Sunday, February 28, 2010

Five Myths About the U.S. Postal Service

Postmaster General John Potter writes in today's Washington Post, "For 235 years, the U.S. Postal Service has delivered your mail in snow, rain and dark of night. However, tough market conditions are creating new challenges for our business. Misconceptions about the future of our enterprise abound; dispelling these myths will show that we can continue to deliver the mail."

He goes on to list, and respond to, what he considers five myths about the U.S. Postal Service.

They are...

1. The Postal Service wastes taxpayer dollars.
2. The Postal Service is inefficient.
3. Mail is not reliable.
4. The USPS is not environmentally friendly.
5. The USPS can't compete with the private sector.

He concludes with, "Though we operate in a difficult legislative and economic environment, we are prepared to forge ahead. On March 2, we are releasing our plan for future financial viability and greater business flexibility -- a plan that will keep the Postal Service thriving for years to come."

Shown above, U.S. Postmaster General John Potter speaking during a news conference last summer about the Postal Service's financial troubles.

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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Korean War Memorial Sculptor Wins Stamp Photo Appeal

The Am Law Daily reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled, 2-1, in favor of 85-year-old sculptor Frank Gaylord regarding a photo of his Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. that was used on a U.S. postage stamp.

According to the article, "John Alli, a retired U.S. Marine and an amateur photographer...took hundreds of photographs of the memorial on a snowy day and eventually produced a single, haunting photo. In 2002, the federal government paid Alli $1,500 to use his photo as the basis for a 37-cent postage stamp."

Reporter Zach Lowe writes, "The U.S. Postal Service raised more than $17 million from sales of the stamp--including about $5.4 million in sales to collectors--before the agency retired it." Gaylord, the suit argued, deserved a piece of that money in damages and sued the government in the Court of Federal Claims in 2006."

The government won the case saying the photo and stamp of the memorial was "fair use". It also found that the memorial constituted architecture, and thus was not subject to the usual copyright protections.

Having lost the case, Gaylord, who served as an Army paratrooper in World War II, received no damages.

In 2008, Gaylord and his lawyers appealed the case and this week they won on the grounds that "a new work must make some sort of criticism or commentary to fall under fair use," which clearly the stamp and the photo on which it was based did not.

The appeals court remanded the case for a hearing on damages. The government could petition the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

Shown above, the preliminary design for the 2003 Korean Memorial stamp.

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

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mail Delivery 12 Times a Day!?!

Randall Stross writes in the New York Times, "In Victorian London, though service wasn’t 24/7, it was close to 12/6. Home delivery routes would go by every house 12 times a day — yes, 12. In 1889, for example, the first delivery began about 7:30 a.m. and the last one at about 7:30 p.m. In major cities like Birmingham by the end of the century, home routes were run six times a day."

He quotes Catherine J. Golden, a professor of English at Skidmore College and author of Posting It: The Victorian Revolution in Letter Writing (2009) as saying, "In London, people complained if a letter didn’t arrive in a couple of hours.”

An overview of Posting It on the University of Florida website points out, "Although 'snail mail' may seem old fashioned and outdated in the twenty-first century, Catherine Golden argues that the creation of the Penny Post in Victorian England was just as revolutionary in its time as e-mail and text messages are today."

Shown above, a British mail carrier in 1839.

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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

“The King Arthur” of Stamps

A tip of the tongs to Round-Up reader Richard Cannata of New York!

Richard sends along a listing on eBay about a 117-year-old mystery stamp that is being hailed as “The King Arthur” of stamps because "supposedly all of the experts have heard of the legend, but no one has ever proven it, until now."

Going for the "Buy It Now" price of $25,000, it is "... very first and only known, P.F. Certified, Graded Fine 70, U.S. used 220 cap on right in the world," according to the seller who is listed as "philatelic_rocker" of Oceanside, New York.

According to the listing, "This stamp was once listed by Scott as a U.S. #220b cap on right from 1935-1939 The 220b was the most valuable of the three cap varieties and was also mentioned in an early 1900’s Lester G. Brookman catalog."

It goes on to say, "The 1890 US 220 was criticized for its color and was reissued between 1891-92. These reissues produced the very popular 'cap' varieties, known as the US 220a (cap on left 2), and the US 220c (cap on both 2s)."

