3¢ Pony Express Rider
Issue Date: April 3, 1940
City: St. Joseph, MO, Sacramento, CA
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10.5
Color: Henna brown
U.S. #894 was issued to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Pony Express. It pictures a rider leaving a relay station with a parcel of mail.
Immediately after the stamp was issued, a noted sculptor was quoted in a national newspaper claiming that a horse could not possibly run in the position shown on the stamp. Veterinarians, horse breeders, jockeys and horse enthusiasts agreed. Rumors claimed that the stamp was going to be re-issued due to the error, so collectors purchased large quantities of the stamp, expecting it to be removed from sale. In the end, the stamp was never re-issued, but sold out anyway, making it scarce today.
Introducing The Pony Express
In 1860, mail contractor Ben Holladay joined forces with the Russell, Majors and Waddell freight company to create a mail-carrying company that would be faster and more efficient than the stagecoaches of the Butterfield Overland Mail. Holladay established 200 stations 25 miles apart along a 1,900-mile trail from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. He bought 500 of the fastest horses he could find and hired 80 daring riders to begin service on the Pony Express on April 30, 1860.
These riders carried the mail 75 miles every day, picking up a rested horse at each stop, riding non-stop, day and night, rain or shine. This route could be completed in eight days, which was 12 to 14 days faster than the Overland Mail. The fastest trip was seven days, when riders delivered the news of Abraham Lincoln’s presidential election in November of that year. Initially, it cost $5 to send a letter between San Francisco and St. Joseph, Missouri, but that charge was later reduced to $1. Some famous Pony Express riders included Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody.
The completion of the first trans-continental telegraph line in October 1861 brought about the Pony Express’ decline, just 19 months after it was created.
FDR – The Stamp-Collecting President
President Franklin Roosevelt was instrumental in the design and issuance of U.S. #894. Introduced to stamp collecting at a young age by his mother, Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned to his collection throughout his life to relax and unwind.
Elected President four times, Roosevelt served in the nation’s highest office longer than any other chief executive – 12 years. During those 12 years, Roosevelt shared his love of stamps with the nation, personally approving each of more than 200 stamp designs. He suggested topics, rejected others, and even designed some himself. It was his aim to use stamps not just to send mail but also to educate Americans about our history. And as he reluctantly entered America into World War II, he saw these stamps as an outlet to raise spirits and bring hope.