1986 5.5c Star Route Truck, precancel

# 2125a - 1986 5.5c Star Route Truck, precancel

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U.S. #2125a
1986 5.5¢ Star Route Truck, 1910s, Precanceled
Transportation Series

  • First US definitive to have the postal designation “CAR-RT Sort Nonprofit Org” engraved onto the printing cylinder
  • Covered the increased rate for pre-sorted nonprofit third-class mail

Stamp Category:  Definitive
Series: 
Transportation
Value: 
5.5¢; rate for nonprofit, third-class mail presorted and packaged by carrier route
First Day of Issue:  November 1, 1986
First Day City: 
Fort Worth, Texas
Quantity Issued: 
70,000,000
Printed by: 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: 
Engraved
Format: 
Coils of 500 and 3,000; printing cylinders of 936
Perforations: 
10 Vertical
Color: 
Deep magenta and black

 

Why the stamp was issued:  This stamp replaced the 3.4¢ School Bus stamp to meet a 62% rate increase in the nonprofit third-class mail rate.  This discounted stamp required the mail to be sorted and packaged according to carrier route.

 

About the stamp design:  David K. Stone, who had designed several other Transportation stamps, created a pen-and-ink drawing for the Star Route Truck stamp.  It took USPS officials a while to find a good photo on which to base his art.  The majority of the illustration was based on a photo titled “Motor Express Star Route 14233,” though Stone also consulted several other photos for different aspects of the image.  Star Route trucks were used by private contractors, so there were no set requirements by the Post Office.  As a result, a variety of vehicles could be used for the service.  But the USPS believed the image used on this stamp was a good representation of the trucks used between 1915 and 1918.

 

About the printing process:  There are two versions of the 5.5¢ Star Route Truck stamp – one with a precancel and one without.  Precancels are stamps canceled before being sold, to make mailing faster and cheaper for customers with large amounts of mail.  Bulk mailers use precancels, then pre-sort their mail and save money. 

 

The USPS frequently produced these Transportation coils in both formats, but this one was different.  For the first time, a US definitive had the postal designation “CAR-RT Sort Nonprofit Org” engraved onto the printing cylinder (#2125a), rather than requiring a second printing procedure (as was done on other precanceled stamps).  The standard variety of this stamp (#2125) is classified as a different issue and was printed using a separate printing cylinder without the black service designation.  The USPS created this version for collectors and for use as additional postage.  Another reason for the non-precanceled stamp was to keep with the tradition of releasing stamps in both forms, something not possible with this new issue’s all-in-one printing.

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at a joint meeting of the National Star Route Contractors’ Association and the Southern region of the US Postal Service in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

About the Transportation Series:  On May 18, 1981, the USPS issued the first stamp in the Transportation Series, US #1907, picturing the Surrey, a doorless four-wheeled carriage. For the first time in US history, a coil stamp featured its own unique design rather than simply copying that of the current definitive stamp. Over 50 more coil stamps would be issued over the course of the next 15 years, each picturing a different mode of transportation. All of these types of transportation were used since American independence.


The various denominations provided face values to exactly match the rates for several categories of Third-Class mail (bulk rate and quantity-discounted mail). As the rates changed, new stamps with new values were added. Never before had a stamp series included so many fractional cent values.


The Bureau of Engraving and Printing printed most of the stamps in the Transportation Series, although private contractors printed a few. All but a few of the later stamps were produced by engraved intaglio. Differences in precancels, tagging, paper and gum provide a large number of varieties.


Scott Catalog separates the Transportation stamps into four groups. The stamps in the first group (#1897-1908) generally have the denomination in small type with a “c” next to it. These stamps were printed on the Cottrell rotary press, which joined together two plates to make a sleeve. The gaps between these plates created depressions where ink would collect and create joint lines on the stamps. Later issues were printed on a different press and didn’t have these joint lines.


The second group (#2123-36) had larger numbers with no “c.”  The third group (#2252-66) was similar in appearance to the second group, but service inscriptions were added to the designs. These stamps also used a variety of paper and gum as well as different types of tagging. The fourth group (#2451-68) marked the end of fractional values. Now bulk mailers would use either the 5¢ or 10¢ stamp and then pay the difference from the actual postage rate.


The last stamp in the Transportation Series, the 20¢ Cog Railway, was issued on June 9, 1995, at the TEXPEX ’95 stamp show in Dallas, Texas. This marked the end of the largest US definitive series up to that time. Three new series would eventually replace it – American Transportation, American Culture, and American Scenes. Additionally, the Great Americans would go on to become the largest American definitive series.

 

History the stamp represents:  On March 3, 1845, a congressional act established star routes.  Businesses would carry mail under contract with the post office on these postal routes.

 

In America’s early history, post riders on horseback carried mail between post offices.  In 1785, the continental congress gave the postmaster general permission to give mail transportation contracts to stagecoach operators.  Though the costs were high and efficiency sometimes lower, stagecoaches were preferred over horseback transportation.

