I have been part of two recent Adirondack events where one of the most popular activities was the commemorative pictorial post office cancellation. During the Lake Clear Depot Centennial and Adirondack Kids Day, people were lined up to have a piece of mail with first class postage canceled by means of a special rubber stamp. I’ve always been interested in stamp collecting, but had never heard about this phenomenon.
Special hand-stamped postal cancellations are created about 60 days before a specific event. The original artwork varies and usually honors a specific event such as the Great Camp Sagamore Centennial in 1997.
According to Blue Mountain Lake Postmaster Liz Forsell the possibility of having a “Zip Code meets Date” pictorial cancellation is quite rare. She was able to create two events for her post office, January 28, 2012 and the upcoming December 8, 2012, where the two dates both match Blue Mountain Lake’s zip code of 12812.
“It only comes up every 100 years and for most locations, not at all,” says Forsell. “I’ve been working for the postal service for almost 30 years and I’ve helped create a lot of special cancellations. I think collecting these cancellations is a fun way to preserve an event.”
Forsell leafs through her own book of commemorative cancellations and remembers such events as the Raquette Lake mail boat turning 50, Smokey the Bear turning 100 or the St. William on Long Point’s Centennial.
“We’ve done commemorative cancellations for National Missing Children’s Day to help raise awareness and even did one during the Adirondack Park’s Centennial,” says Forsell. “The Park Centennial was unique. All the communities were part of that one. The cancellation read, ’1882-1982: Adirondack Park Centennial, a place for people and natural wonder.’ It is a simple hobby to start. People are even bringing in their cards to be posted for Saturday.”
On Saturday, December 8, Forsell will be open for business at the Blue Mountain Lake Post Office for the “Zip Code Meets Date” cancellation. Bring a piece of mail with first class postage and she will hand stamp it with the special rubber stamp with an image of Mr. Zip, the United States Postal Service’s cartoon logo from the 60s. Mr Zip was used to encourage people to use their zip code. Enjoy!