W. Beck FAQ
Revised February 24,
Q-What is a
Beck CREW Cover?
CREW cover is defined as a Beck printed cover without the B number.
printing log shows how many covers were printed for each cachet and he noted
that 25 additional
envelopes were sent to the Navy for their use.
example of a Beck CREW cover below. Note that there is no B number.
The 25 envelopes Beck sent did not have, postage stamps,
addresses or the "B" number printed on the cover.
The 25 covers were a
gift from Mr. Beck to the Navy for handling the batch of
collector's covers Beck sent to the Navy's coordinator for cancellation.
Beck intended the covers to go to the Senior CREW or VIPs, but Beck really
didn't have control on how the covers were distributed. This is why it is called a CREW cover.
Q-Some Beck CREW covers have a rubber stamped address. Does this mean
that some collectors sent his own envelopes to Beck and requested CREW
A-Traditionally, we have thought that CREW covers were Beck printed covers
without the B number with envelopes supplied by Beck. (no stamp and
Now we have
evidence and believe that Beck had relationships with various collectors in
the USA and Europe that he prepared special requests for including printing
space cachets without the B number. Here is an example:
rubber stamp address on the cover shown below. The address had to be
applied by the collector. Then Beck printed the CREW cachet, probably by
the Navy did Beck send the covers for postmarking?
of the two Task Forces, (Atlantic and Pacific), the US Navy had coordinator
personnel. See the separate newspaper article naming Chief Skelley. Beck
did not send his batch of covers for each ship directly to the ship. He
sent them to the coordinator.
For most flights, the
US Navy assigned a Task Force coordinator for each ocean (TF130 or TF140).
See the articles below for an example of how the US Navy handled the covers
from collectors and dealers. Chief Skelley was very active in
collecting covers and probably accommodated many special requests from
Click on the images to make them larger
from Beck's correspondence that he sent the printed/cacheted envelopes in a
batch or group of covers for as many recovery ships that he understood there
would be. We believe that any special requests from collectors including
the special requests from Europe were in a batch and marked as such. The
coordinator hopefully would send the batch to the designated ship.
the so-called VIP Label?
coordinator sometimes (or perhaps the ship staff)
sent the CREW or printed "B" covers to select VIPs that were "centers of influence" for the Navy or Space
examples of Beck covers with the VIP label (applied by the
coordinator or Navy). Beck did not apply the VIP labels.
members provide a similar service to collectors as Morris Beck did, parallel
to Beck or more probably working together with Beck, in the same way as in
regard of the regular covers?
think so. We've never seen reference to this in advertising or
correspondence. Other cachet makers such as Robert Ekas printed their own cachets.
Q-How can there be a CREW cover with a rubber stamp
A- (Answered by Andre Gutmann)
1967 USCS Log Advertising explains that collectors should send Beck the
franked covers with the return address on the covers. There would be no
other way for a cover to be addressed with a rubber stamp without
being supplied by a collector. Beck would take these covers (envelopes) and
print the cachets on them, either regular cachet with number or CREW cachet
case below where the address is a rubber stamp of W R Skelley, the answer is
simply because Skelley was the Navy's coordinator of the space covers.
He simply used the CREW covers he received from Beck.
Q-How many CREW covers exist for each space flight?
A-We don't know for sure. The only reference to this is
Beck printing log that states that 25 CREW covers were sent to the Navy for
EACH batch and/or BXXX number.
We don't know if the several special request for CREW
covers was in addition to the 25 or included in it.
Are the printings without B-number happened by accident?
don't think so.
ask Mr. Beck these questions?
did. In 2005, we had extensive correspondence with Mr. Beck to ask him many
Unfortunately, due to his age, he couldn't remember many details
from that long ago..
basically, we have tried to piece together what information we learned over
Mr. Beck passed away in 2011 at 85 years old.
Early in the Gemini program, Beck gave up trying to find out the exact
of all the ships on a recovery mission.
The Navy couldn't tell him the
names until it was too late to print and mail his covers. His
cachet printing log
says GT-3 or Apollo 8 Pacific, etc.
So he created, for example, 4 different numbered covers for the Pacific
Fleet and 3 for the Atlantic Fleet, (this is an example only). For each numbered cover he
printed and sent to the Navy, he included about 25 CREW covers (without
stamps and without address). The Navy coordinator then took the covers and distributed
them to the ships or VIPs. The distribution method was different from
flight to flight. There didn't
seem to be a consistent method for
the distribution and that is why we see several ships with the same Beck
We have no idea what happened to all the CREW covers Beck sent. Sometimes
they were sent to the secondary ships and perhaps (guessing only) they were
all sent to the prime recovery ship.
Below are two examples of Beck Ozark covers.
You can identify Beck CREW covers because Beck CREW
covers have the printed cachet but no B number to identify
the number in the series of 1000.
The USS Boston CREW cover for the GT-3 (see below) was a real interesting find because
the ship wasn't listed
as an official secondary recovery ship. So somehow, someone
had the cover and had it postmarked.
Another explanation is that Beck may
have given some blank CREW covers to various collectors upon request.
asked him this question but it was too long ago for him to remember the details.