Tuesday, May 31, 2005

#976 Fort Bliss Centennial Stamp
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posted by Don Schilling at 7:36 PM

Postage stamp helped stop V2 bombing. Huh?

Sounds like a bit of an urban legend to me but World War II veteran Raymond Smith says a postage stamp was what helped the Allies stop the bombing of Great Britain with V2 rockets. He was speaking at a Memorial Day observance in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Smith is quoted in an on-line article that appeared on the West Virginia News and Sentinal Web site that, "The Germans did like we did and showed their weaponry on postage stamps."

He went on to say, "Before they had a stamp with the V2 on it the Allies could not tell where they were based. That stamp came out and the image was blown up and they were able to identify the mountains in the pictures and they were able to find the base."

No specific German stamp was mentioned. The best I could come up with was B218-229. Issued in 1943, they show dive bombers and tanks but no V2 rockets. Another set (B257-269) issued in 1944 may have been what Smith was thinking of. The high value shows rockets but I don't think they are V2

The United States did issue a stamp in 1948 honoring the Ft. Bliss Centennial that featured a rocket that looked a lot like a V2 .

For the full text (and to the reporter if he checked his facts), click here.

PS - An interesting sidenote...the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story in 1941 that talks about how California collectors were beginning to boycott stamps issued by Nazi Germany.
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posted by Don Schilling at 7:09 PM

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Swedish postal service tracking parcels electronically

It is being reported on-line that the Swedish postal service, Posten, is using embedded radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in parcels to cut down on internal theft.

Posten, which has its headquarters in Stockholm, is testing the technology on high-value and confidential items such as mobile phones, computer equipment and government documents, as a way of detecting whether they have been tampered with.

Specially-designed cardboard packaging from Swedish technology firm Cypak contains a microscopic chip and embedded RFID circuits that can store information about the package's origin, contents and journey.

Posten uses RFID readers to enter data into the SecurePak parcel before dispatch, and then reads the data when the package has arrived at its destination to check for any suspicious activity.

Cypak's SecurePak technology is also being tested by Deutsche Post in Germany.

For the full story, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 7:26 PM

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Find out what a stamp is worth

Don't have an up to date catalog handy and want to know what a particular stamp in your collection might be worth? Checkout this new Web site www.findyourstampsvalue.com. If you send them a scanned image of a particular stamp, they will identify it and tell you what it's worth. Cost $2.95. There is also a FREE guest section that contains information on 200 U.S. stamps from the 1847-1988 period.
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posted by Don Schilling at 8:32 AM

Through a dating site, Kevin McCrary, shown above, began corresponding with a woman in Nigeria. The woman asked him to buy a computer and mail it to her, and sent him postal money orders that turned out to be forged. (photo courtesy New York Times)
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:36 AM

Monday, May 23, 2005

Watch out for fake postal money orders

The U.S. Postal Service has issued a warning about several scams involving U.S. postal money orders. Scam artists are targeting US citizens, as well as small Internet retailers and classified advertisers. The scams usually start off with an offer of easy money and ends up cheating the unsuspecting victims out of hundreds - and sometimes thousands - of dollars.

To check that a money order is authentic, hold it up to the light and look for Ben Franklin images repeated on the left side (top to bottom) and a dark security thread running (top to bottom) to the right of the Franklin watermarks, with the tiny letters "USPS" facing backward and forward. If either of these security features is not present, the postal money order is a fake.

For more on the scams, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 11:16 PM

Sunday, May 22, 2005

USPS to launch new "Premium" forwarding service

According to an on-line article on the KESQ -TV (Palm Springs, Calif. ) Web site, the US Postal Service will soon introduce a new premium forwarding service. It's designed for customers who want all their mail sent priority to a temporary address.

“Catalogs and advertisements, anything they normally like to see that wouldn't get forwarded, because only first class mail gets forwarded, they'll get to have now instead of having to wait,” said Palm Desert Postmaster Raymond Rodriguez.

Postmaster Rodriguez says customers won't just benefit by getting their mail but getting it quicker. “It's not going to be going through our normal forwarding system. It's packaged into a premium priority box and sent to them. So it will be a little faster for them.”

