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Submarines

Collecting Submarine Covers – Page 1 of 4
by Ned Harris (USCS # 3608)

The U.S. Navy’s submarine force began with the 11 April 1900 sale of John P. Holland’s internal combustion, gasoline powered submarine, Holland VI, to the U.S. Navy for $160,000. The U.S.S. Holland, under command of Lieutenant Harry H. Caldwell, was placed in commission on 12 October 1900. Covers from these early submarines are hard to locate but picture post cards such as the one shown below are relatively easy to acquire.

Picture post card showing U.S.S. Holland (SS-1)

 

 After Holland, the next seven submarines were characterized as A-boats. From 1903 to the early 1930s, the classes were designated alphabetically as A, B, C, D, E etc. Germany’s success with its U-boats in World War I resulted in the expedited development of the O and R class boats. This fiscal spurt ultimately lead to the S class submarines which became the mainstay force until the 1930s. Covers from the S class boats are relatively easy to acquire.

Penalty cover from S-31

 

Starting about 1930, naval cover collectors began to apply decorative or event cachets to their covers and the practice quickly grew in popularity. Three key events for a new submarine are the Keel Laying, Launch and First Day in Commission. Collecting covers documenting these 3 events for each of the U.S. Navy submarines is very popular with collectors. Several cachet artists specialized in submarine covers and produced some exceptionally striking cachets.

Alex R. Hesse, of Brooklyn, New York, sponsored cachets over a 17-year period. For each of the Electric Boat events printed by Hesse, 100 were thermographed and then hand colored by he and his wife for VIPs and fellow members of the American Naval Cancellation Society (ANCS) Argonauts. He also printed covers for other naval cover sponsors including 185 different cachets for the ANCS Argonauts. The ANCS Argonauts covers are very popular and several collectors specialize in these covers.

Alex R. Hesse, of Brooklyn, New York, sponsored cachets over a 17-year period. For each of the Electric Boat events printed by Hesse, 100 were thermographed and then hand colored by he and his wife for VIPs and fellow members of the American Naval Cancellation Society (ANCS) Argonauts. He also printed covers for other naval cover sponsors including 185 different cachets for the ANCS Argonauts. The ANCS Argonauts covers are very popular and several collectors specialize in these covers.

 

Alex Hesse cover documenting the FDC of U.S.S. Spearfish (SS-190)

 
Gow C. Ng, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, sponsored, serviced and drew cachets for a wide range of submarine events. Most of Ng’s cachets were hand drawn with colored inks and watercolors with the ship silhouette and/or namesake featured in the cachet. Ng frequently produced more than one design for an event. His covers are very striking and are quite popular with collectors. The USCS Cachet Makers Catalog contains a nearly complete checklist of Gow Ng cachets and is a valuable resource for naval cover collectors.
 

Gow Ng cover documenting the FDC of U.S.S. Sailfish (SS-192)

 

 continue to page 2, page 3, page 4

 

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USS Jupiter (AC-3)

Cover by
Steve Shay (#L-10,821)

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