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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Postmarks and Passports at San Felipe de Austin

By Shelley Wong, Visitors Services Manager at San Felipe de Austin

Many historic sites participate in the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) Celebration Station program, creating special, one-time use cancellations for those who attend events and programs. The commemorative postmarks are only available for a specified period of time. And like most things related to the postal system, these cancellations have an ardent following among philatelists. Collectors from all over the country and beyond monitor USPS postings about available cancellations.

During the 2010 Father of Texas Celebration at San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, site staff partnered with the THC’s Marketing Communications division to design a commemorative postmark for the event, this being the 175th anniversary year of Texas’ independence. After the event was over and the site restored to everyday operation, the real fun began. Requests for the cancellation came pouring in, and the response was phenomenal. We were pleasantly surprised at the number of collectors who specifically sought to have our stamp added to their collection (apparently the Father of Texas still has some game).

Nearly 50 people sent in self-addressed stamped envelopes, representing 19 states and two foreign countries, including Canada, Belgium, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, New York, and more. The envelopes contained the papers or cardstock and instructions from the collectors as to how and where the postmark was to be stamped in order to be included in their prized collections. One of these requests, sent from Albion, Nebraska, came from a writer who had included a scan of the 1833 portrait of Stephen F. Austin in hunting regalia (painted by William Howard in Mexico City) on his envelope submittal. This request envelope also featured a Texas centennial stamp (see image below).

Staffers were inspired to participate in the program because similar cancellations had been done for past Father of Texas events, and because the Josey Store mercantile building (1840s), which currently serves as the site’s visitors center, was the community post office years ago. San Felipe de Austin’s Friends organization was so excited by the effort that they paid for postage so that site postcards with the cancellation could be given away for free to guests in attendance.

Stamping will continue to be a big part of the fun at San Felipe de Austin this year as the site celebrates the independence story by participating in the 175th Texas Revolution Anniversary passport program. As noted in a recent Houston Chronicle feature, visitors to the participating sites can get their passports stamped to record their support for the independence story. The San Felipe de Austin stamp incorporates the same artwork as our postal cancellation, which was taken from an image found on the 1928 obelisk on the site grounds.

The Celebration Station program is a great way to spread the word about special events, and who knows, it might even lead to a visit from a few of these collectors should they happen to find themselves traveling the Texas Independence Trail.

San Felipe de Austin is located in south central Texas, approximately 50 miles west of Houston. The site is part of the Texas Independence Trail Region.

1 comment:

  1. How awesome is that!! Thanks for sharing this information! I'm going to gather my "Austin" stuff and head over to get it stamped!