Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vatican Stamp To Help Haiti

The Vatican's Philatelic and Numismatic Office reports it will donate the proceeds of the next stamp it issues to help Haiti recover from the damages it sustained in the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.

According to an article that appears on the website the stamp which was already set to be released prior to the quake, will be dedicated to the 1,500th anniversary of the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, more commonly known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Mentorella.

The Vatican will print some 900,000 stamps valued at 65 euro cents (91 cents), and sell them at 85 euro cents ($1.19). The additional 20 euro cents (28 cents) will be donated directly to Haiti.

The Governorate of Vatican State estimates that, if the whole edition is sold, some €150,000 ($211,424) will be collected. No picture of the stamp was available at press time.

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

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Web Service for Stamp Collectors Being Developed

Britain's NeBusiness website reports, "Data Complexity Ltd. hopes to win a share of the multi-billion pound global stamp collecting market by supplying information to buyers and sellers using auction sites such as eBay."

Bill Shepherd from Data Complexity is quoted as saying “Using our software we can help collectors to know the true value of a particular stamp at low cost by providing real-time information on price, condition and trends in the market.

“We’re not aiming at high value stamps. These will be traded by stamp dealers in offices and auction houses as they always have. Our market is the millions of stamps bought each year by small collectors at around the £5 to £20 price that have spiraled significantly with the growth of ecommerce.

“Small collectors represent the vast majority of collectors but in the past the value of stamps bought has largely been set by the stamp houses selling them. We’ll change that by cutting out the middle man and helping to determine a true market rate.”

The software has taken Shepherd, a former engineer turned businessman, and colleagues at Newcastle University including Dr. Peter Peter Andras three years to develop. Customers will pay a subscription or on a pay-as-they-go basis to use the service according to the piece by reporter Iain Laing.

Shown above, Dr. Peter Andras and Bill Shepherd.

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

Friday, January 29, 2010

Passion Fuels Champion Stamp Collector

Minnesota's Shoreview Press reports Mark Stitzel entered his stamp collection in seven divisions in last year's Minnesota State Fair Collections & Taxidermy competition and wound up with eight ribbons and the grand championship trophy.

According to an article by contributing writer Josh Wimmer, "The 62-year-old said he began collecting stamps when he was about 10. He was active at it throughout adolescence, but after joining the Navy, getting married and starting a family, put a moratorium on it."

"He got back into it somewhat around 1976 because of the beautiful stamps being printed in celebration of the United States' bicentennial. But it's really been since his retirement four years ago that he’s returned to collecting with a passion," pens Josh.

He goes on to say, "The free time that has afforded him as well as his long background in marketing were a huge help in organizing and showcasing his stamps in a way that caught the eye of judges at the state fair."

Mark is quoted as saying, “I'm sort of versed in how to display things and I like history. And stamp collecting, that's really what it is — history.”

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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Origins of U.S. Revenue Stamps

The Digital Philatelic Workshop website hosts a 7-minute video by Kristin Patterson about the origins of U.S. revenue to play.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

USPS Honors John Hotchner

The USPS and Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) honored John M. Hotchner on January 21 at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Hotchner served the committee for twelve years, helping select topics for postage stamps and providing input on stamp designs.

According to a post on the National Postal Museum blog by Cheryl R. Ganz, "Postmaster General John E. Potter, Marie Therese Dominguez, David Failor, and Terry McCaffrey of the USPS, and Jean Picker Firstenberg, CSAC Chair, expressed deep gratitude and presented Hotchner with tributes and awards. Hotchner is a member of the NPM Council of Philatelists, a past president of the American Philatelic Society, and one of the most prolific authors in the hobby of stamp collecting."

Shown above, souvenir tribute card for John Hotchner’s twelve years on CSAC created by USPS's Terry McCaffrey.

To visit the National Postal Museum blog, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stamp Show Attracts Young and Old

California's Sacramento Press reports organizing a stamp expo is "no small feat."

Chris Clemens has been involved with the expos for more than 20 years. He organizes and runs stamp expos in Northern California including this past weekend's Winter Sacramento Stamp Fair. According to the write-up, "Hundreds of collectors converged on the Knights of Columbus Hall to buy stamps and trade with dealers and each other."

