Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pizza stamp contest

Shown above are some of the members of the Glendale, Calif. Stamp Club at their annual holiday pizza party.

Despite over five-hundred years of collective philatelic knowledge, no one in the group could ever remember seeing a stamp with a pizza as part of its design.

If you know of one, e-mail me at In return, I will send you a special philatelic thank you gift.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 PM

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

International stamp venture being investigated

The Toledo [Ohio] Blade reports an international stamp venture is currently being scrutinized by state and federal investigators in Ohio.

According to the article, the investigation's findings could damage the fortunes of 140,000 Spanish and Portuguese investors who invested more than $1 billion in rare postage stamps.

Allegedly the investors were told they would receive between 6 and 8 percent return on their initial investment. Then after a certain period of time, they could sell the stamps back to the company and thus being guaranteed a profit without any risk.

The company, Escala (known until September as Greg Manning Auctions Inc.) described itself as a "witness" in the federal and state investigations of Tom Noe, who was indicted last month on three felony counts of laundering money into President Bush's re-election campaign.

Independent of Mr. Noe, Escala is reportedly the subject of an inquiry by the SEC.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, November 28, 2005

Stamp collecting popular in Australia

According to the Milton Ulladulla Times, just-released figures by Sweeney Research reveal eight percent of the Australian population are actively interested in stamps.

Reporter Chrissy Guinery writes, "The saying goes 'one in a million' but Ulladulla's John and Barbara Smith [shown in photo] are one in 1,632,600."

The Smiths are have been interested in stamps since they were young. They are members of Milton Ulladulla Stamp Club which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.


To read the enitre article, click here.

To visit the the Australia Post's Stamp Shop, click here.

* If you have an interesting photo or story about you, your collecting interests or local stamp club that you like to share with others here on The Round-Up. Please e-mail it to me at: Thanks!
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Christmas postmarks

Christmas Letter provides creative Christmas letter ideas, advice on how to write a Christmas letter, and shows you how to add a personal touch to the envelope by getting a North Pole postmark or a special Christmas postmark from approximately 100 US post offices with holiday-themed names.

To take advantage of this free service, simply address, seal and place postage stamps on the envelopes containing your Christmas letter or Santa letter, and place them in a larger envelope and send to the attention of Christmas re-Mailing at the appropriate post office.

To ensure delivery in time for Christmas, items should be received at the post office by Dec. 15.

To learn more, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, November 26, 2005

World's Rarest Stamps

It's that time of year when friends and families of stamp collectors start pulling their hair out for holiday gift ideas for the philatelist in the family. Never quite sure what to get them, how about their own 'Inverted Jenny', or how about a 'Basel Dove'?

Or if they already have a copy, how about...

The 1861 "Woodblock error" - From the Cape of Good Hope?
The 1851 13 cent "Missionary" - From Hawaii?
The 1854 "Inverted Head of Queen Victoria" - From India?
The 1855 3 Skilling-banco "error of color" - From Sweden?
The 1851 2 reales "True Blue Error" - From Spain?
The 1843 90 reis "Bulls Eye" - From Brazil?
The 1882 5 candarin "Wide Setting" - From China?

Now all these and more can be theirs for only $15.95.

To find out more, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 10:47 AM

Friday, November 25, 2005

Letters to Santa

Children will want to check out Santa's special web page at where they can play holiday-themed games and discover easy holiday recipes and crafts. They can also send Santa an e-mail from this special Canada Post site.

Children from around the world are also encouraged to send their holiday letters to Santa at his North Pole home:

Santa reminds all his young friends that it is very important to include a complete return address, so that Canada Post can deliver his reply.

Last year, Santa received more than 1 million letters (for the fourth year in a row!), in 27 languages, from his pen pals around the world. Thanks to more than 11,000 volunteer Canada Post employees (current and retired) – Santa's dedicated postal elves – each child received an answer from the North Pole!

Santa also received more than 30,000 e-mails from children who wrote to Santa via Canada Post's website.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 PM

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hollywood Canteen

I spent part of yesterday afternoon with a bunch of young Marines on their way to Iraq.

The Bob Hope USO at Los Angeles Airport hosted a special Thanksgiving week luncheon. An old Army buddy of mine is the executive director there and he was nice enough to invite me to have some turkey and a piece of pumpkin pie with the troops.

Being retired military (US Army 1969-94), it was an honor and priviledge I could not refuse.

The Bob Hope USO at Los Angeles Airport is the successor to the famous "Hollywood Canteen" which served as a home away from home for servicemen and women on their way to and from the Pacific during World War Two.

