Monday, January 31, 2011

Royal Mail Launches Its First iPhone App

Royal Mail has launched its first iPhone app according to a post on the Mobile Technology website.

According to an article by Jonny Lyman, the new Royal Mail Smilers® app lets people instantly create their own personalised postage by downloading photos taken on their iPhone.

Jonny goes on to say, "After uploading a chosen image, users can pick from a range of different stamp designs and background themes, with the option to create either round or rectangle shaped Smilers, with designs available to suit all occasions."

Philip Parker, Royal Mail Stamps, is quoted in the piece as saying, “We’re delighted that through Royal Mail’s first iPhone app we’re now able to make Smilers® even easier to use, and to help turn those special moments into personalised postage.”

Shown above, Royal Mail Smiler® using a round format personalized photo frame.

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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Are New Egyptian Postal Rates to Blame?

The Egyptian Study Circle (ESC) website reports that Dr. Mostafa El-Dars at the Jan. 8 meeting of the ESC talked about his recent visit to Cairo and the difficulties faced by the Post Office and Philatelic Bureau.

According to the site, "He announced increases in postal rates to £E2.50 (from £E1.50) for overseas Air Mail and £E1 (from 55p) for registration. Noticing that stamps of value £E1, £E1.50, £E2 and £E2.50 were all on sale, he experimented each value on four letters home to UK - needless to say, all arrived by air without any difficulty."

Apparently, much of the turmoil in Egypt is the result of a poor economic situation, so could it be the rise in postal rates may have contributed to the riots?

Shown above, various pieces of postal stationary superimposed on a map of Egypt.

For a history of the Egyptian postal system, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Feminist Icons Honored on Australian Stamps

Farah Farouque of the Sydney Morning Herald reports four women have been "stamped for posterity as 'Legends' in a culture that leans to celebrating sporting prowess over the achievements of agitators."

Germaine Greer, Eva Cox, Elizabeth Evatt, and Anne Summers were chosen as Australian Legends for their commitment to gender equality as part of the Australia Day celebrations and will appear on an new Australia Post stamp series.

The women rose to prominence in the 1970s, addressing women's inequality in Australia and overseas through writing, activism, judicial work and advocacy according to the article.

Germaine Greer expects news that her face will grace an Australia Post stamp will receive a mixed reaction.

According to a separate article, she is quoted as saying, "You might find it (the stamp) on lavatory systems all over Australia. One little stamp of an old lady."

The Australia Post 'Australian Legends Award' began 14 years ago when Sir Donald Bradman became the first living person, other than a ruling monarch, to be featured on an Australian stamp.

Shown above, (from left to right) Germaine Greer, left, Eva Cox, Anne Summers and Elizabeth Evatt.

Click here to read the article by Farah Farouque along with a video about the "feisty feminists" and their new stamps.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, January 28, 2011

Stamp Art Fever - New App For iOS Devices

Stamp Art Fever 1.0.1,a new simulation game for iOS devices (iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad),is featured on APPMODO, mobile applications blog.

According to the site, in it you are "a stamp collector continuously searching for new pieces to add to your collection."

The game was designed by independent Italian software developers Francesco Chessari and Nicola Pacini.

The article (which is based on a company press release) goes on to say, "Stamp Art Fever revolutionizes your virtual world, great graphics and a perfect game of chance allows this application to become a must have. Download it immediately and begin to categorize your stamps. You have several ways to get the stamps you are looking for: the Philately and the Black Market. The game is enlivened by events, such as fire and theft, which could slow down your career."

Game elements include:
  • Visiting the Philately and making your purchases
  • Selling your duplicates and creating a portfolio with which buy the missing stamps
  • Searching for your missing copy in the Black Market
  • Increasing your credit “dirty” on the Black Market by selling your duplicates
  • Protecting your collection from Fire and Theft
  • Connecting with your friends and proposing exchanges (multiplayer)
 For more on Stamp Art Fever 1.0.1, click here and/or on the YouTube screen shot above.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's 'The Year of The Rabbit' ...So Why The Kumquats?

According to USPS' Beyond The Perf website, "...the Year of the Rabbit stamp design was inspired by artist Kam Mak’s memories of growing up in New York City’s Chinatown. Mak uses personal photographs as the basis for his sketches and, ultimately, his final painting."

The site goes on to say, "Kumquats, such as those depicted in the stamp art, are often given as gifts and eaten for luck during the Lunar New Year. The fruit holds a special place in Mak’s recollections, as shown in the poem below."

From My Chinatown by 'Year of The Rabbit' stamp artist Kam Mak

In Hong Kong, my grandmother
is in her kitchen
making pickled kumquats.

