#1193 – 1962 4c Project Mercury

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- Mint Stamp(s)
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camera Mint Plate Block of 4
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camera Mint Sheet
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camera Classic First Day Cover
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camera Silk First Day Cover
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camera First Day Cover Plate Block of 4
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camera Fleetwood First Day Cover
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camera Fleetwood First Day Cover (plate block)
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- MM63625 Horizontal Strip Mounts, Black, Split-back, 215 x 30 millimeters (8-7/16 x 1-3/16 inches)
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- MM50150 Horizontal Mounts, Black, Split-back, Pre-cut, 45 x 30 millimeters (1-3/4 x 1-3/16 inches)
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- MM4202Mystic Clear Mount 45x30mm
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U.S. #1193
1962 4¢ Project Mercury 
 
Issue Date: February 20, 1962
City: Cape Canaveral, Florida
Quantity: 289,240,000
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Giori Press
Perforations:  11
Color: Dark blue and yellow
 
U.S. #1193 features the “Friendship 7” space capsule flown by John Glenn in the first successful orbit of the Earth. The mission was the result of a secret project run by the Post Office Department. The Post Office had recently (at the time) started using a Giori Printing Press, which allowed it to produce stamps in two or three colors in a single run (instead of having to send the stamps through for each color).
 
In the summer of 1961, the Post Office Department began a special project. The new Giori Press was locked in a separate room accessed only by a small number of postal employees and with a guard to keep others out. No written instructions were given for the project. Rumors in the Department speculated that it was being used to make currency. Instead, it was printing the “Project Mercury” stamp. 
 
The stamp was sent in sealed packets to postmasters in 305 locations around the country, with specific instructions: “Classified Material. Do Not Open.” The packets were shipped in time for the original launch date – December 21, 1961. Weather caused delays until the end of February.
 
The secrecy was connected to the planned flight of the “Friendship 7” capsule. The launch was at 9:48 a.m. local time in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and splashed down at 2:43 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., the post offices were informed by telephone,teletype, and telegraph, that they could open the packet and distribute the stamps. If there had been a failure, the stamps would not have been released.
 
One side effect of the late release was that it gave very limited time to get First Day Covers serviced – an hour and a half, in Eastern states. Cape Canaveral is listed as the official site of the First Day of Issue. There was no Cape Canaveral Post Office until 3:30 p.m., February 20, 1962. That’s when a U.S. Air Force van was made into a temporary post office and called a substation of the Cocoa, Florida, Post Office.