History Through Philately — Happy birthday to the United States postal system!
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.
My favorite scientist born in the current United States (Boston).
Scott #1, issued in 1847
My favorite president, possibly because he also was a scientist.
Scott #29 issued in 1859
Any stamp with a train on it is going to be a favorite!
Scott #114 issued in 1869
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
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
This was the first stamp in my collection with a face value over $1.
Scott #245 issued in 1893
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
A couple of decades before the Golden Gate Bridge was built.
Scott #399 issued in 1913
Head of Freedom on the U.S. Capitol Dome
Bicolor stamps were a favorite of mine.
Scott #573 issued in 1923
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
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
Railroad Engineers of America
My dad was an engineer with Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Scott #993 issued in 1950
This was one of the first multicolored postage stamps.
Previously stamps were one- to four-color printing.
Scott #1364 issued in 1968
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
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
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
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
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
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I can highly recommend
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Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572
If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!
Posted on July 26, 2013, in Halls of History, History, History Through Philately, Philately and tagged second continental congress, united states post office, united states postal service, usps. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.