Found Item – USPS Submarine Stamps Part 1

Coin collectors don’t just collect coins. Some are also interested in stamps, medals, sports cards, historical photographs or a variety of these and other things not mentioned. As a result, it’s always fun to see what other collectibles can be found in a purchased coin collection.

In this case, the collector tucked away his treasure of a collectible stamp booklet from the US Postal Service commemorating 100 years of submarine service. The booklet is several pages, and we’re going to show the booklet over several different posts.

Today’s post includes the front cover and the first four pages:

US Postal Service Submarine Stamp Booklet front cover

The booklet is titled “U.S. Navy Submarines – A Century of Service to America.”

US Postal Service Submarine Stamp Booklet introduction


The first submarine in the U.S. Navy was named after her inventor, John Philip Holland, and accepted for service April 11, 1900. Our second submarine inventor was Simon Lake, a contemporary of Holland. In 1983 submarine number 709 was named after Hyman G. Rickover, who led the development of the nuclear-powered submarine. Our early submarines served in World War I, but World War II showed the tremendous combat potential of our big diesel-powered fleet boats. During World War II our Submarine Force, 1.6 percent of our Navy, sank a third of Japan’s navy and nearly two-thirds of her merchant marine. These losses effectively eliminated Japan’s ability to continue the war. Following WWII our nuclear-powered submarines served as a strategic challenge to the Soviet Union, and they are still our best deterrent to nuclear warfare. The end of the Cold War ushered in a new era for our Submarine Force. Increasingly sophisticated in design, submarines are today one of the most vital components of our Navy.

Edward L. Beach, Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Commanding, USS Triton, 1959-1962

Cover photo: USS Seawolf

US Postal Service Submarine Stamp Booklet first submarine USS Holland

USS Holland: First U.S. Navy Submarine

As a ship she was no sweetheart – short, slow, and awkward-looking. But the 54-foot Holland fulfilled an ancient dream: a vessel that could swim underwater like a fish. USS Holland was our first practical submarine. Her inventor, Irish-born John P. Holland, designed her as a warship, driven by an internal combustion engine on the surface, switching to a battery-powered electric motor as she opened ballast tanks to take on water and dive. Holland equipped her with a bow torpedo tube and two pneumatic guns.

Holland’s final trial run impressed the U.S. Navy. Officials saw her submerge in twelve seconds, then run a straight course, holding her depth, for ten minutes at a respectable six knots. She reversed course as required, returned toward the starting point, and surfaced. The Navy purchased Holland on April 11, 1900. So was born our elite submarine service.

Photo caption: USS Holland was the Navy’s first submarine. With a crew of six plus the skipper, she served from 1900 to 1910.

US Postal Service Submarine Stamp Booklet early submarines Turtle and H.L. Hunley

Early Underwater Warfare

Early in our Revolution a Connecticut Yankee, David Bushnell, build a barrel-like vessel, aptly named Turtle. Her operator, controlling her with cranks and pedals, was to bob along like a bit of flotsam, submerge near a British ship, screw a mine against the hull, and crank madly away. Although efforts to attach the mine failed, Turtle took her place in history as the first combat submarine.

Some 25 years later Robert Fulton came up with Nautilus, a hand-cranked, four-man submarine that could sail on the surface, then fold her mast and submerge. Fulton showed her off in France, then at war with Britain. Nautilus interested Napoleon, but no sale. Fulton took his plan to Britain, but some admirals were horrified by the very idea. Again, no sale.

H.L. Hunley, built by the Confederacy during the Civil War, was the first submarine to sink an operational warship. Fashioned from a boiler and hand-cranked by eight men, she sank USS Housatonic in a surface attack. But for unknown reasons Hunley sank, too, on her way back to Charleston. Recently discovered, Hunley will be carefully salvaged.

Photo captions:  Lower left: Bushnell’s Turtle  Upper right: H.L. Hunley was the first submarine in history to sink an operational warship. In 1864 she sent USS Housatonic to the bottom.

US Postal Service Submarine Stamp Booklet U-boat sinks RMS Lusitania

Caption reads, “Nearly 1,200 people died – including more than 120 Americans – when a German U-boat torpedoed RMS Lusitania off the southern coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915.”

Like the US Mint and coins, the US Postal Service remembers history with their stamps.

Over the next few days, we will show the remaining pages of the stamp booklet including the stamps, which are near the end. In total, the booklet included two of five different submarine stamps ranging from $0.22 to $3.20 with a total face value of $9.80.

Not round and shiny like coins, but stamps – and their history – can be intriguing too!

Check out our coins and history with Days of Our Coins.