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Embossed postcard with train image - Limited Express

4¢ SEATTLE WORLD'S FAIR - April 25, 1962

Sc. 1196 - issued 4/25/62

This stamp was issued to publicize the Seattle World's Fair of 1962, in keeping with a long tradition of USPS support of such endeavors. The train is the Monorail train "Century 21," which is still running today to carry tourists from downtown Seattle to the Space Needle observation tower. I rode it myself a couple of years ago, and despite the theme-park-like pointlessness of the experience - there were certainly no locals on board, and there are only two stops, one at each end - it was fun.

Read about the Seattle Monorail's equipment HERE.

Sc. 1196 fdc - issued 4/25/62

The FDC above is typical of all I have seen for this issue,
with a view of the Fair, showing the Space Needle, the monorail, and the city center.

Issuing commemoratives to advertise World's Fairs is a fine old postal tradition. It was first done in 1893, with a whopping 16-stamp set for the World's Columbian Exposition that was held in Chicago that year. Having set that precedent, the USPOD had a hard time refusing requests to commemorate similar events that followed, but soon learned to exercise a little more restraint - sets were issued in 1898 (Trans-Mississippi Expo, 9 stamps) , 1901 (Pan-American Expo,6 stamps) , 1904 (Louisiana Purchase Expo, 5 stamps) , 1907 (Jamestown Expo, 3 stamps) , 1909 (Alaska-Yukon Pacific Expo, 1 stamp) , and 1913 (Panama Pacific Expo, 4 stamps) . Large fairs went out of favor for a while then, and it was 1926 before another was held in the US - the Sesquicentennial Expo in Philadelphia in 1926 - one stamp for that one (two if you count Scott 630). Since then there have been 11 or 12 more fairs in the US, and most of them were commemorated with at least one stamp; but none of the recent ones has been a financial success, and the last one, twenty years ago now - New Orleans in 1984 - was a spectacular failure. I think all the theme parks have put large fairs out of business - who can compete with Disney World and its clones?

Trains were vital in supplying visitors to all of the fairs through the mid-20th century, and four Fairs have had monorails - the first with one was the Centennial Expo in Philadelphia in 1876! But of all the stamps issued for Fairs, only this one and Scott 295, the 2-cent value from the 1901 Pan-American Expo set, have a rail theme.

The stamp was designed by John Maass and William K Schrage, and engraved by C. A. Brooks and G. A. Payne. Over 147 million copies were printed, making it still relatively plentiful today, and worth no more than its face value. There are no known errors or significant varieties.


The Seattle monorail takes two minutes to travel its one-mile route. It opened to the public on March 24, 1962 nearly one month before the start of the World's Fair, and carried more than eight million guests during the six months of the fair, easily paying for itself - a profit was realized before the end of the fair.

Today, the [two] trains carry approximately 2.5 million riders every year, and the line has become an important fixture in Seattle for locals, who use the trains to commute into the city center [there are large municipal lots near its terminus at the Space Needle] as well as during major festivals and sporting events. Seattle Center Monorail is the nation's only fully self-sufficient public transit system.

The Seattle Center Monorail system uses 62 prestressed concrete piers to support the two beams which the monorails ride upon. The trains can cover the 1 mile distance at a top speed of 50 miles per hour, making it the fastest full-sized monorail system in the country, even today.

Riding on 64 rubber pneumatic tires, the monorail runs on 700 volts D.C. power obtained through contact rails on the inside of the beam. 16 load-carrying tires ride on top of the beam, and 48 guide tires grip the sides of the beam. The propulsion system is GE, just like common subway trains (New York, Chicago). The braking system is WABCO (Westinghouse Air Brake), and operates much like a train. Although the cars look unique, the systems of the train are industry standard, supported, and available even after 40 years.

Quoted from http://www.seattlemonorail.com/history.htm


(image reproduced courtesy of www.elevated.org

Seattle is now planning a new 5-line, 58-mile citywide monorail system (artist's conception above), beginning with a 14- mile line running north-south through the city center, connecting residential areas with the business district. Construction will begin in 2005, and the first line is scheduled for completion in 2007.


Sc. 1323 - issued 4/17/67

Issued to honor the one hundredth birthday of the National Grange,
this stamp shows a Grange Poster from 1870,
with a tiny but clearly discernible steam locomotive on the viaduct in the background.

Here is the text I found in my Cachet Craft FDC for this issue:

The close of the Civil War found agriculture in both the South and the North faced with problems of debt, neglect and restoration. At the behest of the United States Government, Oliver Hudson Kelley, a Minnesota farm leader, made a survey of the nation's agriculture. Observing the lack of organization among farmers, Kelley and six associates conceived a fraternal order of the countryside which on December 4, 1867, gave birth to the "Patrons of Husbandry" - later known as the National Grange. Since its inception 100 years ago in Washington, D. C., the Grange has played a decisive role in American economy and in social life on the farm. Uniting the farmers of the country into a fraternity numbering as many as one million at its peak, the Grange has set a noble example in rural communities through its teachings of virtue and patriotism. In 1967, with a membership of 700,000, the Grange still actively pursues its purposes as the "friend of the farmer."

What that description leaves out is perhaps the Grange's most important and far-reaching element, its political activities. By providing a forum for political discussions and political action, the Grange was able to help its members define a political agenda, and then to elect and influence public officials in ways that helped improve the situation of farmers.

Today, with membership in 37 states and the District of Columbia, and with approximately 300,000 members, the National Grange is still very much alive. It has an extensive web site at http://www.nationalgrange.org/.

This stamp was designed by Lee Pavao, modeled by R. J. Jones, and engraved by E. R. Felver and H. F. Sharpless. Over 121 million copies were printed, making it still plentiful today, and worth only its face value. There are no known major varieties. There is one printing error, "tagging omitted", with a 1997 catalog value of $3.50 per stamp.

In 1967 the USPOD was near the end of its transition to tagging of all stamps. USPOD experiments with phosphor tagging of stamps had started in 1963, and by 1966, most commemorative stamps were being released both tagged and untagged. Starting with this stamp, all commemoratives were released tagged only. So this stamp has a special place as a "first". As with many of the stamps in that period, some got out with no tagging - called a "tagging omitted error". These are not plentiful, but since the error is not visible without a UV lamp, the premium they command is relatively modest.

Sc. 1323 fdc - issued 4/17/67

Not surprisingly, none of the FDCs I have seen for this stamp includes a train in the cachet - most show Oliver Kelley and a farm scene, like the one above, by Fleetwood - and the train's presence on the stamp may seem incidental; but in 1870 trains were vital to America's farmers, as distributors of both the machinery and supplies needed to operate farms, and the crops they produced, so I think that tiny train was meant to be more than scenery on the poster from which this stamp was derived.

My web search for information about the National Grange yielded some interesting facts about ways its history relates both to the Postal Service and to the railroads. First, the Grange was instrumental in proposing and promoting Rural Free Delivery (RFD) in this country in the late 1890's. Second, the Grange's support was a key factor in the establishment of parcel post in 1912. Third, the often greedy, unscrupulous ways railroads exercised their monopolies on transport of farm goods led farmers to be instrumental in getting the government to regulate them. Initially the Grange was responsible for the enactment of state-level laws lowering freight rates and establishing state railroad commissions to regulate railroads and other public utilities. The battle that ensued led to the creation in 1887 of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the eventual Federal regulation of railroads.

United States Postage Stamps, USPS
Linn's Stamps That Glow, by Wayne Youngblood

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Revised -- 11/18/2004