Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Magic In Small Pieces of Paper

Community Journalist Jerry Shnay of Chicago's Neighborhood Star website writes about the upcoming Park Forest Stamp Club's 50th anniversary show on April 10-11.

Jerry pens, "Stamp collecting was once an easy way to learn a country's geography, history and culture. Stamps had stories, and collecting those small pieces of gummed paper was perhaps the best way to travel around the world. From Rio Muni and French Polynesia to Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, stamps had wonderful tales to tell.

"It is different now. You don't need stamps to talk to the other side of the world, only a computer. Small countries now make money selling large billboard-like stamps that never see the outside of an envelope.

"But the magic of stamp collecting never fades. The assortment of worldwide stamps, old covers, cards, is still fascinating. There is still powerful magic in those small pieces of paper. See for yourself when you go to the exhibition."

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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Privilege" Franking

"Privilege" franking is a personally pen signed or printed facsimile signature of a person with a "franking privilege" such as certain government officials (especially legislators) and others designated by law or Postal Regulations. In the United States this is called the "Congressional frank" which can only be used for "Official Business" mail.

According to Wikipedia, "In the United States, the franking privilege predates the establishment of the republic itself, as the Continental Congress bestowed it on its members in 1775. The First United States Congress enacted a franking law in 1789 during its very first session. Congress members would spend much time "inscribing their names on the upper right-hand corner of official letters and packages" until the 1860s for the purpose of sending out postage free mail.

"Yet, on January 31, 1873, the Senate abolished "the congressional franking privilege after rejecting a House-passed provision that would have provided special stamps for the free mailing of printed Senate and House documents." Within two years, however, Congress began to make exceptions to this ban, including free mailing of the Congressional Record, seeds, and agricultural reports. Finally, in 1891, noting that its members were the only government officials required to pay postage, Congress restored full franking privileges. Since then, the franking of congressional mail has been subject to ongoing review and regulation."

The site goes on to say, "The phrase franking is derived from the Latin word 'francus' meaning free. Another use of that term is speaking 'frankly'i.e. 'freely'. Because Benjamin Franklin was an early United States Postmaster General, satirist Richard Armour referred to free congressional mailings as the 'Franklin privilege'.

It is interesting to note that the President of the United States does not have personal franking privileges but the vice president, who is also President of the Senate, does.

Shown above, a U.S. Congressional franked mailing.

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

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mail Not Being Delivered to Poor Residents

Non-delivery of mail to poor people living in downtown San Francisco has sparked a controversy - and a lawsuit - according to an article that appears in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Reporter Justin Berton scribes,"... an estimated 19,000 people who live in residential hotels in San Francisco but do not receive individual mail service, under U.S. Postal Service policy. Instead, carriers deliver a clump of mail to a residential hotel's front office, often leaving the residents to fish for their personal correspondence."

The San Francisco City Attorney's office sued the Postal Service in May, arguing that residential hotels often house newly arrived immigrants, veterans or senior citizens, who risk losing important legal documents or Social Security checks without individual mailboxes. It was noted that people who live in the more affluent residential hotels in downtown high-rises have their mail delivered individually.

James Wigdel, a spokesman for the San Francisco branch of the Postal Service declined to comment on the situation due to the pending litigation.

Shown above, a makeshift mailbox outside an apartment in a residential hotel in San Francisco's Chinatown.

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

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Carrier Pigeon Helps Launch London 2010: Festival of Stamps

The British Postal Museum & Archive reports the Bath Postal Museum used a carrier pigeon to send greetings to the organizers of the Festival of Stamps and promote the museum's latest exhibition covering some of the major events in the reign of King George V.

Colin Baker is quoted as saying, “The way this pigeon message has been sent will show people how communication always played an important role in our society. Although there was no internet in King George V’s reign, the techniques used in his day were often faster than some of the methods we currently employ.”

The message, shown above was written on an original pigeongramme form as used in World War II, which is very lightweight paper that weighed only one gram.

According to the article, "All RAF (Royal Air Force) bombers carried homing pigeons in the Second World War. For example a bird called ‘White Vision’ delivered a message bearing latitude and longitude details