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1960 Pony Express Centennial Covers And More

 
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Posted 04/13/2020   5:54 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Bluejay to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Here's a brief philatelic e-exhibit about the 1960 Pony Express Centennial stamp, stamped envelope and first day covers. (I am planning to mount a Pony Express Centennial-themed exhibit at an upcoming local coin and stamp show.) I hope you enjoy!

The Pony Express Centennial Association

George Dewey Clyde, the Governor of Utah, was the man who originally proposed that a celebration be held to recognize the 100th anniversary of the 1860 launch of the Pony Express. Gov. Clyde proposed the idea to his fellow governors of the Pony Express trail states at the Western Governors Conference in June 1957. In November 1957, representatives from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California met in Utah at Clyde's office to more fully discuss the proposal. As a result of the follow-up discussions, the Pony Express Centennial Association (PECA) was created to prepare and plan the celebration.

The PECA successfully lobbied Congress for the striking of special commemorative medals for the centennial anniversary, and got agreement from the US Post Office Department to coordinate the first day of issue for a commemorative stamp and envelope with PECA's re-ride of the Pony Express trail. In this e-exhibit, I will focus on the philatelic issues.


US Post Office Department Issues

The Stamp

The 4-cent Pony Express commemorative stamp was designed by Harold von Schmidt (1893-1982). Schmidt was an American illustrator who rose to prominence within the Western Art genre and enjoyed significant professional sucess via his many illustrations for magazines such as Colliers, The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan and Sunset.

The stamp depicts a real-life view of a Pony Express rider on horseback at full gallop; the rider is heading west. A dotted line connecting St. Joseph, MO and Sacramento, CA - each a terminus of the Pony Express trail - is seen in the background directly behind the rider. "Pony Express" and the anniversary dates, along with the necessary postal inscriptions are also present.

Shown here is an upper right position plate block from the issue. The stamp's first day of release was July 19, 1960 in Sacramento, CA. The re-ride took place from July 19 to 28, 1960.



The Embossed Envelope

On the same day as the stamp - July 19, 1960 - the Post Office also issued a stamped/embossed envelope to commemorate the centennial of the Pony Express. The envelope also had a postal value of four cents; its cost to consumers was five cents (to cover the cost of postage plus the envelope).

The postal design on the envelope is essentially a silhouette version of the rider Schmidt used on the stamp. The same horse and rider are shown, but as a solid white silhouette against a brown background rather than a fully-detailed illustration.

Shown here is an unused envelope as it was issued back in 1960.



Post Office Bulletin Board Posters

Following are the two Bulletin Board posters that were sent to Post Office locations across the country for their use in announcing the coming release of the Pony Express commemorative postage stamp and stamped envelope. The poster for the stamp features what appears to be finalized artwork for the stamp, while the one for the stamped envelope includes a graphic that is far more detailed and very different from what appears on the issued envelope.

I recall seeing these types of posters in my local Post Office as a kid (though not these as they are from before my time!) and was happy to recently have had the opportunity to add them to my Pony Express philatelic collection.






First Day Covers w/o Cachet

Before I present the illustrated covers of the Pony Express Centennial Association, I want to present plain FDCs for the stamp and stamped envelope. The stamp FDC was postmarked in Sacramento, CA; St. Joseph, MO was the site for the first day cancellation of the stamped/embossed envelope. Both pieces were postmarked on July 19, 1960, the first day of release for each.






National Pony Express Centennial Association Issues

The First Day Jet Cover

In order to create a first day cover that included both the stamped envelope and the commemorative stamp, the PECA arranged for the US Air Force to fly a batch of the commemorative stamps from Sacramento to Saint Joseph early on July 19th. In St. Joseph, the stamps were placed on the stamped envelope and then the envelope and stamp were cancelled/postmarked.

In the upper left corner of the cover is seen "National Pony Express / Centennial Association / Official First Day Jet Cover." The "Jet Cover" inscription indicates the special nature of the cover.

The cachet features portraits of the three founders of the Pony Expess: William Russell, Alexander Majors and William Waddell. Below the portraits is a scene depicting a Pony Express rider on his galloping horse out on the trail. The commemorative dates "1860" and "1960" and "Pony Express" are presented at the bottom of the scene. The cachet was printed using brown ink.



The back of the cover features the PE Trail along with images of a jet flying east to St. Joseph, MO from California, and a PE rider heading west to Sacramento, CA. This is the only PECA cover to include the jet image.




