 10, 1951 from Monrovia to Kansas City, Missouri, USA; franking of 45 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (20 cents)
      • Robertsport → Robertsport 1955

        Registered airmail cover sent on October 26, 1955 from Robertsport to Zurich, Switzerland; franking of $1.75 covering up to sixth rate (6*25 cents) + registration (20 cents)
    • type 4

      summary of labels listed so far:  “MONROVIA 1”: May 30, 1978
      “MONROVIA 2”: April 28, 1976
      “MONROVIA 3”: October 30, 1975 / October 20, 1976
      “MONROVIA 4”: March 5, 1976 / April 5, 1976
      “MONROVIA 5”: June 13, 1977 / April 28, 1978
      “MONROVIA 6”: July 23, 1975 / October 22, 1976
      “MONROVIA 7”: February 3, 1977 / February 25, 1978
      “MONROVIA RS1”: September 26, 1980
      “MONROVIA RS2”: November 27, 1978 / December 1, 1978
      • Monrovia → Bitburg 1975

        Registered airmail cover sent on July 23, 1975 from Monrovia to Bitburg, Eifel, Germany; franking of $1.10 covering second rate (2*25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Wuppertal 1975

        Registered airmail cover sent on October 30, 1975 from Monrovia to Wuppertal, Germany; franking of 70 cents covering postcard rate (15 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Bitburg 1975

        Registered airmail cover sent in October 1975 from Monrovia to Bitburg, Eifel, Germany; franking of 80 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Bitburg 1976

        Registered airmail cover sent on March 5, 1976 from Monrovia to Bitburg, Eifel, Germany; franking of 80 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Jersey 1976

        Registered airmail cover sent on April 5, 1976 from Monrovia to Jersey, British Isles; franking of 80 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Jersey 1976

        Registered airmail cover sent on April 28, 1976 from Monrovia to Jersey, British Isles; franking of 90 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Bitburg 1976

        Registered airmail cover sent on June 4, 1976 from Monrovia to Bitburg, Eifel, Germany; franking of 80 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Bath 1976

        Registered airmail cover sent on October 20, 1976 from Monrovia to Bath, England; franking of 90 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Bitburg 1976

        Registered airmail cover sent on October 22, 1976 from Monrovia to Bitburg, Eifel, Germany; franking of $2.00
      • Monrovia → Jersey 1977

        Registered airmail cover sent on February 3, 1977 from Monrovia to Jersey, British Isles; franking of 80 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → New York 1977

        Registered airmail cover sent on June 13, 1977 from Monrovia to New York City, USA; franking of 90 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Jersey ca. 1977

        Registered airmail cover sent in ca. 1977 from Monrovia to Jersey, British Isles; franking of 80 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Jersey 1978

        Registered airmail cover sent on February 25, 1978 from Monrovia to Jersey, British Isles; franking of 90 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Williamsport 1978

        Registered airmail cover sent on April 28, 1978 from Monrovia to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, USA; franking of 50 cents
      • Monrovia → Wolverhampton 1978

        Registered airmail cover sent on May 30, 1978 from Monrovia to Wolverhampton, England; franking of 80 cents covering first rate (25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → London 1978

        Registered airmail cover sent on November 27, 1978 from Monrovia to London, England; franking of $1.40 covering third rate (3*25 cents) + registration (55 cents)
      • Monrovia → Jersey 1978

        Registered airmail cover sent on December 1, 1978 from Monrovia to Jersey, British Isles; franking of 70 cents
      • Monrovia → London 1980

        Registered airmail cover sent on September 26, 1980 from Monrovia to London, England; franking of $1.13
    • type 5

      summary of labels listed so far:  “BUCHANAN”: October 3, 1989
      “GREENVILLE”: January 12, 1987
      “HARBEL”: June 23, 1982
      “KAKATA”: June 14, 1983 / September 3, 1984
      “MONROVIA II”: January 20, 1984
      “MONROVIA III”: December 14, 1981 / February 3, 1983
      “MONROVIA IV”: October 13, 1981 / November 6, 1981
      “MONROVIA V”: August 4, 1982 / May 4, 1984
      “MONROVIA VI”: October 7, 1981
      “RANDALL STREET I”: March 3, 1983
      “RANDALL STREET II”: November 18, 1982
      “RANDALL STREET III”: April 19, 1982 / January 5, 1983
      “ROBERTSFIELD”: September 22, 1981 or later
      • Robertsfield → Kassel 1981 or later

        Registered airmail cover sent on September 22, 1981 or later from Robertsfield to Kassel, West Germany; franking of $1.00
      • Monrovia → Woodland Hills 1981

        Registered airmail cover sent on October 7, 1981 from Monrovia to Woodland Hills, California, USA; franking of 80 cents
      • Monrovia → New Brunswick 1981

        Registered airmail cover sent on October 13, 1981 from Monrovia to New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA; franking of $1.25
      • Monrovia → New Brunswick 1981

        Registered airmail cover sent on November 6, 1981 from Monrovia to New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA; franking of 70 cents
      • Monrovia → Denver 1981

        Registered airmail cover sent on December 14, 1981 from Monrovia to Denver, Colorado, USA; franking of 80 cents
      • Monrovia → New Brunswick 1982

        Registered airmail cover sent on April 14, 1982 from Monrovia to New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA; franking of $1.60
      • Monrovia → New Brunswick 1982

        Registered airmail cover sent on April 19, 1982 from Monrovia to New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA; franking of $1.00
      • Harbel → Scranton 1982

        Registered airmail cover sent on June 23, 1982 from Harbel to Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA; franking of $1.72
      • Monrovia → Denver 1982

        Registered airmail cover sent on August 4, 1982 from Monrovia to Denver, Colorado, USA; franking of 80 cents
      • Monrovia → Scranton 1982

        Registered airmail cover sent on November 18, 1982 from Monrovia to Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA; franking of $1.50
      • Monrovia → Exeter 1983

        Registered airmail cover sent on January 5, 1983 from Monrovia to Exeter, England; franking of 80 cents
      • Monrovia → Scranton 1983

        Registered airmail cover sent on February 3, 1983 from Monrovia to Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA; franking of $1.20
      • Monrovia → New Brunswick 1983

        Registered airmail cover sent on March 3, 1983 from Monrovia to New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA; franking of $1.00
      • Kakata → Turku 1983

        Registered airmail cover sent on June 14, 1983 from Kakata to Turku, Finland; franking of 81 cents
      • Kakata → Turku 1983

        Registered airmail cover sent on September 19, 1983 from Kakata to Turku, Finland; franking of $1.00
      • Monrovia → Kassel 1984

        Registered airmail cover sent on January 20, 1984 from Monrovia to Kassel, West Germany; franking of 70 cents
      • Monrovia → Turku 1984

        Registered airmail cover sent on May 4, 1984 from Monrovia to Turku, Finland; franking of $1.30
      • Kakata → Turku 1984

        Registered airmail cover sent on June 25, 1984 from Kakata to Turku, Finland; franking of 93 cents
      • Kakata → Turku 1984

        Registered airmail cover sent on September 3, 1984 from Kakata to Turku, Finland; franking of $1.00
      • Greenville → Monrovia 1987

        Registered airmail cover sent on January 12, 1987 from Greenville to Monrovia; franking of 30 cents
      • Buchanan → Turku 1989

        Registered airmail cover sent on October 3, 1989 from Buchanan to Turku, Finland; franking of $1.05