Saturday, March 31, 2012

Introducing Cub Scouts to Stamp Collecting

While the Boys Scouts have a Stamp Collecting Merit Badge, the Cub Scouts have a Collecting Belt Loop and Academics Pin. The requirements for the Loop and Pin are not as comprehensive as the Merit Badge and are ideal for the local stamp club to host an event that introduces Cub Scouts to the hobby.

To qualify for a Collecting Belt Loop, Cub Scouts must...
  1. Begin a collection of at least 10 items that all have something in common. Label the items and title your collection.
  2. Display your collection at a pack or den meeting.
  3. Visit a show or museum that displays different collections.
For the Academic Pin, Cub Scouts must do five of the following...
  • Give a talk about your collection to someone other than your family. Give a description of your collection, including a short history. 
  • Explain how you got started and why you decided to collect what you do.
  • Show how you preserve and display your collection. 
  • Explain any special precautions you must take including handling, cleaning, and storage. Note precautions for dampness, sunlight, or other weather conditions.
  • Read a book about what you collect and then discuss it with your den or an adult family member.
  • Start a new collection of at least 20 items. Label the items, and title your collection.
  • Explain to your den or an adult family member what numismatics and philately mean.
  • With your parent's or adult partner's permission, join a club of collectors who share your hobby. This club may be a group of your friends.
  • Find out if there is a career that involves what you collect. Find out what kind of subjects you need to study to prepare for such a career.
  • If you collect coins or stamps, make a list of different countries in your collection. Explain how to identify each country's issues. Make a list of "clues" that help you identify the origin.
  • With an adult partner, visit an online auction and look for items you collect. Discuss what it tells you about rarity and value of the things you collect.
  • Create a method for organizing and keeping track of your collection. Use a computer if possible.
  • Help a friend get started on a collection of his or her own.
Shown above, Cub Scout Collecting Belt Loop

For additional information and resources, click here for Cub Scout Collecting Belt Loop and Academics Pin Workbook.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, March 30, 2012

What's in YOUR Attic?

The New York Times reports,"Many families have some treasures in the attic. Fred Frelinghuysen knew he had something, too, but he realized its significance only when the time came to let it go."

According to the article by Matthew Healey, the Frelinghuysen family put their father's extensive stamp collection up for auction last week. Apparently, they didn't realize that their father's collection was one-of-a-kind and its historical significance.

"...none of the younger generation studied stamps as passionately as their father did, nor did they grasp the importance of the collection as a whole — until the time came to dispose of it," writes Healey.

Son Fred Frelinghuysen, 58, is quoted in the piece as saying, “It was a passion for him for many years. We were always aware of the collection. It was something we would bring out when we were on vacation or had time to relax.” 

Healey goes on to say,  "It is not your uncle Pete’s schoolboy album replete with five-and-dime commemoratives, but a large and expertly curated holding, put together by Peter H. B. Frelinghuysen Jr., a former congressman who died last year at age 95, that includes rarities from the earliest days of American postal history"

Among the collection’s rarities are quite a few “postmasters’ provisionals and an Inverted Jenny.

According to Scott Trepel, the head of Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, which is selling the collection, the Frelinghuysens hold the record for an Inverted Jenny stamp owned for the longest time by one family. 

Shown above, some of “postmasters’ provisionals from the 1840s in the Frelinghuysen collection .

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

No Bed of Roses for New Mailman

Ryan Bradford, a USPS Transitional Employee (TE) in San Diego, Calif., writes on the San Diego Reader website about his training and first month on the job.

According to Bradford, "The job description states that this will never lead to a career position. The base pay is $21 an hour, but with none of the medical benefits of a regular. Stations will use us until they don’t need us anymore, then we’ll be sent to another desperate outpost. We are expendable. This is mercenary carrier work."

 "The first person to speak to us during training is from the Employee Assistance Program," Bradford writes. "It’s her job to make sure no one goes 'postal.' (A bad omen for a new position?) We watch an hour long video about reading the 'language' of dogs."

After about a week on the job, Bradford pens, "You come home every night, and your fingers are torn to shreds. You are constantly jamming them into rows of paper, which get up under your fingernails, under your cuticles. You don’t vote in elections, because of the paper cuts endured from political mailings. You spend each night cutting your nails down and removing the broken skin around them."

