Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ode to the Common Stamp

It’s just a small piece of paper,
Clean, worn, crumpled, or stained,
But the joy that the sight of it give me
Has never, no never, been named.

As I look at it I wonder
Of the strange sights which it has seen.
And I cannot help but want to know
On whose letter it has been.

Perhaps it’s helped join two lovers,
But of that who could be sure?
Is it not just as likely
That it was written from boor to boor?

Is it a man or a lady that put it
With hands either firm or fine
On this old well-kept envelope
The color of Burgandy wine?

I can never know, but what difference
The stamp is, of course, the main thing,
It’s just a small piece of paper
But joy upon joy it does bring.

- Anonymous
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cycling as a Sport Collection Wins Gold in Beijing

The China Daily reports Li Jingbo's collection, Cycling as a Sport, won him both a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Expo Stamp Exhibition and an International Olympic Committee award as well.

With nearly 1,000 stamps collected from more than 120 countries, Cycling as a Sport depicts the timeline of bicycle history, including 59 extremely rare bicycle-themed stamps issued before the 1900s.

To perfect his stamp collection, Li, 70, has toured on his bicycle 31 Chinese provinces and regions since 1980s.

He's quoted as saying, "I'm planning to cycle in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, where I will look for more rare stamps to enrich my collection."

Click here to read the full article.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, August 29, 2008

Postal Service Removes and Returns Mailbox

The Baltimore Sun is reporting, "Many of the familiar blue mailboxes in Central Maryland will be casualties of a U.S. Postal Service effort to become more efficient. More than 800 of the boxes have been removed in the past decade from Cumberland to the Eastern Shore, and now 350 more will be uprooted."

USPS spokeswoman Freda Sauter said the postal service will maintain at least one blue box within every square mile of residential area. But local resident Robert C. Ohlverter said that's too far for older residents: "I've got replacement knees, and there's a lot of people who can't do that."

In a related story that appears in the Hagerstown, MD Herald-Mail, one senior citizen got her mailbox returned after it had been removed.

St. Mildred St. John, 81, is quoted in an article by Dan Dearth as saying the Postal Service's decision to remove the mailbox made it difficult to send letters because she and her neighbors, who also are senior citizens, find it hard to get around, and can't walk to the nearest mailbox a few blocks away.

St. John is quoted as saying she wasn't sure why the Postal Service decided to return the mailbox, but suspected the reason could be traced to a letter that her neighbor wrote to U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

USPS spokeswoman Freda Sauter said she wasn't certain why the mailbox was put back either, but that the Postal Service typically returns removed mailboxes when several people call or write to complain. During the current round of removals, four boxes in Baltimore were reinstalled in response to complaints from customers.

Shown above, Robert C. Ohlverter of Federal Hill next to his neighborhood mailbox which has been tagged for removal.

To read the Baltimore Sun article, click here.

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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New APS Affiliates

Two national philatelic groups have become active affiliates of the American Philatelic Society.

The Methodist Philatelic Society (MPS) was founded in September 1970 in the United Kingdom for the study and encouragement of philately associated with Methodism and the Methodist contribution to United Churches and ecumenical activities worldwide.

Annual membership dues are $20.

Members receive four illustrated copies of the Methodist Philatelic Society Newsletter annually.

For additional information, click here.

The Mourning Stamps & Covers Club (MSCC) was organized in 2006. The club’s purpose is to study, identify and list mourning stamps and covers, and to facilitate their exchange among members.

Mourning covers were popular in the late 19th to the mid 20th century, as were stamps which were edged in black to mark the death of a variety of leaders and notables.

The MSCC publishes a quarterly journal, Mourning Notes, and works to develop and provide lists of what exists, to offer discounts on relevant literature, and to organize periodic meetings at national stamp shows.

Annual dues are $15. Applications for membership may be sent to Jim Bailey, P.O. Box 937, Brownwood, TX 76804, or e-mail

Click here for a searchable list of active APS affiliates.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Postal Inspectors on Heightened Alert

According to the USPS News Link, the Postal Inspection Service has been coordinating with federal and local law-enforcement agencies for months to ensure the integrity and security of the mail, postal facilities, vehicles and postal employees at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Denver and at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul next week.

