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French Republic Owney tag

Description:

The dog that was called Owney by U.S. mail clerks had a 9-year career (1888-1897) as a self-appointed canine guardian of the mail and postal mascot. Beginning with his appearance in the fall of 1888 at the Albany, New York, Post Office, he accompanied mail pouches being forwarded by rail throughout the United States and the world.

When his railway excursions started, the Albany mail clerks began the tradition of the "Owney tag" by fastening a note to his collar asking employees of the Railway Mail Service to record his journeys by attaching leather and metal baggage tags. As this became popular, Postmaster General John Wanamaker presented the dog with a special harness-like jacket on which to distribute the tags. In addition to 1889 Exposition Universelle tag shown here, Owney was presented with more than one thousand baggage claim tags, hotel key checks, tokens, badges, medals, coins, buttons and other trinkets. The back of this tag is marked "Republique Francaise / N.J. Schloss & Co."

Owney's travels, recorded by these tags and legend, took him to Canada, Mexico and Alaska. And in 1895 he traveled from Tacoma, Washington to Japan, China, Singapore, Suez, Algiers and the Azores via the steamships "Victoria" and "Port Phillip" before returning to New York City and then by rail to Tacoma. He was sent by registered mail during part of this round-the-world journey, labeled as "Registered Dog Package".

Between 1893 and 1897, Owney was presented with many special awards and medals by kennel clubs and dog shows in recognition of his nationwide celebrity.

This is one of three tags that had been fastened together on Owney's jacket. The other two are 0.052985.219 and .220.

Date:
1889
Markings:
literal: REPUBLIQUE / FRANCE / N.J.SCHLOSS & CO. / EXPOSITION UNIVERSELLE / 1889
Medium:
metal (brass)
Dimensions:
Diameter: 1 1/2 in. (3.81 cm)
Museum ID:
0.052985.221
Place:
FRANCE (republic)