When it begins in August, the premium forwarding service will begin a two year test run. If it proves to be popular enough, the USPS may make it permanent. But the convenience will cost a $10 enrollment fee, along with $10 for each weekly shipment.

The postal service says the new program will not affect already existing permanent and temporary forwarding services.

For the full story, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 10:40 PM

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Pushing the envelope - Michael Hernandez de Luna.

Last Sunday the Washington Post ran an interesting story about artist Michael Hernandez de Luna.

To quote the Post, "Here's what he does: He makes fake stamps, puts them on envelopes and drops the envelopes in the mail. One stamp features an image of President Bush's face between spread buttocks cheeks. Another showed a stained blue dress labeled 'Property of Monica Lewinsky.' A third showed obese fast-food-fed Barbie dolls."

What's even more incredible, according to de Luna, "About 40 percent of the time ... the Postal Service cancels the stamps and delivers the mail."

Apparently he's the same guy who curated an art show at Columbia College in Chicago last April which was "raided" by the US Secret Service. Artists from 11 countries created stamps to portray their definition of "evil." One of the images, by Chicagoan Al Brandtner, showed the president with a gun to his head and the words "Patriot Act."

To read the complete article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 10:43 PM

New Jersey school teacher sparks kids' imaginations with stamps

The on-line edition of the Sentinel in East New Brunswick, N.J. ran an article today about fifth-grade school teacher, Stephen Feldman. Feldman has been recognized by the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) President’s Environmental Youth Award program for his creative teaching methods... one of which involves STAMPS!

While he teaches a variety of subjects; he uses stamps, coins and postcards in his social studies classes as a way of learning about geography.

Feldman advertised his program in Linn’s and asked for donations. He got close to a million stamps –– 60 packages, boxes, and envelopes full of them.

Feldman said the students have shown such zeal in their stamp collecting that they have begun having their parents drive them to the nearest stamp store in Trenton to add to their growing collections.

“I know it’s touched them, they give their collection to a younger brother or sister who I then have as a student,” Feldman said. He said students even use their lunch time to compare stamp collections. The article points out that his teaching methods has spurred even the most unlikely of students to take interest in his classes.

“Some of the kids who have difficulties in learning are the ones who like it the most,” Feldman said. “It catches their imaginations.”

For the entire story, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 7:11 PM

Czeslaw Slania engraved self-portrait
for his 60th birthday
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posted by Don Schilling at 2:56 AM

A personal tribute to Czeslaw Slania

Otto Hornung pays a personal tribute to his friend, Czeslaw Slania, in an article that appears on the Stanley Gibbons website.

One of the more interesting anecdotes in the article is that Slania had secretly placed his mother's name on several Polish postage stamps he had engraved.

Czeslaw Slania is considered to be one of the world's most famous stamp engravers. He died earlier this year on March 17 at the age of 83.

To learn more about Czeslaw Slania and the engravers' art, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 2:28 AM

Monday, May 16, 2005

1992 Ballot Postcard used by the U.S. Postal Service to determine which stamp to use to commemorate Elvis Presley. These have become a collectible item and are available for $6.99 from Legends of America (www.legendsofamerica.com).
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posted by Don Schilling at 7:04 AM

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Elvis meant BIG business to USPS

The Associated Press reports in an on-line article on the Washington Post Web site that the US Postal Service takes in roughly $150 million to $200 million from stamps that are purchased but never used.

The article goes on to say that sales last year of philatelic products, including framed stamps, an annual stamp yearbook and other items, came to nearly $50 million, compared with $40 million a year earlier.

The number one philatelic money-maker? The 29-cent Elvis Presley stamps issued in 1993. They accounted for 124 million stamps that have been purchased but not used, generating $36 million for the U.S. Postal Service.

Thank you very much.
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posted by Don Schilling at 10:19 PM

Saturday, May 14, 2005

POSTMARK PARIS: A Story in Stamps by Leslie Jonath
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posted by Don Schilling at 9:59 PM

Postmark Paris: a story in stamps

I just came across a wonderful little book for children - AND ADULTS - about stamps. It's called Postmark Paris: A Story in Stamps.

Written by Leslie Jonath, it's a fictionalized account of a young girl's experiences in Paris and the places she visits. In the book (which came out last month) her adventures are magically captured in the the postage stamps she collects along the way.

