Byrd I, II, III

A Postal History Gallery


Byrd I: 1928-1930

Sent from Little America by J.J. "Teddy" Bayer, engineer on the S.S. CITY OF NEW YORK .

Dunedin, N.Z.
Feb. 16, 29

My dear Miss Philibert:

Your letter received and glad to hear from you. Thanks a lot for the compliment and clippings. The folks and friends at home must certainly appreciate them too. I don't think you know any of the other Washingtonians. Charlie Lofgren is on the "City of New York". A few sidelights on the recent trip to the "Barrier" might prove interesting. Our good friends in New Zealand were wagging their heads when we shoved off and many said we were slated for a "watery grave". In all fairness to them, we must admit that our ship looked anything but sea-worthy. Our cargo was perhaps the most general one ever shipped. It consisted of everything from toothpicks to (2) aeroplanes.

An interesting letter ... life in 1929 Antarctica

Welcome Home! Aviator's Post 743 of the American Legion welcomes Admiral Byrd to New York City. Signed Bernt Balchen, chief aviator on the historic flight over the Pole in November 1928. This cover was prepared to commemorate the dedication of the Floyd Bennett Municipal Airport, by Byrd, on June 26, 1930. The cachet on the reverse of this cover is an imitation Byrd I cancellation, designed and used by prolific philatelic dealer A. C. Roessler. It is believed that Roessler intentionally made a slight adjustment to the cachet (leaving out the lower right meridian line) in order to support his claim that this was not a forgery.

Byrds' Aviators (L to R) Harold June, Dean Smith, Bernt Balchen


Carried aboard SS BEAR OF OAKLAND

 This example is from a set of 17 postcards issued for the expedition. On the reverse are various photos from the prior Byrd I Expedition. Captain English personally signed a possible 15,000 cards and most likely saw to the cancelation of many at the "branch" Little America II post office aboard the BEAR.

Byrd II: 1933-1935

 Due to her slower speed, the BEAR OF OAKLAND, under the command of Lieutenant (J.G.) Robert A. English, U.S.N. left Boston harbor on September 25th, 1933, nearly two-and-a-half weeks earlier than the JACOB RUPPERT. While en route to the Panama Canal a hurricane was encountered, nearly sinking the ship off Southport, North Carolina. She met a full gale off Diamond Shoals lightship and was warned by radio that the strongest part of the storm lay dead ahead. Lt. English tried to make a run for Southport Harbor but by October 4th the seas were breaking over her decks and she was taking on vast amounts of water, faster than the pumps could handle it. It was a terrible night as bucket lines were formed and the crew, scientists and veterans steadied themselves on slippery decks and ladders, passing three-gallon buckets of bilge water to the main deck and lowering empty buckets to the men below. The sea rose to the level of the boilers . . . it was serious indeed. After hours of battling, she finally made it to shore and anchored off the entrance to the harbor. Due to the extreme punishment she took, it was necessary to return to Newport News for dry-docking. Repairs were made and she set out for Antarctica, this time successfully, on November 1, 1933.


The typical "Delayed" BYRD II cover, signed R E BYRD

Byrd III: 1939-1941


Canceled at Little America


Tech Sgt. Zadik Collier Creation

Covering BOTH trips to / from the Antarctic



Reverse of the Collier cover


Cover addressed by the expedition Ornothologist and sent to the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.


Philatelically, the most significant port-of-call enroute to Antarctica was made by the USS NORTH STAR at Pitcairn Island. The resultant Richard Black originated covers, officially sanctioned by Byrd (who personally approved the commemorative cachet), are among the most prized philatelic items for the U.S.A.S.E. The vessel paid a visit to Pitcairn Island on December 13-14, 1939. The Pitcairn post office was quickly sold out of New Zealand stamps, but through special arrangements, unstamped covers reached their destinations as well as those which were franked. The cachet was designed by Richard Black, leader of East Base, and was applied to mail during the visit. According to news articles of the day, approximately 790 covers were serviced. Two types of mail from this stop exist -- mail left at Pitcairn for a stateside destination and mail canceled at Pitcairn and taken along for the journey south.