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Television and Philately: Star Trek

Author: Emil Drkusic
Date: 03/12/2020

“Space, the final frontier….”. This article, as well as upcoming ones, will beam us up into the Star Trek universe. We’ll meet Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi, Cardassians, Humans, and Borg.

A Star Trek franchise is probably the most important SF franchise of all times (maybe Star Wars fans wouldn’t agree on this statement). In this article, we’ll cover some general facts regardless of single series or movies, while in upcoming articles we’ll focus more on single series and some other details.

1966

1966 is the year when it all started. Gene Roddenberry is the father of the whole franchise. The first television series was called simply Star Trek and was filmed from 1966 to 1969. This series had and still has an enormous impact on SF in general and who knows what kind of SF stuff we would watch today if it hadn’t existed!? I would bet that, without it, we would watch less quality series and movies today.

Back to 1966. USS Enterprise, commanded by Capitan James T. Kirk (William Shatner) went where nobody went before. Some notable members of his crew were Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (James Doohan) - yup the one "Beam me up, Scotty",  Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Hikaru Sulu (George Takei) and Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig). As you can expect, they went where nobody went before and thus had some adventures nobody had before. We’ll go more detailed into that in the article devoted to the original series.

1960s Celebrate the Century

Celebrate the Century, 1960s - The Rebellious Sixties and Man on the Moon

USA – 1999/09/17

1 of 10 stamp sheets issued by USPS depicting most important motifs of each decade

Motifs:
1st row: Martin Luther King, Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Moon landing, Green Bay Packers, Star Trek

2nd row: Peace Corps, Vietnam War, Ford Mustang, Barbie, Integrated circuit

3rd row: Laser, AFL-NFL, Peace symbol

4th row: Roger Maris, The Beatles

Denomination: 33 USD cents

50 years to the future

After more than 50 years, the Star Trek franchise is pretty much alive these days. There were some great and some not so great series and movies along the way. Let’s remind ourselves of a few of them.


Let’s start with listing all series filmed so far:

  • The Original Series (1966–69)
  • The Next Generation (1987–94)
  • Deep Space Nine (1993–99)
  • Voyager (1995–2001)
  • Enterprise (2001–05)
  • Discovery (2017–)
  • Short Tracks (2018–)
  • Picard (2020–)
  • Lower Decks (2020–)

and continue with all movies:

  • The Motion Picture (1979)
  • II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
  • III: The Search for Spock (1984)
  • IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
  • V: The Final Frontier (1989)
  • VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
  • Generations (1994)
  • First Contact (1996)
  • Insurrection (1998)
  • Nemesis (2002)
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Into Darkness (2013)
  • Beyond (2016)

Technology in the series and movies changes a lot. Filming technology and special effects also experienced many improvements. Still, one thing stayed the same. That is the vision of the utopian and idealistic society where everybody gets everything they need (hm, this sounds familiar ? ) and where peace, collaboration, and exploration are the most important values. But still, if needed, we’re ready to fight to defend that perfect society. And, of course, we do it.

Star Trek stamps USA

USA – 2016/09/02

Star Trek

The USPS “celebrates the television show Star Trek on the 50th anniversary of its premiere.”

Motifs:

“the Starship Enterprise inside the outline of a Starfleet insignia against a gold background”

“the silhouette of a crewman in a transporter against a red background”

“the silhouette of the Enterprise from above against a green background”

“the Vulcan salute (Spock’s iconic hand gesture) against a blue background”

Denomination: Forever (equal in the value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price)

10 interesting Star Trek facts

  • The famous hand gesture used during the “Live long and prosper” greeting is the Hebrew letter Shin, which represents the word Shaddai, a name for God.

"This is how the Jewish Cohanim (Priests) would bless the congregation when the Temple stood in Jerusalem (between the years 530 BC and 70 AC). This gesture is still used today by the descendants of the Cohanim (normally those named Cohen, Kahane, Katz, and many other family names are direct descendants of the original family that started with Aharon). The Priestly blessing is regularly recited during the prayer service and is a very special moment of spiritual unity and peace."

  • More than 125 Star Trek video-games were created so far.
  • Episodes of the original series were not aired in chronological order.
  • Star Trek had a great impact on technology. Many technologies we can see in Star Trek became reality or at the drawing boards (communication devices, translators, lasers, even teleportation and impulse drive).
  • Star Trek (TOS) was almost canceled during the first season. Lucille Bell intervened here and halt that initiative. That gave 2 more years to this series before it was finally canceled. That was still enough time to become so popular that new movies and series would be produced later.
Star Trek stamps Canada

Star Trek

Canada – 2017/04/27

Star Trek captains with their ships/stations and their greatest villains in the background

Motifs:

James T. Kirk (William Shatner) & USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) & That'd be Khan (Ricardo Montalban) - The Original Series (1966–1969)

Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) & USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) & Locutus of Borg (Patrick Stewart) - The Next Generation (1987–1994)

Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) & & Dukat (Marc Alaimo) - Deep Space Nine (1993–1999)

Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) & USS Voyager  & the Borg Queen (Alice Krige) – Voyager (1995–2001)

Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) & Enterprise NX-01 & Dolim (Scott MacDonald) – Enterprise (2001-2005)

Denomination: 1.00, 1.20, 1.80, 2.50 CAD and P (PERMANENT = can be used to mail a letter (weighing up to 30 grams) anywhere in Canada)

  • The phrase “Spock’s Brain” has become a cultural term that refers to an unintentionally humorous television episode. The reason for that is that the episode named “Spock’s Brain” from TOS was the worst episode of the series.
  • Stephen Hawking appeared in the TNG series. He took a look at the warp core on set and said: “I’m working on that”. And there were many others. Some of the notable appearances are Tom Morello, Jason Alexander, Kim Cattrall, Ashley Judd, Mick Fleetwood, Joan Collins, Iman, The Rock, and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
  • Enterprise was used as the name for many ships in a few countries (France, UK, and the USA) way back into the 17th century. Maybe the most important ships are the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and the upcoming Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-80). And, not to forget, the Space Shuttle Enterprise.
  • Ferengi is the Persian word for Frank (Frank/European trader) and is used to denote foreigner in general.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. was a big Star Trek fan. He talked with Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and persuaded her to continue with her role after she quit at the end of the TOS first season.

In 2020, the Royal Mail issued 12 + 6 stamps devoted to (mostly) British actors in Star Trek.

Star Trek stamps UK Royal Mail

Star Trek (television series characters)

mostly played by British actors

Captains: James T. Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, Benjamin Sisko, Katheryn Janeway, Jonathan Archer, Gabriel Lorca,

Spock, Counselor Deanna Troi, Doctor Julian Bashir, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, Commander Michael Burnham, Lieutenant Ash Tyler

UK – Royal Mail – 2020/11/13

Denomination: 1ST

Star Trek stamps UK Royal Mail

Star Trek (movies characters)

played by British actors

Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scott, Tom Hardy as Shinzon,

Malcolm McDowell as Tolian Soran, David Warner as Chancellor Gorkon,

Alice Eve as Carol Marcus, Idris Elba as Krall

UK – Royal Mail – 2020/11/13

Denomination: 1ST

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