PUSHING THE ENVELOPE III
by John Martin
My "other hobby," buying, exchanging, making and mailing postal art covers,
ties in with my Edgar Rice Burroughs hobby quite a bit.
I enjoy making covers featuring Tarzan or other ERB characters,
and friends of mine have made and mailed me such covers as well.
I thought it would be fun to
start scanning and sharing such covers
on the anniversaries of the dates they were originally postmarked.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: No. 26
In 2000, the U.S. Postal Service issued a sheet of Los Angeles Class submarine stamps, along with a “prestige booklet” containing background information about submarine history and five different stamps, including the L.A. Class image. Naturally, the first idea I had for a postal cover was “The Land That Time Forgot” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which the adventure begins on a hijacked German U-boat and proceeds into the lost land of Caspak. And I had on hand plenty of stamps as well from the “World of Dinosaurs” stamp sheets issued in 1997.
The one thing I did not have was a computer, so I was still using Stone Age tools to put images onto covers. I had to reduce this J. Allen St. John image in size on a photocopy machine a few times to make a picture small enough to fit onto a cover. The wording of “Submarines & Dinosaurs” was made on an electric typewriter that was capable of doing a couple of different fonts and sizes of type. I printed it on some 8 1/2x11 sheets of paper on an envelope template and then snipped it out and folded it into an envelope. These and few others were sent to the USPS for the First-Day-of-Issue cancellation, dated March 27, 2000 The city of first-day issue was Groton, Connecticut, known as “Home of the Submarine Force” because it is the location of Naval Submarine Base New London.
The creature looking over the submarine is a Daspletosaurus. If it looks to you like the Tyrannosaurus (a species still likely lumbering over Caspak today), it’s because the Daspletosaurus is a genus of Tyrannosaurus that once called western North America home.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: No. 27
This is a “Second Day of Issue” postal cancellation, a type no longer used much. Not too many years ago, the Postal Service would usually issue a stamp in one Post Office only. The stamp would then be for sale on the following day in all the other post offices in the U.S. Thus, some post offices used a “second-day” cancel, which really symbolized the “first day” the stamp was available to their customers.
(Nowadays, the Postal Service most always issues all stamps throughout the nation on the same day, although it still designates a first-day city for the official cancellation.)
This “second day” cancel was offered by the post office in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, home of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, which built 28 submarines for the U.S. during World War II. The city is on Lake Michigan, which means that finished submarines had to travel across that lake and three more of the five great lakes, and through the St. Lawrence Seaway (a watery route to the Atlantic Ocean managed by both the U.S. and Canada).
This cover is also an example of the chance one takes when sending covers off to other post offices to have special cancellations applied. One usually doesn’t know the size of the cancellation until it is returned. In this case, I left plenty of room for the cancellation but the people at the Manitowoc Post Office overlapped the art with the cancellation so that it takes careful reading to sort the two images out. If I’d known the size in advance, I would have included a note asking them to place the cancellation more to the right and a little lower on the stamp, which features an image of a Los Angeles Class Submarine. And, yes, the postal people there could have figured this out for themselves if they’d taken the time to do so! I sent them several covers just like this one and when they saw the jumble created by the overlap they could have corrected it themselves on the rest of the covers. But…they didn’t!
Nonetheless, I’m happy to have the cover, canceled March 28, 2000.
The cachet image is of Roy G. Krenkel’s title page illustration for the Ace paperback edition of “The Land That Time Forgot” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, a novel published in 1918 which features submarines and dinosaurs.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: No. 28
This Tarzan cover by Barb Tippery of my home town, a fellow member of the Art Cover Exchange. Barb did a couple of different Tarzan covers for me. The other one will show up in a post later this month. This Edgar Rice Burroughs stamp was canceled April 3, 2014.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: NO. 29
Shoz-Dijiji, whose adventures Edgar Rice Burroughs chronicled in "The War Chief" and "Apache Devil," ranged over the Sonoran Desert, and John Carter prospected for gold in the region before being swept off to Barsoom. On April 6, 1999, the U.S. Postal Service issued a sheet of 10 stamps on a large pane featuring examples of flora and fauna found in the desert.
The Sonoran Desert was the first in a series of Natura of America stamp sheets highlighting different regions of the U.S.
I made these covers with my tools from the Jurassic Age, before I had a computer. The images were photocopied onto sheets of paper and then I clipped and folded them into envelopes.
The first-day-of-issue post office was Tucson, 82 miles west of Willcox, where the 1999 Dum Dum will take place Aug. 1-4.
The Sonoran Desert spreads over 100,000 square miles in southern Arizona and California and the Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California and Baja California Sur.
1. The Gila Monster is native to the Sonoran Desert. It likely has a six-legged cousin living on Mars.
2. Shoz-Dijiji, Juh and the other Apaches sometimes enjoyed a savory rabbit stew.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: NO. 29a
Tarzan’s there, but he’s tiny! When Charlie Delgado of Elyria, Ohio, mailed this cover on April 9, 1998, he handmade this #10-size envelope by cutting and folding a piece of paper with a lightly printed flower background and added his art to the front. He wrote on it the date of April 8, the date he made the cover, but the cover actually received its postmark the following day.