 

By 1845, concerns over the cost and inefficiency of these deliveries were growing.  More than two-thirds of the Post Office Department’s budget was spent on transportation, so they sought a way to cut back.  This led to the Act of March 3, 1845.  No longer would preference be given to stagecoaches.  Rather, the contracts would be awarded to the lowest bidder for what “may be necessary to provide for the due celerity, certainty, and security of such transportation.”

 

The bids that businesses submitted became known as “celerity (speed), certainty and security” bids.  Mail to the routes covered by these services was marked with three stars leading the routes to be referred to as star routes.  By 1849, the post office managed to cut its transportation costs by 17 percent, largely thanks to these star routes.  In spite of this, many postmasters continued to prefer stagecoaches on certain routes, so not everyone closely abided by the new law.

 

After the Civil War, the number of star routes in the US increased quickly due to rapid expansion into the Western and Southwestern regions of the country.  Soon, a major scandal brewed that depleted millions of dollars from the national Treasury.

 

The scandal began when contractors would make extremely low bids for the routes, while others would make extremely high bids.  This would lead to a series of default bidding and eventually the contract would go for a very high price.  The profits would then be split between brokers, contractors, and members of the post office.

 

Congress first began investigating this corruption in 1872, but a series of bribes allowed the practice to continue.  Another investigation in 1876 led the frauds to shut down temporarily, but they resumed again in 1878.  New investigations were launched in 1880 by President Rutherford B. Hayes and 1881 by President James Garfield.

 

Finally, Garfield’s investigation revealed congressmen and post office officials were involved in the scandal.  After Garfield’s assassination, President Chester Arthur continued the probe, and the postal ring was shut down.  The men involved were acquitted of all charges, but the fraud stopped.  The case highlighted the corruption in government jobs, and Americans wanted reforms within the civil service.  This helped lead to the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883.

 

Over the years, star routes would carry mail to some of the most remote regions of the country.  As most of the star routes were located in hard-to-reach areas, sometimes canoes or boats were used.  Later, boats, trains, and even airplanes were used on these routes.

 

Star routes declined in the 1950s, but made a resurgence in the 1960s following the Highway Act of 1958.  Between 1960 and 1970, star route miles were more than doubled in the US.  Then in the 1970s, star routes became known as highway contract routes, though many would continue to use the old name.  In the 2000s, the USPS still had 16,700 highway contract routes, about 45% of which deliver mail to customers along their routes.

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U.S. #2125a
1986 5.5¢ Star Route Truck, 1910s, Precanceled
Transportation Series

  • First US definitive to have the postal designation “CAR-RT Sort Nonprofit Org” engraved onto the printing cylinder
  • Covered the increased rate for pre-sorted nonprofit third-class mail

Stamp Category:  Definitive
Series: 
Transportation
Value: 
5.5¢; rate for nonprofit, third-class mail presorted and packaged by carrier route
First Day of Issue:  November 1, 1986
First Day City: 
Fort Worth, Texas
Quantity Issued: 
70,000,000
Printed by: 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: 
Engraved
Format: 
Coils of 500 and 3,000; printing cylinders of 936
Perforations: 
10 Vertical
Color: 
Deep magenta and black

 

Why the stamp was issued:  This stamp replaced the 3.4¢ School Bus stamp to meet a 62% rate increase in the nonprofit third-class mail rate.  This discounted stamp required the mail to be sorted and packaged according to carrier route.

 

About the stamp design:  David K. Stone, who had designed several other Transportation stamps, created a pen-and-ink drawing for the Star Route Truck stamp.  It took USPS officials a while to find a good photo on which to base his art.  The majority of the illustration was based on a photo titled “Motor Express Star Route 14233,” though Stone also consulted several other photos for different aspects of the image.  Star Route trucks were used by private contractors, so there were no set requirements by the Post Office.  As a result, a variety of vehicles could be used for the service.  But the USPS believed the image used on this stamp was a good representation of the trucks used between 1915 and 1918.

 

About the printing process:  There are two versions of the 5.5¢ Star Route Truck stamp – one with a precancel and one without.  Precancels are stamps canceled before being sold, to make mailing faster and cheaper for customers with large amounts of mail.  Bulk mailers use precancels, then pre-sort their mail and save money. 

 

The USPS frequently produced these Transportation coils in both formats, but this one was different.  For the first time, a US definitive had the postal designation “CAR-RT Sort Nonprofit Org” engraved onto the printing cylinder (#2125a), rather than requiring a second printing procedure (as was done on other precanceled stamps).  The standard variety of this stamp (#2125) is classified as a different issue and was printed using a separate printing cylinder without the black service designation.  The USPS created this version for collectors and for use as additional postage.  Another reason for the non-precanceled stamp was to keep with the tradition of releasing stamps in both forms, something not possible with this new issue’s all-in-one printing.