If you are interested in ordering a copy for you some young person(8-10), the local library... or perhaps even yourself, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 9:30 PM

Friday, May 13, 2005

Cover page from John Lennon's childhood stamp album. (Photo courtesy Frasers Autographs)
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posted by Don Schilling at 9:40 PM

John Lennon's childhood stamp album goes on sale

According to an online report that appeared on a Scottish Web site (www.scotsman.com), John Lennon's childhood Mercury Stamp Album went on sale today for £29,950 (apprx. $55,371) .

Apparently Lennon collected stamps as a young schoolboy in Liverpool. His collection, had 565 stamps from various countries including Australia, India, USA, Germany and Italy. The album is listed for sale on the Frasers Autograph Web site and is on display at their London office. Click here for details.

Stanley Gibbons , the world famous stamp dealer organization headquartered in London, is handling the sale. A Gibbons spokesperson was quoted in the article as saying, “An interest in stamps demonstrates an interest in different countries, cultures and art, so perhaps we should not be surprised that it appealed to a creative person like John Lennon.”
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posted by Don Schilling at 9:06 PM

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The most useful works of American art.

North Carolina State Magazine reports that stamps “might be the most useful — and the most used — works of American art. About 44 billion were printed last year, passing through our mailboxes affixed to the corners of bills and invitations and holiday cards.”

“I don’t know another design activity that reaches so many people,” said NC State College of Design Professor Meredith Davis, who recently served on the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. “It’s been really interesting to think about how you capture the character of a nation in the choices that you make.”
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posted by Don Schilling at 8:50 AM

Friday, May 06, 2005

Postal clerks Patti Angeles and Tess Salberg of Valley City, North Dakota
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posted by Don Schilling at 4:40 PM

Live dangerously - buy some commemoratives!

Postal clerks in Valley City, North Dakota are encouraging their customers to resist the urge to purchase just a ordinary stamp. Instead they are suggesting to postal patrons to take a deep breath, live dangerously and buy some commemoratives.

Patti Angeles and Tess Salberg want their customers to take a walk on the wild side, and buy, what they call, 'exotic' stamps according to an on-line article that appeared in the Valley City Times Record.

Patti will concede that some 'exotic' stamps are duds. She's sooner forget the candy hearts stamp spelling out "I love you."Apparently, everyone else in town would too.

"People tell us they don't want to send stamps to bill collectors saying 'I love you,'" Patti joked.
She also points out almost no one in town appears to be interested in Isamu Noguchi and his sculptures.

On the other hand, Lewis & Clark stamps have been enjoying statewide favor. A year ago on May 14 when the discovery boys pushed off from St. Louis, the USPS held a first-day-of-issue stamp dedication in 11 cities that Lewis and Clark would have passed through - had they been built then.
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posted by Don Schilling at 4:04 PM

- photo courtesy United States Postal Service
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:24 AM

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Post Office promotes National Dog Bite Prevention Week

Post offices around the country are gearing up to promote National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 15 to 21. Letter carriers are the third largest group of Americans to be bitten by dogs nationwide. Children and the elderly are first and second.

Last year, more than 3,000 letter carriers nationwide were attacked and injured by dogs according to an article in the on-line edition of a Massachusetts newspaper, the Tewksbury Advocate.

The USPS reports an average of 11 letter carriers suffer dog-related injuries each delivery day. Many of the bites reported occurred despite pet owners' insistence that their dogs would not bite. Postal officials are encouraging dog owners to keep their pets inside or tied-up during mail delivery times.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has a variety of suggestions on preventing dog bites on their web site, http://www.avma.org/pubhlth/dogbite/dogbitebroc.asp.
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posted by Don Schilling at 11:48 PM

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Postal Worker fined for insider trading INSIDE the Post Office

A former Mount Vernon, N.Y. postal worker has agreed to pay about $580,000 to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges of insider trading.

According to an on-line article posted on the CNN MONEY web site, the worker Davi Thomas, pulled stock tips from the "Inside Wall Street" column of Business Week magazine before it was mailed to subscribers and newsstands in violation of SEC and USPS regulations. The magazines were read at a Mount Vernon mail sorting facility where Thomas worked from 1996 to 1999, according to the SEC.

Thomas is accused of trading on the information and sharing it with a friend, Lionel Thotam. The two men bought stock shares in companies that were favorably mentioned in the columns, and in most cases sold the shares after their prices rose the following day.

Thotam allegedly paid Thomas $10,000 for the illegal tips. Thomas profited $153,711 from the illegal trades and Thotam profited $77,213, according to the SEC.
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posted by Don Schilling at 7:25 PM

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pony Express First Day Cover. April 3, 1860, San Francisco. One of only two known covers to still exist. Estimated value is somewhere between $50,000 - $100,000 according to Siegal Auctions.
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posted by Don Schilling at 1:44 PM

Pony Express to ride again... in West Texas?

A re-enactment of the Pony Express is scheduled for Midland, Texas next month according to the Midland Reporter Telegram in an on-line article at MyWestTexas.com. The organizers will be selling special Pony Express envelopes which bear a regular postage stamp and their own Pony Express cachet. According to the article, "Proceeds will go to feed the riders" and hopefully... their horses.

Please note... the route they are taking is not exactly historically accurate.

The Pony Express route actually went from from Missouri to California and not throughTexas. Horsemen carried the mail day and night to cut down the transit time by a third. Before the Pony Express, which begin in late 1859, stage coach cross-country mail delivery took 30 days. The advent of the telegraph ended the need for the Pony Express about two years after it started.

The Pony Express riders were typically young, unmarried men, and they were well-paid for their time. A Pony Express delivery rider could make $25 a week compared to the $30 a month a ranch cowboy received.

There is a new book (released March 2005) by Richard Frajola, George Kramer and Steve Walske called The Pony Express, A Postal History. Published by the Philatelic Foundation it has a photo census of the 250 known Pony Express covers and lots of other detailed philatelic information(route maps, markings and usages, etc.) If you would like to order a copy, contact Richard Frajola (email mailto:covers@rfrajola.com)There).
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posted by Don Schilling at 1:04 PM

Monday, May 02, 2005

US Postal Service teaching eBay classes

According to an on-line report in the Advocate, a Stamford, Connecticut newspaper, the U.S. Postal Service began giving eBay courses in New England two months ago. Greg Stevens, a postal worker and instructor for the USPS eBay course (now offered nationally) surmises since eBay leaves shipping to the seller, Postal Service managers realized they could get more customers if they helped eBay users understand the subtler points of the Web site.

At "eBay University," students learn that they need a postal scale, which they can buy at an office supplies store; and the Postal Service's Click-N-Ship software, which allows senders to print postage labels from their computer and order a Postal Service pick up. The software can be downloaded at www.usps.com.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 10:37 PM

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Mrs Olive Miller pictured with a collection of the philatelic items she sells to raise money for NCVO projects
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posted by Don Schilling at 1:57 PM

Cayman Island woman puts personal stamp on volunteering

According to the Cayman Island Net On-line News , one local resident is doing her part to help others benefit by her diligent and resourceful collecting of stamps from around the world – all of which was prompted by some wise words of advice from her father.

Over the years, Mrs Olive Miller has raised hundreds of dollars for the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). Her products are stamp covered placemats and plates which which colourful designs and wide selection of stamps.

Many people, and some businesses, contribute to the supply of stamps and from time to time she is able to meet requests for a few stamps from collectors to enhance their collection. All proceeds go to the NCVO.

She first became interested in stamps during childhood, because her father was employed by the British Post Office all his working life.

He wrote in her autograph album, “Remember the postage stamp, my daughter, its usefulness consists in its ability to stick to one thing until it gets there”.

Mrs Miller has always borne in mind his advice to have “stickability”.

The NCVO was invited to participate in the special non-profit organisations stamp issue which was released on 15th August 2001. A local artist was commissioned to produce the artwork for this special occasion.

The NCVO has a limited edition first day covers of the stamped envelope signed by His Excellency The Governor Mr. Peter J Smith, CBE, as Patron of The NCVO, and the artist, Kidane. This collectible item is available at CI$8.00 each. All funds raised will benefit the NCVO's community projects.

For further information, please contact the NCVO ncvo@candw.ky
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posted by Don Schilling at 1:35 PM