Materials from the Postmaster General's Collection

Moon Mail

The Apollo 15 mission was the first to include the Lunar Rover, a wheeled vehicle that greatly expanded the range of lunar exploration. During their three days on the Moon, astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin went on three excursions with the Rover.

Video and Transcript of Apollo 15 Cover Cancellation
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Dave Scott: Got a good picture Joe?

Joe Allen: Good picture, Dave, have at it.

Dave Scott: Okay. To show that our good Postal Service has deliveries any place in the universe, I have the pleasant task of canceling, here on the Moon, the first stamp of a new issue dedicated to commemorate United States achievements in space. And I'm sure a lot of people have seen pictures of the stamp. I have the first one here on an envelope. At the bottom it says, "United States in Space, a decade of achievement," and I'm very proud to have the opportunity here to play postman. I pull out a cancellation device. Cancel this stamp. It says, " August the second, 1971, first day of issue. What could be a better place to cancel this stamp than right here at Hadley Rille. By golly, it even works in a vacuum.

At the end of the third trip, before re-entering the lunar module, Scott took out a cloth pouch. The envelope in the pouch carried two die proofs of the 8¢ 1971 stamps honoring the 10th anniversary of the space program. (One shows the Rover.) The stamps were issued the same day on Earth with a first-day ceremony at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

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Astronaut Dave Scott operates the Lunar Rover in this photograph taken by fellow Apollo 15 crew member Jim Irwin. The Rover had wheels made of wire mesh and titanium, instead of rubber.

Scott canceled the die proofs with a cancellation device and ink pad from the pouch, producing a postmark that reads UNITED STATES / ON THE MOON / AUG. 2 1971 / FIRST DAY OF ISSUE. The postmark was faint enough that he tried again directly below it. Scott also added dusty “thumbprints” with his space suit glove. These are believed to be the smudges on the left side.

Apollo 15 Mail Pouch and Cover

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This cover was canceled on the Moon by astronaut Dave Scott on August 2, 1971, during the Apollo 15 mission. It carries two advance, hand-perforated die proofs of stamps celebrating the U.S. space program. Smudges at bottom left are believed to be “thumbprints” Scott made with moon dust using his space-suit glove.

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This mail pouch and stamp pad went to the Moon and back on the Apollo 15 mission; the cancellation device is a duplicate. The original reportedly was left on the Moon in the section of the lunar lander that remained behind.