According to the the report, "Both conventions will draw the party faithful — along with protesters. Postal inspectors will monitor postal buildings near the convention activities. Inspectors from around the nation will augment local divisions to help with convention needs, as well as day-to-day duties."

Inspector Virginia Lalley, who is heading the St. Paul operation, is quoted as saying, “We’re counting on [postal employees]to keep their eyes open for red flags, for things that are just out of place. They already do that in their everyday duties. We’re just asking for a heightened level of awareness during the convention.”

Shown above, Postal Inspectors Brook Fuller and Gregory McGahey.

For more on the US Postal Inspection Service, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tough Economic Times Hurt Post Office

The Associated Press reports Postmaster General John Potter says the postal service could lose about $2 billion this year due to tough economic times.

According to the AP, Potter told the National Association of Postmasters of the United States (NAPUS) at their convention Monday in St. Louis that the postal service has to change to meet the demands of the American public.

Potter is quoted as saying that while little can be done about high gas prices, the postal service is working to control costs and increase business. He pointed to advertising through the mail as an area of potential growth.

Earlier this month, the agency said its fiscal 2008 year-to-date net loss totaled $1.13 billion.

Shown above, the NAPUS convention logo.

NAPUS is comprised of more than 42,000 postmasters, officers-in-charge and retired Postmasters. A National Office staff of full-time professionals works to promote the interests of Postmasters and OICs.

For a list of past and present Postmaster Generals, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, August 25, 2008

Louise Boyd Dale (c. 1913 - 1967)

Many people think of stamp collecting as a "guy thing." And while it's true men out number the women, over the years there have been quite a few distinguished female philatelists.

One of which was Louise Boyd Dale who was inducted into the American Philatelic Society's Hall of Fame in 1968.

According to the APS's Hall of Fame website, one of America's most distinguished philatelists, Dale began collecting early in life, mentored by her famous collector father, Alfred F. Lichtenstein.

She built many important collections, in particular of British Africa and Asia, and after her father's death, she extended some of his collections. Most of these collections were part of the Anne Boyd Lichtenstein Foundation, established after her death by her daughter, and were made available to students and philatelic organizations to further philatelic research.

Dale joined the Collectors Club of New York in 1931 and served in many capacities, including Trustee (1955-1967). She also strongly supported the Philatelic Foundation, and was both Chairman of the Board and of the Expert Committee (1953-1967).

In 1956 she was the first woman to be appointed as a judge for an international philatelic exhibition, FIPEX. In that same year Dale became the first American woman to sign the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists, and in 1960 she was appointed to the jury of the London International Stamp Exhibition. She received the Lichtenstein Medal, named after her father, in 1962.

To visit the APS Hall of Fame webpage, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, August 24, 2008

APS Tries Something New

According to a press release sent out by the American Philatelic Society (APS), a new service was introduced at last weekend's APS StampShow 2008 which took place in Hartford, Connecticut.

Under the direction of APS Circuit Manager Bill Dixon, circuit books from the APS Sales Division were made available to attendees.

Also known as "sales books," they contain stamps or covers from a specific category (country, topic, etc.) and are distributed to prospective buyers in "circuits" grouped by zip code number. You must be an APS member to receive them.

Many attendees at the show had never seen or used the circuit books before. More than 100 individuals took advantage of the opportunity to add to their collections saying it was a great idea and that they were able to purchase material that they couldn't’t find anywhere else.

Shown above, American Philatelic Society members search for stamps with the help of Circuit Manager Bill Dixon.

To join the APS, click here. Tell them you were referred by Don Schilling of The Stamp Collecting Roundup.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fake Meter Labels Used to Mail Stolen Merchandise

The Dallas Morning News reports a Texas man has been sentenced to two years in prison for printing fake meter labels to mail stolen products, according to a Department of Justice news release and federal court records.

Vincent Wing-Shing Wong, 29, was also ordered to pay more than $314,000 in restitution and sentenced to three years probation in U.S. District Court.

Mr. Wong had pleaded guilty in February to charges of printing and using counterfeit postage meter stamps.

