One of the most fascinating things about stamp collecting, to me, is the historical aspect of it. Postal history, in particular, seems to provide a link with the past, a connection, if you will, to something that happened long ago.
I’ve been researching an old World War II-era cover that I acquired as part of an accumulation several years ago. The original letter is unfortunately no longer enclosed. The cover bears a very common stamp—the 6¢ transport plane stamp that was ubiquitous on airmail of that time—and a “Passed by Naval Censor” marking that’s also not particularly uncommon. In short, it looks like a run-of-the-mill piece of mail sent by a service member during World War II.
The return address bears the name of the USS Theenim, a Coast Guard-operated attack cargo ship that was used in the Pacific theater during the final year of the war. One thing that caught my attention was the postmark: August 5, 1945. That was the day before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.
Who was E.C. Goodrum?
The return address indicates the sender was E.C. Goodrum, and the recipient was Dan Stone of Bowling Green, Kentucky. My next puzzle was to see what I could find about Mr. Goodrum.
A bit of searching online revealed a newspaper article from the early 2000s that revealed that Mr. Goodrum was a radar operator on board the USS Theenim, and that he later co-owned a funeral home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, before moving on to other pursuits. I even ran across an obituary indicating he died in 2007.
Finding a home
While an interesting piece for the aforementioned reasons, this cover doesn’t exactly fit into my collection. At the same time, the stamp is common, the markings are common, and there really isn’t a great deal of philatelic value here. I decided to see if I could track down Mr. Goodrum’s family.
Once again, an Internet search came through, and I found information that allowed me to make contact with Mr. Goodrum’s widow. She was nice enough to speak with me for a few minutes yesterday, and I plan to send the cover to her this coming week.
I have to admit, it was pretty cool to find someone with a connection to a cover mailed nearly 70 years ago. There was a time when I would have had no way of finding out what I did learn, and certainly no way of tracking down a family member of the sender. I hope Mrs. Goodrum will enjoy it.
Since it was never mailed, I’m not sure it qualifies as postal history, but a letter going to auction next month in the United Kingdom is a piece of history nevertheless.
According to a report from the BBC, a letter written on board the Titanicon the day that it sank will be sold next month. The letter was never mailed, but one of the survivors carried it with her when she left the sinking ship.
There’s something about seeing a letter or a cover—even if it was just written around the time when something big happened—that sends a little bit of a shiver up my back. How about you?
Last year was the first time I’d ever kept track of how many pieces of mail I sent, and my total for the entire year was just a hair under 250. As we near the end of March, Philosateleian Post is already 40% of the way to that number this year, having carried right at 100 pieces of mail through just the first three months of 2014.
Why the uptick in the amount of mail I’m sending? At least part of it has to do with a renewed effort on my part to sell unneeded covers on eBay. I’m not doing especially large amounts of business, but getting sales packed up and shipped off does make a difference in how much I’m using postal services.
Sadly, no more than 10–15% of the mail I’ve sent out has been “personal” in the sense of carrying a letter. That’s certainly a percentage that I would like to see go up as the year progresses.
I get a fair number of pieces of mail from nonprofit organizations, but for the most part they’re of little philatelic interest to me. Certainly, if there’s a stamp, I trim that off, but that’s about it.
I have to make an exception for this cover from the Rainforest Alliance that arrived this week, however, because it’s just too pretty to throw away!
It’s too bad nonprofit mailings aren’t postmarked like (some) regular mail, but I would still argue this is one of the most attractive pieces of modern commercial mail with a stamp that has passed through my mailbox.
How about you? Is there any “junk mail” in your collection?
When I look back at some of the local post stamps I’ve created over the last 10 years, it becomes very obvious that some of the early designs were very…primitive compared to newer issues. I think it’s safe to say my stamp design skills have improved a great deal, and I hope they continue to do so.
What my stamps still lack, however, is perforations.
Here in the USA, companies like Rosback, Franklin, and Latham produced machines in the late 1800s and early 1900s designed specifically for perforating postage stamps. Some perforators were tabletop models; others stand on the floor and look very much like small tables. Rosback is actually still in business, but no longer manufactures stamp perforators, sadly enough.
I would love to own my very own stamp perforator one day, so…if you have a stamp perforating machine for sale, I may be your man. Due to how heavy these things are, shipping would probably be prohibitively expensive, so the closer you are to the Southeast, the more likely things will work out. At any rate, send me a note with details about what you have and how much you want for it, and I’ll be sure to respond.