Category Archives: History Through Philately

History Through Philately—The Gateway Arch

History Through Philately stamp

On this date in 1965, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, was completed.

Scott #4044 Gateway ArchScott #4044, Gateway Arch
Issued May 27, 2006

The Gateway Arch is the tallest memorial in the United States, the tallest stainless steel monument in the world, Missouri’s tallest accessible building (you can go in it and up to the top), and the world’s tallest arch.

It is 630 feet wide at the base and 630 feet tall at its peak. My mathematics skills, admittedly lacking in today’s world of computer calculators, tells me that something 630 feet wide by 630 feet tall is a square. So why does this look like an arch?

Tidbits

  1. It was designed in 1947. Construction began on February 12, 1963; it was completed on October 28, 1965; and it opened to the public on June 10, 1967.
  2. The proposal to build a memorial on the St. Louis riverfront was first suggested in late 1933 during the Great Depression.
  3. Construction costs were estimated at $30 million, an unbelievable expenditure during the Great Depression, and an estimated 5,000 jobs were to be created for three to four years. Actual construction costs came in at $14 million, but only 100 jobs were created.
  4. On December 31, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 7253 to declare the 82-acre site as the very first National Historic Site. The Order also provided $3.3 million through the Works Progress Administration and another $3.45 million through the Public Works Administration.
  5. The City of St. Louis acquired the 82 acres through public condemnation rather than purchase.
  6. A design competition for the memorial was suggested in November 1944, and such a competition opened on May 30, 1947. Submissions were first received on September 1, 1947, and the winner was announced on February 19, 1948.
  7. Not everyone supported construction of the arch. Many St. Louis residents considered it a “stupendous hairpin” and a “stainless steel hitching post.”
  8. During the height of the railroad building empire, railroads bought or were given prime property in many cities. Such was the case with St. Louis with railroad tracks passing between the location of the memorial and the riverfront. Ultimately, the tracks of the Missouri Pacific Railroad were relocated 105 feet west and lowered 18 feet below ground.
  9. Moving the railroad tracks was first suggested in early 1949. It took another ten years before an agreement was reached between the city and the railroad, and funds were made available.
  10. Construction bids were accepted through January 22, 1962. As seems to always be the case with, the lowest bidder won. Ground was broken in 1959, the foundation was completed in 1961, and construction on the actual arch began in 1963.
  11. The arch is resistant to earthquakes and is designed to sway up to nine inches in winds up to 150 mph.
  12. MacDonald Construction Company won the construction bid. Hmmm. MacDonald building a huge McDonald’s arch……………

Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri

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Labor Day and the violence accompanying the labor movement

History Through Philately stamp

Happy Labor Day!

I was eleven years old when my youngest cousin was born. Her family lived across town, and she had an older brother and sister. I remember when her dad came over to announce that mom had “gone into labor.” A couple of months later, school started, the Tuesday after Labor Day. I put two and two together and got, uh, four?

In today’s world, if I have a question about anything, I go to Wikipedia first, and if that’s not helpful, well, Google is my friend. In this case, I find Wikipedia quite adequate.

Labor Day in the United States is a celebration of the American labor movement, the movement that brought us such things as workers’ compensation for accidents in the workplace, at least one day’s rest each week, maximum limits on the length of the work day, and minimum wage laws. Many improvements in the plight of the common laborer have been accomplished through collective bargaining.

Scott #1558 Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining often meant strikes, which usually involved violence, injury, and death. Newspapers, then as now, created names for events of public interest such as strikes:

  • the “Haymarket Riot” in Chicago in 1886 (7 police and 4 strikers killed, 70 wounded; 4 strikers hanged after being convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to death)
  • the “Colorado Labor Wars” of 1903-04 (66 killed)
  • the “Pullman Strike” of 1894 (13 strikers killed and 57 wounded)
  • the “Great Railroad Strike of 1922″ (11 killed)
  • the “Ludlow Massacre” of 1914 (22 killed, including 4 women and 11 children), part of the “Colorado Coalfield War” of 1913-1914 (reports on deaths vary from 50 to 200).

The “Ludlow Massacre” became folklore…

Woody Guthrie sang about it in his song, “Ludlow Massacre.”

Scott #3213 Woody Guthrie

Upton Sinclair’s novel, “King Coal,” is loosely based on the event and its aftermath.

King Coal by Upton Sinclair

Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States, as well as state holidays in all 50 states.

7 things to be thankful at work

Labor Unions

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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History Through Philately—Happy birthday to the American Red Cross!

