The Ries Chapter
On September 9, 1969, the United States Post Office Department released the 10-cent Apollo 11 First Man on Moon commemorative air post stamp, (Scott C76). This stamp honors the accomplishment of landing astronauts on the moon, which fulfilled President Kennedy’s goal to have this done before the end of the 1960s. Because of the importance of this event, Postmaster General Winton M. Blount played a major role through all phases, authorizing the design and production of the stamp. The design of the stamp would include more pertinent features than normal to tell this achievement. In order to accomplish this, Paul Calle, one of the more popular stamp designers, was given that challenge. He had to succumb to a larger stamp than usual, and at the same time satisfy the Post Office requirements which became known in the philatelic world as jumbo- size, see Figure 1.
Footnote: According to the March-April 2019 FIRST DAYS, the 64th AFDCS convention on July 26-28 in St. Louis Missouri will be celebrating the Moon Landing’s 50th Anniversary.
Eiserman, Monte. & Anderson, Harry L. Moon Landing published by Album/Aids.
Mellone, Michael A. 2007 U.S. Scott First Day Cover Catalogue and Checklist. Published by FDC Publishing Co.
Hansen, James R. First Man. Simon & Schuster Published in 2005.
Figure 10 is a naval cover franked with a 6-cent Law and Order stamp (Scott 1343). This cover would suggest that returning astronauts would splash down in the Atlantic Ocean and that the U.S. naval ship, USS Ozark (MCS-2) would pick them up. However we know that the splash down was in the Pacific Ocean where the astronauts were retrieved by helicopters from the recovery ship, the U.S. Aircraft Carrier USS HORNET (CVS 12).
Figure 3 shows a pair of second stage rockets being transported at a maximum speed of 2 mph down Seal Beach Blvd to the dockside. The assembly and checkout buildings are shown in the background within the compound of the weapons station. Today, the vertical checkout building is still standing; however, I believe it’s scheduled to be demolished this year, 2019. Photo is courtesy of the Seal Beach Sun Newspaper.
Because of the popularity of this event, many other cachetmakers, both individual and commercial, would get on the band wagon and take advantage of the event by creating many covers. See figures 7 through 11.
Figure 7 is a commemorative postcard FDC in English and German languages produced in the U.S.A. by the Aerospace Printing Company. The cachet includes the images and signatures of the three astronauts, as well as the stamp designer. In addition, a 6-cent Apollo 8 stamp (Scott 1371) is added for additional postage.
Stamp artists Paul Calle and son Chris collaborated in the design of two stamps issued in July 20 1964 to commemorate this event. See figures 12 and 13.
Figure 12 29c Moon landing 25th Anniversary Fleetwood cover with autographs (Scott 2841).
On September 9, 1969, the first day of issue ceremony was held in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel where approximately 4,000 people attended, including the three triumphant astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins. For this event, nine million stamps were sold, and more than eight million First Day Covers produced. Later, this event was reported by Richard Louis Thomas, the author of Linn’s Who’s Who on U.S. Stamps column, as “a First Day to end all First Days”.
Before getting into covers, I would like to share some historic background that led to the stamp, including a personal touch. Some details had been mentioned in a previous article entitled “5-cent Gemini 4 stamp”, which was published on the Ries Chapter website.
The Apollo Saturn V vehicle was launched by NASA from Cape Canaveral on July 16, 1969, as the continuance of the Manned Lunar-Landing Program. The vehicle that propelled the Astronauts to the Moon consisted of three rocket stages. For a particular interest to Riesers who live in Southern California, the second stage rocket S-11, was designed, built, and assembled in two cities in our area, Downey and Seal Beach, by North American Aviation (NAA) and local sub-contractors. All the large major parts of the second stage were manufactured at the Downey plant and transported by truck to Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station to be assembled in unique buildings designed and constructed for that purpose. One was called the “Vertical Assembly Building”, where the parts were put together, as the name suggests. When assembly was finished, it was moved to another building called the “Vertical Checkout Building”, where the second stage rocket’s integral systems were tested for functionality. Last, the second stage was placed on a huge flatbed and transported down Seal Beach Blvd. to the Navy’s dockside for shipping to Mississippi, where the rocket firing test would be conducted, prior to reaching the launch site at Cape Canaveral, see figures 2 and 3.
Figure 2 shows the Apollo Saturn V’s second stage rocket on a large flatbed truck in preparation to move it to the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station’s dock. The building in the background is the Vertical Assembly Building, which is now demolished. Photo is courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.
Figure 13 $9.95 Moon landing 25th Anniversary ArtCraft cover ( Scott 2842).
Figure 5 depicts a First Day Cover produced by the Kenmore Stamp Company which notes that, “This stamp was printed from plates made from a die carried to the moon and back.” The cover also states that the cachet illustrates a scene from a Jules Verne science fiction novel.
Figure 8 is a First Day Cover produced by Westport Collectors Society. The cachet depicts an astronaut on the Moon saluting the stars and stripes flag with the Moon capsule in the background.
Figure 11 is a Samoa souvenir cover dated 24 July 1969 with a Samoa stamp stating “Samoa honours U.S.Moon Astronauts”.
Figure 6 indicates a cover produced by Artmaster, and like ArtCraft, has the same high quality engraving.
My participation in this event occurred while employed with Kaiser Engineers located off Century Blvd., close to Los Angeles Airport (LAX). Kaiser had a subcontract from NASA to design the two buildings inside the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. My responsibility was designing the mechanical/piping systems within the buildings mentioned above.
Figure 4. This First Day Cover was produced by ArtCraft, selected as the Cachetmaker of the Century. Not only did they produce this one for the Moon stamp, but about a dozen others quite similar with minor variations. Possibly they were “cashing in” on the event’s popularity.
Figure 9 is a Dow-Unicover cover, which can only be described as an oddity, franked with an 8-cent Apollo 8 stamp (Scott 1371).