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Embossed postcard with train image and glitter - 20th Century Limited

Sesquicentennial of the Transcontinental Railroad
Driving of the Golden Spike
May 10, 2019

2019 is the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, and the driving of the Golden Spike on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. There were major celebrations throughout the West, not just in Utah. Just Google "Golden Spike Sesquicentennial" to find something near YOU. Here are a few links to whet your appetite:

1  ...  2  ...  3  ...  4

The USPS released the trio of stamps below, with the First Day Ceremony - where else? - at Promontory Summit, Utah.

Sesquicentennial of the Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad - May 10, 2019
Driving of the Golden Spike
Scott 5378-5380

5378 - (55c) Transcontinental Railroad, 150th Anniv. ? Jupiter Locomotive
5379 - (55c) Transcontinental Railroad, 150th Anniv. ? Golden Spike
5380 - (55c) Transcontinental Railroad, 150th Anniv. ? No. 119 Locomotive
a. Horiz. strip of 3, #5378-5380

If those stamps don't get your rail philatelist's heart throbbing, you need to put new batteries in your pace-maker!

Here is an excerpt from the USPS publicity for the issue:

Three new stamps in a pane of 18 mark the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, a massive engineering feat that reduced travel time across the country from as many as six months to about one week and made the American West an integral part of the nation.

Two different stamps feature the Jupiter and the No. 119 locomotives that powered the trains carrying the officers and guests of two train companies to the "Golden Spike Ceremony," held when the two rail lines were joined at Promontory Summit in Utah. A third stamp portrays the famous golden spike that was used for the historic final connection, and was a prominent part of the ceremony.

"Art director Greg Breeding designed the issuance," the Postal Service said. "Michael J. Deas painted the Jupiter and No. 119 stamps. Kevin Cantrell illustrated the stamp depicting the ceremonial golden spike and did the border treatments and typography for all three stamps."

5/15/19 - The first part of my order from the salt caves arrived, including several copies of the sheet,
so I scanned one in high-res, and here it is - see first image below.
Click on it to open it in a separate window/tab, and then zoom in to see the details.
What does not show in that scan is the effect of all the foil -
it has more gold than Donald Trump's penthouse! See second image.




5/22/19 - I ordered most of the goodies for sale on the USPS web site, and have received them all. Here are my impressions and opinions, in case you are debating what to buy.

In addition to the sheets of eighteen of the stamps themselves. there are FOURTEEN different items for sale, with some overlap in contents. That may be a record, they certainly went all out on this issue, using processes thay had never used before, and tarting the stamp up to an unprecedented degree.

FROM THE BOOKLET in the Box Set (see below):

Previous gold-foil-adorned stamps all came into being through a process known as offline printing: Their primary designs were produced on one machine before being fed into an entirely separate unit to receive foil stamping. But for the Transcontinental Railroad issuance, the Postal Service employed an inline process: Both the primary design and the gold foil were printed with a single machine, reducing the potential for error and marking another major milestone in the world of stamp production.


6/10/2019 - The new issue of the USA PHILATELIC catalog is out, and it features the new TCR-150 stamps on front and back covers! Check it out! You can download it in pdf form, or order a print copy. It's free!

6/23/19 - A note of discontent: I wanted a set of the Ceremony Programs, one for each of the three stamps, and asked the USPS Philatelic folks how to get that - they said it requires a special request by phone, and costs $2.25 extra! I assume that rule applies to all of the items with a "random" stamp. Considering the high cost of these items, and the minimal effort it would take to provide that service as a choice in the online system, I think that's a bad policy. It has persuaded me NOT to order the set, and I'm sure other customers feel the same, so they are losing business this way. Get a clue, USPS Philatelic Services!


The program is a disappointment to me, in that it includes a canceled version of only ONE of the three stamps, on the envelope holding the actual program. The program and its folder are nice enough, though, with another nice image. At $6.95, it's just OK. Not a must-have if you do not collect Ceremony Programs, but I bought the Ceremony Memento (see below), so I got one.


The First Day Covers, one per stamp, are nothing special, either. There's a very elaborate cancel, and that's nice, but no cachet, in keeping with the USPS decision not to compete with American FDC makers. $2.97 for the set. Fine.


There is a second set of FDC's with Digital Color Postmarks that reproduce the lettering at the top of the stamp sheet. Nice, but at $5.10, a little pricey. I bought the Ceremonmy Memento, which includes a set.


And there is a cacheted cover (oops!), with just one of the stamps, randomly chosen. Nice, but at $9.95, ouch! I assume one could order a complete set, but I don't like it enough to pay $20 more to have all three. I ordered one, and got the spike.


Next is a "Ceremony Memento," which includes a sheet of the stamps, the Ceremony Program, a set of the three FDCs with the Digital Color postmarks, and the FDI Ceremony Invitation, which is available only as part of this group. The package costs $26.95, which amounts to $5 more than the combined cost of the three items available separately, and that means the Invitation costs $5. It's a nice item, and I did order one, but still...


