Family Program to Be Held at The Shell Factory on October 15
The U.S. Postal Service is introducing a special “Forever” stamp, Owney the Postal Dog. The stamp is on sale nationwide.
With the Owney the Postal Dog stamp, the Postal Service commemorates Owney, the canine mascot of the Railway Mail Service. Beloved of clerks on mail-sorting trains at the end of the 19th Century, Owney was hailed as a symbol of good luck. Today he is an icon of American postal lore whose story highlights the historical importance of the Railway Mail Service.
Developed during the 19th Century, the Post Office Department’s Railway Mail Service was an efficient and decentralized way to process mail by sorting it aboard moving trains, an innovation that became increasingly important after the Civil War. In the 1880s, during the height of the Railway Mail Service, a dog, likely a terrier mix, appeared in the Post Office in Albany, New York. Clerks took a liking to him and named him Owney.
Fond of riding in postal wagons, Owney followed mailbags onto trains and soon became a good luck charm to Railway Mail Service employees, who made him their unofficial mascot. Working in the Railway Mail Service was highly dangerous, according to the National Postal Museum; more than 80 mail clerks were killed in train wrecks and more than 2,000 were injured between 1890 and 1900. However, it was said that no train ever met with trouble while Owney was aboard.
The stamp art features a new illustration of Owney by artist Bill Bond of Arlington, VA. The illustration depicts Owney in profile, facing left, with many of his famous tags and medals gleaming in the background.
The Fort Myers/Cape Coral post offices will hold a special Owney the Postal Dog family event at The Shell Factory, North Fort Myers, on Saturday, October 15. The free event will feature a number of activities, including a writing and photo contest. Specifics of the event will be announced in the near future.
Customers have 90 days from the official first day of issuance date to obtain first day of sale postmarks on new stamps and stationery items. Collectors may request a local first day of sale postmark by mail only. There is no charge for servicing of first day of sale postmarks up to 50 covers. Mail-in customers must supply a self-addressed envelope with sufficient return postage applied to return the serviced covers.
To obtain the first day of sale postmark, mail stationery items bearing Owney the Postal Dog stamps to: Customer Relations USPS, 79 Mid Cape Terr Ste 8, Cape Coral, FL 33991. Please specify which city you are requesting a postmark for—Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, or Sanibel. All orders must be postmarked by October 27, 2011.