|Owney gets his dog tags|
The United States Postal Service issued a Forever stamp on July 27th honoring a dog who 'adopted' Railway Mail Service mail bags - as his home - beginning in Albany, New York, in 1888. If you are interested in learning more about Owney, and how he came to acquiring so many tags that he had to have a special vest constructed by order of the Postmaster General, you can visit the official USPS Beyond The Perf site for the entire story.
The short version is he rode in Railroad Post Office cars all over the country and became the Railway Mail Service clerks unofficial mascot, and now has a home in the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum.
Several months ago I received an invitation to submit a First Day Cover of the Owney stamp to be included in their permanent collection centered around Owney. I have been to Washington, D.C., but I didn't have a chance to visit the museum, so I can't tell you much about it.
In 1995 I created a First Day Cover for the POW/MIA issue. A pair of dog tags were pictured on the stamp and I chose a Montana man named Lee Nordahl as my theme, and I pictured his dog tags on a bamboo cross over a map of North and South Vietnam.
The use of dog tags to serve as identification of soldiers predates Owney, and the use of metal tags as we know them today dates back to the Second World War. You can read a short history of dog tags at this official site.
The POW/MIA issue dog tags immediately came to mind when I received the invitation from the National Postal Museum to submit a First Day cover honoring Owney. I know he didn't have a set of dog tags like the pair I wore, so I decided to create a pair just for him. Rather than include the city name of Albany, I substituted the serial number which would ordinarily be included on the tags with the Zip Code for Albany, NY, Owney's "home".
Make sure you stop by Beth Niquette's "home" The Best Hearts Are Crunchy to view more more wonderful pieces of mail art on Postcard Friendly Friday.