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Embossed postcard with train image - 20th Century Limited


Sc. 0987 - issued 1/3/50

Don't be worried if you have a hard time finding the train on this stamp - it's just a bit player, and easily missed in the clutter of that modern landscape - but it's there, just right of center. About all I can say about it is that it appears to be a modern diesel-powered streamliner. There's a message here, I'm sure - "Bankers help provide the money to build and operate homes and factories and railroads - Bankers are your friends!" We hadn't heard of "air pollution" yet - the smokestacks are proudly belching noxious gases and soot. It was the 50's, the post-War boom, life was great and optimism was king.

H. E. Harris captions this stamp thus: "Commemorating the founding in 1875 of this influential organization of financiers. The annual Meetings of the ABA are given world- wide attention. Its opinions and resolution have a significant effect on the nation's econonic system."

The ABA has an informative web-site here.

This is not an issue that inspires me to collect First Day Covers, especially since so few of the cachets include a train, but here are two I like - both do include a train (in a minor role), and the one on the right adds some relevant historical data.

The text on the second cover reads

National Bankers Association - 1875-1950 - National Organization of American Bankers was founded in Sarasota Springs, New York, in 1875. By 1916 it had become the largest association of bankers in the world. Its membership includes all of the larger banks in the US, and most of the smaller ones. It holds annual meetings which have become of international importance.

The First Day City for the stamp was Sarasota Springs, which makes sense, now that we know that's where the organization was founded.

Like all other US stamps of its period, this stamp was engraved, and printed by the intaglio method. The designer was Charles R Chickering, 131 million copies were printed, and many were saved, so it is still relatively easy to buy full panes at face value. There are no known errors or plate flaws.

One indication of the clout of this ABA (there's another in the sports world, of course), is that they managed to have another pair of stamps issued in their honor in 1975, their centennial year. The stamps - Scott 1577-8, the Banking and Commerce issue - bear no mention of the organization or the event (and no train), but were issued "in conjunction with the Centennial Convention of the American Bankers Association".

3¢ RAILROAD ENGINEERS - April 29, 1950

Sc. 0993 - issued 4/29/50

Here's another stamp for the serious train lover, with two great train images, and the all-time hero of aspiring train engineers everywhere, Casey Jones. According to my H.E. Harris album, "Casey Jones, heroic engineer, bravely stayed in his cab and died when the Cannonball Express, roaring between Chicago and New Orleans, smashed into a mis-switched freight train."

The trains on the stamp are 4-6-0 locomotive No. 382 of the Illinois Central Railroad, Casey's own, and a diesel locomotive and passenger cars of the Rock Island "Rocket", presumably the modern equivalent. Here's a link to a great page with the full Casey Jones story (though it's in an unlikely place), and here's a link to the Casey Jones Museum web site. Not surprisingly, the official story differs from the legend - did Casey die a hero, or was he actually the cause of the accident? We'll never know.

This stamp was engraved, and printed intaglio. The designer was C R Chickering, while the engravers were C A Brooks (vignette) and A W Christensen (lettering). 122 million copies were printed, making it still common, hence worth essentially its face value. There are no known errors or plate flaws.

Sc. 0993-knapp

The FDC above is Dorothy Knapp's personal creation for this stamp, another of my favorites.
She created only 10 or 12 copies, which sell for $400 to $500 apiece today.

Sc. 0993-fdc-henry

This is a hand-painted FDC by a maker who signs himself   H.O. Henry - or is it   A.O. Henry? I like it not for the quality of the image, which is so-so, but because it reminds me of a book my mother used to read to me when I was a child, about a young locomotive who kept jumping off the tracks because he liked to wander in the fields and smell the flowers. I think the lesson the story was trying to teach is that conformity and attention to duty are great virtues, but somehow I wound up with the feeling that going off the tracks is a good thing. Doesn't that engine look like he'd rather be wandering the fields?

Sc. 0993-photo-essay

Above is a "photo essay" for the stamp, a publicity photo distributed by the USPS with its News Release for the issue. It's clear the photo was made from a mockup of the stamp, rather than the actual engraving, as there is far less detail in the "essay", and there are many small differences between the two designs.

CJRRU of the ATA

Finally, since this stamp is the emblem of the Casey Jones Rail Road Unit of the ATA, of which I am a proud member, click on the image of the stamp above to visit their web site. And be sure you read their version of the story of Casey Jones.

AND, for more about the locomotives on the stamp, GO HERE.

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Revised -- 11/18/2004