FDCs of the Special Delivery Stamp of 1922

Return to Website Intro

Special Delivery Service

The U.S. Special Delivery Service was started on October 1, 1885. This was the result of a proposal that a special (delivery) 10-cent stamp be provided, which when affixed to a first class letter in addition to the ordinary postage, should cause the receiving post office of the addressee to provide immediate delivery of the letter. Policies and procedures were put into operation and the new service became an instant success. Within a year, the service had been extended to all domestic post offices and to all classes of mail, regardless of weight and distance. The special delivery postage requirement was modified on July 1, 1907 when it became permissible to use 10 cents of ordinary stamps in place of the special delivery stamp. This required that the phase “Special Delivery” be predominately displayed on the mailable item. No significant changes would be made in special delivery regulations until 1923.

W. Irving Glover

The victory of Warren G. Harding in the 1920 U.S. presidential election ushered in a new Republican administration. Among the top appointees in the Post Office Department was the new third assistant postmaster general, W. Irving Glover. His duties would include the responsibility for postage stamps. Glover became an advocate for the country’s stamp collectors. He recognized that if the Post Office Department catered to collectors, both entities would benefit from the relationship. His policies of the next twelve years would have a tremendous impact upon stamp collecting.One of Glover’s early policies was his change of the design of all existing postage stamps. The first stamp to receive this attention was the current special delivery stamp whose bicycle messenger design had been in use since 1902. The new design would show a motorcycle messenger to reflect the fact that the post office was mechanizing.


Bureau of Engraving & Printing Drawing

Events Leading to First Day

A die proof for the new design was approved on June 20, 1922 by Postmaster General Hubert Work. Printing plates 13916, 13917, 13918, and 13920 were started and finished and went to press on Friday, July 7. Glover was planning that stamps would be available for sale on Wednesday, July 12.A number of publicity activities were made to promote the new stamp. These would be consistently repeated for other new issues. Although some commemorative stamps had been issued on specific dates in the past, it had not been common practice to notify collectors of new issue dates. Glover initiated the practice of press releases announcing the planned release of a new stamp on a specific day and at a specified site. This would be true not only for commemorative stamps, but ordinary and special service stamps as well. Glover’s July 8 Washington press release to major newspapers stated that “sale of the new stamp to collectors will begin at the Philatelic Stamp Agency here Wednesday (July 12) and to the public at the city post office on the same day.”

First Day Activities

Glover arranged to have his boss, Postmaster General Hubert Work, take part in the First Day publicity. Work was photographed as the first person in line at the window of the Philatelic Stamp Agency when it opened up for business at 11:00 am. The Washington papers printed this photograph showing Work buying the first stamp from Mr. H. A. Mount, the agent. It was said that he would present that copy to President Harding. The philatelic press would also say that the second copy was purchased by Glover who “presented it to Mrs. Glover, an enthusiastic stamp Collector.”Glover and Michael Eidsness, Jr., Glover’s Superintendent of the Division of Stamps, had met with Louis A. Hill, the Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, earlier in the week to watch the new stamps being produced at the BEP. Wanting to make the first printing something special, Glover had the three of them sign their names on the selvage of the first 24 panes of the new stamp. These panes were also put on sale at the Agency. While not new, this practice would become common practice during the 1920s. The official new stamp release announcement for postmasters was released that day as well. It mentioned that the new stamp would not be issued to them until the supply of the bicycle special delivery stamp was exhausted. Future official announcements for postmasters would be released the same day as the public press releases.

The First Day Covers

The following is a tabulation of the covers and their servicers found in an ongoing 50 year old survey of the FDCs of the Special Delivery Stamp of 1922. Note the small number of servicers.

Washington, DC (July 12, 1922)
85 Covers
Last updates:
9/22/19 (Porter FDC addressed to Porter)
11/25/11 (Beck FDC addressed to Wendell)
5/9/11 (Siebold FDC addressed to Siebold)
2/11/11 (Hammelman FDC addressed to Siebold)
11/9/10 (Hammelman FDC addressed to Sherer)
3/30/10 (Siebold FDC addressed to Seaver)

Click on images for illustrations and text

Time Addressee City Mail Mode Servicer
10:00 am
image Edward C. Worden (51) Millburn, NJ Spec. Delivery Worden
image Unaddressed (3) Spec. Delivery Worden
image Miss M. R. Cornish (2) Washington, DC Spec. Delivery Worden
image E. C. Worthem Rahway, NJ Spec. Delivery Worden
11:00 am
image Edward C. Worden Milburn, NJ Spec. Delivery Eidsness
12:00 pm
image Mr. W.O. Siebold Washington, DC Spec. Delivery Siebold
image H. Wright Washington, DC Spec. Delivery Siebold
image Mr. Wm. E. Seaver Washington, DC Spec. Delivery Siebold
image Mr. Jack B. Allen Washington, DC Spec. Delivery Helff
4:00 pm
image Howard C. Beck (5) Baltimore, MD Spec. Delivery Beck
image R. E. Smith Detroit, MI Spec. Delivery Beck
image William N. Swan Detroit, MI Spec. Delivery Beck
image Mr. Fred R. Schmalzriedt Detroit, MI Spec. Delivery Beck
image Harmon Wendell Detroit, MI Spec. Delivery Beck
image D. L. Ballentine Detroit, MI Spec. Delivery Beck
4:30 pm
image Mr. H. W. Porter (4) Washington, DC Spec. Delivery Porter
image Mr. J. B. Jackson Washington, DC Spec. Delivery Porter
5:30 pm
image Philip H. Ward Philadelphia, PA Registered Ward
6:30 pm
image Mr. William O. Siebold (4) Washington, DC Spec. Delivery Hammelman
image Mr. John Streich (2) Washington, DC Spec. Delivery Hammelman
image Mr. E. E. Sherer (2) Washington, DC Spec. Delivery Hammelman
image Mr. Riley Hastings Cherrydale, VA Spec. Delivery Hammelman

Additional Related Topics

image Desirability of covers
image W. Irving Glover
image Glover’s concern for FDC collectors
image The motorcycle
image Approved die proof
image Press release for new stamp
image Official post office announcement
image PMG Hubert Work
image Signed pane of new stamp
image New Special Delivery book

The FDCs of the 11-cent Hayes Stamp of 1922

The Honorable and Mrs. W. Irving Glover (With FDC photos)

Jerry A. Katz