The Regular First Day Covers

The Association also created standalone FDCs for the envelope and the stamp; as mentioned above, the envelope's release took place in Saint Joesph, MO, the stamp's release was in Sacramento, CA. Both releases took place on July 19, 1960.

The design for each of the standalone FDCs is essentially the same as the one seen on the Jet Cover. One immediately noticeable difference, however, is the ink color for the cachet. The 'Jet Cover' is printed with brown ink, the stamp and stamped envelope FDCs use a black ink for the cachet.

Another difference is the removal of "Official First Day Jet Cover" from the Association inscriptions above the cachet and the addition of "Official First Day Cover" to the inscriptions below the cachet.

As on the Jet Cover, the back of each FDC features a scene depicting a Pony Express rider with a map of the trail superimposed; the map points out Relay Stations along the trail. There were just over 150 relay stations along the original trail, placed where needed based on the terrain of the trail in the area. In areas where the terrain was difficult to cross and thus tiring for the horses, the stations were located closer together.

The rider on horseback is shown heading east (galloping to the right) from California on the stamp FDC, while on the back of the stamped/embossed envelope FDC the trail rider is depicted heading west (galloping to the left) from St. Joseph, MO.










Over the years, I have come across the stamp / Sacramento, CA cover without the trail rider graphic on the back of the envelope (I own examples of each), but I have not yet seen the Association's stamped envelope / St. Joseph cover with a plain back. There's every possibility that there are some out there, I just haven't come across one yet.


Of course, many other covers were issued for the Pony Express Centennial, including sets that were postmarked at various spots along the trail during the re-ride. My collection, however, consists primarily of the covers connected to the Centennial Association as they serve as supplements to my collection of Pony Express Centennial medals that were also sponsored by the Association. I plan on posting several supplements to this core material -- PECA and otherwise -- but I encourage all to add to this thread by posting other Pony Express Centennial covers from 1960-61.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome!









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Posted 04/27/2020   5:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bluejay to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Tonight's addition to my Pony Express Centennial covers post showcases a pair of covers - one for the Pony Express Centennial stamp and one for the stamped envelope - that are linked to the Boy Scouts.

In the months leading up to the commemorative centennial re-ride (held July 19-28, 1960), the Boy Scouts organization worked to create a "feeder line" or spur from the planned route of the re-enactment trail to Colorado Springs, CO, the site of the Scout's 5th National Jamboree. The Scouts coordinated with the Pony Express Centennial Association (PECA) to arrange for re-enactment riders to carry a letter from President Dwight David Eisenhower addressed to the Boy Scouts Jamboree. When the designated re-enactment rider hit Julesburg, CO, he turned over the letter to the first of a series of riders who would traverse the roughly 250 miles of the spur that lead to the Jamboree camp.

The Scouts hosted their 5th National Jamboree from July 22 to July 28; over 56,000 Boy Scouts descended upon a purpose-built camp on a 2,000 acre ranch owned by Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Johnson. The ranch was located north of Colorado Springs near the Air Force Academy. The theme of the jamboree was "For God and Country."

The Boy Scouts of America was celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1960 (see below). To mark the Jamboree's joint venture with the PECA, and the special spur trail that was created, a pair of covers was produced. Each of the two covers was cancelled on July 22, 1960 - the first day of the Jamboree and the day the President's letter was delivered to the camp.

The same cachet, printed in brown, was used on each of the covers. At its top is a small vignette of a PE trail rider with associated commemorative text. The central design of the cachet features two uniformed scouts, each wearing a backpack, on a rise overlooking the tent city of the Jamboree camp. The official logo of the Jamboree is seen at the bottom center of the cachet with a commemorative ribbon flanking it. The back of each cover is blank/unprinted.




As a "bonus," I've also included images of the Official FDC for the 50th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts stamp that was released on February 8, 1960; the cover was produced by Fleetwood. Also shown is the card that came inside the FDC which provides some very brief historical Scouts information.

Enjoy!




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Posted 04/27/2020   10:24 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Aviatik to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply



Here's a couple of commemorators that couldn't wait for the matching stamp. I'm guessing getting the historical date on the cancel was more important to them than the stamp.
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Posted 04/28/2020   11:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bluejay to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
@Aviatik: Thanks for joining the discussion and posting your Pony Express covers!

While searching for Centennial Association covers, I've come across a number of Pony Express covers postmarked on April 3, 1960. As you noted, that was the actual centennial anniversary date for the launch of the Pony Express service. I've only added one to my collection so far -- here it is!



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Edited by Bluejay - 04/28/2020 11:18 pm
Pillar Of The Community
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Posted 04/30/2020   12:20 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add modernstamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Very Nice Covers!!!
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Posted 05/29/2020   4:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bluejay to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
In 1962, the National Pony Express Centennial Association (PECA) - then HQ'ed in Salt Lake City, Utah - used a slightly modified version of the design used for its 1960 Centennial embossed envelope FDC to create a special 'Sesqui-Centennial Birthday Cover' in honor of William Hepburn Russell.

The "Official First Day Cover" wording was removed, the new address was added at the upper left and "Official WILLIAM H. RUSSELL Sesqui-Centennial Birthday Cover / January 31, 1962" was added at the bottom of the envelope to the right of the cachet.

Other items to note:

- The cachet is printed in brown ink vs. the black ink that was used for the embossed envelopes during the 1960 Pony Express centennial; the 1960 Jet Cover, which added a stamp to the embossed envelope, used brown ink.

- On the envelope's back, the pony express rider is heading east even though on the original embossed envelope FDCs of 1960 (postmarked in St. Joseph, MO) the rider was heading west; the rider headed east on the FDC with the stamp and Sacramento postmark.

- The cover features a commemorative postmark that specifically references William H. Russell and the years of his birth sesquicentennial - 1812 and 1962.

Russell, one of the founders of the Pony Express, was born in Burlington, Vermont on January 31, 1812; he died in Palmyra, Missouri on September 10, 1872. The special cover connects the bookends of Russell's life: it was postmarked on the 150th anniversary of his birth (January 31, 1962) in Palmyra, MO (the place of his death).

My marketplace experience suggests that the Russell 'Birthday Cover' is much less available than the 1960 Centennial covers issued by the National Pony Express Centennial Association. While at least one type of the PECA Centennial cover seems to nearly always be available, listings of the Russell cover are few and far between.





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Edited by Bluejay - 05/29/2020 4:13 pm
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Posted 06/21/2020   9:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bluejay to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Saint Joseph Stamp Club First Day Covers

In addition to the official Pony Express Centennial Association and US Post Office material I've already presented, I would like to add a few other covers from my collection. First up are first day covers sponsored by the Saint Joseph Stamp Collector's Club of St. Joseph, MO.

St. Joseph was the eastern terminus of the Pony Express trail and today is the home of the Pony Express National Museum (www.ponyexpress.org/). The museum is located in the former Pike's Peak Station of the Pony Express; the building was saved from demolition back in the 1950s by private citizens and has since been restored, renovated and converted into a modern museum facility.

The Saint Joseph Stamp Collector's Club participated in the Pony Express Centennial celebrations by issuing FDCs for the stamp and the embossed envelope. The sale of the covers helped raise funds for the museum; I spoke with a club historian who believed that at least 500 of the covers were produced for the 1960 centennial and that they likely sold for $2 or $3; he did not have exact figures.

The covers feature an attractive Pony Express rider cachet and were delivered with a 6-1/8" x 13-3/4" folded map of the Pony Express trail inserted into the envelope; the map was provided by the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce. There were two varieties each for the stamp and embossed envelope FDC. The cachet did not change between the varieties, but the color of the ink used to print it did - each of the FDCs was printed using brown ink and black ink; examples of each are shown here. The covers do not have any printing on the back of the envelopes. I have also included images of the map included with the covers.

Some dealers ask for between $15 and $20 for the FDCs, but with a little patience you can find sellers offering the covers for $5 or less.

The St. Joseph club was formed in the late 1920s and issued Pony Express covers annually between 1933 and 1938. The club is still active in 2020. It joined the American Philatelic Society (APS) in July of 1966 and celebrated its 50th year of membership in 2016.

If anyone is aware of other 1960 Centennial covers issued by the St. Joseph Club, please post them!


St. Joseph Stamp Collector's Club Pony Express Centennial Embossed Envelope FDC



St. Joseph Stamp Collector's Club Pony Express Centennial Stamped Envelope FDC



St. Joseph Stamp Collector's Club Pony Express Centennial Map




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Posted 08/01/2020   2:25 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AnimatedFDCs to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for sharing!!! I always enjoy seeing collections like this. There were also a series of covers for the recreation of the Butterfield Overland Mail and another for the 1959 Oregon Centennial.
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