Wednesday 17 August 2016

A Failed Flight & A Rare Stamp

Captain Terrence Tully and Lieutenant James Medcalf in front of the Sir John Carling courtesy

Everyone knows about Charles Lindbergh's historic trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris in the spring of 1927 ( However, few have heard of the London to London flight which took place that fall, a flight that would turn a wife into a widow and a stamp into a philatelist's dream.

Carling Brewies of London, Ontario offered a 25,000 reward for the first person to successfully fly from London, Ontario to London, England.  In August of 1927, former World War I pilot Terrence Tully, along with navigator James Medcalf, set out on their trans-Atlantic journey.  Their plane, christened the Sir John Carling, was packed with stacks of mail, all with a new stamp on it commemorating the historic flight.  The pilot's wife was also given a handful of the stamps as a souvenir of her husband's flight.

The plane set out on its journey, but after encountering thick fog, turned around and headed back to London, Ontario.  In early September, the plane departed for a second time, making stops in both Maine and Newfoundland.  Taking off for England, it disappeared into the mist, never to be seen again.  The ticker tape parade waiting for the Canadian men in London, England was cancelled.

Fast forward over eight decades to 2009.  A Toronto businessman discovered a stamp in his sock drawer. Curious, he took it to a stamp dealer, John H. Talman, on Yonge Street.  Talman, examining the stamp with a monocle like device, explained that only nine of these such stamps survived; the rest went down with the crashed plane.  One of the surviving stamps, in mint conditions, sits in the Smithsonian in Washington DC.  Talman sells the stamp at auction and an American bids $10,000 (

The rare London to London stamp circa 1927 courtesy

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