By: Rafael E. Pérez
In 1937, the US Post Office issue the Scott #801, La Fortaleza stamp. According to the Scott catalog, 244,054 First Days covers were officially issued. Some of them have common or scarce cachets, while others are plain with no cachets. How many of these covers had unusual usages? To my knowledge, not that many. Most of the covers have either one stamp, a pair (airmail rate) or a block of 4. In the following lines you will see a few usages that go beyond that.
Below is one of the scarcest and unusual usages I had ever seen. It has a San Juan First Day of Issue cancel, November 25, 1937. The sender decided to use the stamp to pay for the Air Mail rate, Registration, and Special Delivery. The 1 cent Franklin stamp makes it a mix stamp usage of non-first day stamps with first day stamps. The back of the cover has several postmarks. Obviously, this cover does not have a cachet as there is no space for it. However, this unusual mail services makes it very attractive to the collector’s eye.
The next cover shown has a very nice hand painted cachet. Today, hand painted cachets are not so unusual, even if they are not common. However, back in 1937, hand painted cachet were in the infancy, as very few were made. This particular one shows the El Morro Fortress, very related to the Governor’s house, La Fortaleza. A beautiful execution of art work. Most likely unique.
The following piece is similar to the previous one, as it also seems to be a unique piece. Very simple in its details, however, nice looking. This is a good example of having something attractive to the eye, but not too complicated. It was addressed to C.W. Cameron. Seems like he/she prepared some covers and addressed them to himself/herself. All of them present simple designs. As you can see the creativity goes from too many details to just some lines here and there.
Finally, the next FDC is actually a postcard. The back of this postcard shows a San Juan view. Very few postcards were used to be cancelled on the First Day of Use. In addition to that, this one was mailed to Australia, which is a scarce usage. Many collectors pursue FDC’s to foreign countries, as their usage is very challenging.
Many other usages are scarce and rare, this is just a sample of unusual usage in our first commemorative stamp issued by the US Government related to Puerto Rico. However, the intention was to present a small compilation of covers created that certainly go beyond our imagination and creativity. You can certainly embark in the search for other unusual usages of our Scott #801.
Hoja conmemorativa de Espamer ’82 con imagen del sello de la Fortaleza