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Patriotic souvenir certificate -- incorporating a map of the Marshall Islands -- commemorating the second ("Baker Day") atomic bomb test at the Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands on July 25, 1946 as part of the U.S. Navy's Operations Crossroads. The upper half of the certificate shows a plane above a map of the islands and a fleet of battleships. The certificate is likely a Naval philatelic collectible; below the map is an applied postage stamp sized photograph of the blast (which from the back can be seen to be covering the date “1946-7”). The bottom portion of the map has a picture of a ship, stamped in red above it, "U.S.S. Benevolence (AH-13)." An embossed gold foil seal applied in the lower right corner bears the name of the Benevolence. The design is enclosed by an elaborate border incorporating American flags and other patriotic emblems, atomic symbols, sea horses, and voluptuous mermaids holding aloft globes. It is printed in red, blue and green on the type of thin "onion skin" paper then used for airmail letters.
Originally the hobby of naval philately involved collecting letters with postmarks from the post offices on board navy ships. According to the Universal Ship Cancellation Society, "By the 1930s, collectors began sending their own envelopes, or 'covers,' to ships for examples of these postmarks. Many have been decorated with designs called cachets, some of which are true works of art." This certificate is apparently related to these philatelic covers inasmuch as it was printed by W.G. Crosby, one of the leading producers of Naval philatelic covers. This connection is further supported by the inclusion of an applied postage-stamp form photograph to the certificate. Perhaps the certificate was produced, rather than an envelope, since there was no U.S. postage stamp issued for this event.
Walter Garfield "Bones" Crosby (1881-1947) was an early producer of naval philatelic covers, cachets and collectibles, influential in marketing and popularizing the hobby. Crosby served in the U.S. Navy from 1898 to 1925, retiring as a Chief Gunner's Mate. In 1931, he opened a stamp, coin and curio shop in San Pedro, California, headquarters of the Pacific fleet, specializing in naval philately. He produced flight and airmail covers and first day covers from 1929 until his death in 1947. His signature style incorporated thermographic print with raised lettering, often adding a small applied photograph within the design. Many of his designs had patriotic themes and he was recognized as a registered cachet director for naval and special events by the Cachet Director's Council. In 1949, William Gmahle purchased the rights to produce Crosby type covers, which he did until 1957. Crosby was recognized posthumously with his induction into the Universal Ship Cancellation Society's Hall of Fame in 1996.
Full text and publication information: Atomic Bomb Test, Bikini Atoll -- Marshall Islands, Operation Crossroads. On Board The Good Ship U.S.S. Benevolence (AH-13), USN. © 1946. Ray Wallace. "The Original Crosby" Photo Certificate and Envelope Mfgr. W.G. Crosby, C.G.M., U.S.N., Rtd., San Pedro, Calif.
Gold seal text: Department of the Navy, U.S.S. Benevolence.
Shay, Steve. "Member of the Month Article: Walter G. Crosby (USCS #69)." Universal Ship Cancellation Society. 29 August 2011. http://www.uscs.org/site%20archive/memofmonth/walter_crosby.htm (31 August 2011).
"What is a Navy Cover?" Universal Ship Cancellation Society. 29 August 2011. http://www.uscs.org/ (31 August 2011).