The early 20th Century (to before World War II)

The years before World War I during the early 20th century are a continuation of the 1890s. More commemoratives began to be issued by more countries, and the increase in railroad miles continued to create the need for very large printings of the most common stamps. Although multiple color stamps began to be issued in greater numbers, most of the common definitives remained single color because of Universal Postal Union regulations requiring signing nations (Europe, North America, and their colonies or economically dependent countries) to use specific colors for specific rates: green for postcards, red for first-class within country mail, and red for international ship mail. Below is an example of this color rule for the Argentina 1935-51 issue: a green 3 centavos stamp on a postcard. To the right is an Australian stamp used for in-country first-class mail, the 1913 1d Kangaroo
The Birtish Empire was very much at its peak in the early 20th century, and India was one of the most important colonies of the empire. Below is a spectacular used block of four of the highest value of the George VI definitives: the 25 rupees value.
The most important change in this period is the use of airplanes to deliver mail. What began as an amateur activity soon evolved into the organized air mail system that we take for granted today. Below is an Argentinean cover from 1938 that was delivered by airmail to Germany by the Condor air service.
This is also the era of "the stamp as a work of art," even in the case of definitives, such as the France Merson 2 Francs illustrated below. Below is a cover with the 40 centimes Merson. This merson cover was mailed by ship: notice that the paper is almost as thick as cardboard.
An interesting episode in early 20th century postal history is the hyperinflationary period of Germany between September and December 1923. The value of the German Mark collapsed, with postal rates changing almost daily. Many of the covers and used stamps from this period are forgeries, and I am assuming both examples shown below are quite likely forged. The mint stamps are very common, and often avaiable in full mint sheets.
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