MERCURY RECOVERY SHIP COVER & POSTMARK VARIETIES

Mercury-Redstone 3 - 5 May 1961 - Alan Shepard
USA First Manned Space Flight

Recovery Force Ships
Ship

Type

Designation Covers

Atlantic

USS Lake Champlain PRS - Carrier CVS-39 Y (Rare)
USS Abbot SRS - Destroyer DD-629 N
USS Ability SRS - Oceanic Minesweeper MSO-519 N
USS Decatur SRS - Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-31 N
USS Newman K. Perry2a SRS - Destroyer DD-883 Xiv
USS Notable SRS - Minesweeper AM-460 (MSO-460) N
USS Recovery SRS - Salvage & Recovery Ship ARS-43 N
USS Rooks SRS - Destroyer DD-804 Xiv
USS The Sullivans SRS - Destroyer DD-537 N
USS Wadleigh SRS - Destroyer DD-687 N
Tracking Ships
USAF Coastal Sentryi TS - Atlantic Tracking Ship T AGM-15 N
Not Involved
USCGC Eastwindii Coast Guard Cutter WAGB-279 Y
USS Capricornus2b Attack Cargo Ship AKA-57 Y
USS Coral Sea2b Carrier CVA-43 Y
USS Dahlgren2b Destroyer DLG-12 Y
USS Midway2b Carrier CVA-41 Y
USS Henry B Wilson2b Guided Missile Destroyer DDG-7 Y

Postmark Variations

Ship

Description of Postmark

Scarcity
USS Lake Champlain1 no dots (no periods after USS) Rare
USS Lake Champlain1 with dots (periods after U. S. S.) Slightly Rarer
USS Lake Champlain1 Machine Cancel - Only two are known, one of which is a crew Cover (illustrated) The Rarest

Primary Recovery Ship Covers

Type of Cover

Description

Comments
Standard Cover1 Contains the standard USS Lake Champlain 4 lines of text (no dots pmk) Sent by a Member of the Crew
Standard Cover1 Contains the standard USS Lake Champlain 4 lines of text (dots pmk) Sent by journalist Thomas Kelly to his friend Ed Gordon who will discuss Alan Shepard’s recovery on his radio program1
Standard Cover Contains the standard USS Lake Champlain 4 lines of text (no dots pmk) A very nice example. The Shepard signature is not genuine.
Standard Cover2c Contains the standard USS Lake Champlain 4 lines of text (no dots pmk) Another very nice example.
Crew Cover2 Contains the standard USS Lake Champlain 4 lines of text (dots pmk) Sent by a Member of the Crew
Postcard1 Nice item with photo of USS Lake Champlain on the other side (dots pmk) Sent by a Member of the Crew
Crew Cover1 Note the Printed Colour Cachet (no dots pmk) This cover is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Captain's Cover as it was available for purchase in the Ship’s Store by crew members1
Crew Cover1 Note the Printed Colour Cachet (dots pmk) This cover is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Captain's Cover as it was available for purchase in the Ship’s Store by crew members1
Crew Cover A wonderful cover from a crew member along with a photo and a brief letter describing the Recovery. Was soal in a Regency Superior auction in May 2014
Suspect Cover1 This cover is thought to be a contrived cover and also appears to include a suspect autograph. The cover is thought to be a Riser suspect cover. Note that it is on US Air Mail Stamped Envelopeiii


Interesting Cachets & Covers

Cachet

Description of Cachet

Colours Type
USS Lake Champlain2a Late postmark - 23rd May Black Text Rubber Stamp
USS Lake Champlain Late postmark - 12th May - probable Return to Port Black Text Rubber Stamp
 
Signed PRS Covers including Helicopter Recovery Covers - these covers were actually aboard the PRS during recovery

Postmark

Description of Cover

Postmark Date
USS Lake Champlain2a A late postmarked cover signed by the Recovery helicopter co-pilot 1 July 1961

Notes General:
i) The USNS Rose Knot was off the coast of Europe to support MA-3 and was not involved with MR-3
ii ) See the article 'Where was that Ship' by Dr Ross J Smith (Bottom of page 3)
iii ) Riser fakes were done on US Embossed Envelopes (Scott Numbers UC18 (6c air mail), UC26 (7c air mail) and UC33 (7c air mail))
iv) No covers postmark on the recovery day are known. One with an extremely late postmark is known.

Notes Other:
1) From Steve Durst's CD Book
2) Sold on eBay during 2010 a) 2013 b) 2014 c) 2015

This page © Dr Ross J Smith
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Last modified on 19 August 2018
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