(Ray Cartier)

I Believe That This Nation…The story of how we reached the moon six times.


Purpose of this exhibit:
To show that the accomplishment of landing men on the moon and bringing them safely back to Earth was the result of many events, both successes and failures, and also due to the work of many individuals. As an Astrophilatelic Exhibit this is done by way of a postmarked history of these events of exploration and discovery.

Subject Matter: To understand why the Apollo 11 through 17 missions succeeded one has to understand the enormity of the variety of tests that had to be performed beforehand, starting with the launch of the first U.S. satellite Explorer 1. Even though this and other precursors took place before John F. Kennedy’s speech in 1961, the successes to those events led to his decision to send men to the moon and are appropriate in this story. Cachets are NOT “illustrative” in Astrophilately. They are “definitive” in that they describe to the viewer the reasons for the cancels and are the only clue to the difficulty of acquisition.. Autographs historically personalize covers and are cachet additions. KSC (Kennedy Space Center) Officials and Navy Rubber Stamp Cachets (NRSC) are routing marks, procured and applied by US postal and military personnel. KSC Officials were initiated for flights commencing with Gemini V. NASA VIP (Very Important People) Cards, were created by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for invited attendees to manned Apollo launches. Beck PRS (Primary Recovery Ship) cachets started with Gordon Cooper’s Project Mercury flight on May 16, 1963 and are the most sought after for those events.

Treatment and Plan: This exhibit is broken into ten major sections: Precursors to manned flight; Project Mercury; Flown Guided Missile Mail; Project Gemini precursors; Manned Orbiting Lab; Project Gemini; Project Apollo precursors; Project Apollo; Apollo 11 and Other Apollo flights. Due to some overlapping of programs, the pure chronology of each of these sections is separated to give a less confusing look at the chronological merits and accomplishments of each.. Note that Astrophilately does not require the use of space related stamps.. It is the cancellation that is of most importance from the standpoint of both the place and the date. The exhibitor has adapted this exhibit to meet the guidelines established by the FIP and the Manual of Philatelic Judging under the Astrophilatelic listing with exceptions that this exhibitor has discovered in SREV article 3.3 and has documented and sent to FIP for corrections. Notes pertaining to these caveats are explained herein.

Knowledge of Subject: The exhibitor has collected Astrophilately for over 40 years, and exhibited for over 30 years. He authored the Primary Recovery Ship Cover Handbook, a study of the postal markings from these ships and which has been referred to as the “bible” of these types of covers. He also published a monograph on NASA VIP Cards after discovering how to identify German-made copies. He identified the creator of the so-called “Lollini Fake” Baikonur cancels, exonerating the French dealer who had been blamed for Russian forged cancels. His current 200 page US Handbook Space Cover Collecting Handbook released in February 2011 resulted in a major correction to FIP SREV Article 3.3 which also appears in the Manual of Philatelic Judging. It stated: “Covers must be cancelled at the place nearest the launch and on the exact date of the event.” He obtained documentation that Houston cancels are not applied at the closest PO to the Johnson Space Center, but in Houston proper. The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) postmaster advised that not all KSC cancels were applied at the KSC postal facility, but some were done at the Visitor Information Center and some in Orlando, FL. FIP listed KSC as the only valid cancels after 1 July 1965 even though no launches took place from KSC until 11 November 1967. All Eastern Test Range unmanned launches along with all Gemini manned launches and Apollo 7 were launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) and not from KSC. He has also uncovered NASA documentation that KSC launches include participation by Patrick Air Force Base and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in order to eliminate duplication of efforts, thus making all three sites valid for launch cancels. FIP accepted the documentation sent and now states “…from a nearby post office.”. Cancelling on the “exact date” is not possible for tracking ships without postal facilities and for some flown covers including some flown-to-the-moon covers. The Apollo 11 moon covers were cancelled weeks after the event in Webster, not Houston, Texas. Manned lunar activities are supposedly valid from only the deep space tracking stations and Houston. But this collector just uncovered information that the Merritt Island Launch Area (MILA) on KSC grounds, made television broadcasting of those events possible. Therefore both Merritt Island and KSC cancels are valid for manned Deep Space events.

This author’s articles on various astrophilatelic topics have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers in the United States as well as in Canada, England, Germany, Belgium Romania and Croatia.. He has also assisted in several handbooks written by others and assisted Jack McMahan on expanding the McMahan Space Cover Catalog. He is a past president of the Space Study Unit. Several fake covers and cancels are shown in this exhibit and identified to help potential collectors learn from viewing them.

Astrophilatelic Elements: The following are included: Related unmanned covers for tests of various space-related activities, Primate Covers, Primary Recovery Ship Covers: major cachet makers - Goldcraft; SpaceCraft; Velvet; Sarzin, Beck; plus KSC Officials; NASA VIP Cards; Captain’s Covers; Crew Covers; Insurance Covers, a cover flown in a US Navy Guided Missile and a cover carried to the moon. These are the most collectable of this genre of philately.

Difficulty of obtaining: Because there were relatively few collectors of Astrophilately until John Glenn’s flight in 1962, most covers from 1957 through February 1962 are relatively difficult to obtain. USS Lake Champlain covers cancelled on 5 May 1961 are listed as having only 44 cancelled. Possibly fewer than 20 of these used the ship’s corner card and the colorful eagle on them and are called “Crew Covers.” The cover flown to the moon aboard Apollo 15 is considered to be rare per the Manual of Philatelic Judging. The cover flown in a Regulus II US Navy Ballistic Missile is possibly one of five covers flown. Covers of major note have a red dot adjacent to one of the top corners of each to show that they are challenging as well.

Showings & Awards: This exhibit has been shown in a six-frame format at two regional shows, being awarded a Gold medal in each, and has been awarded a Gold medal at the WSP rated show, TEXPEX subsequent to expansion to its present eight-frames. Vermeil medals were awarded at two later WSP Shows after judge’s suggestions were incorporated from judging the first two WSP shows.

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Last modified on 2011 August 14