He added illustrations of three potential postal covers beneath his umbrella, one with Tarzan confronting Histah and one with him riding atop Tantor. The other cover is one of Charlie’s favorite subjects, a salute to the Cleveland Indians. The stamp features a Camarasaurus from the 1997 World of Dinosaurs stamp sheet.
I was a rural mail carrier at the time so Charlie’s bottom line was an acknowledgement that those postal people manage to keep the mail dry on rainy days (most of the time).
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 30
This postal cover was postmarked in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on April 15 in 1992. Mike Conran mailed this but since it was addressed to me instead of the IRS it did not contain his tax return. On the back is a rubber stamp bearing Mike’s former address in Jenison, Michigan, from whence he formerly mailed his fanzine, Edgar Rice Burroughs News Dateline, which he continues to publish to this day. The back also has a couple of photocopies of a pinback button which was distributed at the 1991 Dum-Dum and Normal Bean Dinner.
The front appears to be a fantasy scene from a non-ERB story, and it looks as if Mike clipped it out of a larger photo and glued it onto the envelope, making a simple collage cover. The stamp is from a 1991 Postal Service booklet of five caricatures by Al Hirshfield featuring comedians Jack Benny, Fanny Brice, Laurel & Hardy, and Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy in addition to the Abbott & Costello.
Abbott & Costello made it to the jungle in at least one of their movies, “Africa Screams”….
…and in at least one TV episode, “Safari”….
Benny, of course, had a TV Tarzan skit with Carol Burnett which many ERB fans have enjoyed:
1. April 15, 1992, cover from Mike Conran, publisher of Edgar Rice Burroughs News Dateline.
2. Back of Mike Conran cover from 1992 with repro of pinback button for 1991 Dum-Dum and Normal Bean Dinner.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 31
“Cowboys of the Silver Screen” were featured on a colorful stamp sheet issued by the USPS on April 17, 2010. Besides covers featuring the four stamp subjects – Roy Rogers, William S. Hart, Gene Autry and Tom Mix – I also made some for Hal Foster’s version of Tarzan, who has been identified by at least a couple of Tarzan illustrators as having been modeled after Tom Mix.
Gil Kane illustrated the Tarzan Sunday comic for 18 months from 1979 to 1981. He also provided the jacket illustration for the non-Tarzan Edgar Rice Burroughs book, “Beyond Thirty and The Man-Eater,” and for the Marvel Comics John Carter of Mars series.
Kenneth Webber, ERB fan who is particularly knowledgeable about those who drew Tarzan, mentioned one time that “Gil Kane was at an art college lecturing one weekend. He was selling art and doing quick art pieces. He drew me a Tarzan which I used in an ERBAPA submission. We talked for the fifteen minutes that he drew my picture.” At one point, Kane asked Webber if he knew who Foster had modeled Tarzan after, facially. When Webber said he didn’t know, Kane told him: “Tom Mix.”
The Tom Mix angle also comes from Russ Manning, one of the most popular Tarzan artists of the modern era.
Manning wrote, “Of all the visual Tarzans, Hal Foster’s rates highest, both as fine art, and because it comes closest to Burroughs’ description of the ape-man. It is Foster’s conception of Tarzan – the lion or leopard skin trunks; the shape of head, hair and features; and the mature, capable manly figured that seems to hit exactly the universal image that comes with the thought of an ape-man, and all successful renditions of animal-men since have followed his lead. Among the one or two other visual Tarzans that come close to Foster’s for rightness was Johnny Weissmuller’s portrayal…and since the movies and the comic strip both produced their greatest Tarzan at the same time (the early ‘30s) I’m uncertain to what extent each influenced the other. I do believe I detect a strong influence of Tom Mix in the way Foster drew Tarzan’s face.”
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 32
Things we learned by reading “Tarzan the Terrible”: If you want to go for a ride on a gryf, first you have to get its attention by whacking it on the head with a big stick. The Cover Monster of Elyria, Ohio, had this one postmarked on April 19, 1999.
The stamp is a Brachiosaurus from Jurassic Park or, as some would note, from the 1997 USPS World of Dinosaurs stamp sheet.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 33
In honor of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the country of Romania issued a variety of postage stamps. Former Olympics champion and Tarzan star Johnny Weissmuller, a native of Romania, was featured on some covers, and a special postal cancellation noting Weissmuller’s Olympic swimming accomplishments was authorized as well. Here’s two of the covers that were made using some of the Olympics stamps, postmarked April 22, 2002.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 34
One of the Cover Monster’s favorite subjects for postal cover design is mermaids and he used such an image here to recognize the movie, “Tarzan and the Mermaids.” The day of the postmark is unreadable with the unaided eye but a look with my magnifying glass shows it to be April 23, 2009, which makes sense, since the letter inside is dated April 23. If the Cover Monster had waited a few days to mail the cover it might have been postmarked on April 27 which, in 1948, was the day the movie was initially released.