In Chinatown, there are kumquats
piled high on every street cart,
wooden crates packed full of suns.
mama takes forever, hunting for
the ones with leaves attached.
Leaves are good luck.

But she doesn’t know how to pickle them.
grandmother wouldn’t tell her.
“If I told you, you’d never come to see me again!”
she said, and winked,
slipping one last kumquat
into my bowl.

To see sketches and photos of other Lunar New Year stamp subjects Kam has done previously, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Post Office - Too Big To Fail?

Brett Booen writes on the Supply Chain Digital website that he wouldn't be surprised if he saw the USPS disband because there simply wasn't mail to be carried anymore in 10 years.

However, he points out that it would be unrealistic to think that the USPS would ever be shut down completely.

According to Brett, "It’s probably one of those agencies, like banks, that are simply too big to fail. The USPS also has too much importance in American history to not exist. After all, there is a governmental decree stating that the USPS is obligated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality."

He goes on to say, "According to recent USPS figures, however, mail volume is down nearly 20 percent since 2007. The decreased activity has landed USPS in a situation where the cost of operating its processing and delivering network exceed the revenue brought in by the price of postage and products. USPS also reported that collection mail was down nearly 50 percent over the last decade."

Robert Cavinder, USPS Appalachian District Manager in an opinion piece for a local newspaper is quoted in the piece as saying, “Even when the economy recovers, mail volume is not expected to return to previous peak levels. The decline has left the Postal Service with a mail processing network that is too large for the amount of mail it now processes.”

To read the entire article, click here.

In a related article that appears in the Washington Post, staff writer Ed O'Keefe says Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, shown above, is  "targeting about 2,000 postal stations and branches - smaller, mostly leased sites often in skyscrapers or shopping plazas - that don't employ letter carriers," for closure.

Donahoe is quoted as saying, "We have post offices out there that we have two customers, or three customers come in in an entire day. Remember the Maytag repair man? He used to have the loneliest job in the world. We probably have about 5,000 postmasters that have the loneliest job in the world."
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SANDICAL 2011 Brings Out the Curious

The website reports this past weekend's SANDICAL 2011 attracted quite a few people who wanted to find out what their collections were worth.

"For attendees, the free appraisal service, dubbed 'What’s in Your Attic?' generated plenty of buzz. Similar to the PBS television program Antiques Roadshow, the service lets residents submit their collections to Sandical volunteers to get a rough idea of their worth," writes reporter Mike Freeman.

SANDICAL 2011 volunteer Bob Eygenhuysen is quoted as saying  that on Saturday a man brought in a bowling-ball carrying case stuffed with old letters from Liechtenstein that his parents had received.

“He asked, does this have any value,” said Eygenhuysen. “I said yeah, take it to a dealer. He sold it for $185. It paid his way to the Monster Truck Rally.”

Proceeds from the show go to support the San Diego Philatelic Library in Escondido, which is dedicated to the study of stamps.

Shown above, Marc Pomeroy, left, of Oceanside looks on as Lowell Tucker reviews Marc's stamp collection and advises him on its value.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, January 24, 2011

Neon Stamp Artist

The Los Angeles Daily News reports artist Michael Flechtner, 59, shown here, has created the U.S. Postal Service's first "neon" stamp design.

Staff Writer Kevin Modesti pens, "The idea of the first-ever 'neon postage stamp' had raised questions when it was proposed in 2009 by U.S. Postal Service art director Phil Jordan."

Phil is quoted as saying, ""Most neon is huge, and stamps are so small. The mechanics would be a monumental challenge. Not everyone thought we could pull it off."

Ken goes on to say, "He took only a week to produce a 34-by-44-inch array of tubing spelling out "CELEBRATE!" against a background of pyrotechnics and balloons. Then he drove the piece in his '57 Chevy to Washington D.C. There it was lit with neon gas and digitally photographed."
The result is a "forever" stamp that will be issued March 25.

According to a related article that appears on the USPS website Beyond The Perf,  Phil came up with the idea for his stamp design while watching a fireworks display.

“I felt that fireworks, with all their color, light, and motion was the embodiment of a celebration,” he's quoted as saying,“Since neon is all about color and light, it was the perfect design for the medium.”

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

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blind Postal Employee Overcomes Visual Challenges

Richard Watkins with the Postal Service’s Office of Corporate Communications and Laura Dvorak share the story of Frank Facio, a blind Southern California Delivery Bar Code Sorter (DBCS) operator, on USPS's Your Postal Podcast.

According to the piece, Frank, 53, learned when he was a teenager that he had Retinitis Pigmentosa, and that with time he would lose his sight completely. He was hired by the Postal Service in 1982 as a letter sorting machine operator in Phoenix.

Frank is quoted as saying after he went completely blind, "I got a call from one of the union stewards in Arizona named Roger. He called me and asked me to come down to the Post Office to see what kind of work we can find for me back out on the workroom floor. So one of the first things he took me to was the
Laura says,"It took demonstration and persuasion on Frank’s part to convince others he could operate the DBCS efficiently. The Post Office had many concerns about Frank operating the machine and working on the workroom floor."

He was able to modify the DBCS by applying Braille to the stackers and to the bread racks. And also marking down a place near there to put various equipment for dispatching to allow him to take the full trays from the machine to the equipment.

"When Frank isn’t at work, some of his favorite activities are playing beeper baseball, playing base guitar with his country band, reading, and going to the movies," according to Laura. 
Franks says if you or someone you know is sight-impaired, he'd like to talk with you or them. You can e-mail him at

Shown above, Frank Facio operateing a Delivery Bar Code Sorter

To listen to Frank and the entire Podcast (as well as an original piece from Frank's band), click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Billy Bunter and the Blue Mauritius

The Auckland Philatelic Society website features an interesting article about Billy Bunter - a fictional character created by Charles Hamilton using the pen name Frank Richards.

According to the site, "After the Second World War Bunter appeared in novels, written for older children, but able to be enjoyed by older people still young at heart. Billy Bunter and the Blue Mauritius was first published in 1952. Bunter is basically an anti-hero, who is overweight, gluttinous, woefully short-sighted, lazy, cowardly and stupid. "

It goes on to say, "In Billy Bunter and the Blue Mauritius, Billy Bunter is returning to his boarding school from a picnic, and decides to take a short cut through some woods which are out of bounds. Bunter gets lost in the woods, stumbles around in the gathering gloom as night falls, and eventually falls asleep. He is woken up by the sound of a thief, who has apparently stolen a stamp, being pursued by the local landowner, Sir Hilton Popper, and his grounds staff. The thief stumbles into Bunter, resulting in the thief's capture, and enabling the stamp to be retrieved and returned to its owner."

The stolen stamp turns out to be 'The Blue Mauritius,' one of two stamps issued in Mauritius in September 1847 which have "acquired a legendary status, and sold for increasing and eventually astronomical prices."

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

Friday, January 21, 2011

Scholarships for Stamp Collectors

Maureen Katemopoulos, a contributor to,  lists several organizations that provide scholarships to philatelists and postal history scholars.

Among these are...

The Julian Chapman Memorial Scholarship -  a traveling scholarship administered by the Royal Philatelic Society which is open to philatelists worldwide wishing to study Commonwealth stamps or postal history. The scholarship covers travel, accommodation and subsistence costs. Applicants must provide an outline of the proposed subject of study and how it applies to the applicant's previous philatelic research. Curriculum vitae information calls for philatelic accomplishments as well as personal details.

Smithsonian National Postal Museum and Confederate Stamp Alliance Scholarship - for research and analysis into the design of a Confederate stamp. The $2,000 scholarship is for doctoral candidates and advanced graduate students. It covers the cost of travel to Washington D.C., or any library with Confederate State archives.

The Rita Lloyd Moroney Awards For Scholarship In Postal History -  The United States Postal Service (USPS) sponsors two annual scholarships to increase awareness of the role the post office plays in contemporary life. The $1,000 junior scholarship is for undergraduate and graduate students. The $2,000 senior scholarship is for faculty members, independent scholars and public historians. Any topic centered on the history of the American postal system qualifies for entry. It's open to any theses, dissertations and conference papers accepted or presented within three years before the application deadline.

Duck Stamp Contest Scholarships - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an annual contest for duck stamp designs. In the New Hampshire contest, for example, a $500 scholarship goes to the Best-of-Show winner. Best-of-Show winners from the state-level contests go on to represent their states in the national contest. The winning work at the national level becomes the following year's official duck stamp.

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

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Scottish - Not U.S. - Cattle in the Storm

Janet Klug in the Jan. 24 edition of Linn's Stamp News points out a rather interesting philatelic factoid in her 'Refresher Course' column about the 1898 $1 'Western Cattle in the Storm' stamp which is pictured here.

Often cited as one of most beautiful and best designed U.S. postage stamps ever issued, Janet says, " The design, however, is taken from a painting named 'The Vanguard' by Scottish artist James McWhirter. In fact, the cattle in the painting - and on the stamp - are moving through the snowy western highlands of Scotland."

According to The Swedish Tiger website,  the "...painting was copied, without the permission of the owner, Lord Blythswood, by an American Cattle Company as a sort of trademark.This image caught the attention of the Post Office Department and Raymond Ostrander Smith, the staff designer of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing at the time, and it was adopted for the $1 design. Little did the designer know that the scene depicted was in Scotland, not the Western U.S., as was supposed. A full apology was later issued to the owner of the painting."

Click here to read the entire article, Stamp Collecting Terms Have Changed Greatly Over the Years by Janet Klug.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Martin Luther King Day Volunteers Give Time and Talents

Pennsylvania's Centre Daily News reports volunteers of all ages donated their time and talents this past Monday in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Melissa Jalloh, a Penn State senior who was one of the volunteers at Centre Crest, the county’s nursing home is quoted in the piece by Anne Danahy as saying, "Every day should be Martin Luther King Day. Every day should be a day of service."

According to Anne, "Jalloh and other students, along with volunteers from the Centre County Retired Senior Volunteer Program — RSVP — were working with Centre Crest residents. That included stuffing teddy bears for the children’s wing at Mount Nittany Medical Center, cutting stamps off envelopes for the American Philatelic Society and giving Centre Crest residents manicures."

Gretchen Moody, director of education for the American Philatelic Society (APS), told the Round-Up that the Centre Crest's recreation director, Karen Soble, is a supporter of the American Philatelic Society and offers nursing home residents an ongoing stamp station where they can volunteer their time trimming stamps from envelopes that the APS supplies.

Gretchen said an additional 28 students donated more than five hours of "enthusiastic" service at the American Philatelic Center itself on Martin Luther King Day.

According to Gretchen, the students worked in the American Philatelic Research Library sorting stamp albums, trimmed stamps from envelopes for the Education Department, assembled Stamp Collecting Beginner Kits sold through the APS Marketplace, and prepared 250 children’s bags for giveaways at upcoming APS stamp shows.

"We tried to make stamp collectors of them," Gretchen said, "Several said their interest was piqued and will be back to visit the APC to learn more. Two students hope to host a beginning stamp collecting class once they learned that the APS Education Department will be happy to teach the class."

Shown above, Centre Crest residents Lyle Nearhood, left, and Virginia Miller, right, cut stamps from envelopes for the American Philatelic Society.

To read the entire Centre Daily News article, click here.

Click here for more on the APS student volunteers on the APS Facebook page
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Should Country Bring Back War Savings Stamps?

Marygayle Ritzert of Boonville, Indiana writes the editor of the Evansville Courier and Press...
To the editor:

In these times of tight government budgets, I wonder why there is not a push by the government to sell U.S. Savings Bonds instead of looking only to foreign money to fund projects. I remember buying savings stamps at school during World War II for 10 cents.

The stamps went into a booklet and, when it was filled, the booklet was taken to the bank and traded for a U.S. Savings Bond that was called a War Bond. Celebrities — particularly movie stars — traveled the country on bond drives promoting the sale of War Bonds.

Today there could be similar drives to promote U.S. Savings Bonds. Perhaps there could be infrastructure bonds for roads and bridges, thus creating jobs.

Even if there are no bond drives, we can still help fund our nation by buying savings bonds. If there is a payroll deduction plan for bonds at your workplace, sign up. For retirees, we can buy bonds at a bank or by mail. There is a mail-in form at along with extensive information on U.S. Savings Bonds.
To read the entire letter and read the responses, click here.

Click here to learn more about war savings stamps.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lance Armstrong Sponsorship Worth $103M to USPS

The Boston Herald and other papers around the country are running an Associated Press story that says, "Studies commissioned by the United States Postal Service estimated the agency received at least three times the value of the $32 million spent sponsoring Lance Armstrong’s cycling teams during their heyday."

According to the Associated Press, "...reports by a pair of marketing firms covering 2001-2004 state the USPS received $103.6 million in domestic value from sponsoring the Armstrong-led teams during his historic run of Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005."

It goes on to say, "The studies estimated the value of the sponsorship increased yearly, beginning with USPS receiving roughly $18.5 million in value in 2001 and peaking at $34.6 million in 2004. The 2004 report noted that exposure, and value, increased in part because of the creation of Armstrong’s LiveStrong bracelets and his then-relationship with singer Sheryl Crow."

In a related story, newly released Postal Service documents show that, as early as 2000, officials were becoming queasy about news stories tying Armstrong and the team to alleged drug use. USPS officials also maintained they had no knowledge of doping on the team.

Several Armstrong teammates and associates have appeared before a grand jury in Los Angeles that has been investigating pro-cycling for months, but no charges have been filed.

