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Mercury Rising

The Stamp Collecting Report, I'm Lloyd de Vries.

Forty-six years ago, the Post Office printed and distributed a space stamp in secret...and 
then held its breath.

"It was a surprise issue when John Glenn splashed down at 3:30 in the afternoon."
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Not all post offices were in on the secret. 

"It was placed on sale in 305 cities. I have all but 24."
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Henry Scheuer collects first day covers of that issue. A first day cover is an envelope or 
card with a stamp postmarked on the FIRST DAY the stamp went on sale. 

A limited quantity of Project Mercury stamps had been distributed to post offices three 
months earlier, in locked pouches. Every time Glenn was scheduled for a flight, postal 
officials went on stand-by, waiting for word to unlock the secret.

The stamp only went on sale after the successful completion of the space flight, the first 
time an American had orbited the earth. That left only a few hours for postal customers to 
buy the stamps and place them on envelopes.

Covers from some cities have never been found. Scheuer, a Wall Street broker, hunts for 
them at stamp shows, through magazine articles, and online. 

"I found one coincidentally on the Internet, and it was the first one recorded from Little 
Rock, Arkansas."
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It's addressed to a former mayor of Little Rock, sent by his brother.

I'm Lloyd de Vries of The Virtual Stamp Club. For more on stamps and stamp collecting, 
visit virtual-stamp-club-dot-com.

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