From January 2001 through November 2007, Mr. Wong sold items he believed to be stolen on eBay and printed fake stamps to ship the packages.

For more on postage meters, their history and LEGAL use, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Black Mailbox

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that over the years, hundreds of people have converged in south-central Nevada to photograph what has become known as the Black Mailbox although now it's painted white.

"Some think the mailbox is linked to nearby Area 51, a military installation and purported hotbed of extraterrestrial activity. At the very least, they consider the box a prime magnet for flying saucers," writes Ashley Powers, Los Angeles Times staff writer.

According to Ashley, UFO tourists left messages in the mailbox for the aliens -- on business cards, napkins and notebook scraps.

The white mailbox, which replaced the black original, is the only landmark for miles along a stretch of Nevada's Highway 395, officially nicknamed the Extraterrestrial Highway, near Area 51. UFO seekers frequently camp beside the mailbox, hoping to discover what the night may be hiding.

Shown above in a Los Angeles Times photo by Laura Rauch, UFO enthusiast Lester Arnold of Declo, Idaho, waits for nightfall and an evening of sky watching next to the so-called Black Mailbox.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Artist Documents U.S. History Through Stamps

The Asbury Park Press reports that art has been part of local resident Howard Koslow's life as long as he can recall and remains so.

According to the article, in addition to countless paintings, Koslow, 83, has designed a total of 50 postage stamps for the United States and other countries.

These include the Brooklyn Bridge, Washington National Cathedral, jazz/blues singers the four branches of the government and aviation pioneers stamps which were issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

The postage stamp portraying the lighthouse at Sandy Hook is taken from a painting done by Koslow. It is one of a series of five stamps showing coastal lighthouses created by Koslow in 1990.

Koslow has also designed stamps for the Marshall Islands Postal Service, coins for the U.S. Mint and plates for the Hamilton Collection acording to reporter Bobbi Seidel.

Koslow is quoted in the article as saying, "Designing and illustrating 50 stamps over the years has allowed me in a small way to pictorially participate in the documenting of our American history."

Shown above, Howard in his studio holding one of the many first day covers he has created and stamps portraying naval heroes of World War II that he painted for the Marshall Islands Postal Service.

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

U.S. Design Flaw

Fox News reports an astute stamp collector discovered that one of the Old Glorys in the U.S. Postal Service's "Flags 24/7" series appears to have 14 stripes.

The stamp in question, "Night," was released by the Postal Service on April 18 as part of a series of four stamps painted by Maryland artist Laura Stutzman depicting Old Glory at sunrise, noon, sunset and night.

Stutzman is quoted as saying her four paintings for the "Flag 24/7" series were "examined three times by the Stamp Advisory Committee, that I know of, and then art directors look at it; everybody looks at it."

David E. Failor, a manager of Stamp Services for the Postal Service, said in the article the extra stripe came from a design flaw. A white line, he said, was added to provide definition to the flag.

Stamp collector Tony Servies wrote about the extra stripe on his blog after reading a June 30 letter to the editor about the extra bar in Linn's.

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Digital Philatelic Workshop

For those of you who want to be on the cutting edge of philately, check out the Digital Philatelic Workshop website. It describes itself as, "A New Frontier in Stamp Collecting, Exhibiting and Literature."

Postings by various authors include...

  • Using a Scanner to Extract Postmarks

  • Planning a Digital Study

  • DPS Critique - Mega-Event 2007

  • Plagiarism Primer

  • Digital Philatelic Study Competition

  • Defining Digital Philately

Fran Adams writes on the site, "More and more collectors are becoming familiar with computers and more proficient with various software programs. Our ability to share information is faster and easier with higher speed connections to the Internet. The avalanche of digital exhibits and title or synopsis pages being posted to the Web today is a good indication that this medium is here to stay and becoming very popular, very quickly."

He believes this is another way to help ensure the hobby's future among younger generations.

Shown above, part of one of Fran's online exhibits.

For more information and to visit the Digital Philatelic Workshop, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rolling Stamp Album

The article shown above appeared in the Nov., 1936 edition of Popular Science magazine.

According to a comment left by a resident of Casper on the blogsite (where the article appears), "The girls were his daughters and their friends."

The writer then went on to say, "He drove the car around for a year and then let those same girls tear off the stamps (as much as they could with the varnish on it)... He lived in Casper until his death in 1977."
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Oddly Interesting

It goes without saying that the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's collections are home to some of the most historically significant objects in the history the nation's postal system.

So in honor of the museum's fifteenth anniversary, the museum's staff has selected some of the oddest objects and posted them on the museum's Arago website in a exhibit titled Oddly Interesting.

Nancy Pope, History Curator at the National Postal Museum, writes in the museum's August newsletter, The Postmark, "Such objects often make their way onto exhibit or into articles as the gems of the museum's collections. But those who look deeper into the vaults are rewarded with objects that are unusual, to say the least."

These quirky objects have been grouped into five categories.

They are objects that have been used to carry or mark mail, objects that have traveled through the mail stream, and those worn by mail carriers. Finally, two of these items reveal a connection between animals and the mail.

Shown above, a leather face mask that belonged to Eddie Gardner, one of America's first airmail pilots.

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

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nancy Clark - 2008 Luff Award Winner

Nancy Clark is featured in a nice article that appears in the Barnstable-Register in Yarmouth Port, MA.

A retired music teacher, "Clark was only about five or six years old when her parents brought her along to a stamp show where they examined long lines of exhibits featuring rare and unique stamps while they expected little Nancy to entertain herself with a stamp book and a handful of stamps," according to reporter Jen Ouellette.

Ouellette writes, "Clark had a frustrating time trying to match the stamps she had in her lap with the ones pictured in the albums. Having had such a frustrating start, Clark wanted to make the hobby more appealing to youngsters and started to think up youth activities that could be presented at stamp shows and founded a number of stamp clubs in schools."

Clark will be presented today with the American Philatelic Society's 2008 Luff Award for Exceptional Contributions to Philately for her work with youths as well as other national and international involvement she’s had with philately including her weekly Internet radio show “APS Stamp Talk with Nancy Clark” on

Shown above, Nancy looks over some of her albums.

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

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two USPS Art Directors "Axed"

Linn's Stamp News is reporting that two of the United States Postal Service's most prolific stamp art directors "have been axed by postal officials as part of an effort to trim the stamp program's expenses."

Bill McAllister, Linn's Washington correspondent, writes in the August 18 edition, that senior stamp art directors Richard Sheaff of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Carl Herrman of Carlsbad, Calif. were both being released as of Sept. 30.

Bill goes on to say that in an e-mail message from Terrance McCaffrey, USPS manager of stamp development, suggests the actions to cut the number of future commemorative stamp issues will take place in a further effort to cut costs.

The decision now leaves Stamp Services with four art directors - all based on the east coast.

Show above, Richard Sheaff's latest stamp design for the 100th Anniversary of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." It was adapted from a trading card in Sheaff's personal collection.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, August 14, 2008

World's Fastest Postage Stamp

UK's Times OnLine reports Austria Post and OeSD, the Austrian State Printing House, printed the world's fastest postage stamp in just 1 hour 25 minutes, at the end of June and this achievement has now been recognised by Guinness World Records.

According to the article by Peter Jennings, the Records Management Team, wrote to Austria Post on July 21: "We are pleased to confirm that you have set the new Guinness World Record for the 'Fastest printing of a postage stamp'. Details of your achievement have been entered into our records as follows: The fastest printing of a postage stamp took 1 hour 25 minutes.

The stamp commemorated the 2008 UEFA European Championship Final. The design (shown above) was approved at 11:16 p.m. on Sunday June 29 2008 and printing began immediately after.

The stamps were released on sale shortly after midnight and the first sheet was sold in Vienna, Austria, at 12:41 a.m. on Monday June 30 2008.

The letter concluded: "Welcome to the very select club of Guinness World Record holders. A commemorative certificate has been sent by post."

The previous world record stood at 10 hours, 24 minutes. It was achieved on April 20, 2001 by the Crown Agents Stamp Bureau and the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau with a £2 souvenir sheet, issued to celebrate the 75th birthday of The Queen the following day.

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Holy Postage

Leslie Palma-Simoncek writes in her Beyond Belief column in the Staten Island Advance, "The custom stamp business continues to thrive. Not only can you make your own stamps, with pictures of the kids or the newlyweds or the cats, or whatever else, but now you can buy religious-themed stamps at"

According to Leslie, "The stamps come in a variety of languages, including English, Hebrew, Arabic, Gaelic, Italian, French and Spanish, and feature images that include the expected, clouds and celestial scenes, to the unexpected -- when before have you ever seen Isaiah on a stamp?"

HolyPostage is a project of the Apostolate, based in Charlottesville, Va., a non-profit corporation that describes its mission as facilitating "worldwide prayer for Godly intentions.

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Athletes Get Their Own Stamps

Reuters is reporting athletes at this year’s Olympics are being offered the ultimate souvenir — personalised Beijing 2008 postage stamps with their own faces on them.

Reporter Catherine Bremer writes, "The stamps are guaranteed to bring a smile to relatives’ faces back home, although you’ll need six of them for a foreign-bound postcard. Post office employees in the athletes’ village say coaches and officials are snapping them up as fast as a 100m sprinter."

Post office worker Li Qiang is quoted in the piece as saying, “They are very popular. Some are buying 10 or 11 sheets." For 45 yuan ($6.6) for a sheet of 12 you can have your photo taken and superimposed stamps samples of which are on the wall.

Li says well over a hundred sets of stamps have been printed so far, featuring Germans, Czech athletes and half the Chinese baseball team for a start.

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

Monday, August 11, 2008

Improving The Image of Stamp Collecting

Mark Antony Rossi writes on his blog, Kids Need Stamps, "I'm always a bit miffed when I hear worship stories about people who collect teacups, dolls from Japan, baseball cards, dead insects, etc, but when it comes to stamp collecting---suddenly it's too corny, nerdy, cerebral, brainy, old-fashioned, and the terrible list goes on."

He goes on to write, "Part of the problem, and new parents will encounter this, is the stubborn stereotype that insists stamp collecting is a senior citizen past time of no consequence. Yes, there are senior citizens who engage in the hobby, many certified experts, but a majority of collectors internationally are younger people."

Mark believes the two biggest contributors to the image problem of stamp collecting in the United States is first, the Hollywood movie and television industry which has portrayed stamp collecting in a negative light for decades.

Second, the U.S. Government itself, which doesn't do enough to spread the positive word of stamp collecting to its younger-age public.

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

Sunday, August 10, 2008

How Tough Can It Be to Be King?

Author Simon Garfield (The Error World: An Affair With Stamps) asks in the book section of the Wall Street Journal, "How tough can it be to be king?"

He then goes on to say, "If we take the example of Britain's George V, the answer may be: not very. During his reign (1910-36), George was known to spend about four hours a day with his stamp collection. On royal tours, his lackeys let receiving heads of state know that if they wanted to present the monarch with a gift, George would gladly forgo the usual engraved salver in favor of a rare philatelic specimen from Antigua or the Cape of Good Hope.

In February 1908, when he was still the Duke of York, George wrote to a friend regarding the purchase of some stamps from Barbados: "Remember, I wish to have the best collection, and not one of the best collections in Britain,"
according to Garfield.

As part of his review of Helen Morgan's Blue Mauritius (Overlook, 320 pages, $29.95), Garfield points out, "By the end of the 19th century the pastime had spread around the world -- and the Blue Mauritius was already much coveted. George V's stamp, which remains in the British royal collection, is "considered the finest known example," according to a note in the "Blue Mauritius" appendix, which gives a brief description of who bought and sold each stamp and for how much money. But by the appendix stage the reader knows that Ms. Morgan's book is actually dealing with not one type of Mauritius stamp but two -- and with one of the most romantic stories in the whole of philately."

Shown above, a pair of 1847 Mauritius stamps on cover which sold for a record $4 million in 1993.

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

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Royal Collection Never Fully Catalogued

The Investors Chronicle website reports that the Royal Philatelic Collection, housed at St James's Palace has become so vast and unwieldy that it has never been fully catalogued, nor has its market value ever been definitively established because of the rarity (and in some cases uniqueness) of many of the items.

Reporter Mark Robinson writes, "The Royal Family will be delighted to find that prices for the GB Rarities index, which is comprised of the UK's top-30 rare stamps, has grown by a compound figure of 245 per cent over the past 10 years. This is an annual increase of 13.2 per cent."

This index is put together by The Stanley Gibbons Group.

According to Robinson, "... the index has moved up by 38 per cent since the onset of the present economic malaise, which underlines the generally held view that prices for rare postage stamps bear little correlation to other asset classes. This is always a significant point when building an investment portfolio. By including non-correlated asset classes, you can effectively reduce volatility; diversification can assuage the cyclical falls associated with standard asset classes, such as equities or gilts."

Shown above, George VI, (1895 - 1952), King of Great Britain, right, with his stamp collection, and the Curator of the Royal Stamp Collection, Sir John Wilson. Original Publication: Picture Post - 1860 - The King And His Stamps - pub. 1944 (Photo by Kurt Hutton/Getty Images)

To read the entire article, Stamps Lick The Competition, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 PM

Friday, August 08, 2008

Stamp-Inspired Toys and Playing Cards

With the holidays on the horizon, here's a gift suggestion from USPS: stamp-inspired toys and playing cards.

According to the USPS New Link, toymaker Schylling Associates of Rowley, MA has recreated the Graf Zeppelin stamp as an image on a collectible tin box containing a wind-up toy replica of the famous airship.

Other tins and toys in the series include depictions of the St. Paul steamship, based on a 1901 stamp, and a Special Delivery motorcycle image captured from a stamp issued in 1944.

The three collectibles are available for purchase for $19.95 each.

Also available is a deck of playing cards featuring the recent "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" commemorative for $6.95.

Each has been licensed by USPS, so the Postal Service will earn a share of the revenues from each sale.

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

Thursday, August 07, 2008

When Mail Goes to War

The 2008 Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium will be held at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. on September 26 and 27. It is being jointly sponsored by the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and the American Philatelic Society (APS).

It will be the third annual national conference for academic scholars, philatelists, and industry experts to discuss their research into the history of postal organizations and systems.

The theme for the 2008 Symposium is war and the mail, broadly interpreted to include everything related to defense and the postal system in all countries and eras.

According to a write up in the APS August Newsletter. "Postal topics are usually framed in peaceful terms: mail "binds the nation together" by enabling commerce and encouraging technological development, while stamps are "works of art in miniature" or "little paper ambassadors" of national culture and achievement. Often overlooked is the fact that when a nation goes to war, its stamps and postal system are always an integral part of the mobilization—and the relief effort."

Shown above, 1917 2¢ ‘Powdery’ Rose Washington booklet pane of 30 (Scott #499f).

The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing created booklets of 300 stamps (each containing ten panes like this one) for use by the World War I American Expeditionary Force in France.

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

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Southern California Post Office Moves Outside Following Earthquake

The 5.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Southern California last week jangled nerves and rocked buildings. The quake also damaged the retail lobby of the West Covina Post Office.

"Postmaster Bob Cajigas acted quickly, doing what any other sensible person would do — he left the building. And he took the lobby with him, setting up shop outside the building until repairs inside are completed," reports the USPS News Link.

The Santa Ana District sent two mobile retail vans to West Covina, located about 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles. West Covina employees added ReadyPost displays, form holders and other furnishings from the retail lobby.

The earthquake did not affect delivery and collection services.

Shown above, Mobile vans at West Covina, CA, Post Office.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Schermack Stamp Vending Machine

The August Object of the Month on the National Postal Museum's website is the Schermack Stamp Vending Machine.

In 1905 the Post Office Department officially began investigating the use of vending machines to sell stamps, stamped envelopes, and postal cards.

According to the site, Joseph Schermack is generally credited with producing the first practical stamp vending machine. In 1910 he introduced a “profit-sharing” model where he sold two two-cent stamps or four one-cent stamps for a nickel, and in 1926 he formed the Sanitary Postage Service Corporation.

Labeling the machine as a vendor of “sanitary stamps” differentiated the machine from competitors while attracting a clientele that feared the spread of germs.

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

Monday, August 04, 2008

Post Office Mural Causes Controversy

Wisconsin's Hudson Star-Observer reports, "Since the day it arrived in Hudson in 1943, the post office mural was unable to escape controversy."

Milwaukee artist Ruth Grotenrath (1912-1988), who went on to become one of Wisconsin’s most celebrated painters, received the commission to paint the mural for the downtown Hudson post office. Her instructions at the time were to consult with local officials, peruse local books and create a painting illustrating Hudson’s early days.

The mural supposedly illustrated the unloading of a river boat in Hudson. However, some felt the scene looked more like a painting of the deep South during the days of slavery. When the mural was hung in September 1943, it drew immediate criticism from local officials.

Art Conservator Anton Rajer was commissioned to touch up and move the large painting when the U.S. Government sold the building in 1999. Rajer soon discovered, however, that no one was really interested in displaying it because of the controversy surrounding it.

Rajer finally made the mural available to The Museum of Wisconsin Art and the transaction was completed in 2001.

Reporter Doug Stohlberg writes, "At the time he said that what makes the painting even more unique is that it was painted by a woman. He said it was very difficult for a woman to get a commission for painting in the early 1940s. The artist was paid $730 for the painting by the Federal Works Agency."

Rajer is quoted as saying there are 40,000 post offices in the country; only 2,000 had murals and Hudson was one of those.

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

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Kids Need Stamps

“Kids Need Stamps” has put together free starter-kits to assist parents help their children become interested in stamp collecting.

On their blogsite the group informs parents about getting started, supplies, and topics. As a result the group believes closer relationships are forged between parents and children.

Founder Mark Antony Rossi writes, "The beauty of stamp collecting is a lack of pressure. You don't have to be an expect. You don't have a large budget. You don't have scream about from the rooftops or shield it from the world. You can start small. You start big. Start with America. Go to Europe and check out Africa. There's no deadline, no pressure. Another charming facet of stamp collecting is the clever flexibilty it allows by being both an individual hobby and a joint project with parents."

He goes on to say,"If you believe, as I do, kids need stamps, then you must conclude, parents need a hand to prepare them for a smooth transition to the hobby. And that is where, "Kids Need Stamps" comes into play. I will mail out, free of charge, a small starter kit, to help you understand how to start learning and maybe even loving postage stamps of the world. The most amazing thing is you really don't have to know much to start, and you, as a parent, can actually learn with your child, and create a stronger bond of trust and communication."
You can contact Mark at

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

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Bridge on Minnesota Stamp Closed for Safety Reasons

The Minnesota Public Radio website reports, "Not even postage stamps could escape the big bridge debate this year in Minnesota."

As part of the state's 150th birthday celebration, the Postal Service issued a Minnesota stamp in May. On it is a photograph of the Mississippi River along with a shot of the Highway 43 bridge.

Two and a half weeks after the stamp debuted, the bridge was closed for safety reasons according to the article by Tom Weber.

Tom goes on to say, "Like the 'hanging chad' and 'IED' before it, 'gusset plates' entered Minnesotans' vocabulary with a force in January..." The plates hold steel beams together."

The U.S. House passed legislation last week that would authorize an additional $1 billion next year for bridges across the country. However, a final report in January from a presidential commission concluded the country needs to spend at least $225 billion a year, every year, for the next 50 years to build a competitive transportation system.

To read - and hear - the entire report, click here.

To view an online exhibit of Bridges on Stamps by J. E. Donald Blais, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, August 01, 2008

Penny Black Found In Trash

A mysterious collection of household items - including one of the world's first stamps - has been found dumped in a rubbish bin in Dorchester, England according to the Daily Echo.

Police were alerted to a trash can where they found a collection of stamps, as well as several household items, inside a bag. After closer inspection, one of the world's first stamps -the Penny Black from 1840 - was discovered inside a black leather presentation case.

The value of a unused Penny Black in good condition ranges from $200 to $3000 according to the article.

Shown above, the Penny Black was the world's first official adhesive pre-paid postage stamp and was issued on May 1, 1840.

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