Saturday, December 31, 2011

Using Stamps

In a letter to the editor of the Topeka, Kansas, Capital-Journal, eighty-year-old Vera Casner writes, "I hear so much about the post office going broke. I remember the mail carrier rode the bus in our area twice a day in the 1950s. He carried a big leather pouch and would deliver the mail then get back on the bus to go to the post office and return in the afternoon with more mail. At Christmas time, he delivered on Sunday, too. No one talked about how much stamps cost. They were happy to hear from loved ones in service. No one complained."

She went on to say, "When my 3 1/2-year-old daughter was dying of cancer, the mailman rang the doorbell every day to see how she was. When she passed away, he was at the funeral. I guess it’s OK to push a button and send an email, but I was happy to put a stamp on a pretty card and help some man or woman with their job."

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Stamp Sparks Love Affair

Canada's Toronto Star reports, "Eugenia Yuen Chi got married thanks to a postage stamp.The stamp was from Indonesia, and it belonged to a gentleman by the name of Boen Tie Khouw, who was not interested in stamps. He was interested in Eugenia Yuen Chi."

According to the article by Oakland Ross,"She was Chinese, from Hong Kong, and had something of a philatelic bent. He was Chinese, from Indonesia, and was in possession of various Indonesian stamps. It was the early 1960s, and both happened to be studying at the University of Windsor. A friend told Boen Tie to attract the girl’s attention by giving her a stamp, wise advice that eventually blossomed into 43 years of marriage and two daughters."

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Counterfeit Dutch Stamps Discovered

The Post and Parcel website reports, "Dutch postal service PostNL has tipped off police to a series of websites selling counterfeit postage stamps.The company said the fake stamps were being sold well under face value, estimating that the damage from these websites alone could run into several million euros."

According to the article, "To the untrained eye, the stamps being sold appear genuine, but they are printed on blank sticker sheets and so lack the proper PostNL authenticity features, such as phosphor tagging.
PostNL said it has been encountering the fakes mainly on registered letters and parcels, on both domestic and international mail."

PostNL commercial director, Ger Jacobs, is quoted as saying, "At first sight, these stamps are almost indistinguishable from real stamps issued by PostNL. So I’m glad to see that our security system was able to identify these counterfeit stamps and that we were able to stop shipment of the mail items concerned.”

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

'Star Trek' Mailbox Goes Boldly Where No Mailbox Has Gone Before

CNET's Amanda Kooser ponders whether letters will get delivered at warp speed if they are sent via a Star Trek inspired mailbox aptly named NCC-USPS.

As seen here, the fancy mail box in an unidentified galaxy is a favorite with Trekies throughout the Federation. While not entirely logical, Spock would not approve of the design which consists of a standard mailbox with an original-style Enterprise docked above it.

Kooser says, "The solar-powered creation lights up a night to help guide postal deliveries at late hours. It may also function as a beacon for the next time the Enterprise crew ends up back in time on Earth to save the whales."

To read the entire article, click here.

P.S. Want to send your favorite Star Trek movie or TV star a letter or card, click here for their addresses.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Letters Are Special

Roger Angell writes in The New Yorker, "Christmas has flown, and mail at home this week will produce shiny bargain-sale notices, some bills and invitations, an early thank-you note for a gift, and a late Christmas card or two, but perhaps not an actual letter. There’s nothing new about this, but a bit of sadness, a pang, has remained since the Postal Service announced, last month, that it will soon drop any promises of next-day delivery for first-class letters."

Angell says, "Letters aren’t exactly going away. Condolence letters can’t be sent out from our laptops, and maybe not love letters, either, because e-mail is so leaky. Secrets—an expected baby, a lowdown joke, a killer piece of gossip—require a stamp and a sealed flap, and perhaps apologies do as well ('I don’t know what came over me'). Not much else."

He goes on to say, "Losing the mixed pleasures of just arrived letters may not mean as much in the end as what we’re missing by not writing them. Writing regularly to several people—a parent, a friend who’s moved to another coast, a daughter or son away at college—requires one to keep separate mental ledgers, storing up the weather or the idle thoughts or the disasters we need to pass on. We’re always getting ready to write. The letters out and back become a correspondence, and mysteriously take on a tone of their own: some rambly and comfortably boring; others cool and funny; some financial; some confessional. They stick in the mind and seem worth the trouble."

