Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stamp Club Auction Yields Treasures

Canada's Edmonton Journal reports Ian Wright spent $9,000 last Saturday buying four boxes filled with thousands of stamps and envelopes.

"A lot of money, to be sure. But with the Edmonton Stamp Club estimating the treasures in the box to be worth $25,000, Wright walked away from the stamp auction at the Fantasyland Hotel Conference Centre confident he had scored a good deal," writes reporter Brian J. Gavriloff.

Wright is quoted as saying his haul included the largest collection of a specific penny black stamp plate from 1840 that will be sold anywhere in the world this year, and an even larger number of penny red stamps.

Wright’s find was one of more than 230 lots auctioned as part of the stamp club’s final auction of the Ted Meers’ collection.

Meers, who died three years ago, was addicted to stamp collecting like a gambler is addicted to casinos, said Keith Spencer, president of Edmonton Stamp Club.

Meers a ran a business called Pack Rat Collectibles and spent 50 years accumulating stamps and covers. His basement was crammed with millions of stamps, mostly unorganized and many that were quite valuable according to the article.

Shown above, collector Alec Kulesza with a block of four 50-cent Canadian O.H.M.S overprints for which he paid $70. They catalog for $200 a piece in unused conditon.
To read the entire article, click here.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, March 30, 2009

Minerals on Stamps

Stéphane Gigandet writes to let Round-Up readers know about his new Mineral Stamps Web site. Stamps and first day covers featuring minerals, crystals, gems, rocks, fossils and meteorites are nicely displayed.

Stéphane currently lives in Paris, France, but also spends a lot of time in the San Francisco Bay area.

He says, "I'm a big fan of rockhounding (an activity that consists in keeping my eyes to the ground in all the beautiful places, high mountains, clear lakes, sandy beaches etc. I go to), and my suitcase is always full of rocks on my return business trips to California (I go there for two weeks every time, so that leaves some time for digging up rocks and crystals in the week-end). The problem with rocks is that they tend to take up a lot of space. So I turned to collecting mineral stamps, which is a more space-savy hobby. "

There are now more than 200 stamps representing 101 different minerals from 43 countries referenced on MineralStamps.com.

Stéphane would be interested in getting high quality scans (600 dpi, full color) of stamps and first day covers featuring minerals he does not currently own. He's especially interested in those issued before 1950.

He can be reached at biz@joueb.com.

To check out his Minerals Stamps Web site, click here.

Shown above, a single from a new set of stamps featuring minerals from Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (French Southern and Antarctic Lands).

As a side note, The American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (AFMS) is trying to convince the US Postal Service to issue stamps featuring birthstones (one gem for each month: garnet, amethyst, aquamarine, diamond, emerald, moonstone, ruby, peridot, sapphire, opal, topaz, turquoise).
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Museum Being Built to House International Chinese Stamp Exhibition

China's CCTV reports a brand-new museum is being built for The World Stamp Exhibition which will be held between April 10 and 16 in Luoyang, China.

The annual event is held in various cities around the world from year to year and is coming to China for a second time.

According to the report, "The design of the museum building is in the shape of a cauldron...often used in the rituals of ancient China."

It goes on to say, "The exhibition is expected to draw an estimated 600 thousand visitors from China and abroad. The World Stamp Exhibition is under the patronage of the Federation of International Philately. It is an influential event with a hundred-and-fifty-year history."

After the stamp exhibition, the museum will be used to house some one thousand cultural relics unearthed around the city.

To watch a video showing the new building and workmen putting up exhibit frames, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Liechtenstein Postal History

John Wray, writing in the New York Times, reports on his vacation in the principality of Liechtenstein.

John writes, "Sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria, it is one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world, meaning that all of its direct neighbors are landlocked as well. (The other is Uzbekistan.) It is the sixth-smallest nation in area, the seventh-smallest in population and the smallest in which German is spoken."

He goes on to say, "Nowhere is Liechtenstein’s talent for capitalizing on its own obscurity more perfectly displayed than at the Postmuseum in Vaduz, the principality’s modest shrine to its best-known commodity, the postage stamp."

According to John, "The first Liechtensteinian stamp was a humble, monochrome affair, but within a few decades, incredible as it may seem, the sale of postage stamps was the country’s single greatest source of revenue."