Next are four prints - one of all three stamps, and one for each stamp by iself. They are just enlargements of the stamp image, and unless you have a lot of empty wall space to fill in your stamp cave, I'd say skip them, especially at $12.95 each. I did NOT buy these.




There is a "Framed Stamps" item, which is just what it says - a strip of the three stamps on a matting with the design from the cacheted envelope in gold. $29.95! I can live without it!


Or how about a "Keepsake?" One sheet of the stamps, plus a set of the Digital Color Postmark FDCs. $15.95, which is 95 cents more than the two items separately! Huh!? Just buy the Ceremony Memento.


The Press Sheet, of course, is just two by two, and I thought What sort of Press Sheet is that!? BUT, in the book that comes with the Box Set (see below), one finds the photograph shown at lower right, and it turns out the sheets were printed two across. Perhaps the plate WAS two-by-two.

BUT, they trimmed off some of the marginal markings, so it's no longer really a press sheet to me. Whatever.

I bought two. The cost is just face value (plus a small shipping charge per order on all stamp purchases). Since they are perfed, I can always use them for postage, and I just like having them.


MY FAVORITE ITEM is the Box Set, which is quite pricey, at $79.95, but includes a set of six imperf color separations (proofs) of the stamp sheet. My only complaint is that the final sheet, of the complete design, is just one of the sheets as they are being sold. I wish they had left it imperf, like the separations. That would be fantastic. But it's still a nice item, including a nice booklet, and a "certificate of authenticity," and the proofs could appreciate in value.

FROM the BOOKLET: The included proofs provide a vivid record of every Step in the printing process. The first shows the cyan elements of the design, while the second, third, and fourth show those in magenta, yellow, and black. The fifth proof shows all four of these colors printed together, and the sixth proof shows the gold foil that was applied in the final step. On the stamps themselves, all elements reflected in the proofs weave beautifully and seamlessly together - the result of both artistic excellence and printing ingenuity, and an exquisite tribute to the engineering feat that transformed the nation.

THE BOOKLET also has images of some of the early versions of the designs (Image copyright USPS), showing how the images evolved. I love those.


And finally, "A perfect addition to your suit jacket or backpack, each of the three decorative lapel pins (one in enamel) showcases a full-color replica of a stamp from the Transcontinental Railroad issuance, and all three come mounted on a collectible card featuring a randomly selected Transcontinental Railroad ForeverŪ stamp cancelled by an official First Day of Issue postmark."

$17.95, which is not a bad price. I have not ordered a set yet, but I may.

I *REALLY* wish they had included all three stamps on all the items, not just a "randomly selected" single.

ALL IN ALL, an impressive array of items, with something for everyone, AND those "proofs" may have some investment potential. They won't be listed by Scott, of course, since they are available only as part of that boxed set, and have no postal validity, but they are a unique product, and could become popular.

7/3/19 - I had been hoping there was a collectible package label for this issue (like the ones for the PACIFIC 97 Washington and Franklin issues), but my local postal clerks had not seen one, and I had given up hope, until I discovered THIS WEB PAGE, with an image of a label for ten sheets! At once I made it my mission to get one for myself, and today I made it over to the Main PO here in Concord, CA, and the clerk gave me the item on the left below, a label for a package of 100 sheets!

On the right is a cleaned-up version of the one in that link. So now I want a few more of each for FD cancels! That local clerk has promised to save me any more he gets (but it takes a while to go through 100 sheets) so I may end up with spares, and if you want to trade one of the 10-sheet labels for one of the 100-sheet ones, let me know (email link at bottom of this page).


7/23/2019 - I finally found out that the USPS calls these "deck cards," and for a while in 2014 and 2015 they sold them through the philatelic service in Kansas, at 95 cents each, or $2 with FD-canceled stamp! I am astounded. So if you want to buy or sell them on eBay, that is the term to use.


7/4/19 - Of course I had to create some First Day Covers with these stamps,
so a couple of weeks ago I sent off several packages for covers with both the B&W Pictorial Postmark and the Digital Color Postmark (I bought a box of the officially approved envelopes for the DCPs from the Universal Ship Cancellation Society store.)

They aren't due back for a few weeks more (I was told to allow six to eight weeks!), and when they get here I will post images, but for now, here are some crude shots of how some of them looked before I mailed them - I scanned the postmarks from the USPS covers I bought (see above), and printed them out on onion-skin paper, then trimmed them and taped them in place to make sure the clerk knew what I wanted. I have used that technique successfully before, and hope it will work as well this time.


7/22/2019 - The color postmark covers came back! And I forgot to enclose payment (they're 50 cents each), but the awsome clerk processed them anyway, and sent a nice note asking me to send back a check. I did.

Best of all, she did exactly as I wanted on every cover - they are perfect!

The fabulous artwork on the three below was clipped from the latest edition of the USA Philatelic Catalog.


7/23/2019 - The B&W pictorial postmark covers came back, and they are fabulous, if I say so myself.

The one below is my favorite.

Big Boy No. 4014 RESTORED to action!!




That's all, for now.

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Creation -- 05/23/2019
Revised -- 07/23/2019