Apparently the stamp was originally purchased on eBay in February 2008, with its authenticity unknown. Then in March 2008, the stamp was taken to the A.S.D.A.’s (American Stamp Dealers Association) Mega Postage Stamp Show, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, for appraisal.

The seller says, "The A.S.D.A. referred the appraisal to member and renowned stamp expert, Richard A. Champagne. Being very familiar with the 220 Cap on Right 2 legend, but of course never having seen one, he was very skeptical at first. However, after careful examination, to his surprise, Mr. Champagne found this stamp to be genuine. He advised taking the stamp immediately to the Philatelic Foundation in New York (chartered in 1945 by the University of the State of New York) to be certified.

"Following up on the advise of Mr. Champagne, this stamp was brought to the Manhattan office of the Philatelic Foundation to be certified. It was examined by a team of P.F. experts before being deemed genuine for certification. In its 64 year history, the P.F. has had only two other submissions for certification of a 220 cap on right 2, but these submissions were deemed Not Genuine. Therefore, making this stamp the very first and only known certified, used cap on right 2, in existence today.

"In its 64 year history, the P.F. has had only two other submissions for certification of a 220 cap on right 2, but these submissions were deemed Not Genuine. Therefore, making this stamp the very first and only known certified, used cap on right 2, in existence today."

The listing ends March 8 at 9:36 AM PST. Bidding starts at $15,000. Click here to purchase or bid.

For any further information please call 516-209-6449, or email:

Shown above, the Philatelic Foundation Certificate and a blow-up of the "cap on the right."
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stamp Jewelry

Wear a piece of history with postage stamp jewelry from around the world!

Anna Van Tuinen's Dad collected stamps as a boy in the '60s and she loved sorting through stamps with him when she was a kid. Now she's making pendant necklaces using stamps from their collection.

Anna can also custom design a necklace with one of your stamps if your prefer. An Inverted Jenny would look nice.

Shown above, a necklace made from Japanese stamp with a crane and Japanese characters. The back is covered in Japanese Chiyogami paper with blue parasols.

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yul Brynner - Stamp Collector

Shown above a photo by Sid Avery of movie star Yul Brynner. Taken in 1953, it appears Hollywood at Home: A Family Album 1950-1965 along with other celebrity photos.

In Avery's 2002 obitiuary The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Avery's work in the 1950's and 60's was a departure from the glamorized, soft-focus portraits of an earlier Hollywood era when images of the stars were tightly controlled by the major studios. Mr. Avery showed celebrities on the movie set between takes and away from the job, relaxing with the family or engaged in household chores."

In Yul Brynner: a Biography, author Michelangelo Capua writes, Brynner "...aspired to have one of the most important collections of rare stamps ever. Yul transformed a small hobby collection (inherited from a friend who lost interest in it) into an investment collecting, exclusively United Nations stamps."

Capua goes to say, "...his 35-volume collection was one of the most complete in the world."

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

Campaign to Honor Japanese American Veterans

The Pacific Citizen in Los Angeles reports over 30,000 Japanese Americans served in the U.S. military during WWII and some feel there should be a stamp issued in their honor.

The latest proposal for a Japanese American veterans stamp was rejected according to the article. The reason: the U.S. Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee’s policy against honoring separate military sub-branches, units or divisions.

Instead the committee, which works on behalf of the postmaster general to evaluate stamp proposals, suggested creating a stamp honoring the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in Washington, D.C.

But some supporters of the Nisei vets stamp disagree with creating a stamp to honor the memorial according to the piece by reporter Nalea J. Ko.

Since the proposal for a stamp has been turned down, supporters are now focusing their efforts on changing the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) informal policy against issuing stamps for individual units, branches or divisions.

In the past stamps have been issued honoring Hispanic Americans: A Proud Heritage(1984) and Buffalo Soldiers (1994). Recently, the USPS issued the ‘Distinguished Sailors’ stamps to commemorate the service of William S. Sims, Arleigh A. Burke, John McCloy and Doris Miller.

Shown above, George Fujimori at the "Go For Broke" Memorial in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo.