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

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Buy One, Get Two Free Offer

Elaine M. Dunn of Stamp News Publications writes to say the first edition of Stamp News Online was released on Jan. 7.

According to Elaine, "While there are some online-only society publications, Stamp News Online is the only general interest stamp magazine that is a strictly online publication. Each monthly issue will contain 40 pages or more of lasting content, drawing on new articles and writers as well as some of the great articles from past Stamp News publications."

Stamp News Publications is also the publisher of Mekeel’s Weekly and U.S. Stamp News.

Elaine says for a limited time, she is offering the first 1,000 respondents—a buy one, get two more free online publications offer. A six-month subscription to Stamps News Online, Mekeel’s Weekly and U.S. Stamp News is being offered for $9.  The only condition is that you must subscribe by June 30, 2011 or before the first 1,000 responses are received, whichever comes first.

To take advantage of this “three pubs for one” offer just mention where you saw it and send $9 to Stamp News, 42 Sentry Way, Merrimack, NH 03054. For credit cards, phone free 603-424-7556, or fax 800-977-7550.

Click here to view a sample copy of Stamp News Online.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are Self-Adhesives Ruining the Hobby?

Reporter Susan Gamble of Canada's Brantford Expositor quotes postal employee Jacqueline Cowper in an article titled, The Stickier Points of Stamp Collecting, as saying, "Self-sticking stamps are ruining the hobby for collectors." Jacqueline deals with a lot of collectors and she hears their complaints "all the time."

Susan, who attended the annual Brantford Stamp Club stamp show and talked to attendees, learned that self-adhesives have become "the bane of collectors who, for decades, have easily soaked stamps off envelopes with nothing more than water."

She points out, "The sticky problem has grown into a world-wide trend with many countries embracing the self-sticking stamp and many collectors can't be bothered dealing with the adhesive."

"Those that love the stamps and hate the glue can still collect," according collector Walter Hopfinger who "soaks the self-sticking stamps in hot water in the kitchen sink for about 20 minutes and then laboriously peels away the stamp from its glue, trying to leave the now-white gum on the envelope."

"It takes a lot of patience, but you don't want to destroy that beautiful stamp.If you have difficulties, cut around the stamp and put it in your album as it is," he advises. "It's still beautiful."

The American Philatelic Society advises self-adhesives "should not be soaked as these stamps will separate into layers of paper before coming off the envelope."  Also, the top layer of the stamp has been known to "crack" or even disintegrate altogether.

To read an informative article from the American Philatelist on how to remove those "sticky" self-adhesives, click here.

Shown above, the first self-adhesive stamp issued by the United States in 1974. Over time unused copies of the stamp have become badly discolored as seen in the photo.

Click here to read Susan's entire article and watch a video about the show.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, January 14, 2011

Postal Rates Going Up in April

The Associated Press is reporting postal rates will go up again in April, but the cost of sending the basic letter will remain the same.

According to the report, "The post office said the 44-cent price of a first-class stamp won't change, but heavier letters will cost more. The basic rate is for the first ounce, and the price for each extra ounce will rise from 17 cents to 20 cents."

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe is quoted in the piece as saying, ""While changing prices is always a difficult decision, we have made every effort to keep the impact minimal for consumers and customers doing business with us at retail lobbies."

Its filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission also said the agency expects to raise rates annually in mid-April. The last rate increase was in May 2009.

Other decisions on rates included:

— Post cards will rise by a penny to 29 cents.

— Letters to Canada or Mexico increase to 80 cents, from 75 cents to Canada and 79 cents to Mexico.

— Letters to other international destinations will remain unchanged at 98 cents.

— Express Mail and Priority Mail prices are not affected.

—There will be a variety of price changes for other mailing services, including advertising mail, periodicals and packages.

Shown above, postal rate increases since 1885.

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

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Postal Employees After Hours

Nancy Pope, a curator with the National Postal Museum, writes about the museum's new microsite, Postal Employees After Hours.

According to Nancy, "Like many Americans, postal workers have found ways to bond outside the office. Postal workers have had a long history of involvement in group activities outside of work hours, through sports teams, musical groups, charity work, and even in retirement. The National Postal Museum has launched a project to begin compiling an account of what postal-related organizations, past and present, do after normal business hours."

She goes on to say, "Employees cited many reasons for participation, such as facilitating union solidarity, exploring common interests, and reaching out to the greater community. However, the reasons most often cited were the pure enjoyment of other postal employees' company and the fun of engaging in these various activities as a group."

Shown above, The Singing Mailmen of Miami’s album from the 1960's promoting the Christmas "Shop and Mail Early" campaign.

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

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Post Office May Have Met Its Match in Atlanta

According to the Associated Press, "The U.S. Post Office may have met its match with Atlanta's ice storm."

Spokesman Michael Miles is quoted in the short dispatch as saying, "... the post office can handle rain, snow, sleet and hail, but ice is a different matter." He said mail delivery is restricted to few places around metro Atlanta because "for many just getting to work has been virtually impossible."

Miles indicated that the problem right now is that it's "very dangerous out there because of the ice."

A winter storm that dumped as much as seven inches of snow around parts of metro Atlanta has left the city's streets a treacherous mix of snow, slush and ice. FEDEX and UPS have also temporarily ceased operations because of the weather.

Shown above, 2006 stamps featuring photographs of snowflakes.

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Queen’s Head to Stay on Stamps

The Queen’s head will remain on stamps regardless of who buys the Royal Mail after the UK Government decided to amend its controversial privatisation legislation according to an article by Alan Jones on Britain's Press and Journal website.

Alan pens, "The government said that after listening to the views of members of both houses of parliament and raising the matter with Buckingham Palace, it had decided to build in a new safeguard.The Postal Services Bill, which receives its third reading in the Commons on Wednesday, will be amended to give ministers the power to require an image of the Queen to appear on postage stamps."

Postal Affairs Minister Ed Davey is quoted in the piece as saying, “At the moment there is no legal requirement for stamps to use the Queen’s head. Royal Mail has always done this voluntarily by convention as they are extremely proud of their royal connection."

Moya Greene, Royal Mail’s chief executive, is also quoted and points out, “The monarch’s head has been a key feature of Royal Mail stamps since the Penny Black was issued in 1840. We are very proud of our longstanding royal association. It’s unthinkable that Royal Mail stamps would not have the image of the monarch so we strongly support any measure that fully protects that key feature of our stamps.”

Shown above, the original 1966 photo of Queen Elizabeth II by John Hedgecoe which she approved for use on postage stamps in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth. Printed billions of times over the last four decades, it is likely that this is the most reproduced image in history.

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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Workers Upset With Post Office Following Incendiary Letter Incidents

WUSA-TV9, in Washington, D.C. reports post office employees were upset after it supposedly took 45 minutes before police stepped in and evacuated the building Friday after a package addressed to Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano ignited.

According to a separate article appearing on the Right Perspective website, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told The Associated Press the package (which was similiar to the one shown above sent to Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley) began popping and flashing before shooting out “a brief flash of fire.” The parcel then extinguished itself without hurting any postal employees.

However, Dena Briscoe, President of Local 140 of the Postal Workers Union, is quoted in the WUSA - TV9 piece by Lindsey Mastis as saying managers had failed to follow worker safety protocols .

Postal worker James Pickett is also quoted.

He said, "We handle the mail, we shake it up, and if something goes off, we're the guinea pigs. The post office has the mentality of somebody has to die it seems, or be seriously injured, before they'll evacuate a building."

Lindsey asked officials at the Post Office why it took so long to evacuate the building, and whether protocol was followed. A Post Office spokeswoman released the following statement in response: "The Postal Service goal has always been to keep employees safe--to keep customers safe and to keep the U.S. Mail safe."

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

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Canadian 'Year of The Rabbit' Stamp Inspired by Traditional Chinese Embroidery

Canada Post has issued two stamps designed by Paul Haslip (shown here) in celebration of the upcoming Chinese Lunar Year of the Rabbit .

Paul is quoted in an article by writer Shi Rong on the website as saying, ""I thought rather than a rabbit sitting there and looking at us, let's have this rabbit on the move. We want to be a little more playful with it, so that's one thing make this very unique. That is a basic raw idea; everything else is built from there."

His words were echoed by Alain Leduc, Stamp Design Manager with Canada Post.

Leduc said, "There's the need to come up with a design that's as multi-dimensional and powerful as the previous one, but also something very different from the past stamps in the series."

According to the article, "The international stamp was inspired by traditional Chinese embroidery. The image of two rabbits chasing each other in an endless circle is based on a traditional Chinese robe medallion. The stamp also uses gold foil to mimic the metallic gold thread in the embroidered design. This element also signifies that this is the Year of the metal rabbit, which occurs every 60 years."

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

Saturday, January 08, 2011

APS Offering Two 'On The Road" Courses This Spring

The American Philatelic Society (APS) is offering two 'On The Road' courses this springThey are...

Philatelic Marketplace

March 16-17, 2011 (prior to St. Louis Stamp Expo) with Clark Frazier
St. Louis Renaissance Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri
$195 for APS members and $295 for nonmembers
(Course discount of $15 if registered by Feb. 23)

Prepare to navigate the maze of valuing, buying, and selling stamps and philatelic material with Clark Frazier, APS Summer Seminar instructor since 2006. Learn how to determine the value of philatelic collectibles — from items already in your collection to material that you’re interested in buying or selling.

Students will engage in hands-on practice of information presented. U.S. material is primarily used with applications for the buying and selling of worldwide stamps. Whether you are a beginner, advanced collector, have aspirations of becoming a dealer, or you are a full time dealer already, this course is for you.

Exhibiting for the Prize

April 27-28 (prior to WESTPEX) with Rich Drews and Tony Wawrukiewicz
San Francisco Airport Marriott, San Francisco, California
$195 for APS Members and $295 for nonmembers
(Course discount of $15 if registered by Mar. 30)

Land the big one with this course! Starting with a quick review of the basics, this course will delve into intermediate and advanced level topics of exhibiting to help exhibitors who wish to win a Grand Award or beyond, or to compete at the challenging international levels.

Students will explore how judging takes place in all the various exhibiting divisions. They will discover what considerations ― including treatment, succinctly conveying knowledge and research, and difficulty of acquisition ― will affect award level, and gain insight into what is in the mind of judges as they make their decisions.

Students will learn what separates Silver and Vermeil from Gold, and what it takes to reach the sought-after Grand Award level. Exhibitors will be encouraged to bring their exhibits for assistance and comparison with a wide range of successful exhibits in all disciplines.
Click here to register for these and other classes offered by the APS. For more information contact Gretchen Moody, APS Director of Education, or call (814) 933-3810.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, January 07, 2011

Irish Posties Get New Uniforms reports, "After years of military-style uniforms with peaked caps, shirts and ties, the postmen and women of Ireland will don “workwear” to deliver the post. And for the first time in the history of the postal service, knees may be visible.Launched yesterday at the GPO, the new An Post uniform will be worn from today. It includes knee-length shorts for warm summer days as well as steel-toed boots with crampons to deal with snowy winters."

According to reporter Fiona Gartland, "Looking like a delivery man from an American sitcom, Keith Lally shivered in the summer outfit yesterday, with shorts, short-sleeve shirt and baseball cap. The 19-year-old postman said staff were pleased with the uniforms."

Keith is also quoted as saying,  “They are much more practical. The old trousers were brutal; they had no pockets for our scanners and weren’t practical at all."

Practicality, weight and the ability to machine wash were all factors considered in the design, a spokeswoman from An Post said.

Shown above, An Post staff model the new-look uniforms outside the GPO in Dublin.

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

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Post Office to Test Sales of Gift Cards

The Washington Post reports the Post Office is planning a two-year test beginning in May, with about 2,000 post offices selling gift cards issued by companies such as American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa, according to papers filed Wednesday with the independent Postal Regulatory Commission.

Reporter Randolph E. Smid of the Associated Press pens, "The first test will be at post offices that also sell greeting cards. If that works out, the experiment will expand to another 3,000 offices or so in October in hopes of getting in on holiday card sales."

He goes on to say, "Current plans call for sales of fixed amount cards of $25 and $50 value, plus variable-value cards where the buyer can designate the amount at between $26 and $100. In addition there will be a fee of $4.95 for a fixed amount card or $5.95 for a variable one. The cards will have to be purchased from a clerk."

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

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Paul Calle, Postage Stamp Designer, Passes On

"Paul Calle, a commercial artist whose most famous work was no bigger than a postage stamp, died on Thursday in Stamford, Conn. Mr. Calle, one of the most highly regarded stamp designers in the nation, was 82," writes Margalit Fox of the New York Times.

She goes on to say, "Mr. Calle (pronounced KAL-ee) designed more than 40 United States stamps, licked by generations of postwar Americans. He was best known for the 10-cent stamp, commissioned by NASA and issued in 1969, commemorating the Apollo 11 moon landing that year.

 "With [son]Chris, he designed two 1994 stamps — a 29-cent first-class stamp and a $9.95 express-mail stamp — commemorating the moon landing’s 25th anniversary. Father and son also collaborated on stamps for Sweden, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the United Nations."

On July 16, 1969, the day Apollo 11 when the astronauts lifted off, one of the things they carried was the engraved printing plate of Mr. Calle’s commemorative stamp. As the moon lacked a post office, a proof made from the plate was hand-canceled by the men aboard the spacecraft according to the Times article.

Interviewed after the moon landing, Mr. Calle divulged "the secret of his rigorous craft:" “When you do a stamp,” he's quoted as saying, “think big, but draw small.”

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

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Vote For Your Favorite Stamp reports the Smithsonian Institution's National Postal Museum is asking for help in selecting an iconic stamp that will best represent the United States in its planned William H. Gross Stamp Gallery.

One of the choices is the first Priority Mail stamp - the $2.40 Apollo 11 single. Currently it is in the lead with 60% of the vote.

Reporter Leonard David writes, "The moon-landing priority mail stamp was unveiled back in 1989, during ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of Apollo 11's July 1969 moon landing...The stamp features two astronauts planting the Stars and Stripes on the lunar surface. The designer of the stamp was Christopher Calle of Ridgefield, Conn. Calle is the son of Paul Calle, the veteran illustrator who produced the first moon-landing tribute stamp, a 10-cent airmail stamp issued on Sept. 9, 1969."

Other stamps in the competition include those picturing...
  • The Statue of Liberty
  • The Capitol Dome
  • The Liberty Bell
  • Shield, Eagle and Flags
  • The Freedom Statue
  • The Flag and Fireworks 
The stamp that receives the most votes by January 20, 2011, will be the winner.

Shown above, an Artcraft cacheted cover created  by space collector-dealer, Ken Havekotte

According to a write-up on the website it would be "considered an unofficial First Day Cover (FDC), as it was canceled not in the official First Day City, Washington, DC, but at four locations in the KSC-area: KSC, Cape Canaveral, Titusville and Merritt Island, FL. As such, it would be considered both an unofficial FDC and an anniversary cover."

To vote, go to
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, January 03, 2011

Old No. 32, The Marmon "Wasp"

A new first-class stamp will issued later this year for the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.

"Featuring an image by artist John Mattos, the stamp depicts Ray Harroun driving No. 32, the Marmon 'Wasp', the customized yellow-and-black car in which Harroun won the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911," writes reporter Rodney Richey in Indiana's Herald Bulletin.

The article goes on to say, "Ray Harroun was a mechanic who drove the Marmon 'Wasp,' which he designed, to victory in the first race. That car featured another feature he invented: the rearview mirror."

As a result, Harroun was the first driver to race without someone else with him to watch for cars from behind according to a writeup on the Marmon Group website.

A part-time racer, Harroun worked for the Marmon Motor Car Company, an early 20th century producer of passenger cars. Built from stock Marmon engine components, the "Wasp" was built with a smoothly-cowled cockpit and a long pointed tail to reduce air drag unlike most race cars of the period.

The Marmon “Wasp” was also featured on a 17.5-cent stamp in the Transportation series in 1987.

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

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New York's Great Post Office

The National Public Radio website features a four-minute audio segment about Manhattan's Farley Post Office titled A Hidden World Inside New York's Great Post Office.

Designed in 1912 by the famous architecture firm of McKim, Mead and White, the Farley building covers two square city blocks is almost completely empty and has been transformed into a "train hall."
Tim Gilchrist, president of the Moynihan Station Development Corp. has been working for more than 15 years to turn the abandoned post office into a train station that will take some of the load off of Penn Station.
The article points out, "The Farley Post Office was a self-contained city within a city, with a medical wing, photo studio, cafeteria, fitness room, even a jail for any miscreants who tried to meddle with the mail."
The building prominently bears the inscription: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, which is frequently mistaken as the official motto of the United States Postal Service and once held the distinction of being the only Post Office in New York City open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week according to an entry on Wikipedia.
To read the entire article and listen to the broadcast, click here.
For more on the history of the Farley Post Office, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Philatelic New Year Resolutions

In addition to the usual 'lose weight' and 'quit smoking' resolutions, here are some philatelic New Year resolutions you might want to consider...

1. Set aside time each day to work on your collection. Even if it's just 15 or 20 minutes, it adds up.

2. Read at one or two good books about the hobby. One of my favorites is The Romance of Stamp Collecting by Ernest A. Kehr. Another good one is The Postage Stamp by L.N. and M. Williams. Both are available at

3. Join a local stamp club and a national society. If you're not already a member of your local stamp club or The American Philatelic Society and/or American Topical Society - SIGN UP! The people you meet - and the benefits you'll derive - are well worth the price of membership.

4. Take a class. If you haven't been to one of the American Philatelic Society's Summer Seminars, you've been missing out on one of the great philatelic experiences of all time. APS also offers classes on-line.

5. Help a Boy Scout get their stamp collecting merit badge. Contact your local Boy Scout Council and ask what you need to do to become an stamp collecting merit badge counselor. If you need some help in putting together the training, the APS and I can help.

For some ideas on how to keep these and other New Year's resolutions, click here.

Have a Happy!
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM