Friday, November 30, 2007

Hidden numbers in Penny Reds

Here's something that most stamp collectors don't know...there are hidden plate numbers in the margins of Britain's Penny Reds like the one shown here.

According to, "Close examination of the Penny Red [right] reveals a "148" in the margin, indicating that it was printed with plate #148. Stamps printed from plate #77 are extremely rare."

The website goes on to say, "The Penny Red, issued in 1841, succeeded the Penny Black and continued as the main type of postage stamp in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until 1879, with only minor changes to the design during that time. The colour was changed from black to red because of difficulty in seeing a cancellation mark on the Penny Black; a black cancel was readily visible on a Penny Red."

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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Billiard players on stamps

Don't see too many stamps honoring billiard players but Belgium has issued an interesting minature sheet of nine stamps that feature their national billiard champions from the turn of the century through the 1930s.

Shown on the stamps are;

1905: J. Van Duppen

1907: A. Colette

1909: P. Sels

1923: Théo Moons

1930: V. Luypaerts

1930: Gustaaf Van Belle

1933: Gaston De Doncker

1935: René Gabriëls

1939: René Vingerhoedt

What's the difference between pool and billiards you ask?

According to Deadeye on the website, "Billiards is pool without pockets, usually the cloth on a billiards table is much faster. The object in billiards(3 cushion billiards)is to hit the object ball then go three rails and hit the other ball, or hit 3 rails and hit both object balls with the cue ball. These are called "caroms". A regulation pool table is 4 1/2 X 9 the same as a billiard table. so the difference isnt the size of the table, they're just 2 different games"
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Royal Mail customers being fined for underpayment

The This Is London entertainment guide is reporting on-line that Royal Mail customers are facing a £1 fine for any items they are sent with underpaid postage this Christmas.

According to the report, "Anyone who receives a card or parcel without the correct stamps will have to visit the sorting office and pay the penalty, plus the missing postage."

To which one reader responded,"So if you do not like someone, then send them underpaid mail."

Underpayment fees were waived last year as a controversial pricing system - which took into account size and thickness of mail, as well as weight - had just been introduced.

But the crackdown has been approved this time by chief executive Adam Crozier, whose stewardship of the company saw profits slump by a third to £233 million in the last financial year.

Apparently, Mr. Crozier picked up a £469,000 bonus in addition to his £633,000 salary last year, despite continuing anger over the introduction of once-a-day deliveries and the threat of closure to thousands of post offices.

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Top philatelic gift ideas for him and her

On the website, Guide Erika Martinez lists her top five gift ideas for male and female stamp collectors.

For her Erika suggests...

1. Good Fortunes Sweet Stamps Cookies
2. USPS Postal Store Gifts
3. Postage Stamp Prints
4. Mandala Postage Stamp Pendants
5. Postage Stamp Books

To learn more about these gift suggestions, click here.

For him...

1. Framed Stamp Collections
2. USPS Postal Store Gifts
3. Magnabrite Light Gathering Magnifier
4. Gold Plated Stamp Tongs
5. Postage Stamp Novelty Ties

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

Monday, November 26, 2007

500 pounds of stamps

How can 500 pounds of common, used stamps best be put to use? By promoting the hobby!

Recently Richard Nakles, a full-time volunteer at the American Philatelic Center who helps in the Library, Education Department and Development, enlisted the help of other APS member volunteers. Together, they assembled boxes of common, used stamps which had been donated to the American Philatelic Society (APS).

These were then offered via e-mail to APS-affiliated stamp clubs.

Chapters wishing to receive one of the 16-pound boxes were required to agree to limit use of the stamps to outreach efforts that would promote philately, and were asked to pay the costs of shipping the stamps to them for their use. Within two hours of having made the offer, the APS received requests for nearly all 500 pounds of stamps.

Information on APS Youth programs, how local clubs may become chapters, and how to make tax deductible donations of philatelic material are available from the American Philatelic Society.

You can send e-mail to the APS Public Relations Director Fred Baumann(, or call 814-933-3803, or write to 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte, PA 16823.

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

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Santa Letters Kit is offering a unique Letters from Santa Kit which makes it possible for parents and others to personally answer children's letters to Santa Claus.

According to Sharlee Plett of, “There are lots of websites where you can order a Letter from Santa to be mailed to kids, but there is nothing like the Letters from Santa Kit, which you can use to write completely personalized letters to the kids as often as you want to.”

The Santa Letters Kit includes sample letters that parents can edit and personalize for kids of different ages plus instructions for how to send the letters out so they come back in the mail with a North Pole postmark or a postmark from one of the many cities in the U.S. that offer Santa postmarks.

