The Golden Stamp Club
Thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, we can again be entertained by the greatest maritime disaster in human history. Their acting and Dion’s singing will be on the screen again as we near the centennial of the sinking of RMS Titanic April 14, 1912. The 1997 movie has been rereleased especially for the anniversary.
Canada Post couldn’t be left out of the “celebration,” so there will be five stamps to commemorate the Titanic. Two “permanent rate” stamps will show the forward bow of the ship and highlight Halifax, from where rescue vessels departed, and where 150 of the lost are buried.
Also highlighted is Southhampton, England, from where the ship sailed on April 10, 1912. Almost five days later, just before midnight April 14, about 95 miles south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, she struck an iceberg; and, in spite of her 16 supposedly impenetrable watertight compartments, she took on water, ripped in two and sank. Five compartments were punctured, one more than was considered likely in any accident. The ship sank in less than three hours. About 1513 lost their lives including the American millionaires John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, and Isidore Straus.
Although there is no factual information to support the claim, one grave in Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax has come to represent the character portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the blockbuster movie. J. Dawson was interred May 8, 1912. Even today, people who’ve seen the movie leave flowers and mementos for “Jack” at grave #227.
Some think his real name was Joseph but he used only “J” to hide his Irish Roman Catholic roots. Much like the character in the movie, he came from poor roots. He worked as a coal trimmer who funneled coal to the stokers in the engine room, and leveled the coal piles to maintain balance in the ship. As he left the ship, he made sure his union card was in his pocket so his body could be identified.
An investigation revealed that the ship was travelling too fast in dangerous waters, it only had lifeboats for three-fourths of the 2220 passengers, and a ship close to the scene, the Californian, did not respond to the distress call because the radio operator was off-duty and asleep. The Carpathia intercepted lifeboats and carried over 700 survivors to New York City.
Obviously, the outcome of the tragedy was several new regulations: ships must carry enough lifeboats for all on board, there must be a full-time radio watch while at sea, and an international ice patrol was established. If you visit Halifax, a tour of the water-front Maritime Museum RMS Titanic exhibit is well worth the time.
Some of the artifacts are from efforts to retrieve the sunken ship and its treasures, begun in the 1980s. It appears a decision has been made by most involved to leave the great ship in peace at the bottom of the Atlantic out of respect for those who lost their lives in her untimely demise.
Canada Post will also issue a second pair of stamps showing the propellers of the ship. They are black and white with the red White Star Line flag below. All four stamps will be issued together in a souvenir sheet. A $1.80, extra-long, international-rate stamp will also be printed. It shows a side view of the luxury liner, as well as Cape Race, Newfoundland, the only land-based location that received the distress call.
All the stamps will be available at Golden’s Post Bureau April 5, so if you’d like a centennial souvenir, check with our Posties.
The Golden Stamp Club will share chit-chat and gossip on this and other philatelic matters at our next meeting 3:00pm, Sunday, March 25 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 909 South Ninth St. in Golden. Everyone is welcome to come by, share their excitement for stamps, brag on their collections, trade, sell, swap or just tell tales. This month we will also share a DVD about “Eccentric Stamps”: glow in the dark stamps, embroidered stamps, stamps printed on wood or soccer ball leather, lenticular printed stamps and scratch-and-sniff items. If you have questions, contact Ron at 250-344-5939, or firstname.lastname@example.org.