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at a joint meeting of the National Star Route Contractors’ Association and the Southern region of the US Postal Service in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

About the Transportation Series:  On May 18, 1981, the USPS issued the first stamp in the Transportation Series, US #1907, picturing the Surrey, a doorless four-wheeled carriage. For the first time in US history, a coil stamp featured its own unique design rather than simply copying that of the current definitive stamp. Over 50 more coil stamps would be issued over the course of the next 15 years, each picturing a different mode of transportation. All of these types of transportation were used since American independence.


The various denominations provided face values to exactly match the rates for several categories of Third-Class mail (bulk rate and quantity-discounted mail). As the rates changed, new stamps with new values were added. Never before had a stamp series included so many fractional cent values.


The Bureau of Engraving and Printing printed most of the stamps in the Transportation Series, although private contractors printed a few. All but a few of the later stamps were produced by engraved intaglio. Differences in precancels, tagging, paper and gum provide a large number of varieties.


Scott Catalog separates the Transportation stamps into four groups. The stamps in the first group (#1897-1908) generally have the denomination in small type with a “c” next to it. These stamps were printed on the Cottrell rotary press, which joined together two plates to make a sleeve. The gaps between these plates created depressions where ink would collect and create joint lines on the stamps. Later issues were printed on a different press and didn’t have these joint lines.


The second group (#2123-36) had larger numbers with no “c.”  The third group (#2252-66) was similar in appearance to the second group, but service inscriptions were added to the designs. These stamps also used a variety of paper and gum as well as different types of tagging. The fourth group (#2451-68) marked the end of fractional values. Now bulk mailers would use either the 5¢ or 10¢ stamp and then pay the difference from the actual postage rate.


The last stamp in the Transportation Series, the 20¢ Cog Railway, was issued on June 9, 1995, at the TEXPEX ’95 stamp show in Dallas, Texas. This marked the end of the largest US definitive series up to that time. Three new series would eventually replace it – American Transportation, American Culture, and American Scenes. Additionally, the Great Americans would go on to become the largest American definitive series.

 

History the stamp represents:  On March 3, 1845, a congressional act established star routes.  Businesses would carry mail under contract with the post office on these postal routes.

 

In America’s early history, post riders on horseback carried mail between post offices.  In 1785, the continental congress gave the postmaster general permission to give mail transportation contracts to stagecoach operators.  Though the costs were high and efficiency sometimes lower, stagecoaches were preferred over horseback transportation.

 

By 1845, concerns over the cost and inefficiency of these deliveries were growing.  More than two-thirds of the Post Office Department’s budget was spent on transportation, so they sought a way to cut back.  This led to the Act of March 3, 1845.  No longer would preference be given to stagecoaches.  Rather, the contracts would be awarded to the lowest bidder for what “may be necessary to provide for the due celerity, certainty, and security of such transportation.”

 

The bids that businesses submitted became known as “celerity (speed), certainty and security” bids.  Mail to the routes covered by these services was marked with three stars leading the routes to be referred to as star routes.  By 1849, the post office managed to cut its transportation costs by 17 percent, largely thanks to these star routes.  In spite of this, many postmasters continued to prefer stagecoaches on certain routes, so not everyone closely abided by the new law.

 

After the Civil War, the number of star routes in the US increased quickly due to rapid expansion into the Western and Southwestern regions of the country.  Soon, a major scandal brewed that depleted millions of dollars from the national Treasury.

 

The scandal began when contractors would make extremely low bids for the routes, while others would make extremely high bids.  This would lead to a series of default bidding and eventually the contract would go for a very high price.  The profits would then be split between brokers, contractors, and members of the post office.

 

Congress first began investigating this corruption in 1872, but a series of bribes allowed the practice to continue.  Another investigation in 1876 led the frauds to shut down temporarily, but they resumed again in 1878.  New investigations were launched in 1880 by President Rutherford B. Hayes and 1881 by President James Garfield.

 

Finally, Garfield’s investigation revealed congressmen and post office officials were involved in the scandal.  After Garfield’s assassination, President Chester Arthur continued the probe, and the postal ring was shut down.  The men involved were acquitted of all charges, but the fraud stopped.  The case highlighted the corruption in government jobs, and Americans wanted reforms within the civil service.  This helped lead to the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883.

 

Over the years, star routes would carry mail to some of the most remote regions of the country.  As most of the star routes were located in hard-to-reach areas, sometimes canoes or boats were used.  Later, boats, trains, and even airplanes were used on these routes.

 

Star routes declined in the 1950s, but made a resurgence in the 1960s following the Highway Act of 1958.  Between 1960 and 1970, star route miles were more than doubled in the US.  Then in the 1970s, star routes became known as highway contract routes, though many would continue to use the old name.  In the 2000s, the USPS still had 16,700 highway contract routes, about 45% of which deliver mail to customers along their routes.