The '30's Vintage Pan American Airways Postcard Set
by Larry Myers
I present this wonderful set of early Pan American postcards from a purely empirical standpoint. I don't know how many there are in the set, or if all of them were published at about the same time. I suspect that they were not, as differences exist in the kind of printing used for the titles. But from the evidence I have been able to gather from direct observation, all or most were published in the 1930's. Here's what I've noted they have in common. They all are b&w prints. They all picture '30's vintage PAA aircraft. They all have titles on the picture side of the card. They all have the same wording on the address half of the back side. Regrettably, nearly all of them have some degree of foxing of the surface coating that was used on these postcards.  Perhaps the easiest way to tell it's part of the set is to see the wavy lines that form a stamp box.
The cards are presented in alphabetical order for ease in checking titles, which apparently is the easiest and quickest way to differentiate between cards.  The titles are bolded and linked to their respective images.
Aboard a "Flying Clipper Ship"  This shows first class accommodations on board a Sikorsky S-40 "American Clipper."  Thanks to Daniel Kusrow for identifying the types of aircraft of this series.
Aboard the U.S.A. Bermuda Clipper  Another Sikorsky "Clipper", this time an S-42B  showing the first class accommodations.
A "Clipper Ship" of the Air  A Sikorsky S-42.
A "Clipper Ship of the Sky"  This S-42 image is courtesy of Don Preziosi who noticed that the image of the airplane is a left/right reversal of the airplane image of the preceding card, although the sky is different.
A "Clipper Ship" Taxies Ashore  The S-42 "West Indies Clipper (NC823M).
"Aerial Gateway between the Americas"  Daniel Kusrow supplied us with this image and this note, "Also found another card in my collection to add to the list.  It is a vertical format black and white card of a Sikorsky
S-42 Clipper in flight over the main terminal building at Dinner Key.  Palms frame the scene at the top and on the right side of the card.  It does not have any writing on the front, but the back has the same writing in the address area and the wavy lines around the postage area and says "Stamp Here/Sellos"   The message on the back reads "Aerial Gateway between the Americas" - World's Largest-and Busiest-Marine Airport, at Miami, Florida, is Pan American Airways' Eastern International Terminal for the Air Routes to the West Indies and across the Caribbean onto South America.  Also, have this card in a very similar linen by Curt Teich."
Aerial Gateway between the Americas - Miami  I was about to sell this card for a few bucks when I looked at the back and saw those wavy lines that make up the stamp box. I knew then that I had still another in this amazing early Pan American Airways set.
Arriving New York City - 5 Hours from Bermuda  S-42B "Bermuda Clipper".
Bermuda from the Air - 5 Hours from New York  This one shows a beautiful aerial view of the Hamilton Harbor and surrounding area from the S-42B "Bermuda Clipper".
Boarding a "Clipper Ship" - Miami  I have seen this one as a real photo postcard, a b&w print, and as a colored linen postcard. It's the Sikorsky S-40 "Caribbean Clipper" (NC81V).
China Clipper approaching Honolulu  The "China Clipper" is a Martin M-130 (NC14716).
China Clipper over East San Francisco Bay Bridge  over the unfinished Oakland Bay Bridge.
China Clipper Passing Golden Gate Bridge  over the unfinished Golden Gate Bridge.
China Clipper taking off for the Orient
Clipper Ships Rise from the Open Sea  A Sikorsky S-42.
"Flying Down to Rio"  This is the only card (so far) of the series that shows the incomparable Consolidated "Commodore" (NC669M).
Off to Rio and the Argentine  An S-42.
On the Bridge of a "Flying Clipper Ship"  This card shows a very rare view, the face of the pilot. Usually cockpit views show the crew only from the back. Thanks to Daniel Kusrow, we have the name of the pilot, (the one in the foreground).  He's Captain Basil Rowe.  Daniel tells us that Rowe started the West Indian Aerial Express, which was bought out by Pan American in 1928.  The men are flying a Sikorsky S-40.  This particular view is also on a RP postcard by Aviation Photographer Hoyt.
"Por la Vía Aeréa a Panama"  This card is likely the rarest of the set so far.  It is the only one I've heard of whose caption is not in English, and is the only Ford Tri-Motor, so far, in the set. The image is courtesy of Barry Hepsley.
The Airliners moored in Hamilton Harbor  Thanks for this image goes to Garrett Sprong and Jack Lengenfelder.
The "AMERICAN CLIPPER"  This scene represents a view I have seen in at least 4 different formats. Collectors Tadd Kotick, Garry Sprong, and Jack Lengenfelder have all told me they've  seen it in a horizontal format. However, even though it's the same view, Garry's image of the back shows that it is not in this series.  In the RP vertical format, you can see a gyrocopter high in the sky above the Sikorsky S-40 (NC80V).
The Brazilian Clipper - on the Highroad to Rio  The S-42.
The China Clipper Leaving San Francisco Bay  I strongly suspect that this card was the most-produced of this set. I have seen many copies of this one, but very few of the others. (NC14716).
The China Clipper over the Golden Gate  The Golden Gate bridge was unfinished at that time.
The U.S.A. Bermuda Clipper Taking off for New York  Perhaps this is the view I've seen that has been reproduced in the most postcard formats. I have at least 7 different productions of postcards carrying this one scene, more than one of them attributed to Aviation Photographer Gerecke. Sikorsky S-42B.
U.S.A. Bermuda Clipper En Route  Incidentally, although the title seems to imply that this is the "Bermuda Clipper", it actually shows the S-42 "Brazilian Clipper."
Wings Over the Spanish Main  The Sikorsky S-42 Clipper.
If you have postcards from this set that are not illustrated here, I'd appreciate hearing from you. A detailed description would be helpful. A scan would be very helpful.

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