MERCURY RECOVERY SHIP COVER & POSTMARK VARIETIES

Mercury-Atlas 6i - 20 February 1962 - John H. Glenn

 

Recovery Force Ships
Ship

Type

Designation Covers
Atlantic (Task Force Alfa based around Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla FOUR (DesFlotFour))
USS Noaii SRS/PRS (actual) - Destroyer DD-841 Y
USS Randolph PRS (designated) - Carrier CVS-15 Y
USS Antietamiii SRS - Carrier CVS-36 Y (Rare)
USS Kenneth D. Bailey SRS - Destroyer DD-713 N
USS Barry SRS - Destroyer DD-933 N
USS Bearss SRS - Destroyer DD-654 Xvi
USS Blandy SRS - Destroyer DD-943 N
USS Brownson1 SRS - Destroyer DD-868 Y (E. Rare)
USS Chukawan SRS - Destroyer AO-100 N
USS Cone9 SRS - Destroyer DD-866 Y (E. Rare)
USS Exploit SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-440 N
USS Forrestal SRS - Carrier CVA-59 Y (Rare)
USS Glennon9 SRS - Destroyer DD-840 Y (E. Rare)
USS Goodrich SRS - Radar Picket Destroyer DDR-831 N
USS Norfolk SRS - Hunter, Killer Frigate DL-1 N
USS Observer SRS - Ocean Minesweeper MSO-461 N
USS Hugh Purvis9 SRS - Destroyer DD-709 Y (E. Rare)
USS Recovery SRS -Salvage & Rescue Ship ARS-43 N
USS Sarsfield9 SRS - Anti-Submarine Destroyer DD-837 Y (E. Rare)
USS Charles S. Sperry SRS - Destroyer DD-697 N
USS Stormesviii,13 SRS - Destroyer DD-780 Y (E. Rare)
USS Stribling SRS - Destroyer DD-867 N
USS Turner SRS - Destroyer DD-834 N
USS Witek9 SRS - Destroyer EDD-848 (DD-848) Y (E. Rare)
Tracking Ships
USAF Coastal Sentry TS - Indian Ocean Tracking Ship T AGM-15 N
USAF Rose Knot TS - Atlantic Tracking Ship (off the coast of Liberia) T AGM-14 N
On Standby (Guantánamo Bay Cuba)
USS Enterpriseiv TS - Carrier CVA-65 Y
Others
USS Nantahala Replenishment Ship for the Recovery Force AO-60 N
Not Involved
USS Alstede Stores Ship AF-48 Y
USS Amphion8d Repair Ship AR-13 Y
USS Atka8d Icebreaker AGB-3 Y
USS Bausell8d Destroyer DD-845 Y
USS Constellation. (Also USS Constellation8c) Carrier CVA-64 Y
USS Decatur9 Destroyer DD-936 Y
USS Edmonds9 (Was this cover backdated) Destroyer Escort DE-406 Y
USS Harold L. Ellison Destroyer DD-864 Y
USS Los Angeles8d Heavy Cruiser CA-135 Y
USS Manley8c Destroyer DD-940 Y
USS General William Mitchellvii,11
(Was this cover backdated)
Troop Transport T-AP-114 Y
USS Robert A. Owens8c Destroyer DD-827 Y
USS Power8d (See also this cover) Destroyer (postmarked for mission scrub) DD-839 Y
USS Providence Guided Missile Cruiser CLG-6 Y
USS Ranger8d Carrier CVA-61 Y

General Cachets
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
Goldcraft Cachet USS Noa & Capsule cachet Blue, Black & Red Printed
Fuerst Cachet8 Small circular multicolor cachet Multicolour Printed

Postmark Variations
Ship Description of Postmark Scarcity
USS Forrestal Machine Cancel Rare
USS Forrestal Hand Cancel Even Rare
USS Noaii Feb 23 1962 - Goldcraft Cachet - Legitimate Common
USS Noa1,ii Feb 20 1962 - PM Time Slug - Legitimate Extremely Rare
USS Noaii Feb 20 1962 - Project Mercury stamp - Goldcraft cachet - Backdated Scarce
USS Noaii Feb 20 1962 - Non Project Mercury stamp - Goldcraft cachet May be Legitimate or backdated Rare
USS Noa1,7a Feb 20 1962 - another example - Goldcraft cachet Rare
USS Noaii Extremely Rare Red NY Double Circle Cancel plus Hand Cancel Extremely Rare
USS Randolph Feb 20 1962 PM - Legitimate Scarce
USS Randolph Feb 20 1962 AM - Legitimate Extremely Rare
USS Randolph9 Feb 20 1962 PM - Backdated - See also10 &
This one8b
Extremely Rare
USS Enterprise 3 PM Postmark Common
USS Enterprise 4 PM postmark Common
USS Enterprise9 Dual Postmarks - 9AM & 5 PM. A different example. Rare
USS Antietam Feb 20 1962 AM - Legitimate Scarce
USS Antietam11 Feb 20 1962 AM - Backdated Extemely Scarce

Interesting Cachets & Covers
Cachet Description of Cachet Colours Type
USS Noaii Hand Painted Cachet - Backdated Postmark Various Hand Painted
USS Noa Unusual Cachet - Backdated Postmark Black Printed
USS Noa8a USS Enterprise Cachet with a USS Noa postmark from 20th! Maroon & Black ?
USS Noa8a USS Constellation Cachet with a USS Noa postmark from 20th! Black ?
USS Noa Late postmark showing the usual USS Noa postmark has a time slug Black Printed
USS Noa 1st Anniversary cover with a Karcher cachet Aqua & Black Printed
USS Noa 10th Anniversary cover with the ship's cachet. An interesting variation. Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Randolph Captain's Cover Blue & White Printed
USS Randolph9 Unusual cover with Captain's Cover Label but without the Captain's signature Blue & White Printed
Astronaut Glenn Orbits the Earth Drawing of Glenn & a Rocket Black Printed
Cape Canaveral Hand Drawing of rescue helicopter with Capsule & PRS - FDI postmark Black Drawn
USS Antietam9 Postcard postmarked for the scrubbed mission of 16th February 1962! Black Printed
USS Antietam3 An interesting late postmark on a Space Craft cover Multicolour Printed
USS Antietam1 Postcard Black Printed
USS Antietam9 A general John Glenn launch cachet Black Rubber Stamp
USS Antietam9 Airmail Envelope with simple text cachet Black & Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Hugh Purvis9 A USS Hugh Purvis cover with an attached interesting note from a member of the crew regarding stamps Black Corner Card
USS Enterprise8c A USS Enterprise Postcard with ship's cachet Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Enterprise9 USS Enterprise cover with a Project Mercury Stamp Maroon Rubber Stamp
USS Forrestal8a On a cover with a USS Enterprise cachet Maroon Printed

USS Noa Coversii with a PM Time Slug 
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date
USS Noa1 S/H Cachet shows John Glenn. Addressed to Mrs Trudy Woods. 20 February 1962 PM
USS Noa8c S/H Cachet shows Glenn being rescued from capsule in Ocean. Addressed to Mrs Trudy Woods. 20 February 1962 PM
USS Noa3 S/H Cachet shows Glenn entering capsule. Addressed to Mrs Trudy Woods. 20 February 1962 PM
USS Noa2 S/H Cachet shows Glenn seated in capsule. Addressed to Mrs Trudy Woods. 20 February 1962 PM
USS Noa7 S/H Cachet shows Glenn exitting capsule in Ocean with a rescuer nearby.  Addressed to Mrs Trudy Woods. 20 February 1962 PM
USS Noa7 Text Cachet only.  Addressed to Mrs Trudy Woods. 20 February 1962 PM
USS Noa10 S/H Cachet shows Glenn being rescued from capsule in Ocean. Addressed to Mrs Trudy Woods. Different cover to above. 20 February 1962 PM
Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Covers - most these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery
Postmark Description of Cover Postmark Date
USS Randolphv,8c Signed by the pilot of the helicopter that ferried Glenn from the USS Noa to the USS Randolph. An outstanding find. 20 February 1962
USS Randolph8c Signed by the pilot of the helicopter that ferried Glenn from the USS Noa to the USS Randolph and signed by John Glenn. Another outstanding find. 20 February 1962
USS Enterprise10 Signed by John Glenn, and the Commanding Officers of the USS Randolph (designated PRS), the USS Noa (actual PRS) plus the Recovery Commander. A rare combination 20 February 1962
USS Noa A late postmarked cover signed by the Commanding Officer 28 February 1962

Notes General:
i) Mission posponed several times, mainly due to weather.
ii ) See article by Dr Ross J. Smith for a discussion of USS Noa covers. Also article on backdating.
iii ) See article by Dr Ross J. Smith for a discussion of USS Antietam cover
iv ) While there is some confusion regarding the role of the USS Enterprise the following seems the most likely. The Enterprise was part of the recovery effort during late January. However, when Glenn's flight was rescheduled, she was in Guantánamo Bay Cuba and was then put on standby in case she was need for tracking the flight. Although on standby, it appears that she carried out Carrier qualification tests and returned to her anchorage (1600-1800), probably just after splashdown (1745). (http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/e4/enterprise-viiia.htm)
v) Athough there was some doubt expressed about this cover, on balance it appears to be genuine. It sold for $821 on eBay during 2013.
vi) Only one cover postmarked 2 days before splashdown has been found
vii) This cover was not backdated as shown by correspondence between the creator of the covers and Roland Mantovani (see page 1 & page 2). 759 covers were produced.
viii) This late postmarked cover is the only one known.

Notes Other:
1) 'Project Mercury Points the Way', CD book, Steve Durst (2011)
2) From the collection of David Ball
3) From the collection of Eddie Bizub
7) Sold by Regency-Superior auction 2007 a) 2010
8) Sold on eBay during 2009 a) 2010 b) 2012 c) 2013 d) 2014 e) 2015
9) From the collection of Tom Steiner
10) Shown in 'Primary Recovery Ship Cover Handbook', Ray E. Cartier (1993)
11) From the collection of Roland Mantovani
12) Sold in RR Auction January 2011
13) From the collection of Joseph Volutza


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Last modified on 17 September 2018

 


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