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

OSU's Postal Plaza to Become an Art Gallery

The Oklahoman's website NewsOK reports, "Oklahoma State University is renovating a downtown building called Postal Plaza with plans to turn it into a gallery to house the university's art collection. University officials hope to have the project completed by spring 2013."

Article to the article by reporter Silas Allen, "Postal Plaza dates back to the 1930s, and, as the name might suggest, it originally served as a post office. In more recent years, the building has been renovated to be used for offices. At the moment, crews are tearing out the insides of the building, he said, which left a larger, open space that is better-suited for an art gallery."

University officials chose Postal Plaza because of its historical nature and interesting architecture according to another article posted online. Because the  building is also in a central location it should make it easier for students and the public to visit.

To learn more, click here.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, December 25, 2011

What WasThe First Christmas Stamp?

According to Wikipedia, "It is a matter of some debate as to which is the first Christmas stamp. The Canadian  map stamp of 1898 [shown here] bears an inscription "XMAS 1898", but it was actually issued to mark the inauguration of the Imperial Penny Postage rate. The Christmas connection has long been reported to have been the result of quick thinking; William Mulock was proposing that it be issued on 9 November, to "honor the Prince" (meaning the Prince of Wales), but when Queen Victoria asked "what Prince?" in a displeased manner, Mulock realized the danger, and answered "Why, the Prince of Peace, ma'am".

The entry goes on to say, "In 1937, Austria issued two 'Christmas greeting stamps' featuring a rose and zodiac signs. In 1939, Brazil issued four semi-postal stamps with designs featuring the three kings and a star, an angel and child, the Southern Cross and a child, and a mother and child. In 1941 Hungary also issued a semi-postal whose additional fees were to pay for "soldiers' Christmas". The first stamps to depict the Nativity were the Hungary issue of 1943. These were all one-time issues, more like commemorative stamps than regular issues.

"The next Christmas stamps did not appear until 1951, when Cuba issued designs with poinsettias and bells, followed by Haiti (1954), Luxembourg and Spain (1955), then Australia, Korea, and Liechtenstein (1957). In cases such as Australia, the issuance marked the first of what became an annual tradition. Many more nations took up the practice during the 1960s.

"By the 1990s, approximately 160 postal administrations were issuing Christmas stamps, mostly on an annual basis. Islamic countries constitute the largest group of non-participants, although the Palestinian Authority has issued Christmas stamps since 1995."

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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Seals

Dr. Claire Panosian Dunavan writes on the Pasadena Star-News website. "Jolly snowmen with carrot-noses. Starry nights, smiling Saint Nicks. Apple-cheeked carolers. These and other postage-sized images bring back memories. In the 1950s and 1960s, Christmas seals decorated every winter card and package - or so it seems to this middle-aged reminiscer. Today, however, few folks know how Christmas seals started. In 1903, a Danish postal clerk named Einar Holboll conceived of the charitable stamp as a way to raise money for tuberculosis patients, especially children. "

In the article, Dr. Dunavan goes on to say, "Within a few years, Christmas seals spread to the U.S. After all, TB was rampant here, too. During the 19th century, some experts estimate the "white plague" killed 25 percent of young adults in our country. Back then, we had no effective drugs - just healthy food, fresh air, and - oh, yes - an extra ingredient called hope." 

Shown above, 1924 poster promoting the use of Christmas seals.

For more on Christmas seals, click here

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Philatelic Sherlock Holmes

This past week the new film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law was released.

The Detective Fiction on Stamps website says Sherlock Holmes is a popular topic on stamps. In fact, they proclaim him "the champion," with a page of his own.

According to the site, "Over a dozen countries have produced Sherlock Holmes-related postal offerings, beginning in 1972 with Nicaragua's 50th Anniversary of Interpol issue,'The Twelve Most Famous Fictional Detectives,' in which Holmes was on the high value, and continuing through the 2009 Monaco issue commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."

Shown above, 2009 release from Alderney (Guernsey) marking the 150th anniversary of Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

To see more stamps featuring the crime solver extraordinaire, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In a Post-Postal World

Monica Hesse writes in the Washington Post, "Christmas at the post office. Possibly the one time of year when everybody still makes a pilgrimage here. Over a lunch hour at this Bethesda location, the people in line at the post office stand as if they have forgotten how to be in line at the post office, as if 364 days of e-cards have left them incapable of operating ballpoint pens or responding to the orders of the middle-aged ladies who preside over their stations with an attitude best described as Stop-Your-Foolishness."