History Through Philately stamp

On this date in 1881, Clara Barton (1821-1912) and Adolphus Solomons founded the American National Red Cross to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and national disasters.

I learned about Clara Barton and the Red Cross several decades ago when I was in the Boy Scouts and trying to earn two Merit Badges (First Aid and Stamp Collecting). Until today, I had not known about Adolphus Solomons. He doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry, so I still know next to nothing about him.

Barton was born in 1821 in Massachusetts, putting her in her 40s when she was working with the sick and wounded during the Civil War. Her tireless dedication earned her the nickname Angel of the Battlefield.

After the Civil War ended, President Lincoln commissioned her to search for lost prisoners of war. Using the extensive records she had compiled during the war, she succeeded in identifying thousands of the Union dead at the Andersonville prisoner-of-war camp where 13,000 people had died.

In 1870, while she was in Europe, she worked behind the German lines for the International Red Cross when the Franco-Prussian War broke out. In 1877, she organized an American branch of the International Red Cross.

The American Red Cross received its first U.S. federal charter in 1900, and Barton headed the organization into her 80s, dying in 1912 at the age of 90.

Following are Red Cross stamps issued by the United States, including the Scott Catalog number and the issue date.

Scott #702, “The Greatest Mother,” issued May 21, 1931Scott #702, The Greatest Mother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #967, Clara Barton, issued September 7, 1948Scott #967 Clara Barton

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1910, American Red Cross, issued May 1, 1981Scott #1910 American Red Cross

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2975c, Clara Barton, issued June 29, 1995Scott #2975c Clara Barton

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Halls of History (4-15-14)

Halls of History

April 15 is an interesting day in history. To wit:

  1. 1452—Leonardo da Vinci born.
  2. Scott #77 Abraham Lincoln1865—President Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the previous evening by John Wilkes Booth while at the play, An American Cousin, at the Ford’s Theatre.
  3. 1892—Closing ceremony of the Games of the I Olympiad in Athens, Greece, the first Olympic games of the modern era. The original Olympic games had been held from 776 BD to 394 AD.
  4. General Electric Company is founded. In 2011, by various measurements GE ranked as the 26th-largest firm in the U.S., the 14th most profitable, the fourth-largest in the world, No. 5 best global brand, No. 63 green company, and No. 15 most admired company.
  5. The RMS Titanic sinks in the north Atlantic ocean after striking an iceberg, taking 1,517 people to a watery grave.Rand McNally published its first road atlas.Scott #2016 Jackie Robinson
  6. 1947—Jackie Robinson played in a baseball game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the so-called color barrier in major league baseball.
  7. 1951—Heloise born. Smile if you or your mom was a great fan of Heloise.
  8. 1965—The first Ford Mustang rolled off the show room floor, two days before it was to go on sale to the general public.
  9. 1990—Gretao Garbo died. Smile if you or your dad had a Greta Garbo poster from the 1940s or ’50s.

Most recently, which means last in this list, but certainly not least:

10. 2013—Two home-made bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring another 264 people.

Boston

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History Through Philately–Happy birthday to the ASPCA!

History Through Philately stamp

With my WordPress problems of these past three months now firmly in the past (see WordPress problems resolved!), I seem to have more time to do the things I like to do, such as blog camping (see May I camp out in your blog?) and blogging.

Long-time readers know that I am a big fan of serial blogging, too, but serial blogging takes a lot more effort than just putting up a pretty picture every day, or a cute quote.

Scott #776, Texas centennialSome of my blog series include

I have always had a love of history, with war history being at the top of my list. I find it amazing that humans can be so cruel to other humans, usually under the guise of religion. Right now I’m reading The Crusades by  Zoé Oldenbourg. Just a sampling of how cruel the crusades were: “The Aemenian nobles of Edessa who were plotting to overthrow their new lord were punished in the Byzantine fashion by mutilation–having their eyes put out and their feet, hands, or noses cut off.” The Crusades were in the Eleventh Century, yet killing in the name of religions continues to the present.Scott #993 Railroad Engineers of America

Philately, or stamp collecting, by its very nature encourages the study of history, so it was only natural that I became a philatelist, or stamp collector. At one time I had a huge stamp collection, include Railroad Postal History (RPO), but it was sold when I evacuated Texas in April 1993 and wound up here in San Diego.

I still collect stamps, virtually (much less financial investment), and subscribe to daily emails from history.com. Coupled with Wikipedia’s On this day section on their front page, I get my fill of history each day.

