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TRAINS ON U. S. STAMPS
and POSTAL STATIONERY
page 10c


Embossed postcard with train image - Limited Express

2¢MISSISSIPPI RIVER BRIDGE (Eads Bridge)

TRANS-MISSISSIPPI ISSUE REPRINT - June 18, 1998


Sc. 3209-10 - issued 6/18/98

Sc. 3209b - issued 6/18/98

This issue - the Trans-Mississippi Exposition Commemorative issue reprint - was a disappointment to me, and from what I heard and read, to many other collectors. To me these stamps look crude and garish beside their models, though I did like the fact that they reproduced them as bicolor stamps, the original intent in 1898. Nonetheless, since I do not own a copy of the original on which the stamp above is based (as the high value of the set, with a face value of $2, it catalogs $900 used, and a nice-looking unused copy can fetch several times that much), I was pleased to be able to own and use the re-issue. Click on the image to see the high-res version, in which even the tiny details of the scene are quite clear.

The rail connection here is dual. The bridge when built carried trains on its lower level, and streetcars on the upper level. Many railroad-stamp collectors include train bridges in their collections, but I choose not to, unless there is a train visible on the bridge. That would be impossible in this case, as the lower level of the bridge is hence hidden from view at this angle. (The bridge is still in use, but no longer carries rail traffic.) But the stamp is listed in the ATA Handbook, and the streetcars and their tracks are visible, so I decided to include it.

Note that the stamp's denomination is two CENTS, not two dollars. The designs of those two denominations were swapped in the original set, and the USPS chose to reissue them this way, explaining that this was the original plan. It strikes me as an odd choice, and I would like to have heard the discussions that led to it.

For more about the original version of this stamp, and about James Eads, CLICK HERE

32¢ STREAMLINE DESIGN

CELEBRATE THE CENTURY ISSUE - 1930's - September 10, 1998


Sc. 3185k - issued 9/10/98

I enjoyed the Celebrate the Century series in spite of myself. My intellect insisted it was all hype and commercialism, but my emotions got the better of me - I got stacks of all the ballots and distributed them at work, I debated the choices offered and critiqued the winners, and I bought all of the panes. It annoyed me that the USPS produced them intentionally in a way that made separating and using the individual stamps a very tedious chore, but that did not stop me from doing it. The quality of the design was good on the earlier panes, mediocre on the later ones. I think it was foolish to try to issue the same number of stamps for each decade, as some deserved more recognition than others. I also think it was foolish to issue stamps at all for the later decades - we are far too close to recent years to recognize what was important. But in retrospect the set added to my enjoyment of the celebration of our transition into the 21st Century - whenever you think that began.

This second train stamp from the series is a classic. I traded with friends to build a stock of this and the train design above, and just wish I could have gotten more of them.


Sc. 3185k - photo of an essay

The theme of this stamp was "Streamline Design", which appeared everywhere in the 30's - on cars, trains, and refrigerators, on coffee pots and toasters, and even on skyscrapers. It was a development of the Art Deco movement, supposed to look sleek and modern, and symbolize a break with the elaborate decoration of the Victorian era. It was also part of the effort to lift the U.S. out of the doldrums of The Depression, and no more successful than any of the other efforts in that direction.


Sc. 3185k - Bevil FDC

Sc. 3185k - Pugh FDC

33¢ TRUMAN RE-ELECTED

CELEBRATE THE CENTURY ISSUE - 1940's - February 18, 1999


Sc. 3186d - issued 2/18/99

This one has a railway connection so obscure I felt I had to include it - the image, cropped from a famous photo taken in 1948, shows President Harry S. Truman holding up a newspaper erroneously reporting his defeat in the 1948 presidential election. He in fact won by a sizable margin, but everyone was so certain he would lose that some newspapers did not bother to wait for the results, they just pronounced Dewey the winner. ( Here is a link to a page with a brief story about the election.) The train connection is that when the photo was taken, Truman was standing on the rear deck of a railway passenger car. It was common for political candidates to travel by train at the time, and to deliver campaign speeches from such a railway car platform.


Photo of Truman delivering a campaign speech
from a railway car platform during the 1948 campaign


A photo of the event pictured on the stamp
(This is not the photo on which the stamp is based.)

Both of the photos above are used here with the permission of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library Collection. Learn more about President Truman at the Museum's excellent educational site - CLICK HERE.

US TRAINS
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Revised -- 11/17/2004