Washington based Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman is quoted in the piece as saying he wants to expand the Postal Service’s digital offerings and move away from the idea of post offices as brick-and-mortar buildings, "but the post office is forever imprisoned by its own wistful reputation."

She goes on to say, "Earlier this year, the Postal Service announced that it hoped to close up to 3700 facilities across the country by 2015, part of an effort to cut $20 billion. Suddenly, people were outraged, campaigning to save the buildings they rarely visit for a service they are using less and less. They started e-mail campaigns. Some of them noted the irony of saving the post office with e-mail campaigns. Then, last week, the 3,700 facilities were granted a moratorium , saved from shutdown at least until the spring. A Christmas miracle."

In the article she also mentions graduate student Evan Kalish whom she says has become the "philatelic poster child (stamp child?)" for post office awareness. On his website , Going Postal, Kalish has photos of  some 2,700 post offices, "shooting everything he sees on the way: pickups, antelope, clapboard, flagpoles, Ameri-kitsch Americana."

Shown above, employees at the Curseen-Morris Mail Processing and Distribution Center in Northeast Washington.

To read the entire piece, click here.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Slower Mail Delivery Nothing New

Syndicated columnist James Bovard writes in the Los Angeles Times and other papers around the country, "When people bought 'forever" stamps', they didn't realize that the name referred to the delivery time, not stamp prices."

In an op-ed piece U.S. Mail: Slow and Slower, Bovard claims the Postal Service has been intentionally slowing down first-class mail for almost 50 years.

He writes, "The U.S. Postal Service announced plans this month to phase out overnight delivery of first-class mail. Postal officials are portraying the decision as a painful but necessary budget-induced departure from a long history of exemplary service. In reality, the Postal Service has been intentionally slowing down first-class mail for almost 50 years. It's time to end the post office's monopoly on letter delivery."

Bovard points out, "In 1960, the post office's annual report announced 'the ultimate objective of next-day delivery of first-class mail anywhere in the United States.' But official standards for overnight delivery were lowered later that decade, trimming the target zone from statewide to areas conveniently covered by mail-sorting centers. At a high-level meeting in 1969, postal management decided 'to no longer strive for overnight mail delivery and to keep this a secret from Congress and the public,' the Washington Post reported in 1974. Management also considered cutting costs by educating Americans not to expect prompt service, according to the Post."

He goes on to say, "Back in 1764, colonial Postmaster General Benjamin Franklin — yes, that Benjamin Franklin — proclaimed a goal of two-day mail delivery between New York and Philadelphia. In 1989, the Postal Service's goal was two-day delivery from New York City to next-door Westchester County, N.Y. Under the new standards, the target for overnight first-class delivery was reduced from a 100-to-150-mile radius to often less than 50 miles. The Postal Service estimated that the changes could add 10% to the average delivery time for first-class mail, which was already 22% slower than it had been in 1969."

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rural Postal Carrier’s Christmas Postcard, 1915

Jessica Sadeq, public affairs specialist at the Smithsonian Institution, sends Round-Up readers a holiday greeting along with this little item...

"On Dec. 21, 1915, Rural Free Delivery letter carrier, John S. Mac Ilroy, sent this Christmas postcard to William Taylor, a patron on his Pittstown, N.J., route. The back of the postcard has a printed five-stanza poem titled 'If' that includes the verse, 'when packages due don't come on time / And those who are sending don't raise their sign / it sure would save anxiety / if I knew you and you knew me.'

According to Jessica, "Many rural letter carriers left holiday postcards for their patrons, though few went as far as Mac Ilroy in creating specialty cards such as this one. Fortunately for Mac Ilroy, he remembered to place a stamp on this postcard. Carriers who simply placed postcards in their patrons' mailboxes without stamps were subject to disciplinary measures for misuse of the mailbox."

This item is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum.

To view the Smithsonian's interesting exhibit about rural mail delivery in America, "Bringing the World Home," click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Always Christmas in Santa Claus, Georgia!

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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

China - Denmark Joint Issue

China Daily reports, "A two-year collaboration between the Danish and Chinese postal systems bore fruit last weekend, when a pair of intaglio-engraved stamps was officially issued in Nanjing."

According to the article by Mike Peters, "Engraving stamps from steel plates is a fading art, as cheaper offset printing and digital ways to deliver postage and mail dominate the market. But engraved stamps represent a great tradition of fine design and craftsmanship, says Lene Reipuert, the head of stamp production for Denmark Post. She and Martin Pingel, the Danish agency's design chief, were in China last week for the Nanjing ceremony."

