Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Chicago's Post Office of the Dead

This is a bit of old news but I thought it a good topic for Halloween.

Fellow blogger, Neal Ungerleider did a post on Gridskipper.com earlier this year about Chicago's old main post office.

He wrote, "Chicago's old main post office lies vacant and abandoned. But one visionary architect, John Ronan is trying his best to turn the old post office into the largest municipal cemetery in the world."

He cites Chicago Reader journalist Lynn Becker who noted that the building looks like a mausoleum and wrote in a very article, "The old post office has been vacant since 1996 and various attempts to turn the space into luxury lofts or a hotel/office complex were scuttled due to a morass of tax regulations and competing claims over the downtown building."

To read Lynn's complete article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller

Coming out on DVD this week is the 1988 Canadian film, Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller.

According to Netflix.com, "Silver-tongued Tommy Tricker (Anthony Rogers) cons young Ralph James (Lucas Evans) into trading away a prized stamp from his dad's collection in this inventive children's fantasy directed by Michael Rubbo. In the process of trying to recover the stamp, Ralph discovers how to miniaturize himself and travel the globe on the corner of a letter. Rufus Wainwright makes one of his first film appearances singing 'I'm a Runnin'."

For more on the film (which was previously available only on VHS), click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Irish music

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Maken, The Dubliners, The Chieftains, and Altan will be featured on a set of four Irish stamps being released November 7.

According to Irish Stamps Collectors News, "The stamps feature four groups that have been instrumental [no pun intended, I suppose]in bringing Irish music to a worldwide audience in the last four decades."

In a related news item; the past, present and future roles of traditional Irish music in the shaping of Irish culture was one of the main issues discussed at the 19th annual Douglas Hyde Conference held last week in Ireland. The event titled ‘Many Streams, One Broad River’ also involved discussions on the influence of Irish music on other cultures around the world.

To read more about the conference, click here.

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

Saturday, October 28, 2006

US aerograms to disappear

Linn's Stamp News reports that the United States Postal Service will no longer issue aerograms when the supply on hand is gone.

David Failor, executive director of stamps services for the Postal Service is quoted as saying, "Demand for these has been next to nothing for the past five years."

Shown above is a commercially produced aerogram from the Roland Austin Collection. Such areograms are highly unusual and hard to find.

If you're interested in areograms, you might want to check out Aerogramme.com which is dedicated to the study and enjoyment of world-wide Aerogrammes (Aerograms), Air Letter Sheets and the equivalent.

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

Friday, October 27, 2006

Stamp Class

The Battle Creek Enquirer ran a nice article earlier this week about Dr. Richard Bloch and his 4th grade class stamp class at the St. Joseph Elementary School in Battle Creek, Michigan.

According to the paper, "At the beginning of each class, which has 12 members, Bloch teaches a short lesson to the children and then dumps a pile of thousands of stamps on a table at the back of the room."

These stamps are duplicates of Bloch's collection or donated stamps from others stamp collectors in the Kalamazoo Stamp Club.

Bloch started the class after he retired from a career in medicine in the community and then at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in the early 1990s.

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

Thursday, October 26, 2006

2007 US Stamp Program

Oklahoma Statehood,International Polar Year, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Pollination, Marvel Comics, the art of Disney, Ella Fitzgerald, the settlement of Jamestown, Jimmy Stewart, vintage mahogany speedboats, pacific lighthouses, Louis Comfort Tiffany and Alpine Tundra are just some of subjects on US stamps scheduled for release next year.

Also included are stamps for:

Jury Duty: Slated for September, the Postal Service calls attention to the importance of jury service, a cornerstone of democracy in the United States.

Mendez v. Westminster School District: 2007 marks the 60th anniversary of a groundbreaking World War II-era legal case in which a group of civic-minded Hispanic parents in California successfully sued to end segregation in their schools.

For additional information and photos of the other 2007 stamps, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Royal Mail to stamp out online problems

Customers using Royal Mail's new online postage service are reporting problems with internet transactions according to Lara Williams of Computing.

Williams reports that the new service launched in September allows customers to buy stamps online and print them out as unique bar codes onto envelopes or labels.

A Royal Mail spokesman is quoted as saying, "The system has not crashed and the majority of customers are still experiencing a full service.A very, very small percentage of customers are experiencing difficulties and we are working on the problem to make sure everything is put right by the end of the week."

The SmartStamp postage online service offers customers a range of posting options including First Class and international services with the ability to print out in a number of forms, including a Certificate of Posting and Customs forms for international deliveries.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Birds and the Bees

According to USPS NewsLink, a symposium sponsored last week by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) was "an appropriate site" to introduce its Pollination Stamps series.

Washington, D.C., Postmaster Yverne Pat Moore told the NAPPC, “The animals featured on the stamps are beautiful ambassadors of nature.” Moore added that the new postage is “a special way to honor the beauty that is in our midst each day.”

Four species of pollinators appear on the stamps, along with four kinds of wildflowers. The pollinators include a pair of Morrison’s bumble bees, a calliope hummingbird, a lesser long-nosed bat and a southern dogface butterfly.

The stamps, designed by artist Steve Buchanan, will be issued in the summer of 2007.

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

Monday, October 23, 2006

Post Dates

Post Dates: A Chronology of the Intriguing Events in the Mails and Philately by Kenneth A. Wood belongs on every stamp collector's book shelf.

According to a Amazon.com review, "This book lists in almanac style the chronological history of stamps around the world - when various countries first began issuing its stamps, when stamp societies were formed, when famous postmasters assumed their posts, and a slew of other postal facts and information.

"Anyone with even a passing interest in stamps, stamp collecting, or postal history will find this book interesting and informative. Includes hundreds of illustrations. Also included are a through index and a useful bibliography."

To order a copy, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Happy Diwali

In case you missed it, yesterday was one of the most important Hindu festivals of the year.

Diwali, the Hindu "Festival of Lights", marks the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. The celebration is represented by lighting candles inside homes, setting off fireworks and buying new clothes.

Because Diwali is such an important religious Hindu holiday, the USPS is considering issuing a stamp for this occasion.

In an article that appeared late last month on AndraCafe.com, it was reported, "USPS needs 500,000 signatures to have a stamp release,and so far we have 325,520+ people who have signed the petition. It is in need of 173,000 more petitions to get it done."

Shown above is a suggested design for one such stamp which appears on the SepiaMutiny.com Web site.

If you're interested in signing the petition by Indian American Citizen’s Council supporting the release of the Diwali stamp click here.

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

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau Web site

If you haven't visited the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau's Web site, you're missing out on a real treat. This is way ALL philatelic bureaus' Web sites should be.

Of special note is the site's Magnifying Glass feature that has a fascinating, Hollywood quality streaming video called The Making of A Gibraltar Stamp.

To visit, click here.

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

Friday, October 20, 2006

Postmaster's Challenge

Postmaster’s Challenge, a feature on the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s Web site, offers online visitors a chance to “master the post” through an interactive trivia game in which players answer questions about postal history.

Each Postmaster’s Challenge round consists of 11 questions on a variety of topics including general postal history knowledge, transportation history and stamp collecting.

Players who answer all the questions correctly earn the 1 million “postage credits” needed to win the game. Players are given three opportunities to “ask a postal clerk” for answer help; if a player gives a wrong answer, the correct one is provided so the player can use that knowledge to earn more points the next time around.

To play Postmaster's Challenge, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Stamp vending machines

According to the Washington Post and other media outlets, The United States Postal Service plans to get rid of all of its vending machines by 2010.

First reported by Linn's Stamp News, a postal spokesperson confirmed the decision saying,"The heart of the matter is a lot of these machines are up to 20 years old."

According to published reports, breakdowns are increasing and replacement parts are costly or impossible to get.

There are 23,000 stamp vending machines and USPS will begin removing them next year and eliminate about 5900 machines each year.

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Love and Kisses

The 2007 With Love and Kisses stamp was unveiled Monday at Hershey’s in Chicago. The stamp is scheduled to be released in January.

Shown above in a USPS photo are USPS Chief Marketing Officer Anita Bizzotto, left, and Hershey Company Chief Marketing Officer Michele Buck.

The Postal Service began issuing Love stamps in 1973. Over the years, 31 stamps have featured an assortment of designs, including heart motifs, candy hearts, colorful flowers and the word “LOVE” itself.

To see them all, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Philatelic Code of Ethics

Internet Philatelic Dealers Association (IPDA) has a Code of Ethics which all dealers and individuals who sell on-line would be well advised to adopt.

It reads:

- To always purchase and sell philatelic material at reasonable and fair prices, giving due consideration to prevailing market conditions and factors and any risk that may be involved in buying philatelic Material.

- To refrain from knowingly dealing in or holding stocks of stolen philatelic material.

- To refrain from knowingly dealing in counterfeit philatelic material except where I have publicly and clearly stated that the item/s for sale are counterfeit.

- To provide buyers of my material with a written description which to the best of my knowledge accurately and completely describes the condition, identification and specification of the items for sale.

- To be truthful in all my dealings with sellers and buyers and in all my advertising, displays of philatelic material.

- When requested to give customers advice on philatelic matters which to the best of my knowledge is correct and to refrain from making false or misleading statements and to refer the customer to another source of advice when the matter is not in my area of knowledge or expertise.

- To publicly guarantee a full refund of purchase

The IPDA was formed in February 2002,by a group of individuals with the intention to allow stamp collectors to trade and interact with other collectors and dealers with the confidence that will make the Internet a safer place to interact with each other.

For more on the Internet Philatelic Dealers Association, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, October 16, 2006

German Audrey Hepburn stamp fetches $65,000

A South African Website,News24.com, reports that a German stamp honouring Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn was sold for $66,500 at an auction in Germany on Friday.

According to the site, "The 1.10-mark stamp was withdrawn before release in 2001 after Hepburn's family objected because she was shown smoking a cigarette in a scene from the film Breakfast at Tiffany's."

"Most of the 14 million stamps printed were destroyed. But five sheets of 10, which had been set aside for the German post office archive, went missing. However, three individual stamps reached the public domain, among them the one sold to a German telephone bidder on Friday."

Another of the stamps fetched 135,000 euros at an auction last year.

In 2003, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp honouring the actress. It has a drawing of her based on a publicity photo from the movie Sabrina.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Malaga World Stamp Exhibition

Malaga, Spain "acted as a magnet" for stamp collectors from all over the world with the celebration of the World Stamp Exhibition according the Spanish newspaper, SUR.

Reporter Rafael Cortés writes that the exhibition was held in the open air, with "marquees and stands taking over the city centre" and turned Malaga’s streets into a "collector’s paradise."

The stamp exhibition brought together some 250,000 pieces from 72 different countries. During her inauguration speech the Minister for Development, Magdalena Alvarez, stressed the “evolution of stamp production to incorporate graphics, colours and artistic tendencies” as well as the use of themes to reflect the concerns of contemporary society, “such as drugs, road safety and solidarity”.

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

Saturday, October 14, 2006

FDR and the Post Office

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y. will host an author talk and book signing this weekend with Anthony P. Musso, author of FDR and the Post Office: A Young Boy's Fascination; A World Leader's Passion.

On the museum's Web site, Musso is described as a longtime "philatelic enthusiast", who shares FDR's philosophy regarding the educational value of stamp collecting.

According to the museum, "Franklin D. Roosevelt's interest in the Post Office came at a young age as family members regularly sent him foreign postage stamps while engaged in trade overseas. He embraced the hobby as a means to bolster his interest in geography and world history by documenting various facts related to each stamp's origin, and its significance to the issuing country's heritage."

"When stricken with infantile paralysis, the thirty-nine year-old found much comfort and intellectual stimulation from working with his growing stamp collection. So significant was its impact at the time that he repeatedly credited his involvement in the hobby as having saved his life."

While Roosevelt was well-known as an avid stamp collector, he also was very much involved in the construction of 406 post office buildings nationwide.

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

Friday, October 13, 2006

News of the weird

The Associated Press reports that Lucille Greene, an 88-year-old grandmother, takes baking and mailing about 30 family recipe fruitcakes as Christmas gifts seriously. Seriously enough that she sued the U.S. Postal Service for emotional distress after alleged rough treatment and accusations of being a terrorist from a postal clerk, according to her federal lawsuit.

In December 2002, Greene showed up at the Magnolia, Del., post office to mail fruitcakes to relatives and friends when, her lawsuit states, a postal worker asked her, "What kind of explosives do you have in here?" before shaking the box.

In the lawsuit, she said others in the post office laughed at her, leaving her upset and in tears. She said she tripped over a concrete parking barrier outside and fell, breaking her glasses and chipping a tooth.

The judge dismissed her allegations two weeks ago, and her appeal for $250,000 compensation, because Greene had a prior eye condition, and contradictory testimony.

But U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson wasn't entirely unsympathetic. She wrote the clerk "was likely being less than courteous" despite following standing procedures for suspicious packages.

Despite having to go to a post office farther away from her home, Greene said she hasn't given up on fruitcakes as Christmas gifts.

"My lawyer got a couple this year," she said.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We love postage stamps

In an article, We Love...Postage Stamps, Madeleine Brindley of the UK's Western Mail laments over the Royal Mail's recently launched online postage system which allows "the internet literate to print off a special label which acts like a stamp."

"Resembling more the marks on the pre-paid business envelopes, with their black lines and bold numbers, these labels are the dull and uninspired younger brother of the colourful postage stamp we have all come to know and love," pens Brindley.

"The beauty of stamps lies in what's on them, whether it's Arnold Machin's classic portrait of the Queen, or a child's drawing representing an anniversary or special event. We have the prospect of the new Christmas stamps to look forward to."

Brindley writes, "I'm no philatelist - although I did once own a child's stamp book and dreamed of making my fortune by finding a Penny Black - but there is something solidly reassuring about the humble postage stamp."

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Heroin stamps and the Cellular Jail

USPS NewsLink reports that postal inspectors found that Rebecca Kay Stulir-Wolf, an inmate at the Estrella Jail in Phoenix, was receiving black tar heroin from Andrew Morales Lopez through the mail. The heroin was secreted under postage stamps affixed to the envelopes.

Stulir-Wolf was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for possession of narcotic drugs. Lopez, also of Phoenix, received a similar sentence for transporting the drugs.

Speaking of jails, shown above is a 1997 stamp from Indian featuring its infamous Cellular Jail. It was aptly named because it consists of single cells which were meant for one inmate only. It was here the British Government used to send "dangerous prisoners" and today is a national landmark.

For more on the Indian's Cellular Jail, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

APS Membership special

October is stamp-collecting month, so the American Philatelic Society is offering a special 15-month membership deal this month and next.

The promotion is being conducted through the nearly 600 stamp clubs affiliated with the society in the United States, Canada and 12 other countries. New members can join for just $19.

Click here for a list of chapters or call APS headquarters in Bellefonte, Pa., at (814) 933-3803.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 PM

Monday, October 09, 2006

World Post Day

Since 1969 World Post Day is celebrated each year on October 9, the anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Postal Union in 1874.

Since then, countries across the world participate annually in the celebration. The postal administrations in many countries use the event to introduce or promote new postal products and services.

Activities also include conferences and seminars, educational and sport events, letter-writing competitions, philatelic exhibitions and special stamp issues.

World Post Day posters (shown above) are put on display in public places and a message from the Director General is distributed.

The theme for this year is "The Post – Reaching everyone everywhere: Earning customers' trust with total quality worldwide"

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

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Disappearing act

According to an article in the New York Times,it seems the corner mailbox is fast becoming a rare and endangered species in the Big Apple.

John Springman, first vice president of Branch 36 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, one of three unions that represent postal workers, is quoted in the article as saying, “Little by little, those boxes have done a disappearing act."

The declining volume of first-class mail had made some reductions in service inevitable, he said, noting that generally only the least-used boxes were removed.

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

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Virtual philatelic exhibition

The Quezon Philatelic Club (Philippines) in cooperation with CDDstamps(Australia) is putting on a virtual philatelic exhibition -QUEZONPEX 3.

According to an e-mail from one of the organizers, Alberto Z. Alcala, the goal of the exhibition is to "showcase outstanding philatelic exhibits, to provide valuable ideas in philatelic exhibiting, and to foster friendship among the exhibitors."

Interested exhibitors can e-mail their 16-page SCANNED exhibit, in its original size – JPEG File with at least 300 dpi resolution to maeca_mvcc@yahoo.com

You can also mail a CD-R or e-mail it to

St. John Street
Reymar Compound
4301 Lucena City

For more information and to see some of the exhibits that are already up on the Web site, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, October 06, 2006

Post Office overhaul

The Washington Post is reporting that "some administration officials and some lobbyists think the postal overhaul could be dead, not only for this year but for two or three years, if control of Congress shifts in next month's congressional elections."

Reporter Stephen Barr writes, "Efforts to overhaul operations of the Postal Service have been underway in Congress for a decade as big mailers have pleaded for a new rate structure that makes it easier for them to predict postage increases. The financial health of the Postal Service also has become a concern, as Americans expand their use of the Internet, e-mail and cellphones and send fewer first-class letters, an important source of revenue for the post office."

Some of the proposed changes involve multibillion-dollar budget issues, such as how to handle costs for pensions and retiree health care.

But according to Barr,"... the bill stalled on a relatively modest provision that would require a three-day waiting period before injured postal workers could begin accruing workers' compensation benefits. Employees would be expected to use vacation or sick leave for the first three days they were out of work and would be reimbursed for that time if they were unable to return after 14 days..."

The article quotes National Association of Letter Carriers spokesman Drew Von Bergen as saying the proposed workers' compensation change "would put postal employees in a different classification than other federal employees."

Under current law, injured federal employees receive "continuation of pay" for up to 45 days, and if their disability continues for more than that, they can receive additional compensation for lost wages after three days in a non-paid status.

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

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A piece of postal history comes home

The Toledo Blade reports that stamp collector, Alan Borer, stumbled across a piece of postal history in a Matthew Bennett auction that provides the first tangible, real-time link between the area's first pioneer settlement and Toledo today.

According to the paper, Borer, the former manager of the West Toledo branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, recognized its significance and immediately contacted the Main Library's local history office.

Mike Lora, manager of the local history department, is quoted in the article by staff writer Robin Erb as saying, "This is probably the earliest example we'll ever find of the beginnings of where we're standing. It doesn't get much better than this."

The library wound up bidding $1,150 to acquire the 1805 letter. The auction house's anticipated bid sales price was $400 to $500.

Shown above, Mike Lora with the 201-year-old letter and postmark.

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

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Holiday snowflake stamps

The Associated Press is reporting that the snowflakes on the new holiday stamps are photos taken by Kenneth Libbrecht, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology.

AP reporter Randolph E. Schmid writes that Libbrecht photographed them in Michigan, Alaska and Ontario, Canada using a high-resolution digital camera attached to a specially designed microscope. Taken outdoors in subfreezing temperatures, the camera had to be placed in a heated box to keep it working.

The Holiday Snowflakes stamps will available in New York City post offices Oct. 5, and nationwide Oct. 6.

To read the entire article, click here.

To visit Libbrecht's snowflake Web site, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 PM

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hiram Bingham IV

Diane Church of the Regional Standard writes, "In the early 1940s, Hiram Bingham IV saved over 2,000 refugees from almost certain imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps. Far from honoring him, however, the government demoted him and destroyed his career in foreign relations."

Bingham (shown above) was one of six U.S. diplomats honored as part of the Distinguished American Diplomats sheetlet which was released on May 20 at Washington 2006.

Church points out in her article, "...when Bingham's supervisors discovered what he was doing, they quickly put an end to it and sent him to Lisbon, Portugal, then to Argentina, crushing his dream of becoming U.S. Ambassador to France."

Bingham passed away in 1988 at the age of 84.

To read the entire piece, click here.

To visit the Hiram Bingham IV website with additional photos of the first day ceremony and background information, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, October 02, 2006

Wooden speedboat stamps

Tom Meyer of the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza reports that Tom Turner never imagined that his antique mahogany speedboat, Dispatch, would be immortalized on a postage stamp.

"I got a letter about three months ago from the (U.S. Postal Service), saying a picture of Dispatch had been forwarded to them and that they wanted to know if I would allow them to use it in a stamp, so I just signed it and sent it back," Turner is quoted in the article.

Last month, he received a phone call from the Postal Service, saying the stamp had been approved and would enter circulation next year.

"Each pane of 16, first class stamps will feature photographs of Dispatch, Duckers (a 1954 Chris-Craft from Loomis, Calif.), Frolic (a 1915 Hutchinson Brothers launch from Danville, Calif.) and the famous Thunderbird (a custom designed 1955 vessel moored at the Thunderbird Lodge on the East Shore) - still one of the fastest and biggest boats on the lake," writes Meyers.

"The Postal Service will release the stamps' designs on their Web site, www.usps.gov, later this month with an official unveiling ceremony next summer when the stamps enter circulation across the country, the location has yet to be announced."

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

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Stamps on Stamps

One of my favorite topical collections is 'stamps on stamps'. Up to now, I hadn't realized that there was a Stamps on Stamps Collectors Club. Membership is open to anyone interested in stamps on stamps, stamp anniversaries, and related topics.

The club's official bulletin is the SOS SIGNAL. It's issued quarterly and contains new issue information and articles of interest.

To obtain a sample copy of SOS SIGNAL, please send your name and address and $3.00 to the Secretary/Treasurer:

Dr. Alf Jordan
156 West Elm Street
Yarmouth, ME 04096

You can also go to the Stamps on Stamps Collectors Club website where there several interesting articles posted on the topic.

To visit their website, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM