PUSHING THE ENVELOPE VIII
Envelope Packets 76-80
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. 76
The Edgar Rice Burroughs stamp, issued Aug. 17, 2012, was also a Tarzan stamp.
The official announcement by the U.S. Postal Service reported: "The stamp art shows Tarzan clinging to a tree by a vine in his left hand and wielding a weapon in his right. Burroughs appears in profile in the background. The depiction of Tarzan is an interpretation of the character by artist Sterling Hundley. Phil Jordan was the art director."
The stamp is a "Forever" stamp, meaning that it can be used forever to mail a first-class letter, even though postal rates have continued to climb since the ERB stamp was first sold for 45 cents. Today, the first-class rate is 55 cents, so each unused ERB stamp is now worth 10 cents more than it was when first issued. Tarzan probably actually appeared on more first-day covers than ERB himself, and virtually all of the covers with ERB's likeness on them also have either an image or mention of his most famous creation.
My covers celebrating the Tarzan books, grouped into title or theme categories. I mixed in a movie poster, too, and one foreign edition. Each is paired with another stamp. The Apes-Jungle Tales cover features a stamp celebrating adoption. The war cover has a Johnny Weissmuller stamp from Romania. The Jane cover has a Margaret Mead stamp and Tarzan Visits the Cities has a personalized, yet legitimate postage, stamp made by the late Wayne James at stamps.com.
The rest of the stamps are mostly animal stamps.
In "Tarzan of the Apes," one-year-old John Clayton was adopted by the great ape Kala after his parents were killed. "Jungle Tales of Tarzan" features more stories of his youth. The ERB stamp, issued Aug. 17, 2012, is paired with a 33-cent stamp celebrating adoption, issued May 20, 2000.
Tarzan became friends with lots of jungle animals, including those in "The Beasts of Tarzan," as well as Jad-bal-ja, in "Tarzan and the Golden Lion." Giraffes are often depicted in Tarzan movies but he never teamed up with a giraffe in the books. But I teamed up a giraffe stamp with the ERB stamp for this cover.
“Do Something Wild – Collect Stamps!” was the Postal Service’s 1992 theme for National Stamp Collecting Month. To kick off the event, a booklet of 29-cent Wild Animal Stamps was issued Oct. 1, featuring five of nature’s most-beloved creatures. The giraffe is the tallest of all animals. An adult male can be as tall as 18 feet, and although the average giraffe’s neck is over 6 feet long, it has the same seven neckbones as other mammals.
The other stamps in the booklet features a giant panda, a white Bengal tiger, a King penguin and a flaming
Tarzan visited the lost city of Opar four times, beginning in the second book, "The Return of Tarzan," where he first discovered the city. The four original book jackets are shown on this first-day cover, which has the ERB stamp issue Aug. 17, 2012, and a 32-cent goniopholis stamp from the World of Dinosaurs stamp sheet issued by the Postal Service on May 1, 1997. Goniopholis itself is extinct but it is similar in looks and modus operandi to the crocs which inhabited Tarzan's jungle.
Tantor the elephant shows up in many Tarzan book, including these three. J. Allen St. John, who painted the elephant onto the jacket of "The Son of Tarzan," depicted an Indian elephant, although it would have been the larger and broader-eared African elephant which rescued Korak the Killer. The ERB stamp was issued Aug. 17, 2012, and it is paired with a 6-cent African elephant stamp issued May 6, 1970 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Museum of Natural History. The other three stamps on the same sheet as the elephant were the American Bald Eagle, a Haida Ceremonial Canoe, and The Age of Reptiles.
"Tarzan Goes to War" was the theme of this cover, with books featuring Tarzan's participation in World War I ("Untamed") as well as in World War II ("Foreign Legion"). Also pictured is the poster from the movie, "Tarzan Triumphs," with a plot of Tarzan fighting Nazis in Africa. Johnny Weissmuller, who played Tarzan in that and 11 other movies, was honored on a postage stamp issued June 2, 2004, in his native Romania, celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. That stamp is on this first-day cover of the ERB stamp issued Aug. 17, 2012.
Tarzan encountered dinosaurs in "Tarzan the Terrible" and "Tarzan at the Earth's Core." In "Terrible" it was mainly a gryf, a creature which was similar to the more familiar triceratops. Also similar is einiosaurus, whose remains have been found only in Montana and are featured at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. The name means 'buffalo lizard', in a combination of Blackfeet Indian eini and Latinized Ancient Greek sauros. The einiosaurus stamp was one of 15 32-cent stamps on the World of Dinosaurs sheet issued May 1, 1997. The ERB stamp was issued Aug. 17, 2012.
Some of the Tarzan titles highlight the names of exotic tribes or individuals that Tarzan had to deal with, and perhaps the strangest of all was the "Lion Man," from Hollywood! In addition to the ERB stamp, issued Aug.17, 2012, this cover features a strange, prehistoric animal, eohippus, from the 32-cent Prehistoric Animals sheet issued June 8, 1996, by the U.S. Postal Service. The other three stamps on the sheet were a Saber Tooth Cat, a Woolly Mammoth, and a Mastodon. The eohippus was a small, plant-eating animal.
There are lots of ways to describe Tarzan and "Magnificent," "Invincible" and "Triumphant" are just three of them. On May 27, 2006, the Postal Service issued an oversize sheet of 40 stamps celebrating the "Wonders of America." One of the stamps singled out the "Rainiest Spot" in the U.S., Mount Wai`ale`ale, on the Hawaiian island of Kaua`i, with an average annual rainfall of about 460 inches. Tarzan, operating largely in the rain forests of Africa, had to endure more than a few sudden showers. The 39-cent rain forest stamp was paired with the ERB stamp, for this first-day cover postmarked Aug. 17, 2012.
Tarzan visited many cities, including Paris! But three of the exotic cities he visited in Africa are featured on the titles of these books. The stamp has the art of the late Wayne James, a well-known ERB fan. Wayne had some official Tarzan stamps made, legitimate postage worth 37 cents, and was kind enough to give me a few. I paired them with the ERB stamp on this first-day cover postmarked Aug. 17, 2012.
Jane was introduced in Tarzan of the Apes and played important roles in several other books but was at her jungle best in "Tarzan the Terrible," depicted here with a foreign title, and "Tarzan's Quest," in which she is "onstage" more than Tarzan himself! To go with the ERB stamp issued Aug. 17, 2012, I chose a Margaret Mead stamp, which is somewhat reminiscent of the look of Maureen O'Sullivan, who played Jane in six Tarzan movies.
The Mead stamp was one of 15 stamps the USPS issued May 28, 1998, to celebrate events of the 1920s. Mead was an anthropologist who wrote a book called "Coming of Age in Samoa," the conclusions of which are still debated among her peers.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 77
Charlie Delgado added some of his own art alongside this Tarzan cartoon and topped it off with a postmark from Tarzan, Texas, on Aug. 25, 2010.
Charlie's letter on the inside said: "I saw this Tarzan cartoon yesterday so had to use it on a cover. Then I even remembered you said there is a Tarzan, TX -- So had to send it there!"
Charlie's note was dated Aug. 17. He added a Calvin & Hobbes stamp to the cover and mailed it inside a larger envelope to the Tarzan postmaster, requesting that it be postmarked and place in the mail. That happened eight days later.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 78
I made a couple of covers to accomodate all four of the Tryannosaurus Rex stamps the USPS issued on August 29, 2019. First I visited the Galvin, Washington, post office, to buy a bunch of sheets of the stamps (16 to a sheet so it's $8.80 per sheet). I stuck the four different stamps onto a few envelopes and got the Galvin cancellation with a first-day postmark.
Then I drove to Onalaska, Washington, to obtain another cancellation, this one in red ink, on a cover, celebrating ERB's early dinosaur novel,
But I'm not done. I have a bunch of other covers depicting scenes of Tarzan and other ERB charactes with T-Rex. After I put a stamp on each of those covers, I'll send them in to Stamp Fulfillment Services to obtain the official first-day-of-issue pictorial cancellation.
Information about the stamps and depictions of the two first-day covers are HERE:
Anyone who wants to purchase the stamps and stick them on envelopes and get the special cancellation can do so by mailing them, with a SASE for their return, to: FDOI-Tyrannosaurus Rex Stamps, Stamp Fulfillment Services, 8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300, Kansas City, MO 64144-9900. You have 120 days to do it.
The Postal Service also offers envelopes which already have a stamp and the black and white and/or digitat color cancellations. For info: 800-STAMP-24.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 79
The American First Day Cover Society gave a stamp show in Syracuse, N.Y., and people came. The show, Aug. 31, 1990, offered a three-ring cancellation designed specifically for use with the 5-cent Circus Wagon definitive stamp. Aug. 31 was also the first day of issue for that stamp. It was necessary to use five of the stamps to equal the 25-cent first-class rate that was in effect then, but the cancellation wasn’t quite large enough to hit every stamp when they were arranged in a row across the top of the cover.
I don’t know if the Tarzan Zerbini Circus supplied the AFDCS with a large supply of its business envelopes for people to use for the cancellation, or if some collectors had managed to obtain a few and brought them to the show with them. The Zerbini family circus date back to the 1700s. The family, from Italy, operated circuses for several years in Africa. In 1961, the family moved to the U.S. to join the Mills Brothers Circus. Young Jean Zerbini started calling himself Tarzan in 1962. (Interestingly, before Tarzan claimed his rightful title as Lord Greystoke and his given name of John Clayton, he had called himself Mnsr. Jean C. Tarzan in Burroughs’ second Tarzan book, The Return of Tarzan. Jean Zerbini became the first trainer in America to enter the ring with no whip, chair or gun. He learned to control lions and tigers with voice commands and body movements.
At one time, Zerbini was actually considered for the movie role of Tarzan, but he was able to make more money as a circus performer. In 1967, he suffered serious injuries in an attack by an 800-pound lion, receiving a broken arm and requiring 500 stitches. Nonetheless, he returned to the ring the next day and to the hospital each night for more antibiotics.
Tarzan Zerbini worked with several different circuses, including the Pollack Brothers and the Hubert Castle Circus, which he eventually purchased in 1980 and renamed it as the Tarzan Zerbini International 3-Ring Circus.
The circus suffered a financial setback, due to inaccurate figures provided by the previous owner. But Tarzan refused to give up. He sold everything and within two years paid everyone back in full. The Tarzan Zerbini Circus was still an active circus in the summer of 2019, headquartered in Webb City, Missouri.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE NO. 80
This 8x8-inch mourning cover was made and mailed on Sept. 13, 2014 by Charlie Delgado of Ohio to honour beloved Tarzan Denny Miller, who had passed away of Lou Gehrig's disease four days earlier.
When the Edgar Rice Burroughs stamp was issued on Aug. 17, 2012, I brought some covers to the first-day ceremony in Tarzana with pictures of Denny as Tarzan and he graciously signed several of them for me to send to some people who I knew would appreciate them. One of those people was Charlie. In the stamp image Charlie drew, ACE stands for Art Cover Exchange, the postal art club of which Charlie and I are members, and LP stands for Local Post, an informal designation for those who enjoy making fantasy stamp designs.
If you've never seen. . . Tyrannosaurus,
Then see, instead . . . Lenticularus!
If you don't go after some of the Tyrannosaurus Rex stamps the USPS is going to issue on Aug. 29, the images on the stamps may go after you!
The USPS has confirmed that the stamps -- featuring four different T.Rex scenes -- will have moving images, thanks to the lenticular printing process.
These stamps, of course, will tie in with the big beasts Edgar Rice Burroughs sometimes wrote about.
The gory details are HERE.
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
Read All The John Martin Features in ERBzine
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