Bradford points out, "The mailman/dog relationship is no lie. It’s like they can smell it on you, a scent that triggers their hunting instinct. But the owners are worse. Opposite of owners who talk to their pets in baby voice are the ones who scold their pets as if they were aristocratic children."

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pennsylvania's Paterno Gets Pictorial Postmark

Local philatelic icon Mike the Mailman of State College, PA. is offering an 'unofficial' postal pictorial post mark of the late Joe Paterno who was the legendary football coach the Penn State Nittany Lions.

According to Mike, "This post mark will have an image of JoePa with the following: JoePA 14094 US. Typical post marks have the town/post office it is from and the date. So this one, in a sense, stands for Joe, PA 14094. (Technically that zip code is for Lockport, N.Y., but I'm hoping they'll let us borrow it for a bit). What this postmark means to me is: JoePA 'won' 409 games 'for' 'us'."

If you would like to have one or more of the special cancellations shown above, send Mike an envelope addressed to:

Mike the Mailman
University Park Post Office
54 McAllister Building
University Park, PA 16802

Mike asks, "In this envelope, please enclose two additional self-addressed and stamped envelopes. I will then, in my free time at home, stamp this special tribute post mark on one of those envelopes, enclose it in the other envelope and mail it back to you."

For more from Mike about Joe, click here.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

British North America Philatelic Society (BNAPS) Youth Philatelic Essay Contest Announced

The British North America Philatelic Society (BNAPS) is having an philatelic essay contest for young people ages 6 – 18.

According to an press release the group sent out, "Stamp as well as cash prizes will be awarded.  Teachers, scout and stamp club leaders, as well as any adult who works with youth and the stamp collecting hobby are invited to share the contest information."

It goes on to say, "Youth are asked to find one or more stamps that are a meaningful symbol of their country.  Examples include flags, monuments, and other objects of historical significance.  The stamp(s) will be affixed to the page along with an essay of less than 250 words.  The written article should explain why the (flag, monument, historical item) is an important symbol for their country.  The essays may be handwritten or typed, double space is preferred.  The essay must be the original thoughts of the entrant."

"Prizes will be awarded by age group: 6 – 8, 9 – 11, 12 – 14, 15 – 18.  Monetary awards of $25, $10, and $5 will be awarded respectively to first, second, and third place winners in each age group.  Winners will also receive a philatelic prize.   The first 100 entries will receive a free packet of stamps.

"Only one entry per child.  Each entry should include the name of the child, complete mailing address, age as of January 1, 2012, and a brief description of their collecting interest.  Entries may be submitted electronically to  or by mail to Bob Dyer, 1708 Granada Court, Petaluma, CA 94954.  (A photocopy may be sent – color preferred.)  The entries become the property of the British North America Society and will not be returned.  BNAPS reserves the right to publish entries on its website.  The contest is open to youth of any country.  Deadline for contest entries to be received is May 15, 2012.  Direct any questions to Bob Dyer"

To visit the  British North America Philatelic Society (BNAPS) website, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, March 26, 2012

California 'Youth Stamp Fair' Attracts Lots of Youngsters

California's Ventura County Star reports about two dozen youngsters participated in the 11th annual Youth Stamp Day held over the weekend at the Goebel Senior Center in Thousand Oaks.

The free event was organized by the Goebel Senior Center Stamp Club.

Club President Richard Countess is quoted in the piece as saying, "We still have a lot of fun with our hobby, and we're trying to educate our young people that there's more to life than video games." Countess went on to say he believes to keep stamp collecting alive, parents and other adult enthusiasts must be involved.

According to the article, "Saturday's event was designed to target children with free giveaways, including a Disney stamp collecting kit for the first 20 children in attendance. Activities for kids included drawing a stamp on a postcard, and matching a set of loose stamps to a sheet of blank spaces highlighting the 1938 presidential series. Children also were free to sift through thousands of stamps donated by club members to keep for their collections."

The Goebel Senior Center Stamp Club meets the first and third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Goebel Senior Adult Center in Thousand Oaks. For more information, call 818-889-2669 or email
Shown above, one of the raffle winners, Tyler Wolfe, with his prize of four commemorative stamp club books.

