Dachau First-Day Cover: A Near Miss

Dachau First-Day Cover: A Near Miss

The following excerpt is based on Dr. Justin Gordon’s book Holocaust Postal History (www.holopostal.com). Thanks to Dr. Gordon and editor Jennifer Murtoff for compiling and submitting this story.


This cover from Dachau concentration camp near Munich in southern Germany is dated June 12, 1933, three months after the camp opened. In 1978 I received a catalog from Clearing House Auction in New York City that contained 12 lots of postcards from Dachau. The first listing was a similar postcard, except the cancellation was March 22, 1933—the day the camp opened. A cover that is cancelled on the first day of an event is a rare find in the philatelic world. Oddly enough, the catalog description did not include this important detail.

The next day, I called the auction house, and before I had a chance to explain my call, the person on the other end of the line said, “I know why you’re calling—you’re the sixth person to tell me I missed the March 22 opening of Dachau.” I was unable to make the trip to New York for the auction, and so I placed my bids by phone. My initial bid was $300, and the second time around I bid $1,000. Considering the cost of my flight to New York, I dropped out of the bidding at $2,000, and the lot sold for over $2,500. I settled for the card you see here, with the June 12 cancellation.

In 1986, during a presentation at AMERIPEX, the International Philatelic Exposition event, I recounted this story to the audience. A gentleman raised his hand and said he bought that cover. The philatelic world is indeed a small one!


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