Project Mercury Stamp, 1962

My father collected stamps most of his life. Below is an item called a First Day Cover, which can be a card or an envelope with a postal cancellation mark on the day the stamp was released to the public. This one is from 1962, the stamp issued in connection with astronaut John Glenn’s space mission, the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn followed Alan Shepard of Derry, N.H., in the Project Mercury program. Shepard holds the distinction of being the first American in space, but his was a sub-orbital flight. The envelope was mailed to Steve’s Coin and Stamp Shop in Lowell, which was the go-to place for those collectibles in the 1960s. The owner, Steve, had probably ordered a dozen or more of these from the Cape Canaveral post office. In his way, Steve brought the excitement of the space program home to Lowell and gave stamp collectors a chance to be part of the excitement. The first day covers or first day issues were somewhat uncommon. Most hobbyists filled their catalogues with individual stamps (new and used) and looseleaf binders of glassine pages with new or mint stamps, sometimes in blocks of four or even a whole page right out of the post office drawer.

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