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  Space Cover 215: USS Barbero missile mail

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 215: USS Barbero missile mail
NAAmodel#240
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Posts: 138
From: Charleston, SC USA
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 05-26-2013 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NAAmodel#240   Click Here to Email NAAmodel#240     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 215 (May 26, 2013)

Space Cover #215: USS Barbero missile mail

From the days of the Pony Express forward the Post Office Department (and later the USPS) has been interested in ways to move mail faster. In 1959 Postmaster General Summerfield sought and secured the cooperation of the Department of Defense to place a quantity of mail in an operational naval missile. A total of 3,000 envelopes were divided into two metal canisters painted to resemble mail boxes. Cachets are known in black or blue.

Using the personal stationary of the Postmaster General artist Frank J. Crawford, Jr. designed artwork showing a Regulus I guided missile in flight. Proof envelopes available to members of the press have no date or time, no address, and no receiver mark on the back. It is believed about 300 were produced.

Envelopes carried on rockets were nothing new. European experimenters like Schmiedl and Zucker beginning in 1928 used the sale of philatelic products to help fund their rocket research. Here one of several thousand envelopes and postcards flown in 1936 by Willy Ley in New Jersey is shown.

The Postmaster General was delighted with the Barbero flight. The 21 minute flight reached supersonic speeds and landed safely at NAS Mayport, Florida where it received a Jacksonville postmark and entered the mail stream. Summerfield was quoted, “I believe we will see missile mail developed to a significant degree before man has reached the moon.” The Post Office reported that “The use of compartments built into missiles to carry considerable shipments of mail appears highly practical.” It went on to say, “Guided missiles may ultimately provide a solution to problems of swifter mail delivery for international mails, for isolated area where other transportation is infrequent, as well as supplementary high priority services to big population centers.”

While the Barbero was the first official missile mail it was not the first carried by the Navy. On May 1st 1959 a total of 150 envelopes were postmarked at Point Mugu after a subsonic ride on a Regulus I missile. Since it was not in cooperation with the Post Office the mail is considered unofficial. Navy movement of envelopes goes even further back. On Sept 16, 1958 a total of 55 covers were cancelled at Port Hueneme after riding a upgraded Regulus II. When the landing gear failed to deploy the missile crashed and burned but somehow the envelopes survived unscathed.

As part of a series of 50th anniversary envelopes created by graphic artist Jim Roth those that find the FLOWN covers too rich for their stamp budget should find one of these. Handsomely illustrated both front and back Jim brings the artistic flair he shares as Editor of The Astrophile and owner of the space event cover service called Mission 57.

Bob M
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Posts: 1367
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 05-29-2013 07:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting covers and story, David, and a part of astrophilately probably not familiar to many. Do you know about what these Barbaro flown covers usually sell for and if they occasionally are available for sale?

NAAmodel#240
Member

Posts: 138
From: Charleston, SC USA
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 05-29-2013 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NAAmodel#240   Click Here to Email NAAmodel#240     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The cover should retail between $400-600. Mine cost $400 but it has no letter enclosed. The media proofs sell for a wide range. I paid $25 but I think it is worth more like $100. These are seen at auction and at shows. Fortunately, there are no reports of forgeries so if you find one you can be confident buying it.

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

posted 06-10-2013 06:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just got my June 17, 2013 Linn's Stamp News, and John Hotchner devoted a full page article to the Barbero missile mail!

NAAmodel#240
Member

Posts: 138
From: Charleston, SC USA
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 06-10-2013 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NAAmodel#240   Click Here to Email NAAmodel#240     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Perhaps he was inspired by us.

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