Actor John Garfield felt the need for such a place. So together with Bette Davis, he and others in the motion picture industry helped turn the former livery stable into a nightclub at 1451 Cahuenga Boulevard, off Sunset (shown in the postcard above).

This Thanksgiving let's remember and give thanks to our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen (and their loved ones!) for all the sacrifices they are willing to give on our behalf.

For more on the history of the Hollywood Canteen, click here.

For more on the USO and how to donate money or volunteer your time, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Movie stamps

For those of you who haven't seen "Walk the Line," the film bio of legendary singer Johnny Cash, I highly recommend it. Besides having a great storyline, wonderful acting and music that will get your toes tapping, it has postage stamps in it.

In one scene, Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) is going through his fan mail and there are a couple close-ups of some stamps that I don't think any of us U.S. collectors have ever seen before.

I wonder if there is such a thing as a "philatelic technical advisor?" If there isn't, there should be.

Speaking of films and stamps, Sony and Steven Spielberg are promoting an interesting tie-in at their movie portal with "Memoirs of a Geisha" photo stamps.

Fans can select from eight different images to download. They can then upload their selected images to and purchase the 37c labels with their selected “Geisha” images.

"Memoirs of a Geisha” will debut in theaters December 9, 2005.

To visit the "Memoirs of a Geisha" photo stamps Web site, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, November 21, 2005

Collectors Club

In yesterday's New York Times, writer Michael Pollak had the following Q & A in his F.Y.I column

Q. Can you tell me about the Collectors Club on East 35th Street and the wonderful building that houses it?

A. If you can identify a Z-grill or an Inverted Jenny, examples of which were involved in a big swap this month, you have probably heard of the Collectors Club. It's an organization of stamp collectors, and many of the biggest figures in philately - collectors, exhibitors and authors - have been members.

Founded in 1896, the club has an outstanding philatelic library of about 150,000 volumes, and provides space for philatelic study groups. The library is open to the public, and lectures are held there.

Its 1902 building, at 22 East 35th Street in Murray Hill, near Madison Avenue, was originally the Thomas B. Clarke house - he was a prominent art collector - and was designed by McKim, Mead & White as a neo-Georgian town house, with small-paned bay windows. The five-story brownstone became the club's permanent home in 1938 and was designated a landmark in 1979.

To visit the Collectors Club Web site, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, November 20, 2005

'Going Postal' stamp designs

"Marilyn Monroe has a stamp, so why not Marilyn Manson, huh? If James Dean, tragic 50's teen idol, can have his own stamp, why doesn't Jimmy Dean, sausage maker extraordinaire, get one? It makes no sense, we need better stamp designers, to right these wrongs, and equalize these inequities. "

So say the folks at who from time to time sponsor "Going Postal" stamp design contests.

Among the proposed commemoratives; Chuck Norris, Laurel and Hardy, Carrot Top, Frank Perdue, Simon and Garfunkel, Nicole and Paris Hilton, Google, Katie Couric, Alfred E. Neuman, and, as shown on the left, the stars of Desperate Housewives.

Done by professional graphic artists using Photoshop, the designs are actually quite good, even if some of the other subjects (Saddam Hussein, Son of Sam, etc) are not. Comments are invited for each of the designs.

To visit the site, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, November 19, 2005

France issues video game stamps

France has issued a series of postage stamps featuring characters from video-games, including Tomb Raider and The Sims.

Lara Croft (Tomb Raider), Mario (Super Mario Bros) and Link (The Legend of Zelda) are joined by Donkey Kon, Pac-Man and others. The set of 10 stamps retail for 2.65 euros ($3.09 USD).

For more on this story, click here.

To order these and other recent French postage stamps, books and philatelic products from La Poste's La Boutique du Timbre, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, November 18, 2005

Tasco booklets

There is a nice write-up in a recent issue of American Philatelist (I think it's November but don't quote me on that - I can't find my copy!) about Tasco information booklets.

These were produced in the late 1930s and early 1940s by the Tatham Stamp Company of Springfield, Massachusetts.

These pocket-size guides helped collectors identify different varieties of sometimes hard to identify issues such as the 1c and 2c Issues of 1890 to 1898 (shown above - click on it to enlarge) , 2c Columbian, Confederate states and the potato stamps of the United States

I had never heard of these before and found them fascinating. After little surfing around on the Web I found a site created by Glenn A. Estus that shows most - if not all - of these highly educational booklets.

To learn and see more of the Tasco booklets, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, November 17, 2005

New postal rate information

Ken Costilow sends along this link for the new rates going into effect January 8.