Peters goes on to pen, "The two stamps represent centuries-old inventions astronomers used to survey the night skies. The 'abridged armilla' from Ming-dynasty China and the 'great equatorial armillary sphere' of 16th-century Denmark are etched in fine detail on the newly minted Chinese stamps, valued at 1.20 yuan, and two 6-kroner stamps that will be issued in Denmark on Jan 4."

"China Post turned to Denmark for help after stamp engravers there won an international prize for a series of Hans Christian Andersen stamps," Peters points out.

"Stories by that Danish writer are very popular in China, and the culmination of the program will be a series of four Danish stamps honoring Andersen designed in China, which will be issued in Copenhagen next June."

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

Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the Trail of Snail Mail: A First-Class Letter’s Trip

AnnMarie Costella, assistant editor of  the Queens Chronicle in New York traces the route of a first-class letter from sender to receiver.

Costella pens, "Whether it’s a bill payment, greeting card or correspondence to a friend or relative, few people give much thought to what happens once they drop a letter in a mailbox, provided it meets its destination in a timely manner."

She points out, "Presently, first-class mail is processed between midnight and 6 a.m. to allow for delivery on the next business day. But under the Postal Service’s proposal, which could be implemented next May, processing would be done from midnight to noon the next day, extending the delivery time to two to three days."

Stephen Larkin, executive vice president of the Flushing branch of the American Postal Workers Union is quoted as calling the new plan “self-destructive,” and " believes the two- to three-day anticipated delivery time is unrealistic given the logistics of the route, and expects the time of arrival for first-class mail to be closer to four to six days."

Costella concludes, "In comparison, if one were to drive the letter directly from Flushing to Jamaica, a distance of about six miles, it would take approximately 12 minutes, provided there is no traffic."

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 Top Stamp Picks

USPS's Beyond The Perf has announced this year's top five favorite stamps.

Chosen from an informal poll of more than 1,000 people, here are the results....

#1 Owney the Postal Dog
#2 Civil War
#3 Edward Hopper
#4 Garden of Love
#5 U.S. Merchant Marine

To view some of the comments from poll participants regarding these and other stamps, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Five-Month Moratorium on Post Office Closures Announced

Bloomberg Business Week is reporting, "The U.S. Postal Service is imposing a five-month moratorium on closing facilities, meaning five Alaska post offices are safe -- for now."

Agency spokesman Ernie Swanson is quoted as saying that the waiting period, set to end in May, will give Congress time to act on "relief" for the agency. A bill aimed at overhauling the cash-strapped postal service is pending in the Senate writes reporter Becky Bohrer.

According to Bohrer, "In July, the postal service said it would study more than 3,600 offices for possible closure, including 36 in Alaska. Under pressure from the state's congressional delegation, it eventually removed all but five Alaska offices from consideration, since they generally were in remote communities not connected to a road system."

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cover Reveals Names of China’s Space Pilots

According to CollectSPACE News, two space experts recently discovered a philatelic cover [shown here] from 2010 that they believe was signed by seven Chinese space pilots. Until the discovery of this envelope, the names of China’s space pilots were kept secret.

Lisa, today's Round-Up guest blogger, writes, "Remarkably, the cover is signed by two female space pilots, Wang Yaping and Liu Yang. Space experts speculate that one of those women will be the first Chinese woman to go into space. Though it was already believed that Wang Yaping was one of the female space pilots, Liu Yang was a surprise."

Lisa points out "Space experts found the philatelic cover for sale on a German stamp collector’s online shop. Details about the German collector’s identity and how he obtained this signed envelope are still unknown. The philatelic cover was postmarked on May 10, 2010, the same day China officially chose its seven new space pilots. "

She goes on to say, "This discovery is of great interest to space observers. However, it also provides important insight into why stamp collectors, are so fascinated by stamps and philatelic covers. Stamps and philatelic covers are a big part of our history as people. They are tools we use to help us communicate with each other, and sometimes they even help us communicate messages that make history."

For more on this story, click here.

[Editor's Note: Lisa is a guest post writer from the Blog Content Guild. She writes about stamp collecting, recreation, and the Brooklyn storage industry.]
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

“Mail Call” - New Exhibit at National Postal Museum

Last month, The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum  opened “Mail Call,” its new permanent exhibit, exploring the history of America’s military postal system.

According to the Postal Museum Website, "Visitors can discover how military mail communication has changed throughout history, learn about the armed forces postal system from the American Revolution to the present day and experience military mail through exciting artifacts and letters. The exhibit offers an appreciation of the importance of military mail and the hard work that has gone into connecting service men and women to their government, community and loved ones at home."

It goes on to say, "The exhibit features a number of interesting artifacts that bring to life the story of military mail. Highlights include a camouflaged bag used to drop letters from helicopters during the Vietnam War and a postal handstamp recovered from the USS Oklahoma, which was sunk in the bombings at Pearl Harbor in 1941. In addition to letters and official correspondence on display, the accompanying film Missing You: Letters from Wartime, provides visitors access to the dramatic firsthand records and heartfelt sentiments exchanged between writers on the frontline and the home front. The exhibit also explores how the military postal system works today and describes the new ways the men and women of the armed forces are communicating with home."

Shown above, March 1919 postcard sent from France which is part of the exhibit.

Click here to learn more.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, December 12, 2011

2012 Stamp Preview

Want a sneak peek at what 2012 will bring in the way of new U.S. postage stamps?  Click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Last Christmas for Bethlehem Post Office?

The Associated Press reports, "The Bethlehem [Indiana] post office is one of more than half a dozen with winter-themed names that are on a list of about 3,700 post offices nationwide the U.S. Postal Service has proposed shuttering to help slash costs. The postmarks from Snow, Okla., Antler, N.D., and Chestnut, Ill., might also fade away."

According to the article, "There are other places that will still offer a holiday postmark. North Pole postmarks will still be available in Alaska and New York. Six other states have a Bethlehem. But the proposed closures mean that it could be the last time these rural outposts get to take pride in the purpose their postmark brings each holiday."

It goes on to say, "Bethlehem’s heyday as a bustling 19th century river town is far behind it. There’s not much left beyond a few dozen homes for the 100 or so residents, a church, an old schoolhouse and a view of the Ohio River’s swirling waters framed by bluffs in adjacent Kentucky. Its first post office opened in March 1816, and has moved several times over the past two centuries, now housed in a modular trailer.

"During the year, the office handles only about 120 pieces of mail each week. But come the six-week Christmas card crush, it surges to about 16,000 overall. Much of that mail arrives in packages filled with bundles of letters, postage already affixed, from as far away as Germany, France and Great Britain. Other cards are delivered in person to the postmaster, often from people whose families have sent cards with the postmark for years."

Shown above, postmark cachet depicting the three wise men following the Star of Bethlehem on a letter stamped at the Bethlehem, Ind., post office.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 8:45 AM

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Everything You Wanted to Know About Self Adhesives

Well known philatelist Ken Lawrence posts on the Abbey Newsletter webpage, "When pressure-sensitive adhesive made its first appearance on postage stamps in the 1960s, most stamp collectors regarded it as a gimmick. These stamps represented a radical departure from traditional lick-and-stick stamps that had employed water-activated adhesive since 1840."
He goes on to say, "The United States was not the first country to put pressure-sensitive gum on stamps. For the first three countries to issue self-stick stamps—Sierra Leone in 1964, Tonga in 1969, and Bhutan in 1969—an alternative to water-activated gum was practical. All three countries have humid climates, in which old style gum has a tendency to get messy when days and nights are damp for extended periods of time."

According to Lawrence, "In 1996, a U.S. Postal Service authority was quoted as having predicted that the adhesive on self-stick stamps "is likely to turn to powder as it ages," perhaps in 80 to 150 years. Interviewed for this report, the official stated he had been misquoted, and had merely speculated that this transformation might occur, but that no tests had verified it."

Shown above, first U.S. self adhesive postage stamp issued in 1974.

To read the entire report, click here.

To learn how to remove self adhesives from paper, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, December 09, 2011

Ambassadors of Beauty

Father Raymond J. De Souza of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Kingston, Ontario writes on the National Post website,"The beauty of our cathedral will be shared with Canadians far and wide this year, albeit unwittingly for most. Canada Post's Christmas stamps for 2011 feature the magnificent stained glass windows of our cathedral. The designer, Andrew Perro, did a brilliant job of rendering the rich colour and detailed complexity of the enormous windows into the tiny format of the postage stamp. I offer the Mass amidst those windows every Sunday evening, so I am delighted that Canadians - and those around the world who receive mail from them - will get a glimpse of that beauty."

He goes on to say,"The use of stained glass images, a first for Canada Post, was inspired. For in the field of sacred art, stained glass has a particular place. It is art permanently for the people; stained glass windows cannot be put in museums or galleries. They adorn churches, sacred spaces to be sure, but also public places open to all. "

Father De Souza points out that stained glass is also an "apt metaphor for reality of the Church," quoting Pope Benedict as saying "From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendour."

To read the entire article, click here.

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

Thursday, December 08, 2011

"Post Office" - The Play

Show Business Weekly reports a new play by David Jenkins "might just help to give new focus to the ailing U.S. Postal Service!"

According to a write-up on its website, "In the playwright’s world premiere Post Office a 19-year-old mail carrier receives advice and mentorship from an aging postal worker who is intent on telling the younger man everything he knows."

Reporter John Rowel goes on say, "Meanwhile, the 19-year-old embarks on an affair with a disillusioned housewife, who imparts lessons of a radically different stripe. Jenkins’s play considers what the decline of the U.S. Mail means for three residents of a small town, each of them linked by the mail system. It’s a timely look at the state of the American dream and the decline of an American institution."

Performances take place at the New Ohio Theatre in a production directed by Josie Whittlesey, and featuring David Gelles, Anney Giobbe and Eric Hoffmann.

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

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Date To Remember

This month's American Philatelist magazine remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor with several interesting features and articles.

One of those articles is by Lawrence Sherman who writes about a variety of patriotic covers that were prepared on December 7, 1941.

Sherman pens, "Seventy years ago America was stunned, grieving, and angry. The Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941 killed more than 2,400 men, crippled the United States Pacific Fleet, and opened the way for Japanese conquests ranging to the borders of India, the Aleutian Islands, and the threshold of Australia. The spur of the attack never lost its sharp edge throughout the nearly four years of war that followed the date that has indeed lived on in infamy. This was reflected in the large number of illustrated envelopes that commemorated the event and memorialized those who had died. In the last weeks of 1941 U.S. event covers served as snapshots of the suddenly changed war picture."

He goes on to say, "A few covers were legitimately canceled on the day of the attack. However, it was a Sunday, post offices were closed to patrons, and there was little opportunity to have envelopes properly postmarked.

"A few enterprising individuals responded immediately to the challenge. One was William J. Batura of Brooklyn, New York, who had been tracking wartime events during the time of U.S. neutrality. Batura prepared a cover containing a printed special delivery cachet, franked the mail with a blue 16-cent air mail special delivery stamp of 1934 (Scott CE1), and sent the envelope“Via Air Mail / Special Delivery” to himself. He succeeded in having it machinecanceled in Washington, DC, the evening of December 7. Receiving marks on the back indicate the envelope arrived at the Ridgewood Station, Brooklyn, at 10 the next morning. Presumably, Batura added his hand-lettered announcement of the Pearl Harbor attack once the speedy missive was delivered."

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

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Add a Fun Santa Postage Stamp to Your Holiday Mail

Lisadh writes on the Happy Snowman page on Squidoo, "If you're looking for a way to make your Christmas cards or letters a little jollier or to make your kids Santa letters more convincing, Santa postage stamps might be what you're looking for. These days, you can find thousands of great, original designs on genuine US postage. From funny Santa cartoons to vintage art, holiday postage stamps are available in designs to please virtually everyone."

She goes on to present sampling of some of the labels available online.

[Editor's Note: Just think how more effective this great idea would be by using with any number of postage stamps depicting Santa issued by the United States or even other countries (think Christmas Island). These are readily available at many stamp shows and are sold on-line at eBay or by individual dealers.]
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, December 05, 2011

Letters To Santa Program

Rehobeth Beach, Delaware Postmaster Rick DeWitt (shown here) has volunteered to take on the additional duty this holiday season of being one of Santa's letter writers as part of the national "Letters to Santa" program

According to an article that appears on the website, in 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to letters addressed to Santa.

In 1940, mail volume for Santa increased so much the Postal Service invited charitable organizations and corporations to participate and provide written responses to the letters and small gifts to the children who wrote them. 
According to the U.S.P.S.,  post offices around the country let charitable organizations, major corporations, local businesses and individuals adopt letters to Santa.