Chris is quoted as saying, "I actually got into all of this working for a guy who organized the shows. I took over and started doing it myself. Now, I collect and deal advertising covers. Each show, I try to have a variety of items available through different dealers. It's difficult gathering the dealers with unique items for sale. Northern California has a big stamp-collecting following."

Well-known stamp dealer and philatelist Dave Cobb, who had many rare and expensive items for sale at the show, pointed out to reporter Matthew Ceccato, "It's tough trying to get younger children involved. Stamp collecting can be very good for kids. It teaches them careful handling, history and goal setting and achieving by filling their stamp books."

Matthew pens, "With some stamps worth up to a million dollars, many collectors are worried about what will happen to their collections when they die."

One collector said, "I'm lucky that my son enjoys and respects the art of stamp collecting. It worries some people I know that collections will be sold at low price or neglected by their heirs."

Howard Tuner is quoted as saying, "I told my daughter and her husband to sell everything when I'm gone. They don't collect and I want all the money to go to my granddaughter's college fund. That's what's important to me."

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

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why Italian Post Offices Are Always Crowded

According to a piece on the Faster Times website, "An Italian post office doesn’t just take care of so-called prodotti postali (mail-related products), such as pacchi (parcels), raccomandate (registered mail) and telegrammi (telegrams), but also deals with many different money services (servizi in denaro), just as a bank does. Because there are post offices everywhere, businesses and public utilities use them as places to collect money from millions of customers nationwide."

They go on to say, "And so Italians go to the post office to pay bills (electricity, gas, telephone), fines, the fee for public television, and the car tax, among many others. They also can pay for various services provided by offices and public agencies, such as drivers’ licenses and trash collection.

"In addition to the money operations that cause most of the crowding, there are the mail services. You go to the post office to send a registered letter, a parcel (le poste also sell packaging materials), or a telegram (even if e-mails have made them nearly obsolete). If you weren’t home to receive a certified letter or a package, you need to bring the receipt that the postman left in your mailbox to le poste.

In conclusion, "L’ufficio postale also sells stamps, but no one is so insane as to line up just for stamps."

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

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sharing the Hobby

A donation of 23 common stamps isn't a big deal to most stamp collectors but apparently it is a major event in Enid, Oklahoma.

According an article by Joe Malan that appears on the website, an unidentifed Texas man donated his collection of 23 worldwide stamps to the United Way of Enid and NW Oklahoma.

The letter that accompanied the stamps read: “Please give the stamps to a boy or girl, so they can learn about collecting stamps. Each stamp is from a different country. They are interesting and educational. Each one tells a story about a people, history, science, art, geography, etc. Please tell me if you want more. (They’re free.)”

The United Way executive director, Sean Byrne, tried to locate the man but was unsuccessful and loaned the stamps to a home-school class so they could use them for a class.

“It’s an amazing donation on someone’s part,” Byrne is quoted as saying. “He’s given a child, maybe these stamps he’s collected his entire life to inspire them to become involved in this hobby.”

Shown above is one of the students looking at the stamps.

If you would like to donate some additional stamps to the United Way of Enid and NW Oklahoma, you can mail them to:

The United Way of Enid and NW Oklahoma
Attn: Sean Byrne, Executive Director
321 West Cherokee Avenue
Enid, OK 73701-5666

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

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee Changes Announced

Postmaster General John Potter has announced the retirement of two members of the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee and the addition of three new members. The committee annually reviews stamp suggestions from 50,000 Americans before recommending approximately 20 topics for the Postmaster General’s approval.

New members are poet and past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Dana Gioia of Washington, DC. He will be joined by two graphic designers Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, and Eric Madsen of Minneapolis, MN.

Lifelong stamp collector, philatelic writer, editor, researcher, exhibitor and lecturer John Hotchner, and patron of the arts and former second lady Joan Mondale will leave the committee.

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

Friday, January 22, 2010

Expertizing First Day Covers

The American First Day Cover Society (AFDCS) reports that the American Philatelic Society (APS) is offering a course June 17-18 in Bellefonte, PA on authenticating first day and earliest-use U.S. covers and how to identify faked and forged covers with confidence.

According to the APS, "Those who develop these skills may qualify to serve the hobby as expertizers for the American Philatelic Society’s APEX Service and the American First Day Cover Society (AFDCS). Use of published and archival references and online databases are essential skills for FDC/EDU experts, so the AFDCS Archives and American Philatelic Resource Library resources will be employed. Forensic analysis using the Crimescope CS-16 will be included. Students should be familiar with first day covers and/or postal history."

Instructors include Ken Lawrence and Allison Cusick.

The cost for is $149 for APS members; $249 for nonmembers. There is $15 Registration Discount until May 27, 2010.

For information, contact Gretchen Moody,; 814-933-3810 and/or , click here.

Shown above, a Crimescope CS-16.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Passion for Postage

Colorado's Loveland Reporter-Herald features collector Ron Surace in an article by reporter Sarah Bultema.

Sarah writes, "A few decades ago, Ron Surace was looking for a way to relax.The self-described 'Type A' personality who couldn’t unwind went to his doctor seeking advice. There, the recommendation surprised him. 'Quit drinking so much coffee and get yourself a good hobby,' Surace remembers his doctor bluntly telling him. So Surace took his advice and tried stamp collecting. Sure enough, it worked."

Ron is quoted in the piece as saying, "(The doctor) was right. It’s one of the most relaxing things you can do.I have no patience, but I can sit here for five hours working with stamps.If you love history and treasure hunting, this is incredible. It’s like being a modern- day treasure hunter. You never know what you’re going to find.”

While Ron has splurged for a certain stamp in auctions, most of his collection comes from digging through boxes of old letters and stamps he’s bought in bulk from companies or individuals according to Sarah.

Sarah says, "Surace only collects stamps that were made before around 1965 — but with the postage payment dating back into the 1800s, there are plenty of them for him to find."

Shown above, Ron looks through a book containing some of his stamp collection.

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Postal Service Holding All Mail to Haiti

The Journal of Commerce Online reports that the U.S.Postal Service has placed a temporary hold on all mail destined to the nation of Haiti.

The action comes in response to the cancellation of normal flight operations by air cargo contractors into and out of the island nation, where emergency relief efforts are continuing as a result of a devastating earthquake on Jan. 12.

Mail addressed to Haiti is continuing to be accepted by the Postal Service, and will be held until transportation arrangements become available.

Additional information regarding acceptance and movement of mail to Haiti will be provided as it becomes available.

Click here for additional updates.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From Fear to Understanding

Springfield, Missouri's News-Leader ran an award winning essay "From Fear to Understanding" by Jordan Johnson to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day yesterday.

Jordan (shown here) is a student at Pipkin Middle School and was the first-place winner in an essay contest sponsored by the local chapter of the NAACP.

His essay was about his grandmother and read in part...

"My grandmother was a US Postal worker. She was the first African American female to work for the Postal Service in a full time position. She was hired after a long Equal Employment complaint.

"On my grandma's first day at the post office no one talked to her. Everyone just observed her presence. Note the fact that she was the only African American there. She hadn't worked seven days before people damaged her car. Someone scratched crosses on her hood, knocked her side mirrors off, and put sticks in her gas tank. These people never communicated with my grandma so they hated her. After this incident all of my family told my grandma to leave this job. My grandma told them 'Nothing ever changes if you run away from the problem.' Until my grandma retired she never left the postal service."

To read Jordan's entire essay, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, January 18, 2010

Top 10 Extraordinary Stamps of 2009 reports, "In spite of the global financial instability the year was rich in interesting philatelic events. Many countries issued a huge number of beautiful stamps."

The site has named what it considers the 10 most interesting 2009 releases from around the world.

These include...

#1. Guernsey Post: Sherlock Holmes stamps with added mystery (shown above)
#2. Iceland Post: Preserve Polar Regions and Glaciers
#3. Chocolate Stamps from France
#4. 3D Dinosaurs stamps from South Africa
#5. 3D postage stamps from San Marino
#6. Micro Monsters on Australian Stamps
#7. Bhutan Resumes World's First Philatelic CD-ROM Series
#8. Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn-Bartholdy on Vatican stamps
#9. Slovak Post: Scented Stamp For Easter
#10. Lighthouses of New Zealand on stamps

In addition, Stamp News gave a special award to China Post for the world's first multimedia stamps.

For pictures and additional information on the award winning 2009 stamps, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Philatelic Help Wanted

Want to work for a stable, growing company that paid $220,000 in December 2009 bonuses?

Mystic Stamp Company, a nationally recognized industry leader in providing postage stamps, first day covers, and related products to collectors worldwide, seeks to fill the following full-time position:


Supervises colleagues in an office production environment. Proven success in setting up and improving production systems and efficiency standards and/or supervision a must. The successful candidate will possess strong communication skills, leadership, initiative, and analytical thinking. Four year college degree (or equivalent professional experience).

If you possess production and/or supervisory experience, flexibility, enjoy a family oriented, entrepreneurial environment, and desire to work with a team of dedicated, talented professionals, our Merchandise team is looking for you.

A competitive compensation and benefits package are provided.

Please send resume to: Mystic Stamp Company, Human Resources, 9700 Mill Street, Camden, NY 13316.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti - Amist the Devastation through Stamps

The National Postal Museum's blog takes a look at Haiti's rich heritage through stamps and encourages Americans to donate to the relief effort.

As seen here many of Haiti's most enduring historical buildings have been destroyed by the January 12th earthquake including the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince.

According to the post, "Fifty years ago, Haiti celebrated the 100th anniversary of Occide Jeanty's birthday. Jeanty is one of Haiti's most famous musical composers. One of the three stamps issued on October 19, 1960 to honor Jeanty depicted the Presidential Palace in the background. Today, the Presidential Palace lies in ruins, a tragic reminder of the widespread and indiscriminate destruction caused by this natural disaster."

To learn more about how you can help the victims of the earthquake click here: CNN List of Relief Funds or the White House's Haiti Earthquake Relief Webpage

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

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Floyd E. Risvold Collection - American Expansion & The Journey West

The Spink Shreves Galleries will be auctioning the Floyd E. Risvold Collection starting Jan. 27 in New York City.

Some of the areas covered in the remarkable collection include material from early Indian wars, Fur Trade companies, the Civil War, Mormon history, railroads, steamboats, Pony Express letters, military forts, and much more.

According to the Spink Shreves Galleries website, "Noted historian, author and collector, Floyd E. Risvold had a true passion for history, and sought out fascinating artifacts and elusive items that brought to life the story of America’s journey West. Over fifty years in the making, his collection boasts a fantastic array of historical postal envelopes (a large number include original contents), autographs, manuscripts, rare photos and books – many of which have not been on the market in decades."

In addition to the pre-sale viewing at their New York City auction galleries (Jan. 23-26, 2010), Spink Shreves Galleries held a viewing in San Francisco earlier this week. It has also arranged for a special viewing of the collection in London, Jan. 19-20, at the Spink London Gallery.

Shown above, Charles F. Shreves talking about the Risvold collection in a 5-minute video posted on the company's website.

To learn more about the collection and watch the video, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, January 14, 2010

St. Lawrence Seaway Commemorative and Invert Lecture

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum will host the eighth annual Maynard Sundman Lecture, “The First Canada-U.S. Joint Issue: The 1959 St. Lawrence Seaway Commemorative and Its Famous Invert,” Saturday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m. with guest speaker Charles Verge.

The United States and Canada issued stamps in 1959 commemorating the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Verge, a historian and award-winning philatelic expert, will share fascinating stories behind the stamps, which took as long to plan and produce as the seaway itself and resulted in the first invert error on Canadian postage. A book signing and reception will follow the lecture.

Verge is the past president of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada and the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors, curator of the Canadian National Stamp Collection and a prolific writer, exhibitor and judge. He has written three books and more than 200 articles related to philately in newspapers, specialized magazines and general publications. He is a member of local, national and international philatelic organizations. Verge has been honored as a fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London and received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 for his achievements.

For those not able to attend the lecture, it can be viewed live at

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

APS Volunteer Work Week
July 26–30

Join the American Philatelic Society staff for an opportunity to help the Society and Library reduce its backlog of projects this summer in Bellefonte, PA during their Volunteer Work Week, July 26 -30.

Volunteers will be welcomed with a kickoff breakfast and then be provided with a tour and overview of each of our departments and programs. The week will conclude with a thank-you pizza party on Friday.

Travel, lodging, and most food will be the participants’ responsibility, but out of pocket expenses are tax deductible. Although the principal purpose of the week will be to accomplish tasks, volunteers will have evening opportunities to use the Library, peruse Circuit Sales and donations materials, and view the Reference Collection.

Individuals may spend the entire week on one project or help with several different projects over the week by spending as little as half a day on a single project. Many tasks do not require special skills and are open to spouses or other non-member guests.

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New "Designs on Delivery" Online Exhibit

Titled Designs on Delivery, The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) is hosting an extensive exhibition of GPO posters available to view on their website.

According to a write-up on the website, "Design played a crucial role in promoting social progress and technological change across Britain between 1930 and 1960. The commercial poster reached cultural maturity during this period and became the most eloquent of the mass media. From the 1930s onwards the Post Office became a leader in the field of poster design, commissioning some of Britain's best artists and designers."

It goes on say, "The development of Post Office design owes much to the appointment of Stephen Tallents as its first public relations officer in 1933. During the previous decade Tallents had worked at the Empire Marketing Board, which had been established in 1926 to promote trade between Britain and its Empire. After its closure in 1933, Tallents moved to the Post Office bringing with him experience of incorporating the techniques of commercial advertising into government service."

Sir Stephen Tallents was knighted in 1932 and died in 1958.

Shown above, Send Your Overseas Parcels by Air Mail poster designed by designed by Peter Huveneers, 1954

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

Monday, January 11, 2010

Air Mail Etiquettes

"Begun as a way to alert the postal authority that a piece of mail required specific handling, the air mail etiquette, like other postal labels, soon went beyond the utilitarian in design," writes Bonnie and Roger Riga on the website.

They go on to say, "Early examples were most often simple words on a colored background - many still are. Soon other refinements made their appearance. Colors, shapes, graphics all added to the variety and interest of these labels. Issued in sheets of stamps, booklet form, even enclosed in small matchbox-like containers, airmail etiquettes were in every home and office."

In 1947 a first catalog of etiquettes was published by Frank Muller; more recently the Postal Label Study Group has put out the Mair Airmail Label Catalog, a 627-page work illustrating 3,289 types of etiquettes.

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

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jay Leno Stamp

Talking about how NBC is considering taking his prime time television show off the air after only 17 weeks, comedian Jay Leno showed a mock postage stamp with his image on it, saying its release was imminent.

"Unfortunately," he continued, “it gets cancelled after four months!”

The Huffington Post reports, "Apparently, his show upset NBC affiliates who complained their 11pm news shows were suffering due to poor lead-in ratings. NBC reportedly gave Leno the 10pm slot this season both to cut overhead on costly original programming and to ensure he wouldn't leave for a rival network."

To watch video clip of Leno and the "new stamp", click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Two New Mini Albums from the American Philatelic Society

The American Philatelic Society (APS) has released two new mini stamp albums - 2009 New Stamp Issues and Southern California. Both albums are in color and are downloadable at no cost.

Over the last few years, the APS has created a series of full color mini stamp albums which are listed on the APS website.

Financial support for the development of the APS album pages was provided by the Mystic Stamp Company. The company also has a free full color U.S. catalog (that pictures almost every U.S. stamp)available on its website -

To download the 2009 New Issues stamp album, click here.

To download the Southern California album, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Penny Post: Wi-Fi for the Victorian Era?

Dr. Catherine Golden will discuss her new book, Posting It: The Victorian Revolution in Letter Writing on Sunday, January 10, 2010, the 170th anniversary of the Penny Post.

The Smithsonian Institution points out in a recent announcement about the upcoming talk, which it is sponsoring, "As you type out a text message and receive a speedy response, you may not realize how much you have in common with the Victorians."

It goes on to say, "When the Penny Post began in Great Britain on January 10, 1840, it meant that anyone could send a letter within the UK for only a penny. The Penny Post was today’s equivalent of an unlimited text message plan or free Wi-Fi—suddenly, communication became cheaper and faster than ever before."

If you would like to submit a question for Dr. Golden, you can send them to her at or tweet them to @SmithsonianNPM.

You can view the event live at the Postal Museum’s UStream channel on Sunday, January 10th at 1 p.m. EST or watch the recorded event on the museum’s YouTube channel.

To view a previous talk by Dr. Golden,Object Lessons from Victorian Postal Culture, click here.

Shown above, print of a postboy galloping en route to London, circa 1800.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Most Stamp Collections Worth Under $100

According to the Washington Post, "A stamp expert can usually tell within minutes whether that old album filled with postage stamps has any great value. It often boils down to whether the collection was a childhood hobby, where someone bought packets of assorted stamps, or a lifetime passion reflected in a well-organized, well-cared-for assortment that a lot of time and money went into."

The article quotes Maryland stamp dealer, David Most, as saying most collections he sees are worth under a $100.

Glenn Nozick a Maryland stamp appraiser and collector is also quoted as saying, "... people are often disappointed that first-day covers (envelopes with stamps canceled on their date of issue) and sheets of commemoratives, once touted as investments, usually don't increase in value."

Shown above, 1979 Child Plate - My Stamp Collection made by Royal Cornwall Ltd and designed by artist Charlotte Jackson. Available on the Trojan Horse website for $40.

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

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Stamps Aren't Worth a Damn

Simon Heffer writes in the U.K.'s Telegraph, "...stamp collecting today is in a bad way. I do not mean as a form of investment – those who bought rare stamps a decade or two ago have seen returns on their outlay far superior to those the stock market or a pension fund has been able to provide. Small boys may no longer be interested in the pursuit – computer games appear to have seen to that – but stamp dealers continue to make a healthy living with the support of adult collectors who are putting together serious assets. However, to say that stamps today lack the romance and interest of those a half-century or century ago would be an understatement. This is not because we have lost an empire and have yet to find a new philatelic role with which to replace it: it is because the very philosophy of stamps has changed. Stamps are now, it seems, produced largely for collectors and only incidentally for postage: and the whole business has become, morally, a little seedy."

He goes on to opine, "By contrast, our own stamps today are rather tawdry. Perhaps this, like our toytown coinage, reflects our decline as a power: or perhaps it is just a lack of imagination on the part of the Royal Mail, coupled with their greedy desire to exploit collectors for money they are losing elsewhere. The lack of imagination comes in our definitive stamps, unchanged in design for 42 years now. The minimalist representation of the Queen by Arnold Machin has many admirers, not least the Royal Mail itself, which talks up this bland and outdated design at every opportunity. To me it smells of the worst of the Sixties and, like the temporary tower blocks that also distinguished that decade, should be consigned to memory. The Queen's diamond jubilee, just two years away, would seem to be an appropriate juncture for the Royal Mail to break out a new design, and perhaps one that is less bland and Wilsonian, and more in spirit with the elegant design by Dorothy Wilding that was on the first stamps of this reign."

He concludes, "If they can't bear to stop exploiting collectors for profit, then at least let them try more sophisticated ways – reintroducing watermarks, for example – to cheer everybody up, and ensure there were amusing varieties of them. Pumping out stamps to mark all sorts of pointless things and events is what banana republics do: and we must try to cling to the belief that we are not quite there yet."

Shown above (courtesy Stamp Magazine), The retail stamp book for London 2010 - six 1st class Machins and a cover advertising the exhibition. Due out March 30.

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

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

An Interview with Cheryl Ganz

An insightful interview with Smithsonian National Postal Museum Curator and zeppelin stamp expert Cheryl Ganz appears on The Collectors Weekly website.

Last November, Maribeth Keane and Ben Marks spoke with Cheryl (shown here) about zeppelin stamps and the burnt mail that survived the Hindenburg disaster.

A lifelong collector, Cheryl says, "There are just certain people for whom collecting seems to be part of their nature. My mother always tells the story about when I was three years old they’d give me dolls. I never played mother and baby. Instead, I put my dolls on a shelf and spent every day rearranging them. Collectors not only care about acquisitions; they care about organizing their stuff and figuring out what’s missing and how to make a good story of their collection. And so, as a child, I collected a lot of things, including coins, stamps, and seashells.

She goes on to say, "In my teenage years, my grandfather gave me some photographs of zeppelins. I got really excited and started reading books about them. I’d go to flea markets and find zeppelin postcards and memorabilia. So I started collecting zeppelin stuff.

"After I’d been collecting zeppelin material for maybe two or three years, I discovered that they carried mail, and that you could buy postcards and envelopes with zeppelin stamps on them that had been aboard these zeppelins. It was so exciting to me, I just dropped all my other collections, and I’ve been a zeppelin researcher ever since."

To read the entire interview and learn more about zeppelins and the mail, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, January 04, 2010

Ads We Like to See

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Van Gogh Painting Features Fateful Envelope and Stamp

The Art Newspaper reports, "An envelope depicted in a Van Gogh painting provides a clue that could help to explain why the artist slashed his ear. The envelope, in Still Life: Drawing Board with Onions, 1889, is addressed to Vincent from his brother Theo. Until now, no one has considered whether the artist was illustrating a specific letter."

Reporter Martin Bailey pens, "In the still-life, the handwriting on the envelope is clearly Theo’s, and the letter is addressed to Vincent in Arles. Although the postmarks lack a legible date, one contains the number “67”, enclosed in a circle. This was used by the post office in Place des Abbesses, close to Theo’s Montmartre apartment."

It is speculated that the letter contained news that Theo had fallen in love. As a result, Vincent, who was emotionally unstable to begin with, became fearful that he might lose his brother’s emotional and financial support and decided to slice off his ear.

According to the article, "Still Life: Drawing Board with Onions was painted just a few days after Vincent returned to the Yellow House on 7 January 1889. News of the love affair could well have been a trigger for the self-mutilation, although there was probably no one simple explanation for the incident and there were also serious tensions with Gauguin. Vincent may have feared (wrongly) that he would lose the support of Theo. For years, Theo had provided money and friendship."

Over 35 original letters, rarely exhibited to the public due to their fragility, will be on display at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Jan. 23 - Apr. 10, 2010. Titled The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters, will also feature paintings and drawings that express the principal themes to be found within the correspondence.

Shown above, Still Life with a Plate of Onions, 1889. Note letter with stamp in lower right hand corner of the painting.

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

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Stamp Albums Web

Finland's Keijo Kortelainen writes a review of William.E. Steiner’s "Stamp Albums Web" on his newly redesigned Stamp Collecting Blog.

For those of you who are not familiar with the "Stamp Albums Web", for an affordable $30 annual subscription, the site provides U.S. and foreign stamp album pages that you can print out on your own computer. There are over 50,000 U.S. and foreign pages available, and a complete set of over 6,500 Classic Era pages, "with more pages being added all the time" according to Steiner.

Keijo says, "The good part of 'Stamp Albums Web' is the price. Single-country pre-printed album series from the likes of Davo, Lighthouse/Leuchtturm cost notably more than the entire Steiner’s offer. And instead of single countries, Steiner is providing worldwide album pages – a total of 71,000 pages."

However, he points out, "The catch is that the pages are very heavily based on Scott catalogues. And Scott is very likely the worst possible source for a European worldwide collector like me. It can lack complete issues/sets and details listed on Michel, Stanley Gibbons and Yvert (the most common catalogues used outside US). If the difference was just few random issues, I would not mind. But sadly it is in the range of tens of thousands listings, if not more."

To read the full review and reader comments, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, January 01, 2010

U.S. Stamp Program Announced for 2010

The U.S. Postal Service has announced that Nobel Peace Prize honoree Mother Teresa, legendary actress Katharine Hepburn, Negro Leagues Baseball and Cowboys of the Silver Screen are among the subjects headlining the 2010 stamp program.

Other topics and subjects will include:

• Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games

• Lunar New Year

• Distinguished Sailors

• Mackinac Bridge

• Bixby Creek Bridge

• Bill Mauldin

• Abstract Expressionists

• Flags of Our Nation (Set 4)

• Love: Pansies in a Basket

• Kate Smith

• Oscar Micheaux

• Sunday Funnies

• Scouting

• Winslow Homer

• Julia de Burgos

• Hawaiian Rain Forest

• Holiday Evergreens

• Angel with Lute

For additional information about the stamps (to include pictures), click here.

Happy New Year!
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM