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  Space Cover 197: "So, Which One is It?"

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 197: "So, Which One is It?"
stevedd841
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Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 01-20-2013 09:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 197 (January 20, 2013)

Space Cover #197, So, Which One is It? Recovery Ship Cover for John Glenn's Mission

It was a space cover event of historical consequence and true serendipity. Astronaut John Glenn had orbited the Earth after his successful launch in Mercury Atlas-6 and orbital spaceflight in spacecraft Friendship 7. Upon completion of his flight and splashdown near Grand Turk Island that afternoon, John Glenn was recovered by U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Noa, DD-841.

The U. S. Post Office, without prior notice to the general public, had just released new Project Mercury stamps to 305 U.S. post offices. The stamps had been printed in secret to commemorate Glenn's epic flight after his successful splashdown. Primary recovery ship covers were cancelled for Glenn's recovery onboard USS Noa with the new Project Mercury stamps.

But, there was a problem. The newly released Project Mercury stamps used on the covers were not on the ship until after the ship returned to port, February 23, 1962. So, this wonderful cover commemorating Glenn's orbital flight with the new Project Mercury stamp, is known as being a backdated cover.

The USS Noa cover with the Project Mercury stamp and canceled for February 20, 1962, is little more than a conversation piece, now. It is a space cover oddity to have as a reference copy in one's space cover collection and is not the "knock-it-out-of-the-park" cover it should have been.

So, if a collector can find this cover with a different stamp that would have been onboard USS Noa, does that solve this recovery ship conundrum? The answer, surprisingly, is no, it doesn't.

The cover pictured above without the Project Mercury stamp, in this case, the stamp used is an earlier U.S. airmail stamp, and for many years, this cover without the Project Mercury stamp was believed to be the cover to have for Glenn's recovery by USS Noa. But this cover had a serious problem as well. It has no PM time stamp in the hand cancel signifying the time of Noa's recovery of astronaut Glenn.

Again, collectors were in dismay and unsure as to what cover they needed to have for this important U.S. space event for America's first manned orbital spaceflight. Subsequently, after serious consideration, collectors determined that this cover still was not the one that space cover collectors needed to have.

After discussion among members of the space cover collecting community including the Federation Internationale de Philatelie and the American Philatelic Society's Space Unit, also known as the Space Topics Study Group, general consensus now indicates that the USS Noa hand cancel for February 20, 1962, with PM time stamp in the ship's hand cancel is the preferred cancel to have for Glenn's recovery and the premium cover for Glenn's recovery to be added to your space cover collection.

The cover shown is one such cover obtained for a modest price at a space cover auction in New York City six years ago. Surprisingly, the cover received only half-hearted bidding, as the inclusion of PM in the ship's hand cancel kept many experienced bidders from being seriously interested in the cover. It is now, however, the premium cover space cover collectors opt to have in their collections for USS Noa's recovery of Glenn. Don't pass it by if you should see it.

A recent cover stuffer with no stamps was auctioned on eBay for USS Noa's recovery of Glenn. It further reopens the original PM or no PM time stamp cancel discussion.

The USS Noa cover stuffer pictured is cancelled with both the recovery date hand cancel without PM in the ship's cancel February 20, 1962, and it also has the ship's red double-ring cancel for the ship's return to port, February 23, 1962. In our earlier discussions, it was known that the ship's crew ran out of stamps and envelopes for the crew members to have a cover for their ship's recovery of Glenn. In this situation, the ever resourceful ship's sailors used stuffers taken-out of the covers they were servicing and servicing the cover stuffers for this historical event, also.

As a result, the discussion concerning what cancel to have was renewed because the stuffer's cancel for the recovery date did not have PM in the time stamp in the Noa's hand cancel indicating that perhaps the covers without PM in the cancels were still premium recovery ship cancels to have and were again ok as cancels on covers for USS Noa's recovery of Glenn.

Further credence for Glenn's recovery by USS Noa with the ship's cancel without PM in the time stamp of the hand cancel was further advanced in finding this interesting cover. Made by a sailor, the cover was onboard USS Noa and produced from an oversized and watermarked U.S. Government cover that was obtained by a crew member, cut-down in size, scotch taped on the left side, and then mailed from the Noa crew member to a space cover collector in Washington, D.C.

And note, the cover mailed does not have a PM time stamp in the ship's hand cancel. The discussion now has gone full circle and is back to square one of our original discussion.

The discussion concerning astronaut John Glenn's epic orbital space flight and recovery near Grand Turk Island in the Atlantic Ocean by USS Noa, DD-841, February 20, 1962, will be coming-up on 51 years of ongoing review and discussion as of next month, February, 20, 2013. And, the answer to the question I posed is...

Steve Durst, SU 4379

Apollo-Soyuz
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Posts: 868
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 01-20-2013 07:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve- Great thought provoking post.

------------------
John Macco
Space Unit #1457

garymilgrom
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Posts: 1571
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 01-21-2013 07:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting thanks!

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 01-21-2013 07:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Apollo-Soyuz:
Great thought provoking post.
Many thanks, John and Gary. I thought it might not muddy the water too much to show the USS Noa cover WITH the Project Mercury stamp combination that was appropriate for space cover collectors.

This cover was cancelled onboard USS Noa after the ship returned to port in Jacksonville, Florida, February 23, 1962, and after the new Project Mercury stamps could be picked up by the ship's postal clerks and used on the ship. So, if you have this cover with the Project Mercury stamp for February 23, 1962 and not the first day cover date, February 20, 1962, you do have a great cover! Everyone agrees on this (I think).

Ross
Member

Posts: 373
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 01-22-2013 09:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another great article and a fascinating discussion. I have extreme doubts about the Feb 20 non-Mercury stamp covers without a PM time slug for a number of reasons. I'll mention just a couple.

1) If we assume the PM covers are legitimate than why would some covers have been postmarked with a time stamp and some not. Look at the next cover.

Issued just after the Feb 20 cover, it contains a time stamp. Also look at USS Noa covers from Gemini 8. They all have a time slug. The only covers that we are sure of that don't have a time slug are the backdated ones. Is this just a coincident? I think not.

Secondly, remember that the USS Noa was a Secondary Recovery Ship (SRS) and was not expected to recovery Glenn. Now if you look at the number of covers available from the other (non-Carrier) SRSs, the number is tiny. In fact I doubt I've seen half a dozen from any of them and none from most. Yet, while still quite rare, the Feb 20 non-Mercury stamped covers appear to be available in significantly larger numbers than I would expect. While the PM time stamp covers are exceedingly rare as I would have expected from a SRS.

I believe that the explanation is that the ship's Postal Officer ran out of Project Mercury stamps when backdating and for a relatively small number of covers used whatever stamps were available. It is also possible that some crew members just grabbed whatever stamps they had and used those. These covers may have been created before the Project Mercury stamps were brought aboard. That would also explain Steve's cover from a crew member. The crew member made up the cover before supplies were brought aboard the Noa and used whatever was available, including a non-Mercury stamp. He than either had it backdated or left it with the PO to be backdated. Much more likely than the alternative.

Let the debate continue.

cosmos-walter
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Posts: 406
From: Salzburg, Austria
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 01-22-2013 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve, thank you for one more great thread!

As already pointed out, USS Noa was only SRS for John Glenn's histroic Mercury flight. Thus only very few collectors and dealers sent covers to the ship's postal clerk. One of them was Trudy Woods. Upon Glenn's return to earth more collectors heard that USS Noa recovered the astronaut. Immediately they sent covers, which arrived on board USS Noa on 2/23/1961. I can imagine, the postal clerk was kind enough to postmark them with the date 2/20/1961. For this he used the ship's postmark without AM or PM.

All 2/20/1961 postmarks without AM or PM I examined have the figures in exactly the same position.

mikepf
Member

Posts: 351
From: San Jose, California, USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 01-22-2013 06:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikepf   Click Here to Email mikepf     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am not really much of a cover collector, but always read these posts with great interest and pleasure. But this one kind of gave me a headache. Why does fun always have to be so complicated? But maybe that's part of the fun.

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 01-23-2013 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ross and Walter, I always appreciate your expert comments, many thanks for adding to the discussion. Mike, thank you for your comment, too. Am sorry about giving you a headache, I will try to do better next time. Covers are where the action is and could mean the difference between a $5 cover and a $500 cover depending upon that cancel on the envelope.

Joel Katzowitz
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Posts: 325
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 01-23-2013 07:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So to continue the debate and maybe add to the confusion. According to Ross's post, the NOA cover with the Mercury stamp dated February 23 would be suspect because there is no time slug? (I actually have one of those covers)

Ross
Member

Posts: 373
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 01-24-2013 06:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello Joel, thanks for mentioning the Feb 23 postmark. I had intended to mention that in my contribution but forgot. They are, of course, legitimate and were postmarked on the 23.

What seems to have happened is that the Noa was in port and the PO decided to backdate approximately 300 covers and used a postmarker without a time slug. Whether this was deliberate or not we don't know. When it came to postmarking the approximately 1500 with a 23 date he just changed the day slug without bothering to add the time slug (of course it could have been the other way round).

Either way, again the covers that are known to have been postmarked in port on the 23 have no time slug while those known to have been postmarked aboard on the 20 have a time slug.

cosmos-walter
Member

Posts: 406
From: Salzburg, Austria
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 01-25-2013 10:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ross, thank you very much for information. Do you have any estimate, how many covers were postmarked on board USS Noa on 2/20/1962 with P.M. time slug?

Ross
Member

Posts: 373
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 01-26-2013 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Walter, unfortunately I don't. However, going by how few I've seen over the years it would surprise me if there were more than 10 available to collectors. One could therefore argue that this is one of the rarest, if not the rarest, of all the PRS covers from US manned missions.

Joel Katzowitz
Member

Posts: 325
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 01-26-2013 08:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting thread concerning the NOA covers. Is there any controversy, confusion, or conspiracy concerning the Randolph covers? I have a signed (by Glenn and Berns) Captain's cover dated FEB 20 PM 1962 with two 4-cent Frederick Remington stamps on it.

DChudwin
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Posts: 972
From: Lincolnshire IL USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 01-26-2013 10:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The 2-20-62 Randolph covers are legitimate and non-controversial. The Captain's Covers have a pasted-on cachet and are autographed by Capt. Max Berns. Because of the paste, many of the Randolph covers 50 years on are discolored.

The Randolph was the Prime Recovery Ship while the Noa actually recovered Glenn. This is analagous to Gemini 8 where the USS Boxer was the designated PRS but Armstrong and Scott were actually recovered by the USS Leonard Mason.

As to the Noa controversy, I lean to the theory that all the 2/20/62 covers without the P.M. were backdated, but, as Steve notes, this is certainly not settled.

Eddie Bizub
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Posts: 32
From: Kissimmee, FL USA
Registered: Aug 2010

posted 01-26-2013 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Eddie Bizub   Click Here to Email Eddie Bizub     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great topic Steve! Just thought I'd throw a couple of things in the mix.

The late Richard Learn and I discussed this at length many years ago. It was agreed that USS Noa covers with the time slug were undoubtedly on board for the recovery. We also agreed that without any facts to the contrary, ANY cover with a Feb 20 1962 cancel without a Project Mercury stamp should be considered acceptable. Two reasons lead us to this conclusion.

  1. For most of the recoveries starting with Gemini-2, there were many hundreds and in some cases thousands of covers postmarked with the recovery date. It should not be assumed that all covers were postmarked on the actual recovery day. If they were not postmarked on the recovery day but were done say the day after does that then make them backdated?

  2. You can send in covers for a First Day of Issue cancel or most other special cancel up to 30 days after the event. These covers are then obviously backdated. I have many covers in my collection that fall into this category. Does that make them less desirable than a cover that was there for the actual event? Backdating has become a nasty term for cover collectors yet it is done many many times and is considered an acceptable practice.
I guess in the end, all covers are commemorative. They commemorate an event. Whatever the postal clerk on USS Noa may or may not have done, he was simply commemorating the recovery and their part in Project Mercury.

My personal opinion, I have a USS Noa cover with the time slug and I am completely happy with that. It is certainly the one to have if only to avoid any question about it.

Ross
Member

Posts: 373
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 01-27-2013 07:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A slight correction to the comments on USS Randolph covers. The vast majority are legitimate. However, there are a small number which were backdated. That is, they have Project Mercury stamps but are postmarked on the 20. See below:

There are also backdated covers from other ships such as:

This has led to some writers stating that all ship covers postmarked on the 20 and with Project Mercury stamps are backdated. This is not correct. If a ship was actually in port on the 20 it was quite possible for the PO or a crew member to go ashore, purchase some stamps, and get back in time for a correct postmark. A possible example is shown below where personal correspondence indicates that this cover is probably not backdated.

Regarding Eddie's comments I must disagree. Firstly, if you consider backdated covers with a non Project Mercury stamp as OK, it is only logical to do the stamp for Project Mercury stamped covers. There is no logical difference between the two.

Second, there is a difference between covers which are authorized to be backdated due to the volume of covers (they are official and were on board the ship on the recovery date) and the USS Noa covers which were unofficial and most were not aboard the ship during recovery.

Regarding Eddie's specific points:

  1. Maybe this is true, although I have not seen any actual evidence to that effect, but at least the stamped covers were aboard the ship on the recovery date and were postmarked the next day due to the work load. Neither point is true of the USS Noa covers.

  2. I agree that most FDCs have been forward dated or backdated for some time. In many cases (at least in Australia), they are not even postmarked in the city stated on the postmark! And don't talk about Territory FDCs. They aren't even postmarked in the stated Territory. However, FDCs are a special case and can't be compared to unauthorized backdating.
Therefore I maintain my view that the PM USS Noa covers are the only legitimate covers with a 20 date stamp (damn! I wish I owned one!)

yeknom-ecaps
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Posts: 458
From: Northville MI USA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 02-06-2013 01:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yeknom-ecaps   Click Here to Email yeknom-ecaps     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a cover from a non-Glenn date from the USS Noa that does not have a time slug.

So other mail from the ship on non-recovery/non-return-to-port dates also do not have a time slug.

kosmo
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Posts: 196
From:
Registered: Sep 2001

posted 07-08-2013 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stevedd841:
So, if you have this cover with the Project Mercury stamp for February 23, 1962 and not the first day cover date, February 20, 1962, you do have a great cover! Everyone agrees on this (I think).
How much is one of these USS Noa covers with the Project Mercury stamp combinations worth?

All times are CT (US)

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