When asked how many letters to Santa the Post Office receives each year, Freda Sauter, a Postal Service spokeswoman in Baltimore is quoted as saying,  "It's difficult to know an exact figure, because some offices may participate one year and not the other. Nationwide, we believe it's easily in the millions (of letters.) You do not have to be a postal worker to respond to letters."

To read the entire article, click here.

For a list of particpating post offices, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Next Day Mail Delivery to Be a Thing of The Past?

Fox news is reporting, "The Postal Service on Monday plans to formally propose eliminating overnight standards for first-class mail, as it makes sweeping changes in a bid to avoid insolvency."

Sue Brennan, Postal Service spokeswoman, confirmed to Fox News that the service is moving forward with the overnight standard change. If approved, it means first-class mail would generally take more than a day to reach its destination.

Brennan explained that the Postal Service needs to overhaul service standards as it closes hundreds of processing facilities. U.S.P.S. announced in September it would look at closing 252 more facilities, aimed at saving up to $3 billion -- after closing nearly 190 over the past five years.

According to the report, the Post Office is looking at losing up to 35,000 positions as well, and ending Saturday delivery.

Shown above, Scott # 1496, First Day Cover from 1973.

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

Saturday, December 03, 2011

USPS Thinking About Going to the Cloud

According to a report on Ed O'Keefe's Federal Eye website, " The U.S. Postal Service is thinking about going to the cloud. The cash-strapped agency recently proposed a new online mailbox system that could receive and store official documents like bills, legal correspondence and health records."

Reporter Alicia Mazzara and GovLoop pens, "The Postal Service has been struggling as mail volume has dropped over the years. Several other countries already offer an electronic mailbox system. While it’s clear that the USPS needs to think of ways to stay relevant in the electronic age, many public servants were skeptical about this latest eMailbox proposal."

Government workers’ concern with the eMailbox had less to do with the concept and more with the agency implementing it. “If this had been offered a few years ago I would have jumped right in,” said Kirby Coon, an employee at the Department of Agriculture. “However, the service that is received from USPS today is not something that inspires confidence they could pull this off.”

Not everyone was as pessimistic about the Postal Service’s ability to adapt. “There is no reason the USPS can’t figure out how to leverage the information age to enhance their business and services,” said Richard Rynearson, a National Parks Service employee. “The people at Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others are constantly coming up with innovative web applications. The USPS can too.”

According to an entry on Wikipedia, "Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet)."

Shown above, 2004 Cloudscapes stamps.

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

Friday, December 02, 2011

New British Radio Series - The Peoples Post

Hellmail Postal News reports, "Monday 5 December sees the launch of an exciting new series on BBC Radio 4. The Peoples Post is a 15 part series exploring the history of the postal service through the people that use and work for it. The series begins in the 16th century in the reign of Henry VIII and explores some of the key moments in the nearly 500 years since then. Each weekday there will be a new 15 minute episode touching on a different part of this fascinating and evolving story. The programmes are being broadcast at 1.45pm until 23 December."

 According to the write-up, "The series is supported throughout by The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA). With each episode there will be new content loaded onto the website, Flickr and this blog, exploring some of the issues in more detail. Links to these will be provided via Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Much of the research for the series has also been drawn from the Royal Mail Archive, which is managed by the BPMA. Images and details from the BPMA's rich collections will illustrate each episode."

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

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Facts About the National Postal Museum

The City Walking Guide website points out that "The National Postal Museum is home to over 5.9 million items. This massive collection began with just one sheet of 10-cent Confederate postage stamps that was donated to the Smithsonian in 1886."

The site goes on to say that...

• Funding for the museum comes from the US Postal Service, The Smithsonian’s annual federal appropriation and private gifts from individuals and corporations. Most of the items in the museum are donations as well, which come from individuals and foreign governments.

• The current National Postal Museum didn’t open until July 30, 1993. Before then, the contents of the museum were kept in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building from 1908 to 1963. Between 1964 and the opening of the National Postal Museum, the collection was kept in the National Museum of American History.

• The National Postal Museum is massive at 75,000 square feet with a 90 foot high atrium. 23,000 square feet of that is for exhibitions and the rest is made up of a 6,000 square foot research library, museum shop and stamp store.

• William H. Gross founder of the investment firm PIMCO and an avid stamp collector, donated $8 million to the museum in September 2009. This money was gifted to go towards expansion of the museum, which will be called the William H. Gross Gallery and is expected to open in 2013.

To learn more about the National Postal Museum, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM