Released to collectors July 31, 2013
the postal dog
As stamp and cover collectors, if we could go back in time and take a road trip, we'd all saddle up with Owney, the postal dog. He took a liking to mail bags and followed them all over the country and around the globe. When he came into town, he was greeted with a unique tag allowing him access into the city. Sounds straight out of Walt Disney, doesn't it? Each cachet in this hand-painted issue carries the digital color pictorial cancel.
ISSUE TOTAL SIZE
First day of issue
July 27, 2013
Washington D. C. 20066
One of the most popular exhibits in the National Postal Museum is that of Owney, the scruffy mutt who became the unofficial postal mascot of the Railway Mail Service in the late 19th century from 1888-1897. This dog became a regular fixture at the Albany, New York Post Office when his owner, who was likely a postal clerk, let the dog walk him to work. However, some say that Owney wandered into the backdoor of the post office one rainy night and took to a mailbag as his bed. We really don’t know the exact reason that Owney took to that location, but it was probably due to the loving attention he received from the workers. The story goes that when the supervisor inquired about the dog that the workers were keeping in the back room, they said it was Owen’s dog-one of the postal workers. From then on Owen’s mutt was known as “Owney.” It seems that he did favor the texture, or possibly the scent of the mailbags and soon began to follow the mailbags on their journeys. At first, he followed them onto mail wagons and eventually onto mail trains. Many people considered him to be good luck since no train he ever rode on was in a wreck. He was a welcome addition in any railway post office. Owney became guardian of the railway mail and their bags and would not allow anyone other than mail clerks to touch or handle the bags. Over time, Owney actually earned his keep as a security dog since the Albany train station was a key division point on the New York Central railroad system, one of the two largest railroads in the U.S. at that time. Eventually, Owney’s trips grew longer and the postal clerks at Albany became concerned that the dog be identified and if necessary, returned to them. They bought a dog collar with a metal tag that read: “Owney, Post Office, Albany, New York”. Well wouldn’t you know it, the other post offices that saw the dog tag decided to get in on the fun and various railway post offices would also attach their individual dog tags to Owney. Owney received tags everywhere he went and eventually the dog’s collar was weighed down by an ever-growing number of tags. A thoughtful postmaster decided to make a harness on which Owney could display the “trophies.” In 1895, Owney made an around –the-world trip, traveling on trains and steamships to Asia and across Europe before returning to Albany. His travels and the novelty of this free spirited dog came to an end in June of 1897. Owney traveled to Toledo, Ohio by mail train and while there, for unknown reasons, Owney became ill tempered and had to be put down although nobody claimed credit for that deed. Mail clerks upon hearing of this loss, raised funds to have Owney preserved and given to the Post Office Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1911, the department transferred Owney to the Smithsonian Institution, where he can be seen on display in the National Postal Museum’s atrium, adorned in his harness and surrounded by several of his tags. As the saying goes, ‘every dog has his day’ and Owney is no exception. July 27, 2011 the USPS unveiled the Owney stamp with a celebration proclaiming “Owney Day” in the city.