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ASTP Local post and alternative issues

In 1967, Space City Cover Society (SCCS) established its own Local Post under the name – NASA Local Post (NLP). There has been no connection to NASA or any other government agency, just a nice logo.


NLP produced special ASTP cancellation and 2 types of vignettes - "emblem" and "docking". Actually there were 3 types of vignettes - if you look at the "docking" sheet - there are 7 Soyuz-Apollo stickers and 2 inverted - Apollo Soyuz (in the left upper corner).  Four different covers were used for NASA Local Post with four colors of postmarks, though the colors were assigned to a specific event, sometimes you can find "wrong" color on "wrong" cover.

Association of Experimental Rocketry of the Pacific (AERO-PAC) together with DOC’S local post issued a beautiful cover in honor of a 1992 joint Russian-US stamp issue and in commemoration of International Space Year. The Association was founded in 1989 and is engaged in rocket launches in California and Nevada. The cover was launched in the spirit of rocket mail of Rocket Research Institute Inc. (RRI), under the program of youth research experiments (SYRE) during an International Space Year -1992. A total of 14 student launches were done. On the reverse it is decorated with a RRI rocket mail vignette, from 1958.

DOC'S Local Post issue commemorates a bunch of events including ASTP separation on Jul 20 and Apollo recovery - Jul 24, 1975.

Another notable event is an anniversary of Bumber 8 launch – on July 24, 1950 it became the first ever rocket to be launched from Cape Canaveral. All previous launches were conducted from White Sands missile range. Interestingly, Bumber was a combination of German V-2 and WAC Corporal – the first rocket developed in USA.

Another DOC'S cover connecting ASTP to North Pole flight pioneer - Salomon August Andree. S. A. Andrée, was a Swedish engineer, physicist, aeronaut and polar explorer who died while leading an attempt to reach the Geographic North Pole by hydrogen balloon. The balloon expedition was unsuccessful in reaching the Pole and resulted in the deaths of all three of its participants. The ill-fated expedition occurred in July 1897 – just 77 years before ASTP.

Final DOC'S creations in my list - two ASTP booklets decorated with stamps, postmarks and local post stickers.

Ray Novak (Colorano) was not the only silk cachet creator for ASTP. John Zaso, a president of Historic Limited Editions based in New York, started to produce silk cachets since early 70s mostly known by “Z cachets” because of the “Z” logo. He continued into 80-s and 90-s mostly focusing on the sports events. Sometimes his name was misspelled as Zazo making it confusing that even Scott catalog listed two different cachet makers.


Interestingly that he had an idea to arrange a Vatican dedicated series for ASTP but it is known he produced other cachets for Vatican and European events.


On this background there is a cover that is not connected to any spiritual confession but a pure ASTP “Z silk cachet” cancelled in KSC on Jul 17, 1975 to mark a link-up.


Notably this cover bears an IASP insignia - International Association of Space Philatelists was founded by Herbert Rosen and Ralph Engel in 1968 and besides other activities issued "Explorer" magazine (60 issues were produced between 1968-1989).

The Paisley Rocketeer’s Society (PRS) was formed in 1935 in Scotland and was inspired by H.G. Wells and the early rocket mail experiments of Gerhard Zucker. The PRS is responsible for many rocketry first. Among them and maybe most substantial was the first recorded launch of a complex 3 stage rocket. The Paisley Rocketeer’s Society was know for their research rockets. In 70s they focused on the water powered rockets (Aquajet was the most famous model).

Another possibly great contribution of the Paisley Rocketeer’s Society was the Rocketry education of generations of rocketeers across Great Britain including hosting launch events.

Rocket Research Institute (RRI)

Founded in 1943, when space exploration was only a dream, by George James and five fellow students, the RRI, through its pioneering experiential educational, rocket safety, and research programs, evolved into today’s non-profit advocacy consulting organization for space research and education.

In 1947, the first RRI California flight test range for student use was established in the Mojave, California. There, on October 26, 1947, a Micrograin solid propellant rocket named “Big Boy” reached an altitude of one mile. Since 1967 flight vehicle launch opportunities have been available at Nevada RRI Smoke Creek desert Flight Range. At this site, in September 1967 a two-stage RRI rocket rose to an altitude of 14,000 feet and in 1979, a three-stage RRI vehicle carried a student 25-lb payload to a record altitude of over 110,000 feet.

RRI research on the need for short-range delivery by rocket of items, such as medical supplies, in severe weather situations that prevent delivery by any other means has continued since the first US post World War II rocket mail experiment by RRI members on June 28, 1947 from Winterhaven, California, across the Colorado River, to Yuma, Arizona. As RRI fundraising effort, over 77,000 items for collectors of commemorative astrophilatelic items have been flown to date, a non-governmental record, in 52 RRI experiments in nine states, across the nation, to evaluate the safe delivery of high priority items without damage.

This cover marks the end of the Apollo age and beginning of the Space Shuttle age with ASTP and Space Shuttle stamps and relevant FDOI cancellations.

This classic Moscow FDC and Star City commemorative cover signed by Alexey Leonov, were flown on ISS during Expedition 7 in 2003 and signed by its commander Yuri Malenchenko. It was not uncommon (and is today) to send old covers to space with cosmonauts and get additional “flight time” for collectors. Russian-American collector and dealer – Alex Panchenko used his connections with cosmonauts to get numerous flown artifacts to his clients including covers, stamps and patches. Sergey Zalyotin and Yuri Malenchenko have serviced Alex’s ASTP covers during their ISS flights in 2002 and 2003. Note the personal stamp of Expedition 7 applied by Yuri Malenchenko. Such stamps became popular among cosmonauts during early 1990s flights to MIR station. The covers taken by Sergey Zalyotin do not have the ISS octagon and onboard postmark – just handwritten inscription. This was the reason that I did not consider to have them in my collection stopping on a couple of Yuri Malenchenko serviced covers.

Hoyerswerda Astrophilately event – these are ones of 100 covers flown on a rocket and balloon (respectively) arranged by Ralf Schulz – well known German philatelist, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of ASTP in 2000. The cachet shows the exact rocket used to carry the covers. Ralf was arranging rocket cover flights for different occasions launching typically 100 covers each time then servicing them sometimes to the requested addressee. Since 2009, Ralf Schulz and his Briefmarkenfreunde Hoyerswerda e. V. have issued countless personalized stamps commemorating space events. Schulz covered not only current manned missions from the US and Russia with their respective space shuttles and Soyuz, but also important historical events like the 50th Anniversary of the 1st Manned space flight, the First Man on the Moon, etc. Schulz primarily used one private mail company, Biberpost (regional post service) in the city of Magdeburg, Germany.

John Ranto was a prolific US First Day Cover collector, an active member of the Hamilton Township Stamp Club as well as a Life Member of the American First Day Cover Society (AFDCS) and producer of a special line of his own hand made Postal Bulletin FDC's.  He produced these covers starting in the 1960’s and created them up to just a few years ago. These covers were created by hand folding US Postal Service Bulletins into a standard FDC size and then applying the current issue for the cover in addition to related combination stamps. He cleverly crafted these covers into mostly one-of-a-kind cachets or productions. In the beginning, Mr. Ranto created these covers for his personal collection, but as he enjoyed the process, he did start to create extras that he would trade or sell. Typically he did prepare anywhere from 1-5 of an issue, using different combinations of stamps in many cases. Each of his covers is normally signed or initialed on the reverse side, and also coded, but not in every case.

There are 5 basic types of Ranto Cachets that can be classified:
1. Stamp issue FDC on the original bulletin for that specific issue
2. Stamp issue FDC on the original bulletin for a previous related topic issue
3. Stamp issue FDC on the photo copied bulletin for that specific issue
4. Stamp issue FDC on the photo copied bulletin for a previous related topic issue
5. Stamp issue FDC on other medium for that specific issue

The first example is Type 2 cachet related to ASTP joint issue having Karman stamp and FDOI postmark. Note the initials “JR” in the upper right corner.

The second one is a Type 5 cachet crafted from a 1992 Space Exploration brochure with ASTP theme converted to an 1998 Space discovery stamps FDOI cover. The cover reverse image was duplicated just for a nice view ;-)

Davaar is a small island in Scotland. In 1964 it was decided to start a local post linking the island with the mainland. At that time Davaar had a permanent population of six people who were employed to take care of the lighthouse. The purpose of the local post was to allow tourists to mail postcards from the island, a mailbox had been installed on Davaar and it was emptied once a week by the boatman who then took the mail items along to Campbeltown on the mainland while its cinderellas were used to pay the transportation services to Campbeltown only. This arrangement seems to have lasted for couple of years and was over by early 1970s but Davaar continued to produce cinderellas and sell them to tourists. There is not much known about this postal affair besides that all of Davaar issues were arranged by controversial dealer Clive Feigenbaum. The most notable project was cooperation with Format Printers Ltd. that between 1983-87 produced three series of Locomotive labels. In any case it is recorded that until 1995 there were 724 different Davaar local singles and souvenir sheets.

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