Fifty years ago Monday (Feb. 20), John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, relied on ground stations located across the planet to communicate with his control team. But after his Mercury spacecraft, Friendship 7, safely splashed down, it was another type of station that took over tracking his historic mission: U.S. post offices.
For the first and only time in the country’s postal history, the United States Post Office Department — since 1971, the U.S. Postal Service — surprised the public with the release of a secret stamp celebrating Glenn’s successful mission. The 4-cent “Project Mercury” postage stamp was revealed and immediately put on sale in 305 post offices within an hour of Glenn’s triumphant return to Earth at 2:43 p.m. EST (1943 GMT) on Feb. 20, 1962.
Half a century later, collectors are still searching for those first-day-of-issue stamps…
To this day, as many as 20 of the original 305 cities that received the secret shipments of the “Project Mercury” stamp are still missing examples of first day of issue postmarked envelopes.
Also, anniversary interview — John Glenn, first American in orbit, reflects on his flight’s 50-year legacy: http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-021712a.html
View Link [collectspace.com]