While stamp collectors covet the 2017 Eclipse Stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service on June 20, the rare solar eclipse that happens Aug. 21 has also attracted the attention of people who collect a different type of postal memento.
A postmark is the printing — by machine for most mail — that cancels postage on a letter or package so it can’t be reused again.
Several post offices, including two in Baker County, are issuing special eclipse postmarks that will be sought by collectors.
All post offices offer to hand stamp mail with their local round stamp by request. That is what most postmark collectors are after.
The Postal Service has issued a commemorative 2017 eclipse postmark that depicts the celestial event. It shows seven stages of the eclipse and will be used to cancel postage at 29 post offices in Oregon.
The Baker City post office is one of those where postal customers can have a letter hand-stamped and canceled with the commemorative eclipse postmark on the day of the eclipse — Aug. 21 — and up to 30 days afterward.
What is even more valuable to postmark collectors is a postmark that is only available at one post office in Baker County.
Huntington’s post office will offer a unique personalized postmark for the eclipse.
So will two other post offices in towns that, like Huntington, are near the center of the path of totality for the eclipse: Warm Springs in Jefferson County, and Prairie City in Grant County.
The Huntington post office’s special eclipse postmark depicts a horse-drawn covered wagon to commemorate both the eclipse and the city’s Oregon Trail history.
Huntington Postmaster Mary McKinney said she has had special postmarks designed in the past.
“I decided I was going to go ahead and do one for the eclipse,” she said. “I’ve been working on this since last fall.”
McKinney expects an influx of visitors asking to have letters hand-stamped with the unique Huntington postmark, and mailed from that office.
She also anticipates receiving letters from collectors asking to have a letter stamped and mailed back. Those collectors will need to include a self-addressed stamped envelope with their request for the postmark.
See more in the Aug. 4, 2017, issue of the Baker City Herald.