Home Space Shuttle
   > Official Flight Kits (OFKs)
   > Flag & Patch Presentations
Heatshield Presentations
   > Full Archive
   > Gemini Capsule Shaped
   > Puck Shaped
Early Space Events
   > Goldcraft Cachets
   > Publications
Early Aviation Events
   > Historical & Carried Covers
   > Airmail Envelopes

Presented here is a summary of ongoing research into the origin of air mail envelope border design.

Question: When was the first envelope with an air mail border used?

Answer: At least by April 1928, however new discoveries are made as items are sold at public auction.

Scope of Research:

   > Air mail envelopes with a border design of alternating red-blue parallelograms (lozenges, blocks, etc.).
   > Envelopes mailed no later than the year 1928.
   > AND primarily those mailed before the air mail rate change of August 1st (from 10c to 5c).
   > AND especially those mailed before June 1st (date of first significant usage via CAM 20 flights).

Summary of Earliest Observed Usages (MM/DD/YYYY):

   > Cover - 4/19/1928
   > Postal Card - 5/26/1928
   > Etiquette Label - 2/6/1928
   > Address Label - 5/1/1928

   > Dahlke Patent - 10/24/1927 (Filed), 5/21/1929 (Issued)
   > Formal Announcement - July 1928 in US Post Office Department Official Postal Guide

These photos and tables are intended to document a small portion of the covers seen and encourge further discussion with periodic site updates as new information is discovered and reviewed.

No attempt will be made to show each and every cover here. On several occasions, only one or two covers were created for a specific event; collectors should be aware that a "complete set" is not always an attainable goal. The focus of the community has been to document and educate each other by sharing and presenting the covers they have collected in an effort to better tell the story of airmail. Comparing details between covers from the same time period has given a unique insight into these emvelopes.

Please feel free to send in photos of covers you've seen online or from your personal collection that are not currently represented here for inclusion in the archive. Images are credited to owners who have sent in covers or posted them publicly.

Reference Files - Click Icon To Download
File Link File Description
US Patent #1,714,349
Inventor: B. A. Dahlke
Study of Early Airmail Envelope Borders
Presentation Compiled by Jeff Mills
Rev. 4 (7/29/2021)

To supplement the covers, several articles from newspapers are included below. Click images to enlarge.

Dahlke Envelope Approved

March 29, 1928
Dahlke Envelope Approved

April 2, 1928
New Design Authorized

April 4, 1928
Dahlke Background

Dahlke Background (cont.)

Airmail 40th Anniversary

May 11, 1958
Dahlke Obituary

Sept 16, 1958

Type Summary
Type Maker Top Row Count
# Red -
# Blue
Flow Direction Stamp Gap Back Border
D1 Dahlke 5-5 4/30/1928 Right No Colors Reversed (All)
D1 #10 Dahlke 8-7 6/1/1928 Right No Same As Front
D2 Dahlke 5-5 5/24/1928 Right No Colors Reversed (All)
D2A Dahlke 4-4 8/13/1928 Right No Colors Reversed (All)
D3 Dahlke 4-4 7/31/1928 Right No Colors Reversed (All)
C0 Dahlke (Not Marked) 4-4 5/26/1928 Right No Same As Front
C1 Dahlke 4-4 7/4/1928 Right No Same As Front
C2 Dahlke 4-4 7/31/1928 Right No Same As Front
Etiquette (Small) Dahlke 4-4 2/6/1928 Right N/A N/A
Etiquette (Large) Dahlke 4-4 8/1/1928 Right N/A N/A
H1 Hayden 3-4 7/25/1928 Right No Same As Front
R1 Roessler 3-2 6/14/1928 Right No Same As Front
3-2 Not Marked 3-2 5/8/1928 Right Yes Colors Reversed (All)
3-3 Not Marked 3-3 5/1/1928 Right Yes Same As Front
3-4 Not Marked 3-4 6/1/1928 Right No Same As Front
3-5 Not Marked 3-5 5/1/1928 Right Yes None
4-4A Not Marked 4-4 5/26/1928 Right No Colors Reversed (Top-Bottom)
4-4B Not Marked 4-4 7/10/1928 Right Yes Same As Front
4-4C Not Marked 4-4 5/26/1928 Right No ?
4-4D Not Marked 4-4 6/29/1928 Right No Colors Reversed (All)
L1 Not Marked 3-3 4/19/1928 Left Yes "Wrapped Boxes"
L2 Not Marked 4-4 5/1/1928 Left No Same As Front
L2A Not Marked 4-4 5/1/1928 Right No Left
(Same as L2)
L3 Not Marked 4-3 6/1/1928 Left No Same As Front
U522 Not Marked 4-4 5/26/1928 Right No None
No. 33
12-11 5/1/1928 N/A N/A N/A

Image Gallery - Airmail Border Earliest Observed Uses
Type Maker Earliest Known Example (Front) Example (Back)
D1 Dahlke 4/30/1928
Dahlke 6/1/1928
D2 Dahlke 5/24/1928
D2A Dahlke 8/13/1928
D3 Dahlke 7/31/1928
C0 Dahlke
(Not Marked)
C1 Dahlke 7/4/1928
C2 Dahlke 7/31/1928
Etiquette (Small) Dahlke 2/6/1928
Etiquette (Large) Dahlke 8/1/1928
H1 Hayden 7/25/1928
R1 Roessler 6/14/1928
3-2 Not Marked

Used by
3-3 Not Marked 5/1/1928
3-4 Not Marked 6/1/1928
3-5 Not Marked 5/1/1928
4-4A Not Marked 5/26/1928
4-4B Not Marked 7/10/1928
4-4C Not Marked 5/26/1928

Image Needed
4-4D Not Marked 6/29/1928
L1 Not Marked 4/19/1928
L2 Not Marked

Used by
Raymond Schaffer

Click Here For
Enclosed Letter
L2A Not Marked

Used by
Albert Gorham

Click Here For
Enclosed Letter
L3 Not Marked 6/1/1928
RED first
Not Marked 5/26/1928
BLUE first
Not Marked 5/26/1928
No. 33

This page last modified: 7/29/2021
Comments or questions? contact@souvenirsofspace.com

Compiled by Jeff Mills, AAMS #12397