Embossed postcard with train image - Limited Express
20¢ STREETCARS ISSUE - October 8, 1983
HEY, those aren't trains! You're right, and since the title of this exhibit is "Trains on US Stamps", these don't really belong, but the ATA Handbook for this topic is named "Railways of the World on Stamps" (old edition) or "World Railways Philatelic" (new edition), so these are listed there, and I decided to include them as an excuse to show these fdc's - I find the text particularly interesting. As a long-time resident of the SF Bay Area (35 years, I'm practically a native!), I like to share our culture. The SF MUNI runs several old street cars on Market Street for the tourists (a friend of mine calls it BusineyLand - we locals use the newer cars that run underground), but none as exotic as these! (Don't miss the RPO.)
11¢ RR CABOOSE COIL - February 3, 1984
The caboose is another romanticized feature of working railroads that was probably less appealing to its actual users - bare, utilitarian, comfortless. I suspect ones like that shown on this stamp provided little more than shelter from the worst of the elements. The first of the fdcs below provides some interesting history. The other two I like simply for their visual appeal.
The explanatory copy that came with the item below says
I can't see any differences, can you? The dealer who composed that copy was stretching things quite a bit - the official philatelic term for this sort of thing is "A photo of an essay", which is a much different thing than an actual essay. Still, its provenance is sound, and it has a little curiosity value.
The "Bulk Rate" designation - called a "service designation" - indicates that this stamp was intended for use to pay the third-class single-weight rate on mail presorted to carrier routes. At the same time it was issued, the USPS threatened to decree that such service-inscribed or "pre-canceled" stamps were not valid for use on first-class mail. This would have demonetized the supplies of such stamps owned by collectors, who protested the ruling, and succeeded in having it rescinded. As it always did at the time, the USPS issued a tagged, unprecanceled version just for collectors. Oddly, it is this variety to which the Scott catalog assigns the major number for the issue, while the untagged, precancelled version that was the only one valid for commercial use, is relegated to a minor sublisting.
In addition, at the time this stamp was issued, the USPS announced that it would be the last service-inscribed stamp, because they claimed the inscriptions were confusing to mailers and the public alike. Actually bulk mailers were protesting that the designation alerted the recipient to the nature of the mail, and increased the chances it would be thrown out unread.
In fact, of course, the inscriptions were not discontinued - we have service-inscribed stamps to this day. I don't know why - perhaps some consumer organization argued successfully that people have a right to be alerted to junk mail. More likely the USPS found they needed the inscriptions and precancels so they could control use of the stamps themselves.
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Revised -- 03/22/2001