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Volume 6725h

Envelope Packets 100-116
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.

When Charlie Delgado of Ohio goes on vacation, he takes his hobby along with him, and two years ago today Charlie was in Boerne, Texas, when he mailed this cover postmarked Dec. 5, 2017.
Charlie imagined a Christmas tree in the Johnny Weissmuller jungle with ornaments for Tarzan, Jane and Boy. Originally, there was an ornament for Cheetah on the tree as well but the mischievous chimp had snatched it away.

    John Colasanti, the_purveyor_of_needful_things on ebay, put yours truly between Johnny and Ed for this one-of-a-kinder, mailed Dec. 6, 2016, three years ago today. John makes lots of cachets for new stamps and made several designs for the ERB stamp issued in 2012 as well.

    I made a trip to the Post Office this morning to get a Dec. 7 postmark on some covers I made up to honor Edgar Rice Burroughs. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, he could have rested easy in Hawaii while the younger ones went to fight the war. But instead his response was, "How can I help?"

    He wrote a "Laugh It Off" column for Honolulu newspapers for a couple of months to help boost people's morale, and became active with the Businessmen's Military Training Corps, made up of citizens who trained in case the Japanese launched a followup ground attack on Hawaii. Finally, he found his calling as a war correspondent, the oldest to don the correspondent's uniform in the Pacific Theater.

    And all of this in his mid-60s when most folks are drawing their first Social Security check.

    Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and a Tarzan, and a talking ape. The Cover Monster dropped this cover in the mailbox on the first day of winter, Dec. 21, 2017.

    Postage was a 37-cent Santa Claus ornament stamp issued in 2004 and a 15-cent Christmas rocking horse stamp issued in 1978.


    On the last day of the year, in 2018, Uwe Youssoupoff franked an Edgar Rice Burroughs stamp with a Mailer's Postmark Permit canellation from Tampa, Florida, and dropped it in the mail to me. This is a hand-painted scene, with the presence of a note from Jane to Tarzan.

    In addition to the postmark, Uwe used a small rubber stamp image across the bottom of the stamp. I could have sworn it was a cartoony drawing of a tyrannosaurus until I looked at the back of the envelope, where he had used it also, and it was obviously a braying donkey. It's fun to see how parts of an overlaid image can be lost in the stamp's design so that the image appears to be something else entirely! I never knew the donkey was such a close relative of the tyrannosaurus.

    Post offices are closed on New Years Day but that doesn't stop cover makers such as Charlie Delgado, of Elyria, Ohio, who is authorized to postmark his own mail with a Mailer's Postmark Permit.

    Charlie postmarked this cover Jan. 1, 2017, featuring his illustration of a January calendar featuring his favorite Tarzans, along with some images from a Funky Winkerbean comic strip by Tom Batiuk, celebrating the Tarzan Books for Boys and Girls editions of the 1950s.

    Many ERB fans have designed and printed their own special envelopes for corresponding with fellow fans. This one was the work of the late Tony Menegazzo, who drew his own Tarzan-Ape image and used it on his mail for many years, this one having been postmarked Jan. 2, 2015.
    Tony passed away at age 90 on Nov. 1, 2018.

    For John Carter, Rats were the Pits!
    The rat is an animal that most people would not want to have in or around their homes. They can carry diseases, they can gnaw away at the foundation of your house with their sharp teeth, they're clever, and they're not easily intimidated.

    This is the Year of the Rat in the Chinese Lunar New Year Calendar. What most residents of Earth do not realize is that the inhabitants of Barsoom -- the planet most Earthlings know as Mars -- also operates on a beastly cycle and this year is, for them, also the Year of the Rat, or Ulsio, as the counterpart to Earth's creature is known there.
    It is not unlike its version on this planet, having the same basic instincts for inflicting mayhem on other creatures which get in its way. However, it is larger and thus equipped with bigger teeth and has six legs on which to make its assaults.

    Despite their unsavory reputation, Earthly rats tend to be timid unless backed into a corner. Martian rats, however, are extremely aggressive.
    Earthman John Carter encountered the Ulsio in beastly form on several occasions and also, memorably, had to deal with a human named Rapas the Ulsio, who was so-named for his furtive and destructive nature. Carter encounters him in "Swords of Mars."

    One memorable Ulsio attack occurred in "Llana of Gathol," when Carter and comrade in arms, Pan Dan Chee, were placed into the pits beneath the city of Horz. Burroughs's son, John Coleman Burroughs, painted the scene as Carter described, capturing the fury of the attacking beast as best he could. His illustration appears on a cover that I made the other day. I went to the Galvin Post Office this morning and purchased some of the stamps and then had them canceled with today's date of Jan. 11, the first day the Chinese Lunar New Year stamps for 2020 were available for sale.

    Here, from Chapter 4 of the Gathol volume, is Carter's first-person narration of that encounter, passed on to Burroughs, starting when he was “…interrupted by the sound of shuffling feet behind me. I wheeled; and, instinctively, my hand flew to where the hilt of a sword should have been but was not. Facing me, and ready to spring upon me, was the largest ulsio I had ever seen.

    "These Martian rats are fierce and unlovely things. They are many legged and hairless, their hide resembling that of a new-born mouse in repulsiveness. Their eyes are small and close set and almost hidden in deep, fleshy apertures. Their most ferocious and repulsive features, however, are their jaws, the entire bony structure of which protrudes several inches beyond the flesh, revealing five sharp, spadelike teeth in each jaw, the whole suggesting the appearance of a rotting face from which much of the flesh has sloughed away. Ordinarily they are about the size of an Airedale terrier, but the thing that leaped for me in the pits of Horz that day was as large as a small puma and ten times as ferocious.

    "As the creature leaped for my throat, I struck it a heavy blow on the side of its head and knocked it to one side; but it was up at once and at me again; then Pan Dan Chee came into the scene. They had not disarmed him, and with his short-sword he set upon the ulsio.

    "It was quite a battle. That ulsio was the most ferocious and most determined beast I had ever seen, and it gave Pan Dan Chee the fight of his life. He had knocked off two of its six legs, an ear, and most of its teeth before the ferocity of its repeated attacks abated at all. It was almost cut to ribbons, yet it always forced the fighting. I could only stand and look on, which is not such a part in a fight as I like to take. At last, however, it was over; the ulsio was dead, and Pan Dan Chee looked at me and smiled.”

    This cover fits into the "postal history" collecting category -- ordinary mail entered into the ordinary mailstream.

    This one is extra nice, though, because it comes from an address in Tarzan, Texas, and has a nice Tarzan, TX, postmark. It was entered into the mailstream on Jan. 12, 1989, 31 years ago today. A "Received" stamp on the back shows that it arrived at its destination in San Angelo the following day.

    More about Postal History:

    Tarzan is more well-known  worldwide than The Phantom in countless ways and  for countless reasons  but "Mr. Walker" still is quite popular and has  beaten Tarzan in at  least one category: His daily and Sunday newspaper  comic strip is still  active, now written by Tony DePaul and drawn by  Mike Manley since its  creator, Lee Falk, has passed away.
     This cover was postmarked  in 2016 on the 80th anniversary of The  Phantom and four years later the  masked jungle "ghost" is still going  strong.
     The Phantom strip daily and Sunday, vintage and current, is available at

    The fact that "apes" rhymes with "grapes" has been noted by many and thus the fruit has sometimes been connected with Tarzan of the Apes, who probably ate his share, since grapes are major crops in some parts of Africa.

    Gene Wolfe wrote a short story, "Tarzan of the Grapes," which is in "Mother Was a Lovely Beast," a feral man anthology edited by Philip Jose Farmer. That anthology also includes "An Extract from the Memoirs of Lord Greystoke" by Farmer, as well as his introduction. In addition, ERB's short story "The God of Tarzan," from "Jungle Tales of Tarzan," is also included.
    This postal cover is one of 10 made by philatelic hobbyist Dennis Gelvin of Olympia when the USPS issued a Pinot Noir Grapes 5-cent stamp on Feb. 19, 2016. He added a Summer Harvest "Sweet Corn" Forever stamp to pay for the Postal Service to carry it through the mailstream.

    Histah the snake is likely to get the worst of this deal when Tarzan swings out to grab onto a vine, as imagined by Uwe Youssoupoff of Tampa, Florida. Uwe used his Mailer's Postmark Permit one year ago on Feb. 25 to cancel the Edgar Rice Burroughs stamp on his hand-painted cover. He mailed it to me in a larger envelope so it would escape any extra postal markings.


