1907

The Shipwreck of SS Dakota

A popular category of philatelic study is disaster mail. Mail interrupted or damaged by some form of a disaster such as a flood, fire, ship or plane wrecks, war, etc. Shown below is an envelope recovered from the shipwreck of the S.S. Dakota, a passenger and cargo steamship that traveled the Pacific. The Dakota wrecked when she struck a reef off the coast of Japan near Yokohama on March 3, 1907. The ship was close enough to shore to avoid any deaths, and the passengers and cargo, including mail, were evacuated before she sunk.

Broadside of the S.S. Dakota.

Post card of a photo about one hour after the accident.

Ninty-four shipwrecked passengers were transported to a nearby lighthouse and hamlets in a sparsely populated area. Two days later, the steamer Hakuai Maru arrived to carry the passengers and ten bags of mail to Yokohama. The surviving mail was severely water damaged. The cover shown below was sent from Montana to a U.S. Army Transport ship (USAT Logan) stationed in Nagasaki, Japan and was franked with five 2¢ Washington stamps, as evident from the ghostly red stain on the right side. A Feb 10, 1907, Missoula & Hamilton R.P.O postmark would have tied the ten-cents of postage paying twice the UPU letter rate for up to one ounce.

Hamilton, Montana advertising cover damaged in the wreck of S.S. Dakota.

Mail aboard the wrecked ship was salvaged and subsequently delivered. Note the makeshift postal label in Japanese and English applied to the top of the cover explaining “Soaked and damaged in the wreck of Dakota. — Tokio (sic) Post Office”

Tokio Post Office manuscript label explaining the damage.

The damaged cover was also resealed with Japanese official seal stamps.

The reverse of the cover with Japanese official seals.

This is one of my favorite pieces in my collection. Please share any other info about the S.S. Dakota, or other disaster covers or cards.

More info on the wreck of S.S. Dakota can be found at Wikipedia and WreckSite.eu.

Posted by Geoff in Covers, Destinations, 0 comments

1907 & 1908 Christmas Seals

In the early 20th century postcards were used like modern day text messages. Millions of cards were produced and sent domestically for a mere penny. At the same time, one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. was tuberculosis. Many afflicted with the illness were sent to sanitoriums for treatment. In 1907 Emily Bissell with the American National Red Cross created the first U.S. Christmas seals to raise money for a small sanitorium in Deleware. (See the American Lung Association). The seals were sold at post offices for a penny each and were most commonly affixed to postcards.

Pictured below are postcards with the first U.S. Christmas seal (Scott catalog WX1) and a 1908 provisional seal from Poughkeepsie, New York.

Dec 23, 1907, Philadelphia use of a Type I, “Merry Christmas” seal (WX1).

After the success of the 1907 seal, the following year the American National Red Cross created a second Christmas seal and started selling them at post offices including Poughkeepsie, New York. Someone in Poughkeepsie decided the town should have their own stamp where the proceeds would go to charities in Poughkeepsie. The provisional Poughkeepsie Christmas seal is very similar to the Red Cross seal (Scott WX2). The Poughkeepsie Christmas seal was only sold in 1908 and 1909.

Provisional Poughkeepsie Christmas seal sent Dec 23, 1908, from Salt Point, NY. Salt Point is a hamlet northeast of Poughkeepsie.

Some amazing postcards and covers with Christmas seals were sold in 2011 by the Robert Siegel Auction firm.

Posted by Geoff in Postcards, 2 comments