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Found 452 Resources

Sheet music for the “Postal March and Two Step”

National Postal Museum
This is the front page of a musical arrangement titled “Postal March and Two Step,” composed by M. Vogt and published in 1902. The piece was produced by the firm of Howley, Haviland and Dresser of New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Pat Howley, Fred Havilland, and Paul Dresser formed the company in 1894. The cover art depicts a city carrier retrieving mail from a street collection mailbox, several envelopes, and a man’s portrait in a stamp labeled with the number fifty in each corner.

The music was dedicated to “Col. Geo. W. Beavers, Post-Office Department, Washington, DC.” The next year, George W. Beavers was indicted for his part in a conspiracy with New York State Senator George E. Green and Scott Towers, a Washington, D.C., postal superintendent. The three were charged with defrauding the government by receiving bribes in line with postal contracts. Beavers served a two-year prison sentence for his crimes.

Reference:

New York Times, October 2, 1903

The Washington Post, September 25, 1907

Rural Letter Carrier's cash and stamp box

National Postal Museum
The front and top of this metal box open to seven internal compartments and four shelves designed to store stamps, money order application forms, cash, and other postal accoutrements. Rural delivery service carriers purchased this type of box to manage their official and pecuniary transactions with patrons on their route. Unlike city carriers, rural carriers operated as mobile post offices, bringing a variety of postal services to customers' homes. The box could be secured with a padlock.

Military Postal Express Service duplex handstamp

National Postal Museum
The Chambers shop at Lodge, Virginia, produced this postmarking device around 1917. This flange-style device can be distinguished from similar postmarkers with screw-on heads made after 1931 by the 'year' type being positioned in a slot between the canceling bars and the postmark dial.

The Military Postal Express Service of the American Expeditionary Forces existed during World War I to deliver and dispatch solders' mail. The number between the canceling bars indicated the unit number. Mail was addressed to these army post office numbers to conceal the location of military personnel while still assuring that mail reached them.

2c pale red brown Washington single

National Postal Museum
unused

5c Garfield Sample A overprint single

National Postal Museum
unused; perf 12

2c Founding of Jamestown plate proof

National Postal Museum
Certified plate proofs are the last printed proof of the plate before printing the stamps at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. These plate proofs are each unique, with the approval signatures and date. For postal scholars these plates provide important production information in the plate margin inscriptions, including guidelines, plate numbers, and initials of the siderographer, or person who created the plate from a transfer roll.

Plate No. 3594

Denomination: 2c

Subject: Founding of Jamestown

Color: carmine

Jamestown Exposition – Founding of Jamestown, 1907

The 2¢ stamp in the Jamestown Exposition series, designed by Marcus W. Baldwin, depicts the landing at Jamestown in 1607 flanked by a tobacco plant and stalk of Indian corn. One colonist, with a sword in one hand and a flag in the other, leads the men in rowboats. The fleet lies at anchor behind them and includes the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery.

5c Pocahontas plate proof

National Postal Museum
Certified plate proofs are the last printed proof of the plate before printing the stamps at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. These plate proofs are each unique, with the approval signatures and date. For postal scholars these plates provide important production information in the plate margin inscriptions, including guidelines, plate numbers, and initials of the siderographer, or person who created the plate from a transfer roll.

Plate No. 3560

Denomination: 5c

Subject: Pocahontas

Color: blue

Jamestown Exposition – Pocahontas, 1907

The 5¢ design by Clair Aubrey Huston of Indian princess Pocahontas in an oval frame is based on a 1616 engraving by Simon Van de Passe (National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution collection). Legends claim that Pocahontas interceded to save the life of settler John Smith after the native peoples had taken him prisoner. Following a Christian baptism, she married John Rolfe, who took her to England in 1616. There she enchanted her husband’s countrymen and became the symbol for the New World’s exoticism.

1c Captain John Smith plate proof

National Postal Museum
Certified plate proofs are the last printed proof of the plate before printing the stamps at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. These plate proofs are each unique, with the approval signatures and date. For postal scholars these plates provide important production information in the plate margin inscriptions, including guidelines, plate numbers, and initials of the siderographer, or person who created the plate from a transfer roll.

Plate No. 3799

Denomination: 1c

Subject: Captain John Smith

Color: green

Jamestown Exposition – Captain John Smith, 1907

Clair Aubrey Huston, Bureau of Engraving and Printing artist, designed the 1¢ stamp. The central vignette, a portrait of Captain John Smith, is after an engraving by Crispin Van de Passe the younger. Medallions in the upper corners depict Pocahontas and her father, Chief Powhatan. Smith was both a military commander and civil leader in the colony.

Naughright, NJ, postmark handstamp

National Postal Museum
This postmarker was manufactured by a shop owned by Benjamin Chambers, Jr., at Lodge, Virginia. A catalog published by Chambers in the 1890s identifies this style as item 169. Three generations of Chambers family held contracts for producing steel-head postmarking handstamps for the Post Office Department between 1866 and 1931.

This postmarker was likely produced in 1882 or thereafter. Prior to that year, the Department did not supply fourth-class postmasters with letter balances, postmarking and canceling stamps, or canceling ink and pads. An act of May 5, 1882, appropriated $35,000 for issuing canceling stamps, not to exceed in value $5.00 to any one office, until the funds were exhausted.

This specimen is an excellent example of standardized postmarkers issued by the Post Office Department. After several years of increasing Congressional appropriations for supplies, in 1887 the Department began furnishing metal postmarking stamps to all offices. The use of rubber stamps was not authorized in the 1880s because the oil-based ink furnished by the Department could not be used with them.

