V-Mail letter sheet

Seaman 1st Class Joseph Spiegelberg1945-10-18

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

V-Mail letter sheet was sent by Seaman 1st Class Joseph Spiegelberg to his wife Ruth while he was stationed at Manila, Philippine Islands. Probably the form was dispatched unprocessed (not microfilmed) because it dates from late 1945 and it was deemed quicker to dispatch as is. Postmarked October 18 of that year, it was only a few short weeks until microfilming officially ceased in November.

The message from Joseph Spiegelberg is date October 17, 1943, which is a typo of two years too early given that he discussing plans for homecoming. He describes some of the vagaries of the mail service for military personnel during World War II. He recounts a package postmarked in July has arrived recently. He notes that “The candy was pretty melted,” and he marks with a special call out “Thanks a million” for receiving his favorite treat--kumquats.

Officials estimated that microfilming V-Mail messages saved up to 98% on cargo space. However, not all letter sheets underwent microfilm processing. If a letter sheet was damaged, the writing too illegible to be copied, a V-Mail processing plant was not available, or it was more expeditious to simply dispatch the aerogram, then the letter was usually forwarded as it was. Even if they were dispatched in their original form, the V-Mail letters took 42% less space and weighed 45% less than regular mail.

Frank Spiegelberg (son of letter’s author and recipient), in discussion with the author, 2007.

Museum ID: 2001.2001.327

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  • Title: V-Mail letter sheet
  • Creator: Seaman 1st Class Joseph Spiegelberg
  • Date Created: 1945-10-18
  • Physical Dimensions: 27.9 x 22.1 cm
  • Subject Keywords: V-Mail
  • External Link: V-Mail Letter Sheets
  • Medium: machine made paper; typewriter ink (black); printing ink (red and black); transfer ink (black); writing ink (black)