Space Cover #437: Sputnik 60th anniversary
This week I have no other choice but to talk about Sputnik that marked its 60th anniversary on October 4. From one hand this is an easy subject — who does not have any Sputnik related covers, ah? From the other it's quite challenging to elaborate something unusual on the subject. Pardon me if I sound boring and long but I decided not to focus on any specific cover but rather on Sputnik trace in Soviet/Russian astrophilately. And... there is no cover anything alike to be as universal as these stamps.
So it comes to be on late evening October 4, 1957. All known covers postmarked on this date and bearing commemorative space-related stamps are backdated not to mention the location, highly classified those days. Of cause there are Lollini covers with "Baikonur" postmarks but we all know the story... Sputnik appeared on official covers in 1959 and a first dedicated cover marking 2nd anniversary has been issued by Moscow philately club. Interestingly that the first satellite ever appeared on the Soviet cover was the 3rd one in 1958.
The fifth anniversary has been marked not only by a stamp issue and commemorative cancellation but by a wide array of "club" covers with many fancy cachets (those were the club days!). According to some observations Sputnik first appeared on a western postmark and cover in 1964 during Soviet exhibition in France.
Sputnik became symbolic on many Soviet covers and not only regular anniversary postmarks and cachet and the main places to commemorate Sputnik were of cause Moscow, Baikonur, Star City and Kaluga. Notably in 1972 Sputnik has been shown as a mix of reality and fantasy on the drawings of Leonov and Sokolov.
In some cases Sputnik has been used as a symbol of Cosmonautics – while it is not entirely correct. 30th anniversary in 1987 has been commemorated by the first official souvenir from Mir space station.
Interestingly in 1992 Sputnik appeared on US stamps as part of US-Russia joint issue shown on Kaluga example of 35th anniversary cover.
In 1997 Sputnik has been commemorated by a ballistic missile launch with 2300 covers. Besides Russia I would like to mention Kazakhstan issue – another space country directly related to the events.
In 2007 a triple date has been marked – 150th anniversary of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, 100th of Sergey Korolev and 50th anniversary of Sputnik. This was in my opinion on of the best designs.
In 2012 a 55th anniversary appeared in a new trend – special ISS postmark.
So let's see what we get this year.