Thanks Ken!
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posted by Don Schilling at 4:47 PM

Junk mail

The Lakeland, Florida Ledger reports that seven long-time St. Petersburg mail carriers thought they were doing their customers a favor when people along their route asked that they not deliver bulk-mail catalogs and advertising letters.

Instead the carriers got fired.

The U.S. Postal Service says that bulk mailers paid to have their mail delivered to every address. Failure to deliver it is grounds for termination.

About a third of USPS revenues come from bulk mailers. Bulk mail also accounts for more than three-quarters of the mail delivered, and can quickly fill mailboxes and engulf first-class mail.

A survey released last week by found that 82 percent of those surveyed said they receive too much junk mail. Nearly half of them threw it out immediately. A third of them wanted only one or two catalogs a year, with updates sent by e-mail.

The postal union is appealing the firings.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

New rates go into effect January 8

The US Postal Service Governors have voted to accept the Postal Rate Commission’s recommendations to increase most postal rates and fees by approximately 5.4% across-the-board. The increase takes effect Jan. 8.

This rate increase — the first since 2002 — is needed to fulfill a 2003 federal law requiring the Postal Service to establish a $3.1 billion escrow account, with use of the funds to be determined by Congress at a later date. If it weren’t for the federal mandate, it wouldn’t have been necessary to raise rates in 2006 according to a USPS announcement.

“The Governors take this action mindful of our obligation to assure the financial integrity of the nation’s postal system,” said Board of Governors Chairman Jim Miller. “These increases will allow the Postal Service to meet the obligation established by Congress to place funds in escrow in 2006.”

Among the rate adjustments, the single-piece rate for First-Class Mail will increase from 37 cents to 39 cents and the postcard rate will increase by one cent to 24 cents. International rates also will increase the same day.

A non-denominational 39-cent will be issued featuring the Statue of Liberty and the US flag.

To learn more about the domestic and foreign postal rates of other countries around the world, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

U.S. Philatelic Classics Society

The U.S. Philatelic Classics Society (USPCS) is a highly regarded and respected group whose members study the stamps and postal history of the United States from the Colonial era to 1900.

Up to now the USPCS was a “virtual organization” without a physical home of its own.

But thanks to the generosity of its members and others, the group funded a combination classroom/conference room at the American Philatelic Center (and American Philatelic Society headquarters) in Bellefonte, PA.

Dedicated last weekend, it will be known as the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society, Inc. Room and will also permanently house the Society’s cups and awards.

USPCS President Wilson Hulme said, "We look forward to philatelists from around the world gathering at the USPCS conference room for programs that promote philately, enhance knowledge, and share friendship.”

For information about the USPCS, membership, its publications, and articles of interest to collectors and students of the classic period of U.S. philately, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, November 14, 2005

No mere pieces of paper

"EVERY piece of paper speaks of an era. Of immemorial times when great lives took birth, blossomed and passed away. When many turning points in history swept nations in a revolutionary tide. But these are no mere pieces of paper."

So writes reporter Megha Mohan in an article, "Square Inches of Papers That Travel Places and Tell Stories, " which focuses on the Ludhiana Philately Club in India and their recent exhibition.

To read the entire article, click here.

By the way, it's interesting to note that The Indian Postal Administration in the 19th and 20th centuries (up to India's attainment of Independence in 1947) extended far beyond the geographical limits of the sub-continent itself.

In a number of British-controlled areas scattered around the Indian Ocean, Indian stamps were used to prepay postage until the establishment of local postal systems.

Shown above are Indian stamps used in Mesopotamia which later became Iraq. Note the Bagdad cancellations.

To find out more, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Free brochures

Professional philatelist and stamp dealer Dr. Robert Freidman of Woodridge, Illinois believes that stamp collectors should make it a point to inform their families and heirs about their collections. Often families and others who handle the estates of collectors are at a lost as to what to do with a collection.

For that reason Dr. Bob has made available a free brochure, Philatelic Expertise for Heirs, Estates and Institutions for individuals and institutions who handle estates that include stamp collections.

He is also offering A Helpful Guide to Selling Your Stamps for the Highest Possible Price in case you decide to sell your collection before you die.

Both are downloadable on his Web site,
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Karl Malden Post Office

Shown on the left is Postmaster General Jack Potter with Academy Award winning actor (and former member of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee) Karl Malden.

Malden,93, had a West Los Angeles post office named after him this week.

On hand to honor him at the event were family members, and lifetime friend Kirk Douglas. Kirk’s son, Michael, could not attend, but sent a letter teasing his former co-star with the line, “Karl — a stamp of your own wasn’t enough? You had to have an entire Post Office?”

Postmaster General Jack Potter spoke glowingly of Malden’s work on behalf of the Postal Service. Malden made a number of USPS public service announcements during his time on the CSAC. “The Postal Service has had no better friend in the last 15 years than Karl Malden,” Potter said. “And Karl, today I say to you — thank you. Thank you very much!”

(photo courtesy USPS)
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, November 11, 2005

Happy Veteran's Day

A few years back, the Harris Middle School in Shelbyville, TN asked their students to draw pictures of a Veteran's Day stamp they'd like to see.

Shown at the left is one of their suggestions.

If you want to see what else they came up, go to

What a great way to promote the hobby and honor our nation's veterans at the same time.

It occured to me, we could all do something similiar in own communities next year.

Contact the principal at a local elementary school. Ask if you (or your club) could sponsor a Veteran's Day stamp design contest during October (National Stamp Collecting Month).

Then get in touch with a local veteran's organization (American Legion, VFW, etc) and see if they would like to work with you as judges and perhaps even as co-sponsors.

Then on Veteran's Day (Nov. 11) , hand out certificates of particpation to all the entries and give out as many prizes (stamp collecting kits perhaps) as you can for the best designs. Be sure to alert the media. It's a good story and you'll probably get some coverage.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome. E-mail me at

PS- Happy Veteran's Day 2005 to all the men and women of our armed forces - past and present - AND their loved ones and families.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 PM

Thursday, November 10, 2005

World's most valuable picture postcard?

Shown above is probably the most valuable picture postcard in existence. The sender, a Russian immigrant, used a 1959 5c St. Lawrence Seaway invert to mail the card to London, England. The message reads in part (in Russian) "plans have shattered - in the heart and in living conditions..." Part of the Peter Balner Collection, it sold for $12,000 in 2002.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:02 AM

With all excitement over the recent auction and subsequent swap of the "Inverted Jenny" block, here's a couple Web sites you might find interesting. I know I did...

For Inverted Stamps, click here.

For The Peter Balner Collection of Inverted Centers of the World auction (prices realized), click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hindu community upset with U.K. Christmas stamp

Stanley Gibbons reports that one of the Royal Mail’s 2005 Christmas stamps has caused controversy among the Hindu community.

The 68p stamp depicts a man and woman, both with Hindu markings, worshipping Christ, an image that Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, says is insensitive.

"It is the equivalent of having a vicar in a dog collar bowing down to Lord Ram on a Diwali stamp," he said. "These things need to be done with sensitivity.

Gibbons says Irene Von Treskow, the stamp’s designer and an Anglican priest has defended her choice of imagery by insisting that the painting which the stamp is based upon is simply ‘17th century art’.

A spokesman for Royal Mail said that no offence had been intended and that "we thought it would be nice to return to a religious theme."

For more on this story, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Reporter learns about stampless covers

While covering a regional stamp show over the weeken in Pennsylvania, Bonnie H. Brechbill, a reporter for the Herald-Mail newspaper in Washington County, Maryland, learned a few things about stamp collecting from dealer Rodney Rodgers and others.

Rogers, 62, is quoted in the article Brechbill wrote as saying, "Before the first U.S. postage stamp was printed in 1847, the recipient of a letter paid the postage. If he never picked up the letter, someone else could pay the fee and get it. "

"People were dying for reading material," Rogers said.

To read the entire article, click here.

For more on stampless covers, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, November 07, 2005

High tech post office lacks personal touch

Leon Hale writes in the Houston Chronicle that, "There's a sign on the front door of the post office where I get personal mail. It reads, 'Almost anything you can do here you can do online at"

Hale used to like going to the post office.

"I've been going to the post office all my life, and I don't want to stop. Of course, it's not the job of the U.S. Postal Service to elevate our social lives, and sure enough, read the sign, it says stay home and do your "post officing" on the computer. Reduce the traffic. Shorten the lines waiting to do business with a clerk."

He goes on to lament Automated Postal Centers and the absence of the bulletin board which used to have photos of "interesting" criminals wanted by the FBI.

It's just not the same these days.

To read his fun essay on how a trip to the post office once was, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Stamp investment seminars

Stamp Investing: The Guide to Profit in Stamps by Stephen R. Datz is available by clicking here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:02 AM

The Irish Independent reports that Stanley Gibbons, one of the most respected UK agents for rare stamps, is holding a number of seminars in Dublin next week aimed at promoting rare stamps as an alternative investment.

Richard Perkis, a director of Stanley Gibbons, said the seminars are in response to increased demand from the public for rare stamps which have hit new highs in auctions recently.

According to the Stanley Gibbons GB30 Rareties Index, the value of rare stamps has increased by an annual average of 9.5pc over the past 51 years and by an average 10.7pc over the past seven years.

Mr Perkis said the increase was due to the arrival of Russian investors into the market.

The free seminars are on Tuesday November 8 in the Royal Dublin Hotel on O'Connell St in Dublin at 8.30am, 1pm and 6pm.

For more on investing in stamps from the American Stamp Dealers Association (ASDA), click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Alfred E. Neuman stamp

Alfred E. Neuman stamp from MAD magazine's 1964 collection of "Stamps We'd Love To See."
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:02 AM

Randall Sherman, secretary of the Chicago Philatelic Society, recently posted a message over at the Virtual Stamp Club in which he reports, " Believe it or not there is a serious drive underway to get the U.S. Postal Service to issue a commemorative stamp honoring MAD Magazine icon Alfred E. Neuman."

According to the Tampa [Florida] Tribune the drive is led by a local physician, Dr. David Lubin.

Sherman adds in his post, "It should be noted that the USPS will be issuing 10 stamps next year to honor various DC Comics superheroes, and that DC Comics, like Mad Magazine, is currently a part of the Time Warner corporate empire."

To find out more about the drive and why there should be a stamp issued in honor of Alfred E. Neuman, go to
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, November 04, 2005

Volunteers needed for Washington 2006

Tom Fortunato, Washington 2006 Media Communications Chairman, reports that more than 300 volunteers will be needed before, during and after Washington 2006 show dates.

Especially needed are people who can assist with exhibit check-in and mounting, beginning mid-day Wednesday, May 24, through Friday, May 26. Hours will be 8 AM to 11 PM daily, and later if necessary, to mount the 60,000 plus pages on the show floor.

The same help is needed at the show's closing. All volunteers will receive a bright red polo shirt embroidered with the W2006 logo to wear during their assignments and keep as a souvenir, while supplies last.

Interested individuals can volunteer by filling out the form on the exhibition's web site ( or by writing : W2006, PO Box 2006, Ashburn, VA 20146.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, November 03, 2005

$3 million stamp swap

Reuters News Service is reporting that Wall Street's "Bond King" Bill Gross and Donald Sundman, president of the Mystic Stamp Company, have swapped the two most valuable philatelic items in the world on Wednesday.

Gross traded his block of four "Inverted Jenny" stamps for Sundman's 1-cent "Z Grill" stamp.
It was a cashless exchange involving one $3 million item for another and completed Gross' collection of every U.S. stamp from the 19th century

Gross bought the Jenny block two weeks ago for $2.97 million setting a new world's record.

Gross tried to buy the Z Grill in 1998, but was outbid by Sundman, who paid a record-setting $935,000. The swap now implicitly values the Z Grill at the same price -- making it the most valuable single stamp known.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 PM

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Shown above is the "Dear Santa"Holiday Music Collection that will be released on CD to promote the FOX TV holiday special.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:02 PM

USPS CD promoting FOX TV Christmas Special

USPS will be promoting an upcoming one-hour TV special titled “Dear Santa” with a CD, post office displays and a 40-city tour with USPS Holiday Spokesperson Vonzell Solomon. Solomon, an former postal employee, was one of this year’s American Idol finalists.

Besides Solomon other featured artists include Alicia Keys, Nick Lachey, Nat King Cole and Jose Feliciano. The CD will be available in Post Offices around the country and at The Postal Store on

According to the USPS announcement, "Dear Santa," a reality based show, was created to make children’s dreams come true — dreams that were selected from letters to Santa Claus from children all across the country.

“Every year thousands of postal employees, charitable organizations, corporations and individuals participate in making children’s holiday wishes come true by answering the letters to Santa that we receive,” said Postmaster General Jack Potter. “We were happy to work on this production.”

The show is slated to air on Friday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the FOX Network.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

eBay helps save Royal Mail

The London Sunday Telegraph reports that eBay traffic in the past two years has led to a two-thirds increase in business at many post offices across the country.

Post Office managers say the money spent by eBay users, who send up to £4 billion worth of goods through the post each year, has played a vital part in turning around a loss of £1.5 million a day into an annual profit of £537 million.

Almost 70 per cent of the post offices surveyed said that they earned between £1,000 and £3,000 a week extra from eBay sellers.

As a result, the 6,000 post offices across England and Wales that were facing closure may now have been offered a life-line.

To read more on this story, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 PM