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United States/Covers & Postmarks : Postal History: US Highway Post Office

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tuscany4me
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11 Feb 2013
10:17:05am
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Rhinelander
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12 Feb 2013
06:34:43pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Clayton,

This is a great picture. I have seen the oocasional envelope with Highway Post Office markings. Usually commemorating the inception or termination of a HPO route. But I do not believe I have ever seen an actual HPO bus. I was thinking that this is really not "off-topic." In fact it could be a great starter to show some other philatelic stamps, covers, and postmarks related to the US Highway Post Office system. Now, this is an area I know nothing about.

Challenge question one: Can anyone show at least one HPO cover or postmark, so that we know what we are talking about?

Challenge question two: How would one even go about assembling a collection of HPO material? Are there reference books?

Challenge question three: the great price will go to the person who can show a cover that was postmarked in the bus Clayton is showing, i.e., on the Washington, DC - Harrisonburg, Va. HPO route.

If I am the only one enthusiastic about this topic, we can sure leave it in the off-topic section. Otherwise the US postal history section could be a better place ...

Thanks for showing the picture,

Arno

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BobbyBarnhart
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They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Benjamin Franklin
12 Feb 2013
07:39:50pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

I think it is a great topic, but alas, my picnic basket is empty. I would, however, very much like to see if anyone can come up with something.

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
12 Feb 2013
08:27:18pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

I'm pretty sure I can contribute, but not immediately

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
13 Feb 2013
08:50:58am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

First, I took the liberty of moving this from Off-Topic to US postal history, which is where it belongs pending HPOs from other places, which might generate their offshoots.

Here are four covers I pulled from a quick search of my files. They were under RPOs, which is where I looked, but I'll create a new HPO file.

What will be evident immediately is that First Trips dominate, with three of the four examples. I suspect it's because, first, they were created to be saved and, therefore, were; and, second, they are immediately identifiable as a "first" something, whereas the single example that's not a FT is identifiable as an HPO only upon a closer look at the cancel.

So, in chronological order are four HPOs, from Washongton DC - Harrisburg, VA; Jackson - Benton Harbor, MI; Columbus, MS - Flomaton, AL; and one whose route I can only guess.

I have included reverse images of the third and fourth examples; the first two have no postal or other markings.

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David

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
13 Feb 2013
08:53:22am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

The other thing that is apparent immediately is that the three FTs all have Trip 1 or Trip 2 in the CDS; the PC has Trip 10. I believe that trip 1 and 2 account for the to/fr of the first time the bus left the depot, then returned. Trip 10, following that logic, would be the return trip of the fifth ride. This is supposition.

Can't wait to learn more.

Do we need more examples or is this a good start?

David

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Rhinelander
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13 Feb 2013
10:06:01am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Yes. Great start, David. Thanks! And I see you nailed the great price with you first cover ...

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
13 Feb 2013
11:39:49am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

so, yes, first trip on the first bus. Imagine that. And I wouldn't have known except for Clayton's initial posting.

David

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DRYER
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The past is a foreign country, they do things different there.
13 Feb 2013
03:24:36pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

David:

You are drawing nothing but aces. Fly out to Las Vegas
but buy a handful of lottery tickets and a sackful of
kiloware postage stamps before departure.

Where there's a will, there's a relative.

John Derry

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Stampaholic
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14 Feb 2013
05:13:49am

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re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

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I had several others but they were lost in the fire.

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
14 Feb 2013
09:13:57am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

This topic seems to have reach critical mass, so I’ll add a little that I’ve found since Clayton first posted. We have the inaugural date already in Clayton and my posts; the final date was June 30, 1974, meaning the thing lasted more than 3 decades, far longer than its storied counterpart with which it is sometimes romantically linked. The average bus served 25 POs on its route; each bus was configured in a similar way to the Railway Mail Service cars, which it was essentially replacing. All this comes from the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum’s web site, which gives far more information: mation: http://postalmuseumblog.si.edu/highway-post-office/ and http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibits/2c1e_hypobus.html .

Does anyone have a complete list of HPOs?

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Rhinelander
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15 Feb 2013
12:02:49am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

I don't collect HPO covers and do not have a category for them in my cover collection. As I go through new arrivals, I pick out the ones I have categories for, but the majority usually goes into a "to-be-determined / trading"-box. I also instituted a give-away box, and, of course, there also always is a trash can. So, to find some suitable exhibits for this topic, I had to go back to the give away and trading boxes.

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Good thing I gave this one a second look. Because as it stands, we need to reconsider the grand price. Gonna quit my job on Monday ... .

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saleem
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15 Feb 2013
08:35:49am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

What's that !! A tete-beche strip/pair??? Or the stamps are deliberately placed this way on cover? If this is genuine you have the equivalent of the CIA invert

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lisagrant87
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15 Feb 2013
10:25:54am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Beautiful cover! Only because Arno plans to retire do I feel the need to ask...what's the cv?

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BobbyBarnhart
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They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Benjamin Franklin
15 Feb 2013
12:19:48pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Just goes to show, Exacto knives were around in 1941!

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Rhinelander
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15 Feb 2013
12:41:55pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

@ Saleem: Yes it is a genuine strip of three with the middle stamp featuring an inverted center. It could not be any neater. Awesome.

@ Lisa: An item like this has no catalog value. This is hands down capitalism. It will change hands at whatever a buyer is willing to pay. Which is easily in the 100 to 1,000 cent range. In other words: it is a complete fabrication.




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lisagrant87
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It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. - Aristotle Onassis
15 Feb 2013
02:20:38pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

LOL!! I was wondering how an invert got in between two regularly printed stamps. Don't worry, I already said "DUH!!!" to myself!

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51Studebaker
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23 Mar 2019
03:39:54pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

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I am in-process in developing an online catalog of all HPO (Highway Post Office) First Trip and Last Trip covers. Each First/Last Trip is illustrated with a cover scan (front and back), vintage maps which illustrate each route, and other route details. My wife and I will be busy over the next few weeks completing data entry but the underlying code is all in place. Given the total number of routes and trips (about 1,110), we are missing about 40-45 covers, I am interested in buying these covers or at least getting scans of them for inclusion in the catalog. Once the catalog is complete it will be published on Stamp Smarter free of charge. Please see the bottom of this post for 'want list'.

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I find the HPO Highway Post Office (1941-1969) a very interesting part of postal history technology. Growing out of RPO (Railroad Post Office) history, improvements of the national highway system gave the Post Office an opportunity to improve efficiencies for mail stream processes. By processing mail en route and making more of a 'straight line' connection between post offices, HPO mail is a fascinating part of our postal history.

Very First HPO Trip
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My Want List (will buy these covers and/or seeking image for catalog)
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Don

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musicman
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APS #213005
25 Mar 2019
09:37:11pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Don,

I have a small (10) collection of HPO covers that I find fascinating!

None appear on your want list;

however, I am certainly looking forward to seeing your published catalog -

what a great reference tool!

Thanks to you and your wife for your work on this.


Happy


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philb
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26 Mar 2019
09:11:40am

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re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Not sure if a boat qualifies...Ambulantes or travelling post offices are a popular topic with Guatemala collectors.Image Not Found

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
29 Mar 2019
02:12:36pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Very Cool!
I buy these when they fit into my New Jersey cover collection. I'd love to see the entire list, then I can see what I still need.

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FrequentFlyer
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12 Jun 2019
09:24:01am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

I'm not a collector of HPO covers, but have a couple that fit into my other collecting areas. The one below is out of my Iowa-related cover collection. It used to run through my home town of Denison and I remember seeing it unloading and loading mail at the post office.

FF
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FrequentFlyer
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15 Jun 2019
09:21:57am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

As I noted above, I don't collect HPO covers, but I was attracted to the cachet on this one and bought it as I once worked for the Postal Transportation System as a substitute railway mail clerk,
and the cachet designer was apparently from Omaha, a placed where I worked and lived for seven years. It is the second and last of my HPO covers.

Don (FF)

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keesindy
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30 Jun 2019
08:37:51am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Dad had at least 11 of these Trip 1 and Trip 2 (most are First Trip cancels), but none on Don's want list. Four have the all to common staining from the ageing envelope adhesive, but others are OK. I'll have to get them scanned to see if any are of interest to members here.

Tom

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philb
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30 Jun 2019
03:48:44pm

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re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Man this tread dregs up some userids from the dark ages..i found one so far !Image Not Found

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rwillis29
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05 Jul 2019
04:56:43pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

I have three and a Helicopter cover
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FrequentFlyer
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04 Dec 2019
02:17:23pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Last night was stamp club meeting and I cam home with the below cover purchased from a fellow member. I bought it for the Minneapolis and Sioux City HPO cancel and for the curious return address. It looks like the Franciscans of Assumption Seminary were selling stamps, possibly mixtures clipped from correspondence.

According to an internet look-up, the seminary was originally a sanitarium that featured mud baths with curative powers. It was sold to the Marian Order in 1951 and the Franciscans operated it as a seminary until the order sold it in 1970. That's where the trail ends. I was unable to find any information about the operation of the Stamp Counter. Any collectors from Minnesota recognize the seminary and its stamp business?

How do I categorize the cancel? This is not a first-trip cancel, but does it qualify as a non-philatelic cancel? A non-philatelic HPO cancel would carry a small premium, but the Franciscan Stamp Counter connection may brand it as a philatelic favor cancel. Did that HPO stop in Chaska MN, and if so, was a friar from the seminary there to hand the HPO chief clerk a handful of letters and ask for an HPO cancel on them? Possibly. Probably. Obviously.

FF

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ikeyPikey
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04 Dec 2019
06:46:04pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

'
I hit a few tables at NOJEX with Don's HPO want list in hand.

Executive summary: nobody had none, like, period.

One dealer told me that the vast majority of HPO covers were philatelic, and that GPU (Genuinely Postally Used) HPOs were hard to come by.

As your corner includes the magic words "STAMP COUNTER", I would think that you will be hard pressed to convince any informed buyer that this cover is anything but philatelic.

As to whether/not the word "philatelic" should be so devastating an insult ...

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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FrequentFlyer
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05 Dec 2019
09:05:11am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Quote:

"I would think that you will be hard pressed to convince any informed buyer that this cover is anything but philatelic"

.
Hi Ikey:

If I can, I'll go back and change the last word of my post from "Possibly" to "Probably" or maybe even "Obviously."Laughing

Don FF

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51Studebaker
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Dialysis, damned if you do...dead if you don't
05 Dec 2019
09:08:06am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

FrequentFlyer,
In my opinion your HPO cover is considered a commercial cover. Of course without knowing the actual intent of the person mailing it and the ‘stamp counter’ iKey is correct that many would call it philatelic. But there is nothing special about the date, nor is there other indication that it was intentionally sent via HPO. In my opinion what is more important is that the originating Chaska post office was one of the stops for the HPO Route #190, Minneapolis and Sioux City. This route began on 10/26/1959 and was closed on 10/4/1968.

All First Trip HPO covers were philatelic; the Post Office first trip tradition was to open the route with fanfare and also allowed them to make a bit of a ‘test run’. These were not ad hoc or ‘spur of the moment’ arrangements, they were well planned. Often they were replacing existing highly organized railroad routes (by law the PO was only allowed to implement a HPO when a railroad route has been retired).

Railroad mail routes had largely been built upon existing passenger travel routes. Over time and as highway travel became more feasible, railroad passenger travel declined. It was not profitable to maintain a railroads based strictly upon mail handling so as the railroad passenger/mail routes dried up the PO was allowed to implement replacement Highway Post office routes.

Last trip covers were often also philatelic but with less fanfare and publicity. As the PO moved to automated mail handling equipment and centralized sorting facilities, the need to handle the mail enroute became obsolete. Again, this was not a quick decision or implementation so the PO was well prepared for the transition. In fact, many of the last trips had only a very small number of mailed items (less than 10). Much of the last trip mail was from a handful of HPO collectors who carefully watched the ‘last trip’ notices and got covers sent in for processing.

So it is true that much of HPO material found in the marketplace today is philatelic; this is largely because very little of the ‘normal’ HPO mail was saved. It was simply just another mailed item that happened to have a HPO in the CDS postmark.

But one of the reasons I am attracted to First Trip/Last Trip covers is that unlike First Day Covers they are more ‘real’ to me. In other words, a FDC cover might not have been cancelled on the first day, the FDC cover might not have ever even been in the post office on the postmark. But when I hold a HPO cover in my hand, I know that it was on the bus the day shown on the postmark.

The free Stamp Smarter HPO catalog can be found here http://stampsmarter.com/Learning/HPOView.html
Don

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05 Dec 2019
09:15:09am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Don, thanks for your comments, and yours too, iKey.

Don FF

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ikeyPikey
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05 Dec 2019
10:07:53am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

'
If it were my cover, I'd print-out Don's comment, and insert it.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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FrequentFlyer
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05 Dec 2019
04:27:56pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

ikey:

Thanks for the suggestion. I may do that, however, the cancel is not that important to me. The cover is destined for my Stamp Dealer's collection and the cancel is an interesting aside. As you mentioned, knowledgeable collectors would not accept the cancel as a non-philatelic and I have no intention of passing it off as something it is not.

I've been collecting for over 50 years and I have never seen an authentic non-philatelic HPO cancel. It's my impression that HPOs didn't cancel much mail while enroute. I thought that the post offices at which the HPOs stopped would have had regular times of collection from their drop boxes and would have canceled that mail in-house before putting any outgoing mail on the HPO. I may be wrong about that, however.

Don

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51Studebaker
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Dialysis, damned if you do...dead if you don't
05 Dec 2019
05:34:31pm
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

There are always a handful of commercial HPO covers on eBay, for example this listing
https://www.ebay.com/itm/1959-and-1964-HPO-commercial-covers-MN-and-MI-y2843/153729168330

There are also a number of them typically offered during the Mobile Post Office Society regular online auctions.

I have about 25-40 of them out of the 5000+ HPO covers that I currently own; but note that I avoid many of them and often trade them off because I only collect #6 envelopes (no commercial sized envelopes).
Don

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06 Dec 2019
08:56:25am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Don, thank you for the link.

Don

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Bujutsu
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06 Dec 2019
11:15:08am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Hi Everyone

A great thread here. I won't argue the fact that it is most likely philatelic in nature. However, a number of collectors like to list these as "Transportation" covers. I only have a few of these and I included them under that category. Maybe I am wrong in doing so??

Quite interesting

Chimo
Bujutsu

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FrequentFlyer
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07 Dec 2019
08:43:03am
re: Postal History: US Highway Post Office

Quote:

"However, a number of collectors like to list these as "Transportation" covers."



Hi Bujutsu:

I am unfamiliar with the category "Transportation." Is that an intermediate category between philatelic and non-philatelic cancels? Would you elaborate on what kind of cancels might fall under that classification?

Thanks.

Don FF
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