He quotes, Erika Barbaré, the Postmuseum’s curator, commenting on how that happened: "It was a for-profit undertaking from the start, she said, lowering her voice conspiratorially. Certain persons involved in the printing of the original stamps — we may never find out who — intentionally introduced errors into the first few print runs, making them even more valuable to collectors."

Shown above, the first stamps issued by Liechtenstein in 1912.

To read the entire article, click here.

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

Friday, March 27, 2009

Florida Show Sparks Interest in Stamps

Florida's Naples Daily News featured a story about Naplex ‘09 which was held last weekend.

According to reporter Leslie Williams the show was sponsored by the Collier County Stamp Club and has been held annually for the past 30 years.

Williams writes, "Many of the people perusing exhibits and collectors’ books at this year’s stamp show have collected stamps since they were children. While most can remember where their hobby started, few have ever thought very hard about what drives their fascination with stamp collecting."

She goes on to report that the members of the club have struggled to get younger people involved in the hobby. "They know a dedicated group of interested people will preserve collections of stamps, but lament the fact that young folks only seem interested in computers and have allowed the art of letter writing to fall by the wayside."

Shown above, seven-year-old Lindsay Coulter picks out a stamp pin from Meta Brylle at the Naples Stamp Show.

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

Thursday, March 26, 2009

PMG Says Post Office Is Running Out of Money

The Associated Press is reporting that Postmaster General John Potter told Congress that the post office will run out of money this year unless it gets help. Potter also sought permission to cut delivery to five days a week in testimony before the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia subcommittee hearing on the financial stability of the Postal Service.

The agency lost $2.8 billion last year and is looking at much larger losses this year. Reducing mail delivery from six days to five days a week could save $3.5 billion annually, Potter said.

Lawmakers also raised questions regarding recent news reports that Potter is paid as much as $800,000 a year. That is not correct, Potter said. He said his salary, set by Congress, is $263,575. He said the news reports were counting his retirement fund, the cost of his security detail and a $135,000 bonus that would be paid over 10years after he retires.

The bonus is based on improved delivery rates and customer satisfaction, he said. Under the current financial conditions, Potter said, he would not be eligible for a bonus this year.

Shown above, Postmaster General John Potter testifying on Capitol Hill.

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stamps - A Recession Winner

UK's Whitney Gazette reports, "When it comes to the recession, one West Oxfordshire man is hoping that his business has got it licked."

Andrew McGavin (shown here) owns and runs Universal Philatelic Auctions and says he has seen a rise in the amount of interest shown in investing in quality philatelic material.

So much so, that his last auction at the end of February attracted more than 1,200 bidders from around the world according to reporter Chris Kearney.

McGavin is quoted as saying, "Stamp collecting looks like being one of the winners of the recession."

He went to say, "With interest rates being as low as they are right now, people look at money that is sitting in their savings, and are looking at new ways to make this work."

“I think as an investment, it is wise to spend more," McGavin points out.

“The cheaper the stamp, the less likely it is to raise in value, and modern stamps aren’t really good investments. There are too many produced. It’s all about supply and demand – if the supply meets the demand, then it will never be that valuable.”

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stamp Booklets: Magic Carpets to Adventure - A Review

While the average stamp collector may have a stamp booklet or two in their collection, not many have a book about them. That’s because few have been written.

Stamp Booklets: Magic Carpets to Adventure by Jeremy A. Lifsey is primarily for the novice or intermediate collector. Lifsey refers to booklets as “magic carpets” because of their rectangular shape and the idea that they can transport the collector to far-away lands that they would not normally be able to visit due to the lack of time, energy or finances.

However, this could be said for individual stamps in general and is not necessarily unique to stamp booklets. Since the start of the hobby in 1840, one of the great joys of stamp collecting is that it can easily turn you into an arm-chair traveler.

In the Introduction and Overview, the author gives two examples of specific stamp booklets that he felt were good examples of how stamp booklets could transport one back in time. One example is about a 1956 East African booklet that features giraffes and lions on the stamps. However, it is not the stamps Lifsey found interesting; it was the interleaves in between the stamps which promoted local hotels and restaurants that a visitor might have gone to at the time. Today those tourist sites no longer exist.

The other is a 1924 booklet from France whose cover features cherubs carrying platters of oyster shells up a ladder and dumping them into a grinder that promotes a small town in France, Mornac-sur-Seudre, known for oysters.

