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 IssuesThe 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
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 IssuesThe 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!