The RCS Dexter and philately

I recently obtained a cover to the RCS Dexter. Big deal, right. But to me it is.

The RCS Dexter was part of the Revenue Cutter Service, established in 1790 by Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton. In 1915, the RCS and the Lifesaving Service would merge to form the modern-day Coast Guard.

RCS Dexter
The cover is addressed to Mr. Henri de Fries aboard the Dexter and postmarked in 1888.

The Dexter, this Dexter, was the second revenue cutter to bear the name. The first Dexter served from 1830 to 1941 and was named after the 3rd Treasury Secretary, Samuel Dexter. The later Coast Guard named two of its cutters Dexter as well.

RCS Dexter facts

This particular Dexter received its commission in 1874. She was 143 feet long and boasted a crew of 7 officers and 33 enlisted. Propulsion was a single-screw steam engine and schooner-rigged sails. She carried two guns.

The RCS Dexter was based out of Newport, R.I.

A bit of history

She earned national acclaim for her participation in the rescue of survivors of the S.S. Columbus, a passenger ship. Efforts of rescuers saved 29 crew and passengers, but 103 people perished in the incident.

The ship served during the Spanish-American War, patrolling off Rhode Island and seeing no action. The ship briefly served in Puerto Rico for about a year in 1904-1905.

A photo of The Dexter. This Public Domain photo was taken sometime between 1874 and 1908, most likely 1874.

She collided with a barge in 1906, disabling the engines. In 1908, the RCS Dexter decommissioned and sold to Aiken Towing, based in Pensacola, Fla. The new owners renamed her the Leroy. In November, 1926, she sank off Pensacola.

Rarely do I run across philatelic artifacts of the Revenue Cutter Service for sale. While not very expensive, this purchase delights me.

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