18 September 2020

The cover shown in Figure 1 has a blue marker that reads “BESCHADIGD DOOR RAMP HARWICH BOOT” (damaged because of disaster with Harwich boat). It concerns a letter from London (U.K.) to Amsterdam. The flaps of the envelope (Figure 2) had become lose, probably because the glue had washed away. However, the apparent contents – one sheet containing a stock market report (See Figure 3) – was glued to the closing flap (by a previous owner, I assume). The sheet was dated February 20, 1907, and there was an Amsterdam arrival marking of February 22, 1907.

A little digging in old newspapers revealed that the s.s. Berlin had crashed on the North Pier at Hoek van Holland during a heavy storm at 5:45 in the morning of February 21. As the ship tried to enter the river, despite a north-western storm with force 11, the Berlin was blown of course and onto the North pier, with the front pointing to the New Waterway and the rear to sea (see Figure 4).

About 90 minutes later the front of the ship broke off and sank. It took most of the passengers with it, as they had fled to that part of the ship because they saw the rescue boats there. Unfortunately, the storm prevented the rescuers from being able to save any of these passengers. A number of survivors huddled on the rear of the ship, and it took more than 24 hours before they could be rescued.

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Ben Jansen

Ben Jansen

My current collection focus is on (correctly addressed but) undeliverable Netherland's mail. I am also the Editor of Netherlands Philately, the Magazine of the American Society of Netherlands Philately.

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