Neither are particularly good examples of the point the author was trying to make – that through stamp booklets one can travel through time.

Probably a better example, which is mentioned briefly in a later chapter, would have been the Lewis and Clark booklet issued by the United States in 2004. It was released to commemorate and celebrate the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the explorers’ trek from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River on the West Coast.

Besides twenty 37-cent stamps picturing Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, the booklet also contains a vivid description of their journey. It was illustrated profusely with historic photos, drawings, and artifacts.

While I was not particularly interested in Lewis and Clark before, I remember when the booklet came out it sparked my imagination and peaked my interest in their journey across America. While being taken back in time, I also found it exciting that many of the places that Lewis and Clark travelled to still exist and can be visited today.

The various chapters in the 231-page, softbound book delve into the different types of stamp booklets, where to find them, how to organize and display them, etc. There is also a bibliography as well as several appendixes.

My favorite chapter discusses the monetary value of stamp booklets. Lifsey advises not to get caught up in the investment aspect of collecting. That is, selling them for more than you paid. He says, “You bought the booklets for enjoyment. The pleasure you receive from them is worth something. Add that to the dollar amount you receive when you sell them and you can be sure you will have a good return on your investment.”

This is good advice for anyone who collects anything - be they stamps, coins, art or whatever.

Lifsey also stresses in this chapter something the inexperienced collector often overlooks - condition and centering. He believes, as do I, both are essential if you are to have a collection that appreciates in value over time.

To illustrate this basic tenet of philately, Lifsey shares a story about how he tried to sell one of his duplicate booklets to a stamp dealer many years ago. The dealer wasn’t interested because of poor centering.

Lifsey writes, “Within the booklet one pane was key. It alone determined the value of the booklet. It was centered ‘fine,’ and the dealer didn’t think much of it. Had it been centered ‘very fine, or better’ a sale might have resulted.”

The point Lifsey is trying to make is when buying stamps for your collection – singles or booklets – make sure you get the best centering possible. One way to do this is to hold the stamp upside down and look at it. By doing so it will greatly assist you in seeing how equal the spacing around the top and bottom, left and right margins of the design and the perforations are. The reason this works is because when you hold the stamp upside down, you are no longer focused on the stamp design - just the margins around it.

Lifsey began collecting stamps while in grade school and has been collecting booklets for the past 35 years. Published in 2008 by XLibris, this self-published book is obviously a labor of love and effectively communicates the author’s passion for stamp booklets, their design and packaging.

Overall, the book is a good read and contains a great deal of useful and interesting information for stamp collectors young and old. It is an excellent introduction to collecting stamp booklets and deserves a place on your bookshelf….and in your virtual travel plans.

- Don Schilling

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

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rare Gandhi Stamp

Reporter Brian de Souza writes on the DNA India Web site, "According to eBay India, someone buys a stamp online every 12 minutes. Among the most popular are those of Mahatma Gandhi, and stamps from India's erstwhile princely states. India's rich past makes investments in rare Indian stamps attractive, according to Adrian Roose, investment manager at Stanley Gibbons, international philatelists."

Among the world's most valuable stamps is a 10-rupee Gandhi which is shown above. Its catalogue value recently went up from £14,000 to £25,000. Roose is quoted as saying, "We have a waiting list of clients wishing to obtain this stamp."

The stamp depicting Mahatma Gandhi was issued by India in 1948. Only 100 of these stamps were overprinted with the word "Service" and provided exclusively to the Governor General of India for his official use.

De Souza also reports, "The net has also turned millions of people into stamp collectors (48 million, according to one estimate). When you couple that with the fact that the supply of stamps is drying up in the email age, and that stamps are a perishable commodity (one collection worth £200,000 went up in smoke in the recent Australian bushfire, for example), you can see how an investment in stamps may be well worth one's time and money."

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

World's Smallest Postal Service

The World's Smallest Postal Service (WSPS) is a teeny tiny transcription service and roaming post office based in the San Francisco Bay Area and also available online.

Lea Redmond is the Postmaster, setting up her tiny mobile office in cafes and shops where passers-by can write a letter and have it turned into a "world's smallest letter."

The letter is transcribed on a miniature desk in the tiniest of script, sealed with a miniscule wax seal with the sender's intial pressed into it, packaged up with a magnifying glass in a glassine envelope, and finished off with a large wax seal (see above).

