A crowd of fifty thousand had gathered to witness the event. The location: Le Havre, France. The date: 29 May 1935. The stage was set for a record-breaking maiden voyage across the Atlantic. The prize for a record-breaking crossing was the coveted Blue Riband. The French ocean liner SS Normandie had been advertised as the fastest ship afloat. Her state-of-the-art turbo-electric propulsion system was the first of its kind. Now all the ship had to do was prove itself worthy of the high acclaim.
To celebrate this monumental event, France issued a lovely stamp featuring SS Normandie on 23 April 1935, a little over a month before the event. The stamp was designed and engraved by Albert Decaris. (Check out my blog post that studies the SS Normandie and the commemorative stamp in detail HERE). As an extra treat, a special machine cancel was created to be used on the date of the maiden voyage to mark the occasion. Covers bearing a Normandie stamp and cancelled with special machine cancel are a great addition to any Albert Decaris collection.
To date I only have one cover with a Normandie stamp and maiden voyage cancel. It is not the most glamorous cover in the world, but I have it purely for the cancel.
Here is another example of the postmark on a cover I purchased, but has not arrived yet.
So you may be wondering if SS Normandie succesfully broke the Atlantic crossing record and won the coveted Blue Riband? Well, the answer is yes! She surely did. The previous record of 4 days, 13 hours, 58 minutes was held by the Italian liner SS Rex, set in 1933. SS Normandie smashed that record by ten hours, arriving in New York after 4 days, 3 hours, 2 minutes. This record was broken a year later by Queen Mary. Then in 1937 Normandie won it back again! The two great liners had quite a rivalry.
Until next time...