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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Designed for a Queen" - Postal Portraits of Queen Elizabeth II

Canada's website reports the Canadian Postal Museum is marking Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee with an exhibition of over 600 stamps bearing her likeness.

Heritage Minister James Moore is quoted in the piece as saying, "This collection of postal portraits provides an excellent historical account of one of many examples of the Queen’s presence in the everyday lives of Canadians.”

The exhibit, “Designed for a Queen: Celebrating the 60-year Reign of Queen Elizabeth II through Stamps,” features stamps from Canada, other Commonwealth countries and British overseas territories. Places represented include Jamaica, Belize, Gibraltar, Tuvalu, Swaziland, Papua New Guinea and the Falkland Islands.

The exhibition opened March 19 and runs till October. The Canadian Postal Museum is located on the second floor of the Canadian Museum of Civilization at 100 Laurier St., Gatineau, Que., just north of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, across the Ottawa River.

Shown above, Canadian stamp issued in January marking Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee.

Click here to visit the Canadian Postal Museum website.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Words on a Stamp

Janet Klug has come up with a new topic for stamp collectors to consider - Words on Stamps.

In one of her many Linns Stamp News "Refresher Course" columns, Janet writes, "In 1975, South Africa issued a stamp to celebrate the first newspaper published in Afrikaans (Scott 449). The stamp is pictured in Figure 1. It features the front page from the inaugural issue of Die Afrikaanse Patriot, published Jan. 15, 1876. Even though the stamp is a fairly standard commemorative size, you can read every word in both Afrikaans and English — and it includes a lot of words."

Fig. 2
"South Africa's stamp wordiness continued in an intriguing way in 1987 with a stamp that has the words 'The Bible' translated into 76 different languages spoken throughout Africa. This stamp (Scott 702) is pictured in Figure 2."

In her column she cites several other examples of stamps that have a lot of words in their design.

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

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mail Carriers To Be Part of Bioterrorism Defense

Ann Bowdan reports on Kentucky's website that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Postal Service have announced that Louisville will be one of two cities in the country to test a plan that would make neighborhood mail carriers the deliverers of crucial medication in the event of a bioterrorism attack. The other metropolitan area chosen to test the pilot program was Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota.

According to Bowdan, postal workers with police escorts would be the first line of defense against a possible anthrax attack. The pilot program calls for a stockpile of the antibiotic doxycycline. With the help of the Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mail carriers would have it within 12 hours and would be delivered door to door along their regular routes."

In 2001, five people died, and more than 20 people, including postal workers, were infected by anthrax-tainted letters mailed to addresses in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania soon after the 9/11 attacks.

Shown above, letters tainted with anthrax.

To read the entire article, click here.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stamps in School

England's Rutland Times reports  pupils at Oakham Primary School  were introduced to the joy of stamp collecting by Stamps in School co-ordinator Erene Grieve, of the British Postal Museum and Archive.

According to the piece, Grieve visited the school to kick-start their interest with an hour-long session where the children were given stamps to start their collections.

Teacher Linda Galleozzie  is quoted as saying, “The children were absolutely spellbound, she made it really interesting for all of them. I was interested in starting a stamp collecting club at the school because we have lots of afterschool clubs and I thought this would be a good addition. It was something I used to do as a child."

"The idea of the project is to get children interest in the hobby while linking it with literacy, numeracy, history, geography, art and citizenship teaching," according to the article which can be found at

Shown above, pupils at the Oakham CE Primary School.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Philatelic Prankster Tests Royal Mail

UK's Daily Mail website posts an article about one of Britain's greatest pranksters -W. Reginald Bray.

According to the piece by reporter David Leafe, Bray enjoyed "attaching address labels to the strangest objects imaginable and sending them, unwrapped, through the post. Some, like an old slipper or a half-smoked cigar, were small enough to be slipped anonymously into the letterbox."

Leafe goes on to say,  "He not only posted his family’s pet dog but also, extraordinarily, himself"

"Bray began collecting stamps as a schoolboy and may have made him curious as to what could be carried through the post," writes Leafe, "Few would have been much interested in the intricate workings of Britain’s postal system, yet in 1898 Bray bought a copy of the quarterly Post Office Guide, a weighty tome that outlined in detail the regulations governing its operation. Bray viewed these rules as challenges — opportunities to see how far the Post Office would go in complying with its own red tape."

Shown above, Bray being delivered by registered post to his home. His father Edmund Bray is seen standing in the doorway accepting the receipt from the postman.

To read the entire article, click here.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Systems at Work - How the Postal Service Moves the Mail

Last December the National Postal Museum opened a new permanent exhibit titled "Systems at Work" that explains how the postal service moves the mail.

According to the museum, "The exhibit recreates the paths of letters, magazines, parcels, and other pieces of mail as they have traveled from sender to recipient over the past 200 years. In 1808, a stagecoach carries newspapers and the latest news to people hundreds of miles away. Two hundred years later, the integration of ZIP Codes™, bar codes, intelligent mail, automated sorting machines, and advanced technologies enable the U.S. Postal Service to process and deliver mail to 150 million homes and businesses across the country."

It goes on to say, "At the exhibit’s core is a 270-degree high-resolution film experience that puts visitors into the middle of the mammoth world of a mail-processing center, surrounded by examples of automated machinery that moves mail through the system at astonishing speeds."

To learn more and watch the 9-minute and 30-second film, click here.

To view the exhibit on line, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sav-A-Stamp Postal Scale

The Sav-A-Stamp postal scale is the Object of The Month on the National Postal Museum's website. The scale was first manufactured in 1933 during the Great Depression and were used to weigh letters so as not to waste a stamp.

According to National Postal Museum Historian and Curator of Postal History Nancy A. Pope, "The amusingly named Sav-A-Stamp scale could weigh items up to four ounces. The attached clip held letters or small mail pieces to be weighed by the pendulum balance. The scale [shown here] bears a postage rate chart that places its manufacturing date between March 26, 1944 and September 30, 1946, when the U.S. airmail rate was eight cents per ounce."

She goes on to say, "Manufacturers in the U.S. and other nations produced letter scales for use at home. Personal letter scales were popular through the mid 20th century. They could be purchased for relatively low prices. The Sav-a-Stamp scale sold for 69-cents in the early 1940s. Businesses purchased items such as this to give to current or prospective customers."

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

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Philatelic Estate and Financial Planning

Columnist Kristi Ellington writes on California's Gilroy Dispatch website, "Your estate could wind up paying substantial and unnecessary taxes and administrative costs – further, your wishes may not be met – the ring from your grandmother that you want to leave to your granddaughter, the stamp collection you worked so hard on that you want to leave to your son and so on."

According to Ellington,"We tend to associate estate planning with significant wealth, and while those who are fortunate enough to fall into that category are generally motivated to perform more formal and complex estate planning – it is not just for the very rich. Every one of us has an estate; as I mentioned last month, no matter your financial situation, you have an estate."

She goes on to say, "...I have witnessed on too many occasions the results of lack of planning. Beyond the financial costs there are emotional ramifications – both of which can be reduced significantly with a little advanced effort. This may be the last gift you leave to your loved ones - I urge you to take the time to put your affairs in order sooner rather than later – an added benefit is that you will have a greater peace of mind knowing you have planned for the well being of your loved ones in the event of an unexpected ability to continue to provide for them yourself. Unless you are confident that all is in order, I urge you to seek professional legal advice to alleviate potential problems down the road."

To read more and get some good planning tips, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rare Perot Stamps To Be Displayed

The Bermuda News website is reporting, "Bermuda’s Post Office will be celebrating its 200th anniversary next month with an exhibition that will include eight of the 11 known Perot stamps."

According to the article, "Bermuda’s first postage stamps were produced locally in 1848 by Hamilton postmaster William B. Perot at his Queen Street post office, consisting of the words 'HAMILTON BERMUDA' in a circle, with the year and Perot’s signature in the middle. Known as the Perot provisionals, they are among the greatest rarities of global philately. Only 11 examples of the stamps — issued until 1861 — are known to still exist."

The Perot provisionals have appeared on several Bermuda stamps as shown above. Note the flowers along the side.

