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  Space Cover 70: Gemini 5 Velvetone Cachet

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 70: Gemini 5 Velvetone Cachet

Posts: 1239
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 08-15-2010 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 70 (August 15, 2010)

Space Cover #70, Gemini 5 Velvetone Cachet

Forty-five years ago this week, Gemini 5 was launched with Gordon Cooper and Charles "Pete" Conrad onboard. Their eight day mission set a new record for time in space, and put the United States into the lead of the manned space race.

The two Gemini 5 covers shown here are typical of Bob Rank's Velvetone Cachets of the time. The top one was machine cancelled at Cape Canaveral on Gemini 5's launch date (August 21, 1965) and the cachet shows the astronauts, an image of their signatures, and the Radar Evaluation Pod (REP) that they deployed with which to practice rendezvous (an anomaly on the Gemini spacecraft prevented them from pursuing the REP). The lower cover was hand cancelled at Cape Canaveral for launch and the cachet shows a Gemini retro-rocket burn.

As implied by the name "Velvetone" these cachets had a velvet-like feel and look to them. To produce these, Rank had to copy his line art onto the cover, sprinkle different chemical powders for each color on the cachet, then bake the covers in his oven. Needless to say, this was a very complicated process, so Rank produced only around 50 of each Velvetone Cachet.

Fellow cS member Woody Witt (DOX32) and I are kicking around the development of a Velvetone catalog. We have identified over 200 Velvetone cachet/postmark combinations that Rank made between 1961 and 1970. What we don't have right now are statistics on how many of each were produced (I had seen some of those statistics in the past, but didn't hang on to them), and any other information on them. We have tried to contact Mr. Rank, but have not received a response. So if any of you have information on production numbers for any Velvetone cachets, original issue price, or any other info, please contact Woody or me. Thanks!


Posts: 203
From: Fairfax, VA USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-15-2010 06:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DOX32   Click Here to Email DOX32     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We are also trying to get images of these covers so we all can share and possibly submit new ones as they are found. May ask the space unit to provide an upload area to show them.

There were certainly less than 100 made for the space related event (my notes 35 yto 60 produced).

Robert Rank also made first day covers using the same technique, but produced at most 300 per issue, as they were very labor intensive.

For example on census, I have three covers created using Satellite Beach cancels for Apollo 1 fire tragedy, each with a picture of one fallen astronaut. Notes I have show only thirty five were created (probably very hard to find cancelled covers for Janaury 27, 1967 P.M).

Does anyone else have flocked covers from JAN 27 or 28, 1967, or any information on how many were created for this or any space event?



Posts: 373
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 08-16-2010 08:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Woody, as the SU webmaster I would be happy to set aside an area for displaying the covers and any commentary you would like to add. Space is not a problem.


Posts: 203
From: Fairfax, VA USA
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-17-2010 07:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DOX32   Click Here to Email DOX32     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If Dennis agress, I am all for it, and we ask anyone who has such covers to contact us with scans.

Thank you for the generous offer.


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