“Owney” in the RxR mail car, 1887
In the 1880s, during the height of the Railway Mail Service, clerks in the Post Office in Albany, New York, took a liking to a terrier mix named Owney. Fond of riding in postal wagons, Owney followed mailbags onto trains and soon became a good-luck charm to Railway Mail Service employees, who made him their unofficial mascot. Working in the Railway Mail Service was very dangerous. According to the National Postal Museum, more than 80 mail clerks were killed in train wrecks and more than 2,000 were injured between 1890 and 1900. However, it was said that no train ever met with trouble while Owney was aboard.
As Owney traveled the country, clerks attached medals and tags to his collar to document his travels. When John Wanamaker, Postmaster General from 1889 to 1893, heard that Owney was overburdened with tags, he gave him a special harness to display them all. During his travels crisscrossing the country, and two trips around the world, Owney accumulated more than a thousand medals and tags. Today a preserved Owney is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum in a case that includes some of his medals and tags.
“Owney at the Smithsonian”
Art director Phil Jordan worked with veteran stamp artist Bill Bond to create this special symbol of the United States Postal Service.
The Owney the Postal Dog stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.
In Toledo today, the Yaquina Pacific Railroad Historical Society celebrated the issuance of the “Owney” Forever Stamp with a hand cancellation and Owney Look-a-like contest. They also had a good time with McGruff and Police Chief Dave Enyeart. Here’s a quick video on the fun today….
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