    Trees and ferns of the type which fed the dinosaurs on Earth's outer crust are in abundance in Pellucidar, according to the seven true-life accounts Edgar Rice Burroughs chronicled about the world inside the earth. And where ferns thrive, so do dinosaurs -- especially the vegetarian dinosaurs. In "At the Earth's Core," David Innes noted, "Behind us rose a dark and forbidding wood of giant arborescent ferns intermingled with the commoner types of a primeval tropical forest...." (Chapter II) In Chapter III of "Tanar of Pellucidar," as Tanar and Stellara were being taken to the village on the island of Amiocap, we read: “It is all just as I have dreamed it so many times,” said the girl, with a happy sigh. “I have always known that some day I should come to Amiocap and that it would be just as my mother told me that it was—the great trees, the giant ferns, the gorgeous, flowering vines and bushes." She noted that Amiocap had fewer savage beasts, which would likely have been because the less-savage dinosaurs who dined on ferns would have been more likely to thrive there. When the USPS issued five different fern stamps on March 6, 2014, Dave Curtis, free-lance artist as well as postal cover designer, thought of the idea of making cachets with the types of dinosaurs who dined on such plants. Yes, there were also meat-eaters in Pellucidar, but there were certainly plenty of ferns as well to feed the herbivores. Dave makes his covers by carving images on rubber blocks. To make multi-colored images, he has to do a lot of planning and thinking. He prints the covers in one color to start with and then carves away key spots on the rubber block for printing in another color, and so on, until he's done.


    The Cover Monster of Elyria, Ohio, put this Tarzan image on a cover and then put it in the mail for an April 1, 2019, machine cancellation from Cleveland, but not before coloring it and then going over it with his embossing power and heat gun.


    Someone at ERB Inc.typed the address on this envelope and if it was Ralph Rothmund then he probably typed the letter inside as well, although the correspondence contained within was no longer in the envelope when I acquired it.

    Rothmund came to work for Burroughs as his secretary and, ultimately, Man Friday, in 1927, and did most of the daily office chores, although others were hired to assist from time to time. Covers such as this one are not too difficult to come by but make nice collectors items. I particularly like the bold Tarzana postmark on this one, dated April 13, 1932.

    One possibility is that the missing letter, to the Literary Editor of the Washington Post, might have contained information about the forthcoming availability of ERB's latest novel, "Jungle Girl," which was to be published two days later, on April 15, 1932.

    The 2-cent George Washington stamp was issued Jan. 1, 1932, just a few months earlier, as part of a series of stamps commemorating the 200th year since the first president's birth. Twelve stamps were issued as a collection, with each one depicting the President in a different period in his life. The art on this one, by Gilbert Stuart, is the same Washington pose which is used on the one-dollar bill.

    Click for larger image


    This cover saluting "Tarzan and His Mate" is the fifth of five like this made by Danny Lee. He paid the postage on April 16, 2015, with The Star-Spangled Banner stamp and added a stamp promoting the movie, issued on the island of St. Thomas in 1995.
        Although "The Star-Spangled Banner" is a term often used to refer to the U.S. flag in general, the designation actually belongs specifically to the flag for which the U.S. national anthem was named, the flag that flew over Ft. McHenry during a British bombardment, when Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that became the song, noting among other things that "...The rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that the flag was still there." The Ft. McHenry flag had 15 stars and 15 stripes like the flag on the stamp. The stamp is an actual photo by Gary Clark, who said it was difficult to get the fireworks and the flag at the same time because it was windy the night he took the photo at a Defenders’ Day celebration.
    Keith O'Brien is a Tarzan fan and a fan of comics in general. In fact, he even draws his own comics. He mailed me this purple postcard on April 16, 2019, and had made sure to put everyone's favorite Ape Man in the lower right. When Keith sends out these postcards, there's always a cartoon story on the back, and this one ought to have a lot of ERB fans nodding their heads as they read it.
    The third cover has nothing to do with Edgar Rice Burroughs other than that it reminded me of the scar on Tarzan's forehead that flamed with a deeper shade of red whenever he was angry. I didn't even realize that Andrew Jackson, known by the name Old Hickory, had a forehead scar as well, until I received this envelope from The Cover Monster of Ohio, postmarked on April 16, 2011, in Cleveland. The scar doesn't seem to be easily visible on most portraits of Jackson, so either the artists hid it or it only showed when Jackson, like Tarzan, was highly annoyed. From what we know of Jackson, that would have been quite often for him.

    The cover wording notes that Jackson received his scar when he was 13. A British redcoat was upset with him and lashed out with his sword, marking his forehead with athe scar and also cutting Jackson's left wrist to the bone.
    Tarzan received his scar in "Tarzan of the Apes," Chapter 12, in the process of defeating Terkoz and solidifying his position as King of the Apes.


    Read All The John Martin Features in ERBzine


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