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

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Deegam Machin Handbook

Since it was first published in 1993 the Deegam Machin Handbook has become known as "The Machin Encyclopaedia". It explains in depth every aspect of design, development and production of Machin and country pictorial definitives. It includes unique methods designed to enable unknown Machins to be identified.

Thirteen chapters and fifteen appendixes culminate in a catalogue of Machin stamps. This is divided into three levels to suit beginners, intermediate collectors and specialists. Each level forms part of the unique numbering system which never changes no matter what new values or variations are issued. Every value has its own section, making it very easy to find the stamp you are looking for.

Also available on CD.

Shown above, the first Machin definitive which was issued in 1967 and is now considered the longest running stamp design in philatelic history. Currently there are more than 400 types, colors and varieties.

For order information, click here.

For more about Machins, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, March 21, 2009

U.S. Postal Service to Cut Jobs

The U.S. Postal Service has announced that it will close offices, cut jobs and offer early retirement to workers in an effort to save more than $100 million annually.

According to a USPS press release, the agency is closing six of 80 district offices, while 15 percent of the workers holding district-level positions will lose their jobs. About 150,000 workers across the U.S. will be offered early retirement.

In the past year the Postal Service says it has taken aggressive cost-cutting actions, including cutting 50 million work hours, halting construction of new postal facilities, negotiating an agreement with the National Association of Letter Carriers that adjusts letter carrier routes to reflect diminished volume, and freezing salaries and hiring.

Click here to read the entire Postal Service press release concerning the cuts.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, March 20, 2009

Living Persons on Stamps

Denise McCarty, Linn's senior editor and World of New Issues columnist, writes in the April Linn's Stamp News Newsletter,"Living people are not commemorated on United States stamps. The rule is that an individual has to be dead for five years or more before he or she is honored on a stamp. An exception is made for a U.S. president, who is usually honored with a memorial stamp on the first birth anniversary following death. Some other countries, though, have no such postal regulations and often feature living people on their stamps."

More than a dozen countries have already issued stamps celebrating the election and inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Denise points out, "Since 1997, Australia Post has made a point to recognize the outstanding achievements of living Australians in an annual stamp series called Australia Legends. The most recent set, released earlier this year on Jan. 22, features Oscar-winning actors Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Geoffrey Rush and Nicole Kidman"

According to Denise, upon receiving the honor, Kidman told Australia Post, "I have a vested interest in Australia. I want my children to live here at certain times of their life and see how wonderful it is. It would be lovely for them to lick a stamp, put it on an envelope and say 'that's my mum'."

Shown above, the Nicole Kidman stamp issued earlier this year by Australia.

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

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stamps of Pennsylvania Album

The American Philatelic Society is offering a free 30-page Stamps of Pennsylvania mini-album. The album showcases United States stamps and postal cards related to the Keystone State and its colorful history.

Designed for free use in the public domain — with permission from Scott Publishing Co. to use its copyrighted catalogue numbers — it is available as a pdf file that can be viewed or downloaded.

It was created for the APS StampShow 2009, which will take place Aug. 6-9 at the Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

The Stamps of Pennsylvania album is number six in a series, following albums for North Carolina, Connecticut, Texas, Arizona, and Alaska. All of these and other APS albums are available on the APS website.

Click here for the APS Stamps of Pennsylvania album shown above.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stamps Cancelled

Jay Bigalke of Linn's Stamp News reports in the March 23rd editon that three United States stamp issues, originally planned for release in 2009, have been pulled from the current year's stamp program because of the economic downturn.

According to Jay, USPS spokesperson Roy Betts told Linn's that the 44c Edward Hopper and the holiday 44c Angel with Lute stamps have been shelved along with the fourth set of 10 stamps in the Flags of Our Nation commemorative coil series.

The Edward Hopper stamp, shown above, part of the American Treasures series, was orignally scheduled to be issued Aug. 6 at the American Philatelic Society Stampshow in Pittsburgh, PA.

Now the third set of the Flags of Our Nation coils will take its place having been moved back from a June release date.

The Associated Press is also reporting this story. Click here to read.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Don't Believe Everything You Read in The Papers

In response to yesterday's post, Scottish Stamp Collection Gets Trashed, Jim Ford, the person who lost his stamp collection, e-mailed me with the following information and comments...

"Don’t believe everything you read in the papers!

"The collection was/is possibly worth more than that on paper (sorry for the pun) as a catalogue value, as an actual value as I try to tell everybody the only way you would have an exact value would be sell them and see how much you got.

"The stamps were not outside to dry after a burst pipe! They were at the front door whist the house was being repaired after the heating engineers did not cap any pipes and the house flooded.

"Robert Murray was also misquoted, but then again it was a private collection that he had supplied stamps towards from his Edinburgh Shop. He just did not know who he was supplying to.

"The collection was mostly Commonwealth 1840 - 1948, Amongst it was several full mint sets including Variants.

"The honour of most of the collection has to go to my grandfather and uncle who collected it for over 90 years.

"The jewel of the Collection was actually American. A set of letters that covered the whole American civil war, initially 2 friends - then boyfriend/girlfriend - then the engagement and the arrangement of the wedding, all of the letters were complete, he telling her of his desire to fight in the war, going off to fight , describing battles. Her telling him the local gossip.

"Included in some of the letters from her were stamps for him to reply, hence the Washington Pinks. But a letter sent from a Union Soldier, to a New York Address with a CSA stamp on it, a novel twist.

"Some of the Letters from the collection still exist, mostly female gossip to Miss Hattie Simmons, Motville N.Y though one sheet of paper that I actually have not read is embossed with the Whitehouse, dated March 26th 1870.

"The local authority admitted in writing that they removed the stamps and the other items of furniture, it’s their insurance company that are claiming they only removed Rubbish."

Thanks Jim. Good luck with your claim.

Shown above, a 1868 Washington Pink with B-grill which was sold at auction last year for $1,035,000. Only four 3-cent stamps with this type are known to exist.

To read the orignal article in the Glasgow Sunday Mail, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, March 16, 2009

Scottish Stamp Collection Gets Trashed

UK's Sunday Mail reports trash men in Scotland allegedly dumped a stamp collector's collection supposedly worth millions.

Reporter Marion Scott quotes collector Jim Ford as saying he left thousands of rare stamps to dry outside his flat after they were soaked by water from a burst pipe. He claims his collection included 840 Penny Blacks, dozens of Penny Blues and 36 Washington Pinks.

But an expert doubts it.

Founder of the Scottish Philatelic Trade Association, Robert Murray, said: "I'd be extremely surprised to discover a previously unknown collection worth several millions of pounds turning up in Scotland.

Shown above, the 1986 EUROPA stamp from Denmark which featured a garbage collector.

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

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kahului Railroad Stamps

The Post Office in Paradise Web site showcases Hawaiian postal history from the years before Hawaii became a part of the United States.

The site features a huge collection of colorful stamps, cover letters to foreign countries, pre-postal mail, soldier mail, missionary stamps, engraved stamps, postal cards.

There is also interesting Hawaiian Postal Service ephemera from before 1900 including a page about the little known Kahului Railroad stamps - none of which are listed in the Scott Catalogue.

According to the site in 1876, Hawaii's emerging sugar industry was booming. On Maui, several significant plantations were located on the isthmus and getting sugar to the port at Kahului was sometimes difficult.

The local postmaster constructed a narrow gauge railroad connecting the port to the major plantations. The train began service in 1879 and carried the mail free.

Later in 1894, the railroad decided to print a set of stamps for use on packages and freight. They turned to the American Bank Note Company which produced six seldom seen stamps.

Shown above, the $1 Kahului Railroad stamp.

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

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Special Offer for Round-Up Readers

Amy Burnett of the Wine of the Month Club, Inc. writes to say when Round-Up readers sign up on a special page on the company's website, https://secure.wineofthemonthclub.com/offer15/. And you reference my name, Don Schilling, she will give you a special introductory offer to become a member.

You will get your first shipment for only $9.95 instead of $19.95. A savings of $10! Plus you will receive two free wine glasses. Amy says you can also call her at 1-800-949-9463 to take advantage of this offer.

And to make this even more special, she wants to offer BOTH of us A CASE OF WINE to spilt between US!

Amy says, "And I can do this at absolutely no charge. No charge for the wine. No charge for the shipping. And no tax. Let’s just call it a thank you. But you must act before March 31st.”

Well, thank you Amy!

Living in California, I'm particular about my wine. However, I am continually impressed with the quality and value of the low priced wines the club sends out each month. AND being a member makes it SO easy to have a good variety of reds and wines on hand when guests drop by. Try it, you'll like it.

Sorry, no one under 21 is eligible.

In the meantime, click here to check out Sarah Perell-Minetti's Web site Grapes and Wine on Stamps.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, March 13, 2009

Delivering the Mail Without the Paper

In a front page article by reporter Alana Semuels, the Los Angeles Times is reporting beginning April 27, Swiss Post, Switzerland's national postal operator, will use the technology developed by Earth Class Mail of Seattle to deliver regular mail online in six European countries.

According to the paper,"Analysts say it's too soon to tell whether digital mail is the next big thing, and skeptics, including the U.S. Postal Service, abound. Still, as consumers become more tied to the digital world, Web-based snail mail services are expanding."

For $11.95 a month, Earth Class Mail will open your mail -- letters, bills, catalogs and all -- then scan and upload it to the Web so you can read your correspondence online.

The $11.95 fee includes 50 pages scanned a month and unlimited recycling and shredding. Each extra page scanned costs 25 cents.

Members are assigned either a post office box or a generic mailing address in Beaverton, Ore., where Earth Class Mail has a sorting facility. Customers who want a premium address, even a false one, can pay extra. Manhattan costs $29.95, and West Hollywood or San Francisco cost $23.95.

USPS spokesperson Susan Brennan is quoted in the article as saying, "The U.S. Postal Service has experimented over the last decade with offering digital versions of some of its core services, but people weren't comfortable."

Shown above, a worker scans a client’s snail mail into digital form to be read online.

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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Henry Gitner Philatelists

The Middletown, NY Times Herald-Record reports Henry Gitner Philatelists is one of the largest independent stamp dealers in the U.S. and has just received a $62,000 loan from the city to upgrade security, computers and the company Web site, and to expand the business he does in collectible coins and paper money.

Gitner, shown above, is quoted in the article by Heather Yakin as saying, "One of the things about stamps is, you can't sell what you don't have. One of the hardest things is finding what you want, when you need it. A lot of times, you just keep something until the right customer comes along."

Gitner explained some of the fine points of collecting stamps and cancellations Yakin and others who were visiting his shop.

"People get very, very deep into really esoteric things," Gitner said. "It gets very specialized, very intense, and very small things can make things very valuable."

Gitner's wife, Debra, who handles the bookeeping is also quoted in the article, "Retail stamp sales have dipped some recently because of the economy. But coin sales are strong."

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Canadian Stamp Designer John Belisle

As the associate creative director at the Signals Design Group in Vancouver, John Belisle [shown here] was largely responsible for designing and illustrating the new Canadian 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games series.

John is featured in an article by reporter Arlene Jongbloets that appears on the 100 Mile House Free Press Web site.

The set of stamps and souvenir sheet, which were released in January, showcases four Winter Olympic sports: freestyle skiing; snowboard; bobsleigh and curling, as well as ice sledge hockey, a Paralympic Winter sport.

Belisle is quoted as saying, “We were inspired by Olympic imagery of the 1940s and 1950s, particularly the highly romanticized silk-screened posters of the era. We started with basic sketches of athletes in action and, to give the design a contemporary spin, we layered the images.”

He went on to explain, "These layers of transparencies capture the movement of the athletes. Blues and whites worked into the stamp designs convey the feeling of snow and ice."

According to the article, Belise recently rekindled a connection with his former high school art teacher, Bob Law. When he discovered Law was an avid stamp collector, Belisle sent him the first sketch he did for the Olympic stamp.

To read the entire article, click here.

Click here to see all the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games stamps and souvenir sheet designed by the Signals Design Group.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lions, Leopards, Unicorns & Dragons

Alison Bean of the British Postal Museum & Archive writes to say they have a new blog that focuses on postal history and stamps.

On the blog is a write-up about the Lions, Leopards, Unicorns & Dragons: The first “Regional” stamps exhibit which is closing April 4. The exhibition follows the creation and development - from original artwork and unadopted designs, through to the final issues - of Britain’s first regional stamps.

The stamps were issued in August and September 1958 although the idea for regional stamps had first been discussed shortly after the end of the Second World War. While the main feature on the stamps was still the portrait of the Queen by Dorothy Wilding, heraldic and floral emblems were used to distinguish stamps for the different regions.

Shown above, Scottish "Regional" stamp which shows Her Majesty framed by a pair of Crowned and Collared Unicorns (a heraldic beast unique to Scotland) supporting banners showing the Rampant Lion of Scotland and the Flag of St Andrew.

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

Monday, March 09, 2009

Extreme Mailbox Contest

The Fort Meyers Florida Weekly Website reports, Anne Murray, the postmaster for Fort Myers and Cape Coral, is holding a contest to get residents to improve not only the condition of their mailboxes but their looks as well.

According to the paper, "In the tradition of mail box art, and with hope that postal workers lives will be made a little easier, Ms. Murray is challenging Lee County to an Extreme Mailbox Contest. Participants must provide a before and after picture of the box, showing how they went from a crummy receptacle (or just average) to something that not only complies with postal regulations, but delivers notes of creativity, style or even artistry."

Ms. Murray is quoted as saying even if your mailbox isn't a beautiful work of art, her main concern is keeping the boxes up to regulation for her 600 mail carriers.

Winners will be on display in local post offices and receive two sheets of stamps featuring their box.

To read the entire article and see some other examples of "Extreme Mailboxes", click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, March 08, 2009

‘Perfect’ Penny Black Sold at Auction

A “perfect example” of the world’s first postage stamp – a mint penny black – sold at auction for more than £20,000.

"The lot, which went under the hammer at Sotheby’s auction house in London, was expected to sell for between £10,000 and £12,000. The stamp, which dates back to 1840, fetched £20,625 – one of the highest prices achieved at auction for a single penny black," according to UK's Press and Journal.

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

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Ohio Stamp Club Holds 85th Annual Exhibition

The Stamp Collectors Club of Toledo, Ohio held its 85th Annual Exhibition and Bourse last weekend and was featured in the Toledo Blade.

Staff writer Rick Baird reports that about 400 stamp collectors, hobbyists, and "even those looking to buy postage to mail a letter attended the event."

While there Baird interviewed club member Cliff Campbell, 75, who acknowledged that stamp collectors tend to be older, and their numbers are dwindling.

"It's not as popular as it used to be," Cliff is quoted as saying. "But then again, nothing is."

Because stamps were a part of Cliff's 50-year career as a postal carrier, he got interested in the hobby. Even though he retired more than two decades ago, his fondness for stamps hasn't waned a bit according to Baird.

Shown above, Cliff (on right) and his wife, Marcia, at the the show.

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

Friday, March 06, 2009

Women's History Month Exhibits

March is Women's History month and the National Postal Museum is celebrating with a new online exhibit - Women on Stamps: Part I.

According to a write up in the Postmark, the museum's electronic newsletter, "Since 1893, when the image of a woman first appeared on a US postage stamp, the United States has honored women for their many achievements. In fact, over 200 stamps represent women-from politicians and social activists to educators and artists to businesswomen and performers."

Women on Stamps: Part I is the first in a series of four featured collections to highlight the accomplishments of these women.

Subsequent Women on Stamps featured collections will discuss the 'pioneers' in aviation, business and science and feature influential women in literature, art and film.

There is also new feature in the museum's online resources section, "Women in the U.S. Postal System." Written by Abbey Teller and Christina Park, members of the museum's 2008 intern class, it features a history of female postal workers as well as a series of oral histories from recent and current employees.

Shown above, the first U.S. stamp honoring a woman - Queen Isabella of Spain.

To visit the Women on Stamps: Part I online exhibit, click here.

To visit Women in the U.S. Postal Service, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Maple Leafs' Coach Becomes Accidental Stamp Collector

Canada's National Post Web site reports Corey Hirsch, the goaltending coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has become a stamp collector of sorts because of one particular Swedish stamp.

Shown here, the 1995 stamp (SC #2114) features a young Peter Forsberg clinching the gold medal for Sweden at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics as the goaltender fails to stop him.

The goaltender pictured on the stamp is Hirsch. The 36-year-old father of three is quoted as saying, "I think I have about 10 of those stamps."

Hirsh says he can accept getting beaten by Forsberg. But being collected by philatelists all over the world is another matter.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:11 AM

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

20 Arab Countries To Take Part in Philately Display

The Gulfnews.com Web site reports that stamps from 20 Arab countries will be showcased at the Second Arab Stamp Exhibition being held at Wafi Centre, Dubai, from March 5 to 9, 2009.

The event was organized by Emirates Post and Emirates Philatelic Association. Postal corporations from Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, Palestine, Sudan, Djibouti and the UAE, are taking part in this major event in the world of philately according to the article.

The exhibition coincides with the start of the centenary celebrations of Emirates Post, one of the oldest postal corporations in the region.

The article goes on to say, "The event is designed to give a boost to the hobby of stamp-collecting, which is the world's most popular hobby, but is still in its infancy in Arab countries."

Ebrahim Bin Karam, CEO of Emirates Post is quoted as saying, "Through this exhibition, we want to expose the people of the region to the exciting hobby of philately which has a large following globally. We are confident this event will provide the right spark to ignite interest in philately among the younger generation."

For more information on the Second Arab Stamp Exhibiton, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Exhibit features Post Office Murals

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, "To mark the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, the State Museum of Pennsylvania has mounted an exhibit focusing on one of the many federal art programs launched at the time. Administered by the U.S. Treasury, it brought great art directly to the people at the nexus of their communities: the post office."

Amy Worden of the Harrisburg Bureau writes, "A Common Canvas: Pennsylvania's New Deal Post Office Murals," uses dozens of high-quality photographs to trace the extraordinary stories of murals and sculptures by artists - some world-famous, others unknown - that adorn post offices from Ambler to Aliquippa."

According to Worden, "Of the 94 murals or sculptures commissioned in Pennsylvania - second only to New York - 88 remain, most in their original locations."

To read the entire article, click here.

In another article that appeared on the Inquirer Web site, Worden says, "A dispute over the rights to the images of the historic post office murals almost forced the State Museum of Pennsylvania to pull the plug on the "Common Canvas" exhibit."

Worden says in 2007, the museum informed the U.S. Postal Service that it would mount an exhibit featuring high-quality photographs of the New Deal-era murals of Pennsylvania and touched off a skirmish between the Postal Service and the state over whether the artwork is in the public domain.

Shown above, "Freeland," a 1938 mural by John F. Folinsbee at the Freeland Post Office.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, March 02, 2009

Vancouver - Mail Theft Capital of Canada

CTV, Canada's largest private broadcaster, is reporting that Vancouver is fast becoming the mail theft capital of Canada.

According to an article posted on the CTV.com Website,"At one point, Vancouver-area police were facing as many as 20 to 30 break-ins of mail boxes a week. Over the course of one year alone, Canada Post had more than 1,000 reported cases of mail theft in the Vancouver area."

It goes on to say, "With mail theft and identity fraud becoming more sophisticated, serious questions have been raised about Canada Post's ability to protect the mail. After 10 years of warnings, Canada Post has only recently undertaken to change the old locks on its mailboxes -- a process they admit will take years to complete.

"And when it comes to a comparison with the United States, Canada Post also lacks the broad range of enforcement capabilities available to the U.S. Postal Service. U.S. Postal Inspectors are sworn federal officers who aggressively police any crimes involving the post, with full powers to lay charges and make arrests."

"But while mail and identity thieves are bilking Canadians out of millions of dollars, Canada Post's inspectors are limited to making citizen's arrests. They turn to outside police forces for help with investigations and to lay charges," according to the report.

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

Sunday, March 01, 2009

On Collecting

An article by Tibor Fischer in Britain's Telegraph about French President Nicolas Sarkzy, who took up stamp collecting to relax, also has some thoughts on collecting in general.

Fischer writes, "Collecting is not about relaxing. Gardening is about relaxing. Painting is about relaxing. Listening to a Haydn string quartet is relaxing. Swapping lewd stories with your friends is relaxing."

He goes on to say, "Collecting is about more and more. Collecting is about stamping ruthlessly on the throats of your fellow collectors. Collecting is worrying constantly about the size and quality of your collection. Collecting is about waking up in the middle of the night with a scheme for acquisition. Collecting is about getting ahead. Being Number One. Collecting never ends.

"Collectors, in my experience – at least, serious collectors – are usually people who have a lot of time on their hands and who have little responsibility in their employment, hence the collection to provide a boost, indeed, salvation to their lives."

In defense of stamps, he does point out, "As many money-launderers and smugglers know, stamps are wonderful things. It's embarrassing to be sussed at an airport with an attaché case full of money, but no one's going to spot the 20 stamps in your wallet that are worth just as much."

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