This interesting cover never quite delivered on the excitement I experienced when I first found it. The total postage of 6d was made up of six low-value Australian stamps and it was sent from Sydney Airmail on 8 MY 39 to C. Pace Esq., 80 Sliema Wharf, Sliema, Malta and it had a manuscript routing of Australia-Italy-Malta. It had a purple boxed tax marking for 20 centimes(Figure 1).
It had 3 distinct markings on the reverse, a double circle AIR MAIL/ 3-PM/ MY 18/ 39/ MALTA with a Maltese cross on both sides, a double circle SLIEMA. B.O./ 7.- AM/19 MY/ 39/ MALTA reception mark (the B.O. stands for Branch Office), plus an unexplained '61' in a black oval (Figure 2).
Whereas Sliema Wharf is an interesting place in Malta, the addressee could not be tracked down as the surname Pace is common in Malta. Sliema Wharf is now called The Strand Sliema and ferries ply from Sliema to 3 neighbouring cities. Malta is situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea , 90 km to the south of Sicily and 290 km to the north of the African mainland. There are 3 main islands making up the Maltese Islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino plus some smaller uninhabited ones, a total of 316 sq. km. The capital is Valetta on the main island and Sliema is shown with a red arrow (Figures 3 & 4).
The surname Pace, although frequently found on Malta, was ultimately Italian in origin. Malta was long under the control of Sicily and in 1350 was directly incorporated into the crown of Sicily. In the case of the surname 'Pace', the name was of patronymic origin, based on the first name of a father. The name can be traced back to the Latin, pax = peace. One of the first Paces on Malta was an Aloysius Pace in 1565.
Sliema, together with the neighbouring St. Julian's and Paceville, form the largest and most modern resort in Malta, which includes a large residential area. It has a 3km long sea-front promenade. St. Julian's is an extension of Sliema, and St. Julian's merges into Paceville, which was named after a Guiseppe Pace (1890-1974) who was a land developer, born in Valletta. This modernized area is the site of major shopping areas, hotels, cafes, restaurants and Malta's tourist centre and night-life.
I am sure that the area would now be unrecognizable to the addressee at a time when Malta was on the verge of the start of World War Two.
Addendum (March 2011): Roger, a collector of Malta, has supplied the information that the '61' in an oval relates to the postman who delivered the letter.
Addendum (April 2011): Two photos of Sliema harbour front are seen, the first in 1917 and the second of recent vintage (Figures 5 & 6).
A good friend, Jeff Solomon has got back from a holiday in Malta and has given me 3 relevant postcards of the Sliema area. He tells me that I mispronouce Sliema as 'Sly Ema' whereas the locals pronounce it as 'Sleema' The first shows a general view of Sliema, the second shows the Ta Xbiex Building, and the third shows a view of St, Julians, the Balluta Building.