Home Stamps Forum

Dec 7th, 1941 - First Trip of the New Streamlined Empire State Express - Please Comment

"A date which will live in infamy".

This envelope is from my grandfather's stamp collection which I have mostly taken possession of. All comments welcome. I do have a question for the community:

How do you think this was acquired and when? It is addressed to himself and he was a stamp collector. This looks like a commemorative envelope and letter inside. My best guess is that he went to the post office on this day after hearing of the attack, they were selling the commemorative letters/envelopes, so he bought that one and sent it to himself? That envelope and letter had to have been made already, so the date of the Empire Express must just be pure coincidence.

Google tells me that the Pearl Harbor attack started at 7:48 am local time, which would have been 1:48 pm in NYC. Are we to assume that he had heard about this attack, understood its significance, and then got to the post office before it closed? I'm just wondering if he had maybe already planned to acquire this or maybe already did acquire it, and sent it to himself earlier in the day before he knew this would be a significant date? That would seem unlikely, but I have no idea how stamp traders did things back then or even now but it certainly seems reasonable that they would sell commemorative stuff like that right in the post office back then.


  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,228 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The envelope "cover" was created to mark the first trip of that train. Based on the insert the railway would have likely arranged it.

    It was total coincidence that it occurred the same day as Pearl Harbor.

  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The was a time in stamp collecting when "first" covers were actively collected. 1941 is clearly within that period. As JBK notes, it is probably just a coincidence that one is dated Dec. 7, 1941. In many cases collectors would arrange in advance to receive such covers. Sometimes they would even add their name and address to the cover after the fact. The date makes the cover interesting but the full story about its creation is likely to remain a mystery.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • 4for44for4 Posts: 676 ✭✭✭

    First cover. Nice !

    Forum members on ignore
    Erba - coolstanley-dallasactuary-SDsportsfan

  • pruebaspruebas Posts: 4,158 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 25, 2023 9:26PM

    Assuming he didn’t travel on that first run himself, he must have wrote in (in advance) to the RR company including the cost of the cover and stamp, so that the RR company could post his cover in the RPO before departure.

    The description says these were “day trains”, so by 1:48PM, they had probably already departed (or 12:48 from Detroit).

  • ApplejacksApplejacks Posts: 384 ✭✭✭

    Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

Sign In or Register to comment.