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Bianchi4Me

USS Marblehead & USS Arizona Postal Cachet

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Ran into these on Ebay.  Apparently envelopes used to have all sorts of "cachet" stamping on them for special occasions or patriotic reasons.  Also, letters canceled with U.S. Navy ship postal markings are collectible.  Who knew?

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The "Mother's Day" special from the U.S.S. Arizona... little bit sad. 

image.thumb.png.2551564f06b7c492f71d60097ecf42cc.png

 

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I have been a stamp collector my entire life, even worked a few years at a stamp store. These are called "covers" by collectors and they can be had fairly cheaply for those of you wanting memorabilia of your favorite ships. They were quite common from the late 1920s onward. Even covers from the USS Arizona can be had for a few dollars. Course those with significant dates (ie a cover from the AZ postmarked Dec 5 1941) would cost more. I have found many for sale for $1 but there are some that will sell for much more. Those are usually more artwork than anything else, watercolors were commonly used to illustrate the envelopes. Fakes are uncommon for normal covers commemorating holidays or port calls so you can buy them confidently. I am only familiar with covers from US ships, am sure other countries had them but never have seen them mainly because this isn't an area of philatelic interest to me (covers). If you can name a US ship of the 20th century, there are probably covers available and had for a really small price.

BTW passage thru the Panama Canal was commonly commemorated with a cover. The cover from the AZ shown was actually cancelled aboard ship by hand. The top cover is not actually from the ship, note the postmark from North Dakota. It was probably just a fancy cachet from someone associated with Marblehead. A ship's cancellation will have the ship's name inside the "circle" of the cancel like the Arizona cover shows.

Edited by Taylor3006
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All the ships have their own cancellation postmark.

when I was public affairs officer for my ship, I’d always get letters from stamp collectors who would write my ship asking for a postmark. So I’d take their self addressed stamped envelope that they sent and walk down to the ships post office, made sure the postal clerk got a good clean postmark cancellation impression and mail it back to them.

some people would ask for items from the ships store like ships ball caps or lighters and I’d mail them back a price list.  Or when they ordered stuff from the store I’d pick up items they ordered and ship it out to them.

After ships got internet at sea in the early 2000s, the volume of letter mail went down as understandably emails became the primary means of communications between sailors and loved ones ashore. But the postal clerks jobs got harder because now the volume of package mail exploded with lots of sailors doing retail therapy at 2am from the middle of the ocean and having their amazon.com package delivered at the next scheduled underway replenishment rendezvous.

or as we would troll the new sailors and post them at the bow of the ship with binoculars and impress on them the importance of not missing the sighting of the mail buoy. Otherwise we’d have to send pac fleet messages explaining why we missed our mail drop in the middle of the ocean.

Edited by wtfovr

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