Collecting of Oceanographic Covers 

 with information about the Titanic Expedition

This is a part of the overall area of cover collecting which can be viewed as being very specialized -the oceanographic specialty.  Probably my favorite oceano "cover" is one which has been autographed by Dr. Robert Ballard of Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institution

The documented envelope was also signed by the captain and other crew of the recovery vessel, the R/V Knorr. The cover was actually onboard the Knorr, a  surface vessel used in the 1985 discovery operations of the Titanic expedition in the North Atlantic.  The scientist and crew added the handwritten remarks and markings from the Knorr and then mailed it back to the addressee.  I think this is the penultimate oceanographic cover!!

(Dr. Ballard will be known to many of you as the scientist who did the closing blurbs on the TV show "seaQuest DSV".)  It was probably one of my all time favorite TV shows and I loved the whole concept.  Dr. Ballard supposedly caught some flak from some stuffy scientists for having that connection, claiming that to be a spokesman or host of the show cheapened science to a low level--but I for one, applaud his connection to that show. If it resulted in some kid becoming an oceanographer and following in his footsteps, it would be well worth it. We're pretty much landlocked in Missouri if you don't count the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and a few sundry lakes, and I think it would be great to see a youngster head toward Wood's Hole or Scripp's!

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ballard briefly, a few years ago, when he appeared in Springfield, Missouri, at a benefit for Springfield's Discovery Center. In talking to him after his speech, I found that he remembered Irene Fager and all the One Half Fathom folks who sent covers to the Alvin.  He remembered signing many DSV ALVIN covers over the years, and I even had a couple of ALVIN covers with me that he had signed years ago, and when I showed them to him, he even remembered details of those particular dives!

[FYI: One Half Fathom was the name of an oceanographic-related newsletter that was published for collectors and those who worked in the oceanographic and submersible field, from the 1960's to mid-1990's by the late Mrs. Dan Fager (Irene) and the late Charles Simpson; the publication is no longer in existence, sad to say. A humorous sidebar to OHF was that there was a hidden meaning to the title of her newsletter; while she and many of us collected covers from submersibles which went as deeply as 20,000 feet (or more in case of the Bathyscaphe Trieste) her own personal depth capacity, she humorously revealed in one issue of the newsletter -- was One Half Fathom-- i.e. three feet, and hence the clever name!]


Dr. Ballard is a delightful speaker and an obvious friend of children. During the question and answer session, one young boy asked Dr. Ballard (at that time still a Lt. Commander in the US Naval Reserve) how deeply modern submarines could submerge (which is a closely guarded naval secret), and Ballard wryly replied, "Well, I could tell you, but then I'd have to shoot you...!", much to the boy's wide-eyed delight.

Dr. Ballard is a great encourager and he obviously has a heart for getting children interested and involved in oceanography. This hobby of collecting oceanographic covers can be a great introduction, tying in to oceanography and can serve to pique the interest of children and teenagers in all the sciences.

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WEBMASTER NOTE: The phrase, title or moniker of "One Half Fathom" and the acronym "OHF" are presumed to still be under copyright ownership of the estate of the late Irene Fager of Lutz, Florida.  Her estate/heirs would reserve all rights to these titles or further use of these titles in any usage.  Information is provided herein for historical and research purposes only, and for the philatelic history of what was/is involved in the specialized area of oceanographic cover collecting; no infringement is intended. page last updated 7 Nov 2010  1611Z

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