This postmark neophyte learned something

By Sharon Lakey, Director of the Danville Vermont Historical Society

Sharon Lakey, Lindi Pronto and Don Gallagher finishing up postmarking for Thaddeus Stevens

Sharon Lakey, Lindi Pronto and Don Gallagher finishing up postmarking for Thaddeus Stevens

Okay, I admit it; I am a postmark neophyte. When I received an email lately from Ross Hetrick, the president of the Thaddeus Stevens Society, sharing with me that someone was coming to Danville for a postmark cancellation honoring the 224th birthday of Thaddeus Stevens, I was more than a bit foggy about the whole thing. He also suggested I might want to have some items canceled at the event. Having never been a stamp or postmark collector, I had no idea what I should have canceled. Thank goodness for Google.

The idea of a special cancellation was generated by the postmaster in Danville, Lindi Pronto, who was familiar with the process as she had completed one nearly 20 years ago. She had spoken with Don Gallagher at the 2015 renaming of the Danville Post Office to the Thaddeus Stevens Post Office. Don has been on a mission for the last few years to have an actual postage stamp printed by the United States Postal Service in honor of Stevens.

For those readers who may not know, Thaddeus Stevens was born in Danville, educated in Peacham, graduated from Dartmouth and went on to become a brilliant lawyer in Pennsylvania where he became an ardent abolitionist and Congressman. He is recognized as the father of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Definitely, Stevens is a worthy subject for a postage stamp. However, it is no easy task to convince the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee of this.

As Gallagher explains it, the process of getting an actual stamp made is a long one. It requires many steps and proof of the viability of the subject. As millions of stamps will be printed, the question is, will customers really buy the stamp? There must be broad support for the individual.

To that end, Gallagher is attempting to spread the word and actually get people–yes, you reader–to do something. He would like you to write to the Stamp Committee telling them you support the effort and give your personal feelings about how important your civil rights are to you in a democracy.

Here, dear reader, is the address, and we hope you will consider sending a personal note. Your signature and date are required.

Thaddeus Stevens Stamp
Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee
c/o Stamp Development
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza S.W., Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260-3501

The postmark cancellation used in Danville on April 4, 2016. In this case, it was used on a postcard created for the event. These are available at the Danville Historical Society.

The postmark cancellation used in Danville on April 4, 2016. In this case, it was used on a postcard created for the event. These are available at the Danville Historical Society.

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