2c carmine Abraham Lincoln Centenary of Birth plate proof

National Postal Museum
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing printed its third U.S. definitive stamp series in 1908. Every stamp in the series pictured either George Washington or Benjamin Franklin, and the public protested that Lincoln had been slighted on the eve of his 100th birthday. In response, this commemorative stamp was created from a bust of Lincoln by the great sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and issued on the centenary date. Two cents paid the domestic first class letter rate at the time. Like the 5¢ blue Lincoln of 1903, this stamp was later reissued in imperforate and coil formats.

Man in the moon fancy cancel handstamp

National Postal Museum
Small third- and fourth-class post offices were issued a circular date stamp which was used for both postmarking and backstamping mail. A separate canceller was required. This 'man in the moon' design illustrates a postal clerk's creativity.

Lead was a desirable material from which to create 'fancy cancels'. First, it was compatible with the oil-based ink supplied after 1882 by the Post Office Department (POD) to all offices. Second, it could be shaped by a pen-knife or other sharp tool. As it was used, the imprint would wear down, requiring the creator to re-cut the marking face. Thus, a design in use by a post office might change over time.

Fancy cancels disappeared from use after 1904, except for creations devised for use on registered mail during the 1930s. POD Order Number 497, May 19, 1904, stated "Postmasters are hereby instructed to report to the First Assistant Postmaster-General all violations of Section 567, paragraph 4, and Section 568, Postal Laws and Regulations, 1902, which prohibit the use of postmarking stamps or canceling ink not furnished by the Post Office Department. A strict observance of these provisions is necessary for the protection of the postal revenues, and postmasters are notified that the use of unauthorized postmarking stamps or canceling ink will be considered sufficient cause for removal."

Owney the dog

National Postal Museum
Mail clerks raised money for preserving their mascot and he was taken to the Post Office Department's headquarters in Washington, DC, where he was on placed on display for the public. In 1904 the Department added Owney to their display at the St. Louis, Missouri, World’s Fair. In 1911, the department transferred Owney to the Smithsonian Institution. In 1926, the Institution allowed Owney to travel to the Post Office Department’s exhibit at the Sesquicentennial exhibit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1964-1992, he was displayed at the Smithsonian museum now known as the National Museum of American History and in 1993 he moved to the new National Postal Museum, where he remains on display next to a fabricated Railway Post Office train car.

Sheet music for “The Old Postmaster”

National Postal Museum
This piece of sheet music titled “The Old Postmaster” includes music by Joseph W. Stern (1870-1934) and words by Edward B. Marks (1865-1945). The piece was copyrighted in 1900 by Joseph W. Stern & Company of New York, New York. The cover sheet for this ballad features the interior of a rural post office in which the 'old postmaster' is depicted talking to a woman and two children. In the song, the old postmaster tells the townspeople that he will not retire. He will remain postmaster as long as he can because he is waiting for a letter from his son, who went to sea years before.

First Verse:

"In an old New England village there’s a quaint, old-fashioned place where the county folk call for their mail each day. There’s a kindly old postmaster, so familiar to each face. In the service he has grown both bent and gray. The town committee called on him and asked him to retire, offering him some easier post instead, but he shook his head in silence, till one day they urged him so that in trembling tones he turned to them and said:

Chorus:

I’m called the old postmaster; you have known me all your lives. I’ve brought you needs from loved ones, from the sweethearts and wives. I’m want for a letter, from a son who ran away. I’m still your old postmaster, let me stay here while I may."

City Free Delivery mailbox

National Postal Museum
This rectangular, glass mailbox has a metal cover and magazine grip. Markings on the pressed-glass body include "Visible Mail" in low relief and the maker's name, George Collins. Holton's Visible Mail Box of Chicago, Illinois, produced "Visible Mail" boxes during the first part of the twentieth century.

Leland House Hotel Owney tag

National Postal Museum
Owney received this hotel key token from the Leland House hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The original number, 16, was scratched out and replaced with the number 51. The hotel was the city’s largest and most prominent hotel of the age. A few of Owney’s railway journeys took him into Canada, including one that took him aboard the Canadian Pacific railroad.

Baltimore and Grafton Railway Owney tag

National Postal Museum
This horseshoe-shaped metal tag includes the inscription that it was presented to “His Dogship by F.M.Parker.” The reverse of the tag includes the date April 20, 1892, and the railway line, the Baltimore and Grafton Railway Post Office (RPO) car.

Detroit, Michigan Owney tag

National Postal Museum
This metal shield-shaped tag was given to Owney on his visit to Detroit, Michigan, on November 11, 1893. Just as Owney’s presence in a city was an opportunity to interest the local press in an unusual story, Owney was a walking billboard for civic organizations and store owners. Owney’s Detroit tag advertised the city as the “Beautiful City of the Straights” to those who met the dog after his visit there.

Baltimore, Maryland Owney tag

National Postal Museum
Owney received this specially designed token from National Association of Post Office Clerks during their third national convention in Baltimore, Maryland. The tag is dated April 19, 1892, three years to the day before Owney would set out on his around the world journey. The clerks were appreciative fans of the dog early in his traveling career.

Naugatuck Railroad Owney tag

National Postal Museum
Owney received this baggage check token from someone along the Naugatuck Railroad. The Naugatuck operated in Connecticut as a connecting line from the New York & New Haven RR. It merged with that company in 1906. This baggage check was made by John Robbins, who began crafting such tokens in the early 1840s in Boston, Massachusetts.

Owens-style lamppost mailbox

National Postal Museum
Postmaster David C. Owens, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, patented the Owens-style or 'drop bottom' style mailbox in 1911. The hinged bottom of these boxes made it faster and easier for mail carriers to remove pieces of mail. A.O. Smith Company of Milwaukee initially manufactured the boxes.
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