Apparently Perot’s postal duties though were just a sideline. Gardening was his primary passion according to a write-up on the Bermuda Biographies website. His five-acre garden at Par-la-Ville on Queen Street, Hamilton, where he lived for most of his life, was a horticultural showpiece.

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

Friday, March 16, 2012

Australian Stamp Show Features Pieces of Polar Postal History

Australia's Canberra Times reports after finishing an economics degree, and working briefly for a major bank, Melbourne businessman Tony Shields decided to quit the world of banking finance and do something he was really passionate about. So he opened a stamp dealer's shop in Melbourne.

According to reporter Rosslyn Beeby,"His specialty is Antarctic philately (stamps, postcards, postal stationery) and this weekend's Canberra stamp show is showcasing the centenary of Sir Douglas Mawson's polar expedition. Such is the global demand for polar postal memorabilia that Mr Shields recently sold several items to a keen collector in the Czech Republic for $30,000. At the Canberra show, he has a rare letter ($9500) from Robert Scott's polar expedition in 1901, and postcards ($1500) issued to raise funds for the Mawson expedition."

Robert Scott was a Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions. During the second expedition Scott and his four comrades all perished from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold. Following the news of his death, Scott became a British hero according to an entry on Wikipedia.

Also according to Wikipedia, Sir Douglas Mawson was an Australian geologist, Antarctic explorer and academic. Along with Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, and Ernest Shackleton, Mawson was a key Antarctic expedition leader in the early 1900s.

Shown above, a letter to Robert Scott.

To read the entire article, click here.

For more on polar postal history, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Investing in Comics and Stamps

Reporter Antonia van de Velde writes on the CNBC business website, "Since 1856, Stanley Gibbons has been buying and selling rare stamps. Its index of Britain’s 30 rarest stamps has risen by almost 70 percent over the past five years, outpacing equities and gold."

However, she notes, "If superheroes conjure up happier memories than those of your stamp collection the market for collecting comic books could offer solace."

Vincent Zurzolo, COO of vintage comic book auction website is quoted as saying, "Vintage comic books have definitely appreciated over the last 30, 40, 50 years. You never see the best of the best going down in value."

An early Superman comic book just sold for $63,000, Zurzolo said. Superman made his first appearance June 1938, with an original price tag of 10 cents. Last year that edition sold for over $2 million, making it the most expensive comic book ever.

To read the entire article (and watch a video about investing in rare comic books and stamps), click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Congressman Urges USPS to Release Secret Report

Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly has filed a motion with the Postal Regulatory Commission to make public a study on the impact of mail service cuts on United States Postal Service revenue.  The USPS has filed a request with the Postal Regulatory Commission to keep the study secret.

According to a write-up on the website, "The Postal Service study quantified the impact on revenue of reducing mail service from 6 to 5 days, eliminating next-day mail service, closing mail processing facilities, and closing thousands of Post Offices.  The study may also have considered the impact of stamp price increases on projected revenue."

It goes on to say, "Congressman Connolly has argued that Postal Service reform should begin with the development of a new business model for the 21st century that would allow it to raise new revenue through innovative products and services.  He has introduced legislation, HR 1262, that would allow the Postal Service to co-locate with private facilities and state and local governments, sell new products and services through the mail, and expand voting by mail."

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Highway Post Office Bus

The National Postal Museum's Pushing The Envelope blog posts, "This advertisement, for the White Motor Company, was published in a number of magazines, including the May 24, 1941 issue of 'The Saturday Evening Post.' The company touted their longevity, 'for 40 years the greatest name in trucks' appears at the bottom of the page, and used their connection with the U.S. Post Office Department to promote itself. The bus that appears in the advertisement was used in the Highway Post Office (HPO) bus service. As railroad passenger traffic declined, railway companies were pulling more and more trains out of service. As a result, the Department began to outfit buses with mail sorting equipment for use on lines as Railway Mail Service to some towns was cut."

It goes on to say, "The advertisement refers to the first HPO bus, which was put into service that year. That bus, manufactured by the White Motor Company, is in the collection of the National Postal Museum. The ad references America’s most famous mail moving service, the Pony Express, at the top of the image. Although the Pony Express was not operated by the U.S. Post Office Department, it has become connected to the system in popular memory. The ad also includes a map of the first HPO route, which operated between Washington, DC, and Harrisonburg, Virginia."

For more on the Highway Post Office Bus, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kiribati is Disappearing Underwater

The Sydney Morning Herald reports, "The Pacific nation of Kiribati is negotiating to buy land in Fiji so it can move islanders under threat from rising sea levels, in what could be the first climate-induced relocation of a country."

According to the article by reporter Paul Chapman, "Anote Tong, the Kiribati President, said he was in talks with Fiji's military government to buy up to 2000 hectares of freehold land on which his 113,000 countrymen could resettle. Some of Kiribati's 32 flat coral atolls, which straddle the equator over 3.5 million square kilometres of ocean, are already disappearing. The total land area is 811 square kilometres and the average elevation is less than two metres above sea level."

Kiribati is a member of the Commonwealth and was known as the Gilbert Islands until independence from Britain in 1979.The islands were named after Thomas Gilbert, a British naval captain who navigated the archipelago in 1788. Kiribati is the local pronunciation of Gilbert.

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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"First Days" Digital Archive Now Available

009The American First Day Cover Society is pleased to announce the availability of the entire run of the Society journal, First Days, in electronic format.

According to a write-up on the The American First Day Cover Society's website, "Every issue of the journal from 1955 to 2011—that’s 395 issues—has been scanned in high resolution and converted to PDF format, viewable on any computer. What’s more, each issue is completely searchable by keyword. So, for instance, when you want to find information about cachet artist Dorothy Knapp, a simple search of the word ‘Knapp’ will produce results in seconds. No more flipping through musty old back issues trying to find the article you remember reading twenty years ago."

It goes on to say, "From a humble 4-page quarterly newsletter beginning in 1955, it quickly became an authoritative semi-monthly magazine under editor Gerald Strauss. Sol Koved took the helm in 1960, a position he held without interruption for 30 years. Under Koved the magazine grew in frequency (eight issues per year starting in 1982) and in size (some issues in the 1980s topped out at 180 pages). Sol’s editorials, always thoughtful and direct, became the magazine’s most-read feature. When Koved retired in 1990, Barry Newton maintained the journal’s standard of excellence for a dozen years. Since 2002, Richard Sine and Peter Martin (now in his second stint as editor) have kept First Days among the best of philatelic journals."

The entire collection is priced at $79 on DVD. There is also a USB flash drive option for $89. 

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

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Philatelic Chocolate Candy Bar Wrapper Contest

The American Topical Association (ATA) is having a contest that encourages kids to design a chocolate candy bar wrapper that promotes stamp collecting.

The winning design will be featured in the September/October edition of the ATA's Topical Tidbits and free packet of stamps will be sent when your candy bar wrapper is received.

You can use markers, crayons, paint, or whatever else you like. Just make sure it’s about stamp collecting and mail your entry by May 15, 2012, to:

Mary Ann Bowman
Topical Tidbits- Fun Foods
P.O. Box 1451
Waukesha, WI 53187

In the meantime, check out the ATA's latest edition of Topical Tidbits which features Fun Foods. On page 20 you'll find the entry form for the philatelic chocolate candy bar wrapper contest.

Click here to view Fun Foods
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Institute for Analytical Philately

Two years ago an organization was formed with the mission of solving philatelic mysteries by applying modern scientific technology. Called the Institute for Analytical Philately, Inc. (IAP), the nonprofit corporation offers funding to researchers who would like to explore scientific approaches to solving philatelic mysteries.

According to a press release issued in January 2010, "The Institute was founded by a group of dedicated philatelists who, in their 'other' lives, are scientists and researchers. More importantly, they were also senior managers responsible for getting results."

In an article, Philately and DNA, that appears in the March 2012 issue of the American Philatelist, The Institute for Analytical Philately is mentioned as possibly becoming involved in researching how analysis of traces of DNA on stamps and covers that were licked can reveal the identity of unidentified persons who died many years ago.

In November of this year the First International Symposium on Analytical Methods in Philately will be held at the National Postal Museum.

Click here to visit their website.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Persistance Pays Off in Getting Danny Thomas His Stamp

Alabama's website reports an Alabama business man, Raymond Zoghby, spent nearly four years leading a volunteer effort to have St. Jude Children's Research Hospital founder Danny Thomas' image placed on a postage stamp.

According to the article by Casandra Andrews, "Zoghby served for about a decade on the Board of Governors of St. Jude, and chaired the special events committee that erected a statue of Thomas there and pushed hard for the stamp."

She goes on to say, "When the stamp campaign began, Zoghby was undeterred by predictions that the effort was a long shot, at best...In 2008, Zoghby sent a 50-page presentation to the committee that included a 30-minute CD about Thomas, who died in 1991...The next year, Zoghby and others at St. Jude asked national lawmakers to write letters of endorsement. A petition for the stamp garnered about 15,000 signatures."

Then, Zoghby said, he would call the head of the Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committtee every six months to get a commitment which finally came in January of this year.

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

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Operation Cornflakes

Business Insider reports on how the Allies during World War II got the Nazi postal service to deliver their propaganda for them. After bombing a German mail train near the city of Linz, Austria on Feb. 5, 1945, Allied aircraft dropped eight bags of mail among the wreckage.

"Inside each bag were 800 propaganda letters, all addressed to homes and businesses along the train’s route and appropriately stamped. When the train was discovered, German postal workers recovered the bags and delivered the letters without being any wiser about their contents or origins," writes .

According to the article, "Operation Cornflakes (named so because the subversive mail was usually delivered just as its targets sat down for breakfast) had many advantages over simple airdrops, but required a lot of legwork to get off the ground. The inner workings of the German mail system had to be learned, so POWs who had been postal workers were interrogated about everything from postal cancellation markings to the ways mail bags were supposed to be packed and sealed. Spies and sympathizers gathered samples of stamps, postal cancellations, mail sacks, and envelopes while OSS staff pulled names and addresses from German telephone directories."

It goes on to say, "Every aspect of the German postal system, down to the smallest details, were replicated, with some small changes. Forgers manipulated the standard stamp with Adolf Hitler’s face to show the Fuhrer’s exposed skull. Other stamps had their country tag on the bottom changed from 'Deutsches Reich' (German Empire) to 'Futsches Reich' (Ruined Empire).

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

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

New Zealand Collector Uses Hobby to Raise Funds for Church

New Zealand's Aucklander website reports, "Victor Sutcliffe has put his own stamp on philately. His house in Titirangi has stamps everywhere you look. You could say he has this hobby licked. He has boxes of stamps in his lounge, dining room, kitchen sink and his 'operation' room. He has drawers bursting with stamped envelopes and a cupboard full of albums."

Sutcliffe, shown here, is the exchange superintendent for the Auckland Philatelic Society. He also sorts, values and sells stamps on behalf of the Baptist Church according to the article by reporter Rowean Orejana.

"His volunteer work is almost a full-time job. It takes him six hours a day to go through boxes and boxes of stamps from churches around the country," pens Orejana.

Orejana goes on to say, "Mr Sutcliffe then painstakingly sorts stamps that are valuable from those that have little value. The ordinary stamps are put in a bag and sold per kilogramme. The others are put in books and priced accordingly. These books are the ones that go to Auckland Philatelic Society collectors who buy them.

Sutcliffe is quoted as saying, "In round figures, around the country, I've constantly got about a thousand books in circulation. And every three months, I send the Baptist Church of New Zealand a cheque."

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

Monday, March 05, 2012

Signed Mercury 7 Sheet Up For Auction

The Live Auctioneers website reports a rare Project Mercury stamp sheet that is signed in two different places by each of the original Mercury Seven astronauts will be put up for auction tomorrow by Blue Moon Coins, Inc.

According to the site, the sheet was obtained by the son of a Navy captain who was working on top-secret missile technology with Lawrence Livermore Laboratories and was invited to a signing event when he was working at Cape Canaveral in 1962.

It goes on to say, "Mercury Seven was the group of seven Mercury astronauts selected by NASA on April 9, 1959. They are also referred to as the Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1. This was the only astronaut group with members that flew on all classes of NASA manned orbital spacecraft of the 20th century — Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle. These seven original American astronauts were Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper and Deke Slayton."

Opening bid is $6,000 with an estimate of $6,000 to $10,000.

According to the Sky Image LAb website, "The stamp was designed, printed, and distributed to 305 post offices across the United States in secret. The postmasters did not know what the stamps were or resembled until official word was sent to unseal the packages and begin the distributions and sale of the stamps. The Project Mercury stamp was released for sale at 3:30 pm, Feb. 20, 1962 upon the spectacular mission and successful splashdown of the astronaut, John Glenn Jr."

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

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Philatelic Crossword Puzzles

If you like to do crossword puzzles (and happen to be a stamp collector as well) then check out the Philatelic Database.

Each month they offer a different on-line crossword puzzle to perplex philatelists. Actually, they're pretty easy so you won't go crazy trying to figure them out.

The Philatelic Database is an excellent online resource for stamp collectors and others where you will find lots of information pertaining to the hobby. 

To try your brain on the March puzzle, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Stamps Authorized on This Day in 1847

The Golden Gazette News reports that on this day in 1847 the U.S.Post Office Department was authorized to issue postage stamps.

According to the article, "Private enterprise, however, beat the government to the punch, with a carrier service in New York City issuing the first-ever adhesive postage stamps to be produced this side of the Atlantic and then requiring those stamps to be used on all mail that it processed. The City Despatch Post, which was founded by London merchant Henry Thomas Windsor (then a resident of Hoboken, New Jersey), had as its agent one Alexander M. Greig—whose name, ironically, is far more remembered than that of Windsor by both stamp enthusiasts and historians."

It goes on to say, "On March 3, 1845, an Act of Congress established consistent postal rates, but it was not till two years later to the day that the production of stamps was authorized—again, by Congress. While most of the earlier stamps used by the United States City Despatch Post were somewhat crude, once stamp production was authorized the Postmaster General contracted for engraved stamps with artwork that is still sought after today by philatelists."

Shown above, the first U.S. postage stamps.

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

Friday, March 02, 2012

Appointment with Danger

Appointment with Danger (1951) is an American crime film noir starring Alan Ladd as a U.S. Postal Inspector investigating the murder of another Postal Inspector in Gary, Indiana and bust up a mail robbery.The film has a good deal of footage of a large metropolitan post office including vintage mail trucks which makes it a lot of fun to watch..

According to a write-up about the film on the Greenbriar Pictures website,"It was part of a noir cycle where enforcement agencies were methodically glorified badge by badge. T-Men, C-Men, and immigration watchdogs had been celebrated. Now it was the post office's moment. That institution could use a back-pat right now for all I'm hearing about them going broke, but we're too cynical to extend plaudits for fed employees on any job, so Appointment won't likely get remade, but 1951 being that simpler time we keep hearing about, Paramount sent out bands blaring for the USPS and put flyers into (wow!) 21,000 post offices tieing-in across the land."

And there's even a letter endorsing the film from the Postmaster General!

The film also features both Jack Webb and Harry Morgan as villains. Both would later work on the Dragnet television show as fictional police detectives for the Los Angeles Police Department.

For more background on the film, click here.

Click here to watch Appointment With Danger.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Royal Mail Fears Anger Over Stamp Prices

Britain's Telegraph reports, "Five million people will be able to buy cut-price stamps to protect them from steep rises in the cost of sending a letter, the head of Royal Mail has disclosed."

Christopher Hope, Senior Political Correspondent, pens, "For the first time, stamp prices will be frozen for some pensioners and benefit claimants to help them with the cost of sending Christmas cards this year. The deal will be limited to a few weeks in December and Royal Mail said customers would be rationed to prevent abuse of the scheme. It is preparing for a public backlash when it announces large rises in the cost of first and second-class stamps."

He goes on to say, "The price of second-class stamps is expected to increase from 36p to as much as 55p in April, and then rise by inflation every year for seven years. The price of a first-class stamp – currently 46p — will no longer be capped by the regulator."

According to the article, "Royal Mail is planning to write to households later this year setting out how the scheme will operate. A spokesman said it would be limited to the five million people who claim pension credits and other employment-related benefits."

For more on this story, click here.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM