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TRAINS ON U. S. STAMPS
and POSTAL STATIONERY
page 8


Embossed postcard with train image - Limited Express

20¢ CABLE CAR COIL - October 28, 1988


Sc. 2263 - issued 10/28/88

The text on the First Day Ceremony program for this issue is unusually good, and reads as follows:

One winter evening in 1869, a Scotsman named Andrew Hallidie looked on as a team of horses struggled to pull a coach full of passengers up a steep San Francisco street. Nearing the crest, one animal stumbled, and coach and horses tumbled down the hill. No passengers were hurt, but all of the horses had to be destroyed. Hallidie, a cable manufacturer by trade, was touched by what he saw, and inspired. Almost immediately, he began work on an invention whose successful first run in 1873 marked the start of mechanized urban transportation. Then, as now, passenger cars moved along a continuous loop of steel cable running beneath the street surface. A "gripman" started and stopped individual cars by attaching or releasing the cable. "Hallidie's Folly" surprised its many critics - cable cars were a great success, practical and profitable. Eventually, in the 1880s, electric trolleys began to replace them in many cities, but even trolleys lacked the power to climb San Francisco's steep grades. After 1940, the availability of buses seemed finally to eliminate that advantage, but preservationists and fans of the cable car fought to save it from extinction. As a result, cable cars are protected today as the only moving, federally-mandated National Landmark. Recently, San Francisco's unique cable car system underwent a 20-month overhaul, with engineers and artisans completely restoring the entire system. Once again open to the public, 37 cars now operate on a 10-mile network. And, though the cars reach a "speed" of just 9.5 miles per hour, 19 million passengers a year don't mind one bit. The Postal Service is proud to salute the Cable Car with its 42nd issue in the Transportation Series. The stamp design was created by Dan Romano of Kentfield, California.

Here's yet another of those "Photo Essays". Nothing else of any merit here, though.

Fleetwood did their usual excellent job with the illustration and text.

25¢ A. PHILIP RANDOLPH ISSUE - February 3, 1989


Sc. 2402 - issued 2/3/89

This stamp was the 12th entry in the Black Heritage series, which is one of only two long-term (1978-present) commemorative series the USPS has chosen to sustain. With 28 issues so far, this series is distinguished by the quality and integrity of its designs and subject matter. The Literary Arts series, which began in 1979, has fewer issues - 21 to date - but seems to be alive - its most recent addition was the Robert Penn Warren issue of 2005. The only other active series of significant length (11 issues to date) is the Legends of Hollywood Series, which was begun in 1995. (Note that I am talking about Commemoratives. There have been larger, longer-lived series of definitives, as well as of Special Stamps such as the Love, and Christmas issues.)

Here is an excellent biography of Randolph.


Scott 2402 - Carol Gordon FDC

The Carol Gordon FDC for this issue, above, is graphically very appealing, but thematically a bit confusing to me. I can make out the clock dangling into the design at left, and I assume the black shape with a white circle is supposed to represent the front of a steam locomotive, so maybe the network at the top is the mullioned glass ceiling of a classic train station? The other shapes and figures suggest African tribal art, which would be appropriate to the Black Heritage theme. Not sure, but I like it.


Scott 2402 - ArtCraft FDC

Scott 2402 - KMC Venture FDC

The two FDCs above offer nothing exceptional, but have relevant cachets, are attractive (to my eye), and provide some useful information about the issue. No added philatelic value, but that would be tough on this issue. Perhaps the addition of some other stamp with a postmark that related to the subject somehow?

US TRAINS
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All text Copyright © 2000, William M. Senkus

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Created -- 03/22/2001
Revised -- 09/07/2005