Click here to read the entire article.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Revised USPS Five-Day Delivery Plan

Direct Mail News reports, "Under its revised plan to cut mail delivery to five days a week, the US Postal Service would eliminate delivery to street addresses and some processing on Saturday, but it would not close post offices."

The USPS' original five-day delivery plan called for shutting down processing on Saturdays and Sundays, according to an article by Kate Muth.

The USPS' revised plan was influenced by nearly 40 meetings with stakeholder groups, Sam Pulcrano, VP of sustainability at the Postal Service, told attendees of the quarterly Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting this week.

The revised plan also calls for the USPS to continue to accept bulk business mail at plants on weekends. Mail will continue to be transported between processing plants on Saturdays as well, Pulcrano is quoted as saying. However, the USPS would not process originating mail, which is mail entered at a post office facility, until Mondays.

Pulcrano added that customers were confused about the USPS plan, which never called for eliminating post office hours on Saturday. He said that congressional and consumer education are key to the plan's acceptance.

If Congress, and other groups such as the Postal Regulatory Commission, were to approve the plan, it would be implemented by mid-2011 at the earliest.

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

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Hampshire Collection

On Tuesday, Feb.23, Siegel Auction Galleries in New York will auction off the Hampshire Collection of United States stamps. Included in the sale are some exceedingly rare stamps from the last half of the 19th century on up to the early 20th century.

According to a spokesman for Siegel Auction Galleries, the Hampshire Collection is being auctioned off on behalf of a collector who wished to remain anonymous. The name "Hampshire" was selected by the collector and not Siegel and has nothing to do with the state or the collector him or herself.

The Hampshire collection will be available for viewing on Monday, Feb.22, from 10-4, by appointment at Siegel Auction Galleries at 60 East 56th Street, 4th floor.

Shown above, 5-cent Red Brown (12) of President Jefferson, 1851-1856 issue. Probably fewer than six exist with margins around the entire design.

To learn more, click here.

For a downloadable catalog, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, February 19, 2010

Presidential Libraries and Museums Exhibit

Larry T. Nix's exhibit on Presidential Libraries and Museums will go on display today at the American Philatelic Society's AmeriStamp Expo 2010 in Riverside, California. As mentioned in a previous post the show runs February 19-21 at the Riverside Convention Center.

The exhibit consists of six frames of 16 pages each featuring the presidential libraries and museums administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. It is entered in the Display Division which allows some non-philatelic material to be included in the exhibit. In addition to many special event and first day covers related to the libraries and museums in the exhibit, there are library dedication programs and invitations to special events. Signatures of Presidents Truman, Ford, Carter, and Clinton on items in the exhibit are included.

Larry writes on his Library History Buff Blog, "I first showed the exhibit on a non-competitive basis as a three frame exhibit at the American Philatelic Society's show in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2005 where one of the first day of issues ceremonies for the presidential libraries stamp took place. The Riverside show will be the first time the exhibit has been shown competitively at the national level. I also have a three frame non-competitive exhibit at the Riverside show featuring America's Philatelic Libraries and Museums."

For a listing of the other exhibits that will be on display, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, February 18, 2010

AmeriStamp Expo 2010

AmeriStamp Expo 2010 will be held this weekend (Feb. 19-21) at the Riverside Convention Center, 3443 Orange St., Riverside, California.

According to the American Philatelic Society, "Stamp shows provide great opportunities for buying and selling philatelic material, learning more about the hobby by viewing and attending seminars, and meeting fellow collectors. Shows range from one day local club events with as few as four or five dealers and a couple of members' exhibits to international exhibitions which may run 11 days and take the equivalent space of more than 10 football fields."

Volunteers are needed to help before, during and after the show. To offer your assistance or to have questions answered, call 814-933-3803 ext. 217 or 207.

Shown above, 2010 AmeriStamp Souvenir Card with show cancel.

For a show schedule, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Postal Vans That Run on Electricity

The Los Angeles Times reports several California companies are developing prototype postal vans that run on electricity.

Reporter Jerry Hirsch pens, "In the e-mail era, the U.S. Postal Service seems hardly plugged in -- but at least it wants its vehicles to be. The postal service has awarded contracts to several California firms to develop a prototype postal van that would run on electricity.The contracts are part of the service's effort to determine whether it can convert some, or even all, of its 142,000 delivery vans to electricity."

David Mazaika, chief operating officer of Quantum Technologies, is quoted in the piece as saying, "I couldn't conceive of a better application for an electric vehicle than as a postal service delivery van."

Postal trucks typically travel a short range rarely more than 25 miles daily, easily navigable on one battery charge battery. They usually move at low speeds, reducing the drain on the batteries. And they are maintained by "trained fleet mechanics," Mazaika said.

Tom Gage, AC Propulsion's chief executive, is also quoted. He pointed out that postal trucks are subject to constant stops and starts and low-speed idling, the type of driving "that is about the worst use of a gasoline engine" because it gobbles up fuel and spews pollution.

The aging LLVs were built by a predecessor of Northrop Grumman Corp. in the 1990s. They have a modified General Motors S-10 Blazer powertrain and chassis and can carry 1,000 pounds of mail.

The post office is looking at replacing them between 2011 and 2018.

The typical LLV gets about 10 miles to the gallon and is on its second engine and its third or fourth transmission, according to the postal service. It is driven five to six hours a day, 302 days a year and about 16 miles a day. The bodies are built from a rustproof aluminum designed to last at least 24 years according to the article.

Shown above, Tom Gage, CEO, of AC Propulsion.

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pneumatic Post

According to Wikipedia, "Pneumatic post or pneumatic mail is a system to deliver letters through pressurized air tubes. It was invented by the Scottish engineer William Murdoch in the 1800s and was later developed by the London Pneumatic Dispatch Company. Pneumatic post systems were used in several large cities starting in the second half of the 19th century (including an 1866 London system powerful and large enough to transport humans during trial runs - though not intended for the purpose) but were largely abandoned during the 20th century.

"It was also speculated that a system of tubes might deliver mail to every home in the US. A major network of tubes in Paris was in use until 1984, when it was finally abandoned in favor of computers and fax machines. In Prague, in the Czech Republic, a network of tubes extending approximately 60 kilometres in length still exists for delivering mail and parcels. Following the 2002 European floods, the Prague system sustained damage, and operation was mothballed indefinitely.

"Pneumatic post stations usually connected post offices, stock exchanges, banks and ministries. Italy was the only country to issue postage stamps (between 1913 and 1966) specifically for pneumatic post. Austria, France, and Germany issued postal stationery for pneumatic use."

Shown above, pneumatic tube letter from Berlin, Germany, 1904.

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

Monday, February 15, 2010

Joburg 2010 International Stamp Show

The South African Post Office will host philatelists from around the world at the Joburg 2010 International Stamp Show being held from Oct. 27 to 31.

It is the first international stamp exhibition to be hosted by South Africa since 1998 according to the show's co-chairperson, Howard Green.

In an write-up that appears on the website, reporter Ndaba Dlamini pens, "Seasoned stamp collectors and those only recently hooked on the hobby will be able to interact with scores of local and international philatelists and, maybe, add some rare stamps to their collections. According to the organisers, hundreds of members of the international philatelic community from 45 countries will fill up about 5800m of exhibition space."

About 1,500 frames of competitive exhibits with over 20,000 pages of stamps and philatelic material will be on display.

To take part in the stamp show, philatelists can enter the competitive exhibition by filling out a form online by no later than 31 March.

For more information, call 011 447 2233 or email

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

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Real Romance is in Snail Mail

ABS/CBN News reports, "Scratch that e-mailed greeting card and forget about text messages this Valentine's Day...real romance is in the mail."

Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost)will be offering limited-edition Valentine's stamps and specialty gift items for Filipinos who want to send their loved ones special letters or tokens this Valentine's Day.

This year buyers can choose from two different stamp designs. One has a pink background with a blonde Cupid smiling amidst a swirl of hearts and the words "Mahal Kita" (I love you). The other is printed with "I Love You" in 7 international languages, with the words "Shower the World With Love." Both stamps bear the message "Happy Valentine's Day 2010" at the bottom.

Only 70,000 Valentine's stamps will be available, according to PhilPost Media Officer Alvin Fidelson.

Also reported, "Items like specialty chocolates and flowers, sourced from local suppliers, are available at select post offices in the National Capital Region (NCR) including Quezon City, Makati, Parañaque and Pasay."

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

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Soliloquy of a Postage Stamp

From the pen of Ernest W. Brady...

"I am the world’s greatest traveler. I have been transported by camel, dog sled, pony express, bicycle, train, steamship, automobile, airplane, airship and rocket. On my face are the portraits of kings, presidents, queens, princes, princesses, shahs, sultans, tribal chiefs, adventurers, explorers, patriots, martyrs, inventors, pioneers, artists, musicians, architects, poets, aviators, dramatists, novelists, painters, athletes, cardinals, saints and sinners.

"I picture maps of the world and parts of the world. I reveal views of strange foreign beaches, rivers, lakes, sounds, waterfalls, geysers, mountains, monuments, castles, temples and ruins of temples, missions, bridges, harbors, docks, locks, waterfronts, locomotives, balloons, rockets, zeppelins, windjammers, and trans-Atlantic liners, native canoes and modern giant seaplanes. I depict all manner of sports, industries, handicrafts, customs, sacred rites, ceremonies and parades, also nearly every variety of bird, animal, fish, flower, fruit and vegetable. I delineate the vanished forms of the phoenix, the griffin, the dragon, the centaur and unicorn.

"The heroes and heroines of mythology pose within my borders and I frame the horrors of war, the blessings of peace, the plight of indigence, the blight of famine, the hardships of emigration and the beauty of male and female nudity. I illustrate the adventures of Don Quixote, the fairytales of childhood, the legends, the symbols of art, commerce, peace, agriculture, industry and the coats of arms and flags of all nations.

"I commemorate the wars, expeditions, inventions, voyages and discoveries, creations and constructions that make social life safe, livable and happy. I am the world’s greatest picture chronicle. Millions collect me. Thousands have escaped boredom through my variety, hundreds have been saved from insanity through my fascination, yet – I am only a postage stamp."

Black Cat Press
Skokie, Illinois, 1978.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, February 12, 2010

Student Stamp Design Contest reports, "ArtStamps, a school fundraising company that turns student artwork into U.S. postage stamps, notecards and other products announced the winners of its 2009 National Artistic Achievement Awards."

ArtStamps honored 50 students from states throughout the nation in five age categories, who won based on the originality and creativity of their artwork.

ArtStamps converts student art into US postage stamps, note cards or other products, which are then sold by students to support their schools. All students who participate in the ArtStamps program are automatically eligible to win the National Artistic Achievement Award.

For more information, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Boy Scout on Stamp? - Not!

According to Washington state's North Kitsap Herald,"One of the most recognizable Boy Scouts in the organization's 100-year history was never a Scout.

Reporter Tad Sooter writes, "Fifty years ago, North Kitsap's Thornton Percival's face and lanky body were made famous in prints by Norman Rockwell, who used him as a model for a series of Boy Scouts illustrations. Percival, in full Scout uniform, appeared on handbook covers, calendars and even a U.S. postage stamp painted by the legendary illustrator."

In 1957 Rockwell plucked 12-year-old Percival and a few other children from the local elementary school to use as models for magazine illustrations.

"The most widely published of the Rockwell series was a picture used on a United States Postal Service four-cent commemorative stamp. In the more than 120 million reproductions of the tiny illustration, a 14-year-old Percival is staring purposefully ahead while holding up the three-finger Boy Scout salute with his right hand," according to the article.

The stamp and prints made Percival a celebrity among Boy Scouts and stamp collectors. Requests for autographs flooded the town's post office.

The article points out "His image became a model for a generation of Scouts, but Percival was just that — a model. The boy from Stockbridge, Mass., never joined the Boy Scouts."

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heir to His Dad's Collection

The Straits Times reports "Johnson Chang's father Mr. David Chang, 51, a contractor, had a plan for him. Three years ago, he showed Johnson (pictured here) his collection of about 8,000 stamps and 750 first-day covers, valued at over $60,000."

His Dad told him, "This will be yours one day." The only condition was that Johnson had to take up stamp collecting too.

According to the paper, the boy took to the hobby enthusiastically.

So far, he has spent about $350 - from a weekly allowance of $20 - to bump up his collection to over 300 stamps.

When told of a recent Straits Times Forum letter that suggested stamps should be phased out to cut costs, Johnson looked stunned for a moment, then said: "I will print my own stamps!"

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

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Collectors Hope Kids Stick with Stamps

The Columbus Dispatch reports, "In an industry characterized by aging collectors and dwindling mail use," the future of the hobby was a popular topic of discussion at a stamp show held over the weekend in Columbus, Ohio.

Bill Britton, who gives Halloween trick-or-treaters who come to his door a choice: candy or a packet of stamps, was interviewed by reporters Tom Knox and Jeb Phillips.

Bill told them "A basic knowledge of children might lead one to think that every kid would choose a Snickers bar over a Soviet Union stamp, but about two-thirds of children choose the stamps."

According to the article, "A promising sign for the future was 9-year-old Megan Scheck [shown above] of New Albany. She had a bag full of the stamps, mostly animal, floral and food-themed. Scheck, who was looking while her father shopped, said all the girls in her fourth-grade class collect and trade stamps."

The boys don't, she said, because "they think it's too girlie."

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

Monday, February 08, 2010

Pen / Marker Cancellations - Is it Revenue Protection or Vandalism?

"dhwriting" pens on the Helium website, "All of us have probably received packages or envelopes that were posted with beautiful or otherwise very collectible stamps used to pay the mailing cost. Any stamp collector worth his or her salt feels a thrill a desirable stamp arrives this way, out of the blue. In some cases, however, those lovely stamps arrive badly defaced by postal employees using thick marker pens or ball point pens. Their value as used stamps might be fairly high if it were not for these hand cancellations.

"This practice (brutal hand canceling) is becoming more and more common, and stamp collectors all over the world are frustrated by it. It amounts to the essential destruction of collectible philatelic items that would otherwise be prized by collectors."

He/she goes on to say, "Although we understand the desire of the world's postal systems to protect their revenues by preventing the re-use of stamps, we deplore the practice of using thick markers to hand cancel stamps. Can't the postal authorities use machine cancellations? After all, the vast majority of mail throughout the world is already processed by machine. And in cases where there is no 'discernable cancel,' can't the postal employee use a neat handstamp cancellation rather than an ugly, thick line made with a marker? If only they would, the world of stamp collectors would be much happier."

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

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Mail Delivery Suspended In Washington, D.C. Area

Postal delivery was suspended Saturday for Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., Southern Maryland, and Suburban Maryland, reported.

Patrick Murphy, spokesperson for the Postal Service for Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., made the announcement early Saturday morning as a blizzard continued to batter the Mid-Atlantic region.

Several thousand people in West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania had lost electricity and more outages were expected as the snow began to bring down power lines. Authorities blamed the storm for hundreds of accidents. Some area hospitals asked people with four-wheel-drive vehicles to volunteer to pick up doctors and nurses to take them to work.

The snow comes less than two months after a Dec. 19 storm dumped more than 16 inches on Washington. Snowfalls of this magnitude -- let alone two in one season -- are rare in the area.

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

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Super Bowl Commemorative Envelope

New Orleans officials estimate that more than 700 people packed the Post Office trying to get a limited edition, Super Bowl commemorative envelope.

"The Post Office expected a crowd, but nothing like this , and not every customer was happy when the limit changed from five to two per customer," according to WWL-TV.

The envelopes went on sale at 7 a.m. and by 10 a.m., the collector's items were sold out. Officials say they are expecting another shipment, but the bulk of those will go towards filling the rest of today's orders.

The Post Office is hoping to get more envelopes from Indianapolis and Miami.

Reporter Jill Hezeau in a video report indicated, "And while the two-hour wait time for those who got here at 7 a.m. was a little rough, It was all to get their hands on a piece of history."

To read the entire article and watch Jill's video report, click here.

To watch a separate video about the envelopes (shown above), click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, February 05, 2010

France Issues Semi-Postal to Aid Haiti

The Palm Beach Post reports the French post office has released semi-postal to help victims of Haiti's earthquake.

The cost of the stamp is 1 euro (US$.1.45). For each one sold the French Red Cross will receive euro 0,44 (US$. 0.638), to help the earthquake victims in Haiti.

According to the Associated Press article, France occupied Haiti for more than 100 years, from 1697 to independence in 1804 after the world's first successful slave uprising. France still has a large presence in the Caribbean, including the two official French overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique, and is keen to be seen as a leader in the Haiti earthquake relief effort.

Shown above, president of the French Red Cross Jean-Francois Mattei, left, and Industry Minister Christian Estrosi unveil the design of the new postage stamp.

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

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Civil War Adversity Covers

According to the National Postal Museum's Arago website, "...during the Civil War, the Union blockade proved critical in restricting goods from entering and leaving the Confederacy. Southerners faced increasing shortages of supplies, including paper and envelopes. Writers began to use whatever was handy as letter writing paper and envelopes. These items are known by philatelists as adversity covers."

It goes on to say, "Letters and envelopes were fashioned from the backs of ledger sheets, printed circulars, blank pages in books, maps and even wallpaper torn from walls. Some writers re-used envelopes by turning them inside out. Any blank or partially blank piece of paper could be pressed into service as an envelope."

Shown above, an adversity cover made from wallpaper.

To learn more about Confederate civil war stamps, covers and postal operations, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Valentine Day Cancellation

Denver, Colorado's Channel 7 News reports, "Volunteers in Loveland started stamping Valentine's from around the world with a special postmark Monday. More than 200,000 people from 120 countries around the world mail their Valentine's to Loveland each year for a special cancellation stamp and message."

Loveland calls itself the Sweetheart City. Officials said the remailing program is the largest of its kind in the U.S. The Valentine Re-Mailing Program is hosted by the Loveland Chamber of Commerce and run with the Loveland Post Office.

To receive the 2010 official valentine cachet and Loveland cancellation, put your pre-addressed envelopes affixed with the proper postage in a larger 1st Class envelope. Then mail it to: Postmaster - Attention Valentines 446 E. 29th St. Loveland, CO 80538-9998

This year's cancellation is shown above.

For more on the Loveland Chamber of Commerce's Valentine Day re-mail program and other related products, services and activities, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Post Office Considering Alternatives to Postage Stamps

The Office of the USPS Inspector General wants to know, "Are there better alternatives to stamps?"

In a post on the IG's blog titled How Can the Postal Service Reduce the Costs Associated with Postage Stamps?, it points out, "Business customers often rent postage meters and use permits for bulk mail. Now, the advent of online postage vendors has given individual customers an alternative to stamps. Customers that use online postage can customize their postage and incorporate approved language or pictures."

Regarding stamp collectors it goes on to say, "Would philatelic sales suffer if the Postal Service reduced the denominations it offered? Commemorative Forever Stamps could be issued in limited quantities to satisfy collectors. Some commemorative stamps could be sold locally, while others could only be ordered and shipped direct from a central location. Forever Stamps that marked holidays or other special events such as birthdays would be very useful for people who wanted to stock up. And what could be more appropriate for wedding invitations than “Forever Love” stamps?"

To read the entire post and see comments left by readers for and against eliminating stamps, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, February 01, 2010

Chinese Error Pair Up for Auction reports, "On Nov. 25, 1968, as the Cultural Revolution raged in China, the government issued a stamp called 'Whole Country Is Red,' with a scarlet map of the nation. Within half a day of its release, post offices were told to pull it."

Jeffrey Schneider, a British Philatelic Association member whose company is holding a Jan. 31 auction of Hong Kong stamps is quoted as saying,"That’s after an editor at the China Atlas Press complained that Xisha and Nansha, islands in the South China Sea known as the Paracel and Spratly, were omitted on the map."

"There was another problem: Taiwan was colored white," writes reporter Le-Min Lim.

According to Le-min, "The island was the bastion of Kuomintang troops that were defeated by their Communist rivals on the mainland in 1949. Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek had seized control of Taiwan and claimed to be the legitimate government even of the mainland. Today, China still considers Taiwan a breakaway province that must be recaptured, even if by force."

Some of “Whole Country Is Red” had been sold before they were taken off sale. At the upcoming auction, a pair (as shown above) with a face value of 8 cents each, may fetch HK$2.2 million ($283,000). The lot is among 1,800 items that’s expected to fetch more than HK$45 million.

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