The stamp features the flag of American Samoa, a U.S. Territory spread over seven South Pacific Islands. It was part of a series of stamps showing the flags of U.S. states and territories that the Postal Service began issuing, 10 at a time, with the first on sale, including the American Samoa stamp, on Flag Day, June 14, 2008.
The Cover Monster made a set of 52 covers of all the submarines lost by the U.S. in World War II. “The Silent Service had the highest percentage of losses of all the services,” he wrote in the letter inside.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 35
The late Jim Norris of Troy, Ohio, found this image of Elmo Lincoln somewhere and clipped it out and glued it on a #10 envelope He used a green marker pen to put a border around the entire envelope, as well as around the image. That stamp is from the Southern Florida Wetland sheet issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2006. The sheet has 10 39-cent stamps which can be peeled off to use as postage, including one of the endangered Florida Panther, one of the American Alligator and one of the American Crocodile. The stamp Jim chose was the crocodile.
The cover was mailed from Dayton, Ohio, on April 26, 2007.
1. Cover by Jim Norris features image of Elmo Lincoln as Tarzan along with an American crocodile stamp issued in 2006.
2. This is the Southern Florida Wetland stamp sheet, part of a series of stamps
the U.S. Postal Service issued over the years showcasing wildlife in various regions of the U.S.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 36
Patsy Lynch of Texas made this rendition of a very recognizable scene from Disney’s “Tarzan,” with the ape man doing his vine surfing. Patty was a member of the Art Cover Exchange at the time she made this cover, using a Tropical Flowers stamp, which was postmarked April 27, 2000. She wrote inside, “One of my dreams was to be able to draw. I tried very hard to draw you a Tarzan.”
She added, “…I guess this artistic gift inside of me is going to develop no matter what. I thought about saying forget this. But, look. I’m writing to you.”
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 37
Louisiana became a state on April 30, 1812, a couple of months before the onset of the war of 1812 (June 18).
In 2012, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the state’s 200th anniversary, providing an opportunity for a cover to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first publication of “Tarzan of the Apes” and the subsequent filming of part of the first Tarzan movie, which was released Jan. 27, 1918.
ERB fans congregated in Morgan City, Louisiana, near where the filming took place, on April 13-14 of 2012 for the Tarzan: Lord of the Louisiana Jungle Festival, to mark the release of a DVD on the making of the movie, done by Al Bohl and his daughter, Allison.
This cover bears the official First Day of Issue postmark of April 20, 2012.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 38
In 1973, the U.S Postal Service began periodically issuing Love-themed stamps. The stamps have proven very popular, especially around Valentine’s Day and summer wedding season. Award-winning cachet maker Fred Collins has featured a famous couple on his first-day covers each time one of the stamps has been issued, and for the “True Blue Love” stamp he selected as his subject a Tarzan and Jane reminiscent of Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan.
The bluebirds on the stamp, looking into each other’s eyes, form a heart shape between them. Collins traditionally plans for the smaller “bullseye” first-day postmark, to leave more room for his art. The cover is noted as “First Day of Issue” elsewhere on the envelope.
Collins does the artwork, prints the covers on high-quality envelopes, and they are then individually hand-painted by he or his helpers.
Collins has a website and his covers can also be found on ebay.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 39
Movies with Tarzan, Jane, Boy and Cheeta were among the big box office draws in the 1930s and 1940s and the special-effects laden “Jurassic Park” entertained movie-goers in the 1990s. A stamp depicting the T-Rex in the 90s movie was one of 15 celebrating events of the 90s, issued by the U.S. Postal Service as part of its Celebrate the Century series.
Phil, the Cover Monster of Elyria, Ohio, used the T-Rex stamp on a cover which featured a publicity photo from the older Tarzan movies. The ape man never had to battle a T-Rex in those movies, but Tarzan faced prehistoric monsters in “Tarzan the Terrible” and “Tarzan at the Earth’s Core.”
The postmark was from the official first-day-of-issue city, Escondido, calif., on May 2, 2000.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 40
Here are three covers celebrating the association of Tarzan with the circus: Comics, Film and Real Life.
“King of the Circus” was a story told over 12 Sundays beginning July 24, 1994, by Gray Morrow, illustrator, and Don Kraar, writer. As a favor to circus owner Rudy Schiller, Tarzan gives a performance under the Big Top after closing a deal to retrieve Jad-bal-ja, who had been stolen and sold to the circus.
In the film, “Tarzan’s New York Adventure,” Tarzan got some help from some friendly Indian elephants (who speak the same language as African elephants), to get out of a zoo cage.
In real life, Tarzan Zerbini runs a circus to this day and goes into the cages of big cats without pistol or whip, having learned to make the animals respond with his voice commands.
The stamps celebrating the circus were issued in a sheet of 16 stamps on May 5, 2014 in Sarasota, Florida.
The Story Behind the Stamp by John Martin
John Martin's Fun with First Day Covers
The Stamp Story by John Martin
ERBzine Stamp Dedication Ceremony Coverage in Tarzana
First impressions of the Stamp
Tarzan Stamp Previews
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