Owney souvenir spoon


Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Owney was a scruffy mutt who became a regular fixture at the Albany, New York, post office in 1888. His owner was likely a postal clerk who let the dog walk him to work. Owney was attracted to the texture or scent of the mailbags and when his master moved away, Owney stayed with his new mail clerk friends. He soon began to follow mailbags, first onto mail wagons and then mail trains. Owney began to ride with the bags on Railway Mail Service (RMS) trains across the state . . . and then the country! The Railway Mail Service clerks adopted Owney as their unofficial mascot.

As early as 1889, Owney began to draw media attention as the traveling mail dog. When Owney arrived at a town, RPO clerks or the postmaster sometimes alerted the local press about the dog, and a reporter would be dispatched to write a short story about Owney and his travels. Although Owney died in 1897, his story continued to appear in the press.

A group of postal employees raised money for Owney to be preserved. The Post Office Department stored Owney in its Washington, D.C., headquarters. In 1904 the Department included Owney in its section of the World’s Fair exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. In honor of Owney’s presence at the fair, a group of Cleveland, Ohio, postal clerks commissioned a souvenir spoon design for Owney. The design, produced by the Webb C. Ball Company, shows a railway train car in the bowl of the spoon and an illustration of Owney and his name on the handle.

on reverse of handle "Webb C. Ball Co. Cleveland.O." "Sterling" (with S in reverse) on front of handle "OWNEY"

Museum ID: 2005.2007.1

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  • Title: Owney souvenir spoon
  • Date Created: 1904
  • Medium: silver
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