So without further adoo (that’s Texan for adieux), on this day in 1866….

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was founded in New York City. It is entirely separate from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which was founded in England in 1824 to prevent cruelty to carriage horses. The ASCPA’s mission is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” It’s motto is, “We are their voice.”

One might wonder why anyone would be cruel to a defenseless animal, and perhaps even if their mission might be outdated. All one has to do is pay attention to the news, and it’s easy to see that their mission is not outdated, and that if humans can be cruel to other humans, they certainly can be cruel to defenseless animals. Examples include dogfighting and cockfighting, not feeding an animal enough (often happens to dogs and horses), not giving them clean water, keeping them outside in very hot or very cold weather, hitting an animal (another way to “train” an animal). Some that were recently in the news include setting cats on fire, shooting cats and dogs with arrows, drowning newborn dogs by throwing them into fast-moving rivers, abandoning newborn cats by “throwing them away” in a dumpster.

In celebration of the founding of the ASPCA, here are some United States postage stamps featuring cats, dogs, and horses, the three most commonly abused animals:

Scott #2372, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2372

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2373, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2373

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Scott #2374, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2374

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2375, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2375

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #3232, issued August 20, 1998Scott #3232

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #3670, issued September 20, 2002Scott #3670

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2098, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2098

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2099, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2099

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2100, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2100

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Scott #2101, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2101

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #3230, issued August 20, 1998Scott #3230

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #3671, issued September 20, 2002Scott #3671

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #4451-4460, issued April 30, 2010Scott #4451-4460

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2155, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2155

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Scott #2156, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2156

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2157, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2157

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2158, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2158

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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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

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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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #1

History Through Philately — Mrs. Silence Dogood

History Through Philately stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The very first adhesive postage stamp in the world was issued by Great Britain on May 1, 1840, for use beginning May 6. It is known as the Penny Black:

British Penny Black

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Penny Black is not a rare stamp since 286,700 sheets were printed comprising 240 stamps each, for a total of 68,808,000 stamps. An estimated 1.5 million Penny Blacks still exist. A used Penny Black in FINE condition can be had for about $125, and an unused one in FINE condition can be had for about $3,500.

Of course, a postal system existed in many countries prior to 1840 but without postage stamps. When the carriage fee was paid, the postal clerk made a mark in the upper right corner indicating fee paid and took the envelope for delivery. Eventually postmarks came into use. Created by Henry Bishop of London, they were called a Bishop mark and were first used in 1661 at the London General Post Office.

Here in the United States, the first postal system was established in 1692 under a grant provided by King William and Queen Mary to Thomas Neale. The United States Post Office was established by the Second Continental Congress on July 26, 1775, and is one of only a few government agencies expressly authorized by the United States Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7; known as the postal clause).

The Congress also named Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General. Franklin had been a postmaster in the Colonies for decades so he was a natural choice.

Many States and Cities started issuing their own postage stamps after Britain got everything started. It was not until the Stamp Act of 1847 (March 3) that Congress authorized the printing of stamps by the United States Post Office, and the first stamp the Office issued on July 1, 1847, bore an engraved picture of Benjamin Franklin, the first Postmaster General:

Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #1

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Five cents paid the rate for a letter weighing less than one ounce and traveling less than three hundred miles. About 3,700,000 stamps were printed and many survive today. Used and unused stamps in very fine condition sell for, respectively, about $600 and $1,600. However, stamps in poor condition can be purchased for as little as 10% of those prices.

Contrary to today’s FOREVER postage stamps, the first United States postage stamp was declared invalid for postal use after July 1, 1851.

Following are other early United States postage stamps featuring Benjamin Franklin, each one above a trivia tidbit about Franklin. I have included their Scott Catalog number so you can easily find them to purchase for your own stamp collection.

Scott #38, 1860Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #38Invented the lightning rod and bifocals.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #63, 1861Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #63Invented the Franklin stove, named after him.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #133, 1869Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #133Served as the first United States Ambassador to France.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #134, 1870Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #134Became wealthy by publishing
Poor Richard’s Almanack [sic] and The Pennsylvania Gazette.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #212, 1887Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #212Helped found the University of Pennsylvania in 1740.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #247, 1894Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #247Elected first president of the American Philosophical Society.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #300, 1903Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #300Governor of Pennsylvania from 1785 to 1788.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #331, 1908Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #331Born in Boston on January 17, 1706.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #423, 1912Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #423Used the pseudonym “Mrs. Silence Dogood” to write letters to the editor of
the New England Courant, which happened to be his older brother, James.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
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!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos