Inter-Island Airways, Ltd.

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Written by Arthur H. Groten M.D.

Inter-Island Airways was founded in early 1929 by a local steamship company to link Honolulu with the outer islands in November of that year.

Sometime thereafter, either 1930 or 1931, they established an Air Express service to carry mail between Honolulu and Hilo. By 1934, the name had become Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. which officially carried mail as AM Route 33 (revised) as of October 8, 1934.

Recently I came across a group of seven covers from 1931 to 1933 with various hand stamps for the Inter-Island Airways, Ltd. Air Express. There were two hand stamps used. One is three-line reading “Shipped by Air Express/[ a pair of wings]/Inter-Island Airways., Ltd.” used 1931 to 1933 in blue and purple (Type 1). The second reads “Received by Inter-Island Airways, Ltd/Date:…./To Be Called For” in purple in 1932-1933 (Type 2).

Of the seven covers, five are definitely commercial while two are probably philatelic. The rating and hand stamps on the commercial covers are as follows: 1) Aug 1, 1931 unfranked but has several numbers on it probably some form of accountancy, Type 1 in blue; 2) October 28, 1932 (hand-dated) on R.R.B. cover, Type 1 in blue; 3) April 1, 1932 2¢ Washington Bicentennial postal envelope, Type 1 in blue (Figure 1); 4 & 5) not dated,, lightly tied with Type 2 in purple, one franked 2¢ postal envelope + 1¢ Franklin, the other with 4¢ + 8¢ Washington Bicentennial issue stamps (Figure 2). The two suspected philatelic covers have 1) 3¢ William Penn tied with Type 2 with Type 1 alongside, both in purple (Figure 3) and 2) 3¢ Oglethorpe tied by Type 2 in purple. None have back stamps.

From this small sample we can surmise that Type 1 was in blue 1931-1932, later purple and that Type 2 appeared in 1933 in purple. The 12¢ rate is an outlier, perhaps a multiple weight.

So much for the description of the group, I have been able to find no information about the service or any catalogue listing. That surprises me. I ask if anyone can help. I can be reached here.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

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