The kit costs $39.95.

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

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Linn’s Stamp Weekly changes format

Linn’s Stamp Weekly made some dramatic changes with its Nov. 19 issue.

Besides switching to a different type of press, a smaller magazine format, and a better quality paper; the publication now has color pictures throughout. Previously color was limited to four to six pages.

According to Michael Baadke in The Editor’s Column, “…now when one of our writers describes an stamp that is green and red, the picture you’ll see will show the green and red, not shades of black and gray. With full color capabilities, we’ll be able to illustrate some of the subtlest differences in classic and modern stamps."

Baadke also writes, “In some ways, Linn’s was a victim of circumstance when all this began, Postage rates were going up and our printing press was wearing down. The solution to both problems meant recreating Linn’s physically, while keeping the same quality and feature writing that our readers enjoy and have come to know."
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posted by Don Schilling at 9:40 AM

Friday, November 23, 2007

Free list of postmasters

Abraham Lincoln was a Postmaster?

Yes, he was according to USPS Newslink.

"He became Postmaster of the now-closed New Salem, IL, Post Office in 1833 in Sangamon County. But the Post Office in Pike County’s town of New Salem is still active, to the relief of Carolyn Baker, its current Officer-In-Charge."

For a list of who’s in charge at your favorite Post Office, check out Postmaster Finder — the USPS historic record of the nation’s postmasters, listed by Post Office.

And if you have questions about the website, go to FAQs about Postmaster Finder. Or, send an e-mail to with thoughts and comments or to request a hard copy of the list.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today the U.S. Postal Service begins to deliver 20 billion pieces of mail across the country and around the world between Thanksgiving and Christmas according to a USPS news release.

Staff at the National Operations Center report for “24-7 duty” on Dec. 1 to help navigate, literally, mail movement around the world.

With the busiest mailing day set for Monday, Dec. 17, the task will require more than 200,000 trucks, a 30 percent increase in air cargo transport, 37,000 Post Offices and 700,000 employees.

More than 275 million cards and letters are expected to be mailed that day - more than three times the average daily volume of 82 million.

The busiest delivery day is expected to be Wednesday, Dec. 19.

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Paul McCartney fights to save post office

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney is backing a campaign against post office closures in the United Kingdom...especially when it is near one of his homes.

According to the UK Press Association and other European media outlets, McCartney wrote a letter which was read by his brother, Mike, outside the Merseyside, England post office which is in danger of being closed.

The statement said: "This village post office is a vital part of local community life and as such should be saved for future generations to cherish.

"Its 100-year history should not be cast aside lightly. I agree with thousands of local people who feel that everything must be done to save it. Please help!"

Mike McCartney, 63, said he and Sir Paul, 65, have been using the post office since 1964

According to his brother, "Like everyone else he pops in for milk and to post letters. He wanted to do what he could."

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The beginning of the "self service post office"

According to Akron Beacon Journal, in 1948, Akron Postmaster C.B. Webb installed two coin operated machines that marked the beginning of the "self service post office.

One of those was the Pitney Bowes Mailomat which was roughly the size of a movie theater's ticket booth. It had a coin slot, a twist dial and a letter slot. The Mailomat's advantage was that it did not use adhesive stamps.

However, some people still preferred stamps so a second type of machine was installed. The second machine was simple in design and easy to use. It had three coin slots, a push button and three stamp dispensers.

Customers could buy five 1-cent stamps for a nickel, two 5-cent air-mail stamps for a dime or five 3-cent stamps for a nickel and a dime. After the machine dispensed stamps, patrons tore them off along perforated edges.

Shown above is a Mailomat postcard which is available from

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

Monday, November 19, 2007

New record for Inverted Jenny

Reporter Matthew Healy of the New York Times reports that "In the fall of 2005, Charles Hack, a New Yorker who has made a fortune in real estate and spent a lot of it on old master paintings and Renaissance sculpture noticed a newspaper advertisement for an auction of a rare stamp."

Hack attended that auction and bought his first Inverted Jenny for $297,000, including commission.

This past week, according to Healy, Hack attended another stamp auction, at Siegel Auction Galleries in New York City, and went home with a second Inverted Jenny after bidding $850,000. The final price, with the commission, came to $977,500, a record for an American stamp sold at auction and a confirmation of a trend that is transforming the world of high-end collectibles.

Healy writes, "Sonny Hagendorf, a dealer in rare stamps who has guided Mr. Hack in his collecting over the last two years, said there were a number of reasons why stamp prices were rising: the weak dollar, low interest rates, the fact that stamps are 'undervalued vis-a-vis coins and paper money' and other collectibles. But he said a major influence on the robust market for rare stamps were baby boomers in their 50s and 60s who are getting to the point where they can buy the things they want."

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

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New APS “Collect Stamps” kit

The American Philatelic Society’s new “Collect Stamps” kit is an inexpensive package that can be used to introduce beginners to the pleasures of the stamp hobby.

Kit contains...
  • A “Collect Stamps” Guide — Just published by the APS, “Your Guide to the Wonderful World of Stamps” is 16 pages in full color, advising the beginner on what to collect, where to find stamps, how to organize a collection, use the tools of the hobby and more.
  • United States Stamp Album — This 8- by 11-inch album has four pages on hobby terms and techniques, a map of U.S. states and 19 pages for a first stamp collection.

  • Stamp tongs
  • Magnifier

  • Perforation gauge

  • Packets of used U.S. and foreign stamps

  • Glassine envelope with stamp hinges
  • Manila stock card

  • U.S. stamp pin

  • An application for a free six-month membership in the Young Stamp Collectors of America

The APS “Collect Stamps” kit is available for $19.95 postpaid. Call 814-933-3803 to order now, or for fastest delivery, visit the APS online Marketplace.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Postal Service’s oldest employee still going strong

The USPS News Link reports mail handler Chester Reed (shown here) is an inspiration in many ways.

According to the write-up, Reed began working at the San Bernardino, CA, in 1973, after retiring from the Air Force — and has never missed a day of work during 60 years of combined federal service.

At 93, Reed is reportedly the oldest postal employee still working in the nation.

Reed is quoted as saying, “I started as a mail handler and I’m a mail handler today.I used to cancel letters but now I’m an equipment operator. I’m not ready to retire. I like the work I do.”

When questioned about his secret to longevity and Reed's answer is always the same: “Onion sandwiches. I eat one every day.”
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, November 16, 2007

Smithsonian Institution signs agreement with USPS

The Smithsonian Institution will continue to showcase the history of the nation's mail service for at least the next 10 years under the terms of a renewed agreement with the United States Postal Service to operate the National Postal Museum.

According to a USPS press release, "The new agreement extends the Smithsonian's current stewardship of the museum in the historic City Post Office Building in downtown Washington, DC, for the next 10 years, with options for both parties to extend the agreement for two consecutive five-year periods beyond that."

The National Postal Museum has been devoted to presenting the history of the nation's mail service since it was created on Nov. 6, 1990, through a joint agreement between the Smithsonian Institution and the Postal Service. The National Postal Museum has since exhibited the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic materials in the world.

Shown above is a 1996 stamp honoring the Smithsonian Institution's first 150 years.

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

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Boy Eating a Banana

The Hindu reports, "As the nation celebrates Children's Day, Shekhar Borker, an executive with a private firm fondly remembers his childhood photograph of him eating a banana that capitulated him to an iconic status among his family and friends."

Borker had appeared on the first Children's Day postage stamp (SC 292 which is shown here) issued by India Postal 50 years ago in 1957.

Borker is quoted as saying, "I was not even aware while the photograph was being taken. It was only later when the Indian Post and Telegraph department sent a letter to my school principal asking for a No-Objection note from my parents that I came to know that such a thing had happened."

The article goes on to say, "It was a proud moment for the then 8 years old, Borker, a student of Modern School, New Delhi, to be featured on 32 million Indian Postage Stamps. He had become famous as the stamp boy overnight after his picture was selected from more than 10,000 photographs taken across the country. "

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Technology Detects Counterfeit Stamps

According to, a new technology has been developed by Boulder, CO based software firm, Parascript, that can detect counterfeit stamps. StampVerify, a scanning program, can compare stamps against a database of known stamps, and flag any that are suspected counterfeits

It also has the capability to automatically determine the type of indicia — postage meter marks, facing identification marks and stamps — on an envelope, and whether sufficient postage has been paid.

"When fraudulent postage is detected, depending on the operational framework of the postal operations within each country, invoices are sent to the customer, who is then expected to pay the invoice properly," Yuri Prizemin, director of product marketing said of the repercussions of using counterfeit postage.

Shown above Stamp Verify project manager Sergey Ushakov, right, and software engineer Vladimir Lyapunov.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Most Decorated World War II Vet

A campaign continues to get the most decorated U.S. veteran of World War II his own postage stamp according to the Holland Sentinel in Holland, Michagan.

The paper reports that according to the Polish American Congress, Lt. Colonel Matt Urban is the most decorated soldier of World War II... not Audie Murphy.

Reporter Steve Ralph writes, "Audie Murphy having had a career in Hollywood movies, is better known, but was surpassed when Urban received his Congressional Medal of Honor from President Jimmy Carter in 1980."

Murphy was honored with a stamp in 2000.

Shown above are members of the Holland V.F.W. Honor Guard with a photo of Urban and the Audie Murphy stamp.

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

Monday, November 12, 2007

Students collect stamps to save prairies

The Chicago Daily Southtown reports a local student group has been collecting canceled commemorative stamps, foreign stamps and postcards which are turned over to The Audubon Society.

The Audubon Society then sells the stamps and uses the money for preservation. Illinois has lost nearly all of its original prairie and 90 percent of its original wetlands, both of which are vital for the survival of certain species, according to the society.

Kay MacNeil, who sends postcards to her grandson with the commemorative Star Wars stamps, as a way to help protect the environment and score some points, is quoted in the article as saying, "We live in the Prairie State, yet there is scarcely 1 percent of the original prairie left in the Prairie State."

Since the program was created in 1984 it has generated more than $35,000.

To read the entire article, click here.

Shown above is the 2001 Great Plains Prairie minature sheet.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Stamps

According to the Guardian Unlimited, a campaign has been launched to replace the head of the Queen on postage stamps with the faces of the soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq.

The UK's most important art charity, the Art Fund, is trying to persuade thousands of Britons to sign an online petition to convince Royal Mail to put the stamps into circulation, as a memorial to those who have died in the war.
The stamps have been designed by artist Steve McQueen, shown above, who was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum in 2003 to respond to the conflict.
A spokesman for Royal Mail said that its stamps "celebrated symbols rather than individuals", adding: "The sacrifice of servicemen and women plays a key role in our stamps programme."
Privately they are understood to regard the scale of the McQueen project as impracticable; and feel that families may be upset by the sight of loved ones' faces obliterated by postmarks.
To read the entire article, click here.
To view all the stamps and learn more about the project, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Santa's Post Office

According to Canada Post, the North Pole post office has been named the Guinness World Records holder for the most letters received and replied to by mail.

For 26 years now, Canada Post has officially helped Santa respond to more than 15 million letters from children. Santa has received more than one million letters each year for the past six years, and the company (or Santa!) doesn't expect this year to be any different. Even Santa's computer is kept busy this time of year as many children (more than 44,000 last year) write to Santa through his website at
More than 11,000 current and retired Canada Post employees, affectionately called Postal Elves, help Santa to ensure that every child's letter gets an answer in the language in which the letter was written, including Braille.
Santa reminds all his young friends that it is very important to include a complete return address, so that Canada Post can deliver his reply.
Children can send their letters to Santa at:
Shown above (for all our numismatic friends and colleagues) is a Canadian Santa quarter which was released in 2004 as part of a holiday gift pack.

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

Friday, November 09, 2007

In the PInk

According to the USPS Newslink you can credit postal employees for their postmaster’s new look.

Barrington, RI, Postmaster Steven Santilli challenged his staff to sell $5,000 worth of the Breast Cancer Awareness semipostal stamp during October. If they succeeded, he would dye his hair pink for a day — a deal they made sure Santilli would keep.

“Employees sold almost $7,000 of the stamps,” Santilli said. “So during our Customer Appreciation Day, Nov. 1, I dyed my hair. They liked the fact that I followed through with it. And if my pink hair brings awareness toward breast cancer, it was worth it.”

Santilli said his grandmother survived breast cancer twice. “Everyone knows someone who has been affected by it,” he said. “With the money raised for research, breast cancer will be as easy to eliminate as the pink from my hair.”

The 55-cent Breast Cancer Awareness semipostal stamp has raised more than $54 million for research since its debut in 1998
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New and improved Philippine Postal Corp.

 reports "Apart from a P6 billion modernization project to increase efficiency, the Philippine Postal Corp. (Philpost) is mounting efforts to curb mail theft and restore the public’s trust in its services."

Philpost, which is celebrating its 109th anniversary, is bent on remaining relevant despite the emergence of Internet and text messaging according to Philippine Postmaster General Hector Villanueva.

Villanueva is quoted as saying, “Text messaging affected us because we used to handle six million letters a day (in 1992). Now it’s less than one million. Still, we’re the only one with the capability to deliver mail to the remotest barrios."

"We are trying to restore the old reputation of the post office—one of honesty, prompt service and smiling postmen. That’s our immediate mission."

To show its seriousness in cracking down on mail thieves, the Philpost has dismissed 129 of its employees, suspended 26 others, reprimanded 33 and penalized around 130 workers from 2004 to 2006.

Shown above, two unidentifed men look on old equipment used by the post office inside the Philippine Postal Main Office in Manila as it commemorates its 109th anniversary.

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

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

China Post launched its first set of quasi-rice-paper calligraphy stamps, according to the website.
The six stamp set is also the third series of Chinese calligraphy stamps that China Post has issued so far.
Instead of using commonly-used postage stamp paper, the six stamps are made of imitation rice paper, and printed with relief techniques, giving a strong sense of three-dimensional effect in the ancient Chinese calligraphy works they carry on them.
What makes the stamp set unique is it includes one of the best calligraphy works of Zhong Yao (151-230). Zhong Yao has also been known as "the father of Chinese regular script calligraphy".
To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Maynard Sundman 1915 -2007

Maynard Sundman, founder of the Littleton Stamp Co. and the Littleton Coin Co., has died at the age of 92.

According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, "Fascinated by postage stamps as a young boy and resolved to turn his passion into his life's work, Maynard Sundman parlayed his earnings from magazine subscription sales and raising rabbits into two of the world's largest stamp and coin companies."

Sundman was born in Connecticut and began his first stamp business in 1935 in his parents' kitchen.

In 1995, a book was published about the success of Sundman, “A Decent Boldness: The Life Achievement of Maynard Sundman at Littleton Stamp & Coin Company.”

In 2002, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum established the Maynard Sundman Lecture Series through a donation by Donald Sundman (who runs the Mystic Stamp Company) and his brother, David Sundman.

To read the entire article, click here.

The Caledonian Record in Vermont also ran an article on Mr. Sundman which is available at this URL
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Future of Stanley Gibbons

Chief Executive Michael Hall is quoted in the UK's Telegraph as saying the existing online infrastructure at Stanley Gibbons is weak and is hampering the progress of the business.

"The infrastructure behind our sites is two people and that needs to be stronger," he concedes in the article written by Richard Rivlin .

Hall also mentions that stamp collecting used to be forbidden in China under orders from Chairman Mao and that today 10 per cent of their traffic comes from China. Next year, Hall says, the site will be translated into Russian and Mandarin.

According the article, "The underlying business is on a firm footing and is forecasting profits of £4.6m this year and £6m next year."

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

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Elementary school students run mock post office

The Daily Telegram in Adrian, MI reports that youngsters at a local elementary school participated in a "Wee Mail" program recently.
The service, now in its second year, allows students to find out what the working world is all about. Twenty students applied for the eight positions in the junior post office.
The students filled out a job application and interviewed for the jobs. Others addressed envelopes and practiced letter writing. The program gives students, parents and staff the opportunity to send letters between two school buildings.
The students also took a field trip to local Post Office and observed how the mail system works.
While the students said they enjoyed the trip and like their jobs, it isn’t something any want to do for a living.
To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, November 02, 2007

Rural mailboxes unsafe

According to, a Canadian mail carrier is currently conducting a three-year assessment of all 843,000 rural mailboxes across the country after having received some 1,000 complaints from postal carriers operating in these areas over the last 18 months.

Prior to 2006 Canada Post would visit homeowners of problem mailboxes if there was an incident or a complaint, but now Canada Post is being more proactive.

In some cases owners are being asked to move their mailbox to a safer area. In other cases they can either use alternatives such a community mailboxes, piggyback on their neighbor's mailbox, or receive free lockbox service at a local post office or local outlet offering postal services, such as pharmacies.

Rural mailboxes represent about six percent of Canada Post's 14 million points of delivery.

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

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Woman spearheads stamp collection for troops' families

Got any extra postage stamps lying around?

According to Bucks County Courier Times reporter Theresa Katalina, "That 41-cent sticker could eliminate the need for families to choose between mailing their bill payments or sending letters and care packages to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. At least that's the thinking of Newtown Township resident Nancy Crescenzo, who this week began her stamp-collecting campaign, Stamps for Democracy."

Initially, Crescenzo had considered sending stamps to soldiers overseas to cover the postage for their mail home. But, as a neighbor pointed out, troops in “combat areas” can send mail to U.S. addresses free of charge under the Supply Our Soldiers Act of 2005.

So, instead, Crescenzo said she intends to pass along stamps to organizations that regularly send care packages to soldiers. Her goal is to collect 10,000 stamps.

Stamps can be sent to Crescenzo's home address at 8 Bridal Rose Court, Newtown, PA 18940. For more information, e-mail her at
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM