1986 17c Transportation Series: Dog Sled 1880s

# 2135 - 1986 17c Transportation Series: Dog Sled 1880s

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U.S. #2135
1986 17¢ Dog Sled, 1920s
Transportation Series

  • Paid the two-ounce first-class rate
  • 24th stamp in the Transportation Series

Stamp Category:  Definitive
Series: 
Transportation
Value: 
17¢; the two-ounce first-class rate
First Day of Issue: 
August 20, 1986
First Day City: 
Anchorage, Alaska
Quantity Issued: 
98,335,000
Printed by: 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: 
Engraved
Format: 
Coils of 100
Perforations: 
10 Vertical
Color:
  Bright blue

 

Why the stamp was issued:  This stamp was issued for use on first class letters weighing between one and two ounces.  The dog sled vignette was originally planned for a third-class nonprofit stamp.  Plans for that stamp were abandoned when the 17¢ denomination was needed sooner.

 

About the stamp design:  This was Lou Nolan’s second stamp design.  He based his pen and ink drawing on old photos and a 1930s-era sled what was on display at the 1984 American Folklife Festival in Washington, DC.   

 

First Day City:  This stamp’s First Day ceremony was held at the Museum of History and Art in Anchorage, Alaska. 

 

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:  Commonly used in the early 1900s, dog sleds were often the only means of transporting supplies across the frozen tundras. Although they are still used today in Alaska, Northern Canada, and parts of Russia, they are more commonly seen in the popular sport of racing. The sleds, which can be up to 13 feet long, are pulled by teams of 10 dogs, and can carry up to 1,000 pounds.

 

Alaska’s Final Dog Sled Mail Route

On January 8, 1963, Chester Noongwook made his final trip delivering mail in Alaska via dog sled.

 

Mail delivery in Alaska has long been more of a challenge than in other parts of the United States.  The extreme temperatures and long stretches of undeveloped land in the 1800s made mail delivery difficult.

 

Letters sent from the continental US could take weeks or even months to reach their destinations.  Often, mail would be sent to Washington where it was loaded on to steamships in the Puget Sound.  These ships would then carry the mail to southeastern coastal towns.  From there, the mail was transported into the interior sections of Alaska by river steamers and later trains.  However, trains couldn’t reach some of the most remote areas and ships couldn’t pass frozen rivers, so other methods of delivery were needed.

 

Sled dogs proved to be the answer.  They could travel long distances day or night, over frozen lakes and through dark forests.  Native malamutes, huskies and Eskimo dogs were a natural choice. They were strong, had thick coats, furry paws, and didn’t need special housing.  At one point they tried using horses, but their feed was expensive and they couldn’t handle the cold as well.

 

Most dog sled teams consisted of eight to ten dogs pulling sleds carrying between 500 and 700 pounds of mail.  The mail was carried in rubber-lined waterproof bags and the dogs wore moose hide moccasins to protect their feet from sharp ice.

 

By 1901, Alaska had a system of mail trails that ran along almost the entire length of the Yukon River.  Much of the mail was carried along the 2,300-mile Iditarod Trail from Seward to Nome.

 

Dog sled mail delivery made a huge difference to the people of Alaska and it was widely in use for the first three decades of the 20th century.  Then in the 1930s, airplanes slowly began to replace dog sled mail.  The change was relatively quick and smooth in aviation centers such as Fairbanks.  But it was a much longer process in the more remote areas where they needed to develop airfields.

 

By the 1940s, most sled dog teams were replaced by airplanes.  However, one sled dog team continued to operate into the 1960s.  Chester Noongwook made weekly 100-mile mail runs from Gambell to Savoonga.  Even as airstrips were built in both towns, he continued to carry the mail when the planes couldn’t make it in.  He made his final trip on January 8, 1963.

 

Upon his retirement, Noongwook was invited to Fairbanks, though he didn’t know why.  Ironically, he was to fly to Fairbanks, but the plane was delayed by four hours due to poor weather.  Once he finally arrived in Fairbanks, he was honored to receive a special award for being the last sled dog mail carrier.

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U.S. #2135
1986 17¢ Dog Sled, 1920s
Transportation Series

  • Paid the two-ounce first-class rate
  • 24th stamp in the Transportation Series

Stamp Category:  Definitive
Series: 
Transportation
Value: 
17¢; the two-ounce first-class rate
First Day of Issue: 
August 20, 1986
First Day City: 
Anchorage, Alaska
Quantity Issued: 
98,335,000
Printed by: 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: 
Engraved
Format: 
Coils of 100
Perforations: 
10 Vertical
Color:
  Bright blue

 

Why the stamp was issued:  This stamp was issued for use on first class letters weighing between one and two ounces.  The dog sled vignette was originally planned for a third-class nonprofit stamp.  Plans for that stamp were abandoned when the 17¢ denomination was needed sooner.

 

About the stamp design:  This was Lou Nolan’s second stamp design.  He based his pen and ink drawing on old photos and a 1930s-era sled what was on display at the 1984 American Folklife Festival in Washington, DC.   

 

First Day City:  This stamp’s First Day ceremony was held at the Museum of History and Art in Anchorage, Alaska. 

 

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:  Commonly used in the early 1900s, dog sleds were often the only means of transporting supplies across the frozen tundras. Although they are still used today in Alaska, Northern Canada, and parts of Russia, they are more commonly seen in the popular sport of racing. The sleds, which can be up to 13 feet long, are pulled by teams of 10 dogs, and can carry up to 1,000 pounds.

 

Alaska’s Final Dog Sled Mail Route

On January 8, 1963, Chester Noongwook made his final trip delivering mail in Alaska via dog sled.

 

Mail delivery in Alaska has long been more of a challenge than in other parts of the United States.  The extreme temperatures and long stretches of undeveloped land in the 1800s made mail delivery difficult.

 

Letters sent from the continental US could take weeks or even months to reach their destinations.  Often, mail would be sent to Washington where it was loaded on to steamships in the Puget Sound.  These ships would then carry the mail to southeastern coastal towns.  From there, the mail was transported into the interior sections of Alaska by river steamers and later trains.  However, trains couldn’t reach some of the most remote areas and ships couldn’t pass frozen rivers, so other methods of delivery were needed.

 

Sled dogs proved to be the answer.  They could travel long distances day or night, over frozen lakes and through dark forests.  Native malamutes, huskies and Eskimo dogs were a natural choice. They were strong, had thick coats, furry paws, and didn’t need special housing.  At one point they tried using horses, but their feed was expensive and they couldn’t handle the cold as well.

 

Most dog sled teams consisted of eight to ten dogs pulling sleds carrying between 500 and 700 pounds of mail.  The mail was carried in rubber-lined waterproof bags and the dogs wore moose hide moccasins to protect their feet from sharp ice.

 

By 1901, Alaska had a system of mail trails that ran along almost the entire length of the Yukon River.  Much of the mail was carried along the 2,300-mile Iditarod Trail from Seward to Nome.

 

Dog sled mail delivery made a huge difference to the people of Alaska and it was widely in use for the first three decades of the 20th century.  Then in the 1930s, airplanes slowly began to replace dog sled mail.  The change was relatively quick and smooth in aviation centers such as Fairbanks.  But it was a much longer process in the more remote areas where they needed to develop airfields.

 

By the 1940s, most sled dog teams were replaced by airplanes.  However, one sled dog team continued to operate into the 1960s.  Chester Noongwook made weekly 100-mile mail runs from Gambell to Savoonga.  Even as airstrips were built in both towns, he continued to carry the mail when the planes couldn’t make it in.  He made his final trip on January 8, 1963.

 

Upon his retirement, Noongwook was invited to Fairbanks, though he didn’t know why.  Ironically, he was to fly to Fairbanks, but the plane was delayed by four hours due to poor weather.  Once he finally arrived in Fairbanks, he was honored to receive a special award for being the last sled dog mail carrier.