History Through Philately — Happy birthday to the United States postal system!

History Through Philately stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On this date in 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the United States postal system. That was almost a full year before the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776.

According to History.com:

Today, the United States has over 40,000 post offices and the postal service delivers 212 billion pieces of mail each year to over 144 million homes and businesses in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. The postal service is the nation’s largest civilian employer, with over 700,000 career workers, who handle more than 44 percent of the world’s cards and letters. The postal service is a not-for-profit, self-supporting agency that covers its expenses through postage (stamp use in the United States started in 1847) and related products. The postal service gets the mail delivered, rain or shine, using everything from planes to mules. However, it’s not cheap: The U.S. Postal Service says that when fuel costs go up by just one penny, its own costs rise by $8 million.

Following are some of my favorite United States postage stamps, one from each decade.

Benjamin Franklin
My favorite scientist born in the current United States (Boston).
Scott #1, issued in 1847

Scott #1 Benjamin Franklin

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Thomas Jefferson
My favorite president, possibly because he also was a scientist.
Scott #29 issued in 1859

Scott #29 Thomas Jefferson

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Steam Locomotive
Any stamp with a train on it is going to be a favorite!
Scott #114 issued in 1869

Scott #114 Locomotive

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zachary Taylor
Most early stamps had pictures of people in profile.
This was the first non-profile picture stamp that I added
to my stamp collection. At the time it cost me a whopping
$300, but the few other stamps that had non-profile
pictures cost $1,000 or more. So I had to settle.
Scott #179 issued in 1875

Scott #179 Zachary Taylor

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry
This was the first stamp for which I paid over $1,000 for.
It was also my first stamp with a face value higher than ten cents.
Scott #218 issued in 1888

Scott #218 Commodore Perry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christopher Columbus
This was the first stamp in my collection with a face value over $1.
Scott #245 issued in 1893

Scott #245 Christopher Columbus

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Empire State Express
Notice that the train is upside down. This was caused
by multiple pass printing, i.e., the sheet of paper was
printed first with color and then run through again
to be printed with black. Called an “invert,” they are
rare and expensive. I never owned this one because it
was simply too expensive, currently costing around $60,000.
Scott #295a issued in 1901

Scott #295a Empire State Express

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Golden Gate
A couple of decades before the Golden Gate Bridge was built.
Scott #399 issued in 1913

Scott #399 Golden Gate

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Head of Freedom on the U.S. Capitol Dome
Bicolor stamps were a favorite of mine.
Scott #573 issued in 1923

Scott #573 Head of Ffreedom on the Capitol Dome

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Texas Centennial featuring Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin
I was born in Texas, so Texas stamps were another favorite of mine.
Scott #776 issued in 1936

Scott #776 Texas Centennial

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

John Philip Sousa
Even though I played the piano and the violin,
I have always been in love with march music,
and there’s no one better than John Philip Sousa.
Scott #880 issued in 1940

Scott #880 John Philip Sousa

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Railroad Engineers of America
My dad was an engineer with Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Scott #993 issued in 1950

Scott #993 Railroad Engineers of America

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Chief Joseph
This was one of the first multicolored postage stamps.
Previously stamps were one- to four-color printing.
Scott #1364 issued in 1968

Scott #1364 Chief Joseph American Indian

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Canadian International Philatelic Exhibition
Also in the late 1960s, the Postal Service realized that they could make a lot
of money by catering to philatelists. All they had to do was issue lots of postage
stamps each year. Philatelists who collected unused stamps would buy every one
of them and store them rather than using them to require the Postal Service to
actually do work, like delivering mail. They went from issuing a dozen stamps
each year  to issuing many dozens, often attached to each other.
That’s when I quit collecting  unused stamps; not sure if the
USPS factored into their profits the people who quit.
Scott #1757 issued in 1978

Scott #1757 Canadian International Philatelic Exhibition

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Weaver violins
I played the violin from the age of 6 to 38.
Not good to take your violin to the beach.
Scott #1813 issued in 1980

Scott #1813 Violins

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Blue Jay
Screech owls and blue jays inhabited our yard when I was growing up,
and my wise old grandmother loved them both, as do I.
Scott #2483 issued in 1995

Scott #2483 Blue Jay

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spay and neuter your pet!
Please! There are tens of thousands of dogs and cats
killed each year because there are not enough forever homes.
By spaying and neutering your pet, we can prevent that.
Scott #3670 issued in 2002

Scott #3670 Spay and neuter your cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Animal Rescue — Adopt A Shelter Pet
Throughout the years all of my adopted pets — Bosco, Bougher, Union, Pacific,
Zoey the Cool Cat — have come from animal shelters. Please adopt!
Scott #4454 issued in 2010

Scott #4454 Adopt a shelter pet

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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7 thoughts on “History Through Philately — Happy birthday to the United States postal system!

  1. wsj2day

    excellent collection, really sad what’s happened to the organization however, the impending demise of “home” delivery, sigh, not all of us are entirely ‘paperless’ – yet

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  2. julespaige

    Cool I used to collect stamps, but I stopped. I have a stamp guy that I can get different denominations and themes from. I use them to decorated my packages. Once I sent a package to another country and 80% of the top face was covered with stamps. I think over $10.00 worth. :)

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