Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pass the Thanksgiving Trivia Please

The USPS Community Connection website points out, "As one of America’s most cherished holidays, Thanksgiving harkens back to an important event in our nation’s early history.  Symbolizing abundance and gratitude, it has come to represent a moment for all of us to show gratitude.  In most people’s eyes, it commemorates a peaceful meal between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans – rare harmony between settler and native.  But how much do you really know?" 

Click here for some surprising facts about turkey day – and have something to talk about at the dinner table!

Happy Thanksgiving!
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Long Lost Photo of William Robey

George Amick was stamp collector, reporter and historian. He wrote wrote for the Times of Trenton and Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbook. 

He was also the man who discovered one of the only known photos of William Robey, the man who in 1918 purchased the sheet of 100 Inverted Jennys.

According to the USPS Stamps website, Amick "plunged deep into the story surrounding the stamp, eventually writing a book called The Inverted Jenny: Money, Mystery, Mania — an exploration of the characters and circumstances surrounding a tale of ambition, mix-ups, and surprising fortune.

Amick also wanted a picture of Robey never having seen one in print.

Eventually he not only found a photo of Robey (shown above) but uncovered some other interesting items along the way including the Inverted Jenny “locket.”

Click here to learn more.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Free Stamp Publication

John Finch writes on the website, "If you haven't checked out Stamp Insider yet, do it now. This is simply a good stamp club publication, covering a broad range of topics from eBay to youth philately to deltiology to patriotic covers and on and on. It is produced by the members of the Federation of N.Y. Philatelic Societies, Inc."

Finch goes on to say, "Al Starkweather is editor. It is an entirely digital publication: there's no print version.
For those of us who for years saw photocopied and worse club publications land in our mailboxes, this is really a great example of the benefits of digital publishing to our hobby. With a clean layout and bright, clear pictures there is no doubt that the digital Stamp Insider is pointing the way to the future of philatelic publishing."

Click here to read current and past issues.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stamp Scoop

Each month the USPS highlights a new stamp release in its monthly online column Stamp Scoop.Together with an image of the stamp there is an article formatted like a newspaper column about the stamp subject.

This month's article on the site features the new Medal of Honor stamps.

According Stamp Scoop only one US president is a Medal of Honor recipient (they are not called 'winners,' it's not a contest)... President Theodore Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery during the Spanish American War in 1898 by President Clinton in 2001.

To visit Stamp Scoop, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM

Friday, November 22, 2013

John F. Kennedy Stamp

On May 29, 1964 the United States issued its first postage stamp paying tribute to the late John Fitzgerald Kennedy on would have been his 47th birthday. President Kennedy had been assassinated the previous November in Dallas, Texas.

According to a entry on Wikipedia, "This was a challenging deadline, requiring the stamp to be designed, approved by the late President's widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, and printed in large quantities in just a few months (it was estimated that two million first day covers would need to be available)."

The entry goes on to say, "The first proposals of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing were turned down in December 1963 and in early January 1964. The decision was then made to call in the Loewy/Snaith design firm. Raymond Loewy accepted the stamp design project more for the firm's reputation than for money; the firm earned $500 for this project, a small and symbolic amount considering the amount of work involved.

"Over the next three months, Loewy's designers worked on the project. To maintain secrecy, Loewy locked the papers and projects in his safe every day, putting his thumb's fingerprint on them.Finally, Mrs. Kennedy was consulted, choosing both the design proposal and its color, a blue-gray similar to that used in the interior of Air Force One."

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Penny Black Gift Idea

Stanley Gibbons asks on their Facebook page, "How many collectors can boast possession of a Penny Black which features their initials? Starting from only £250, a Penny Black with your selected initials makes a perfect gift for any collector and comes complete with a certificate of authenticity and brief history of this iconic stamp. Why not add that extra special touch at the checkout with a deluxe presentation folder for only £9.99."

Gibbons points out, however, that the first initials are only available for letters A-T and the second initial is limited to the letters A-L.

For more on this to find out if there is a Penny Black currently available with your initials, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stamp Collectors Upset With Potter Postage

According to Washington Post reporter Lisa Rein, last month all 13 members of the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee walked out of their meeting and wrote a letter to Postmaster Patrick Donahoe demanding that he meet with them regarding the way subjects for U.S. postage stamps are being chosen.

Rein quotes Donahoe as saying he believes that the agency “needs to change its focus toward stamps that are more commercial” as a way to increase revenue to compensate for declining mail volume as Americans switch to the Internet.

Rein writes that at the urging of USPS marketing director Nagisa Manabe, a former Coca-Cola executive hired in 2012 to reinvigorate the postal brand, "the committee changed its charter to allow corporate advertising on stamps, as long as it is not featured as the main element, according to people familiar with the changes. The charter now includes 'contemporary and timely' in its criteria for new stamp selection, with 'educational' a factor but no longer an  'essential' one."

Rein goes on to say, "Many ideas for new stamps now originate with her staff and are heavy with celebrity subjects, those familiar with the changes say. Among those now under consideration are the Beatles, Apple founder Steve Jobs, basketball player Wilt Chamberlain, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and chef Julia Child."

To read the entire Washington Post article, click here.

For more on this story from Time magazine and photos of all the Harry Potter stamps, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Will Potter Postage Succeed Where Simpsons Stamps Failed?

Senior Editor Marc Graser writes on the website, "The United States Postal Service took a major financial hit when it released a series of commemorative postage stamps celebrating the 20th anniversary of  'The Simpsons' four years ago."

According to Graser the USPS lost $1.2 million when it sold just 318 million of the 1 billion “Simpsons” stamps it printed in 2009.

On Nov. 19, the USPS will give it another go and  release five-page stamp booklet featuring 20 stamps with characters and scenes from the “Harry Potter” films. This time, however, they're just printing just five million of the limited-edition Potter postage.

To read the entire article and watch a video previewing the stamps click here.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Post Office "Nixie" Clerks Battle Bad Penmanship

Facebook friend and Internet radio host Nancy Clark shared an interesting article that appears on the Mental Floss website about how postal workers decipher sloppy handwriting.

Reporter Lucas Reilly says "According to The New York Times, more than 700 postal clerks are based in Salt Lake City to decipher America’s most cryptic envelopes. And they mean business. The plant operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Each clerk processes about 20 letters per minute (that’s 1200 an hour!). If a clerk wastes over 30 seconds unearthing the address, the letter may get routed to another worker who can do it faster."

However, he points out, "... some letters remain a mystery. Each year, 200 million of the most baffling and awfully penned envelopes are handed down to a team of peek-and-poke clerks, a dying breed of postal worker who sorts mail the old-fashioned way—by hand."

He then goes on to say, "If they can’t translate the slipshod script, the letters are christened 'nixies.' The mail is sent to the last line of penmanship gurus, the nixie clerks. If they can’t untangle the meaning behind the scribbles, no one can. The mail will end up in one of two 'dead letter offices.' Any valuables get auctioned off, and the correspondence lands a date with the office shredder."

"Nixie" comes from the comes from the slang term "nix" which means to reject. Mail that is not deliverable for whatever reason called a "nixie' and is rubber stamped as such.

To read the entire article click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans Day!

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posted by Don Schilling at 9:10 AM

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Royal Mail Duped by an 'Anarchist Philatelist'

Britain's Telegraph reports, " Angus McDonagh, 64, says he has duped Royal Mail with over a hundred of his designs on letters posted all over the world. Many feature his own face in the Queen's traditional side profile complete with a comic eye patch or weird hat."

According to the report, "He has successfully sent over 100 letters to France, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and Italy - as well as all over the UK - and only one has ever been detected as a counterfeit."

Mr McDonagh, an architect who calls himself an 'anarchist philatelist', began his personal freepost system three years ago because he was upset with what he felt was "a decline in the design and detail of official Royal Mail stamps and the demise of posted letters because of email."  

McDonagh says he never meant to evade payment of the postage and "has even tried to send Royal Mail a number of cheques for the total costs, but they were all returned."

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Free Stamp Collecting Education Kit

USPS's Community Connection website is promoting Mail Mattters and their Stamp Collecting Education Kit. USPS is inviting elementary educators "to participate in Mail Matters – a complimentary online Education Kit that uses the mail to teach Language Arts and Social Studies through content and visuals that appeal to students and teachers alike."

The free downloadable kit contains teacher's materials, student materials and classroom materials such as...
  • A 4-page teaching guide with suggestions for setting up an in-school or in-class Mail Processing Facility, with desired outcomes and curriculum standards addressed (single-page for letter paper or double-page spread for legal paper)
  • Why Mail Matters class discussion prompts
  • Mail Matters postal facility job descriptions (reverse of Why Mail Matters)
  • Four pages of expository content with questions for thoughtful consideration
  • Four pages of cross-curricular learning activities
    • A Math-based activity based on barcodes
    • A Geography activity based on ZIP Codes
    • A US History lesson based on stamps
    • A Language Arts activity based on letter-writing
  • Badges for Mail Matters student personnel
  • Signs for Mail Matters identity and directions (plus Drop Box, Facility, and Road Signs)
  • A Mail on the Move poster that cleverly illustrates today’s mail system.
According to the site, "All of the content in the class discussions and learning activities are based on the Common Core State Standards in Language Arts and the Social Studies curriculum standards of the National Council for the Social Studies. A Postmaster Primer has been furnished to postmasters across the country to support your Mail Matters program efforts."

To download the materials, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 6:45 AM

Friday, November 01, 2013

Sponsor a Scout to Attend A Stamp Collecting Merit Badge Workshop

Thirteen Scouts from all over Southern California recently attended a stamp collecting merit badge workshop Saturday, Oct 26 in Northridge, Calif.

The 3-hour class covered postal history, types of stamps, soaking, mounting, albums and more. Scouts were also required to design a stamp.

Stamp Collecting Round-Up editor Don Schilling (shown above) conducted the workshop and would like to do more in the future. A $20 materials fee includes a workbook, tongs, hinges,$30 worth of stamps and other items for each scout who attends.

If you'd like to help underwrite the cost of putting on more of these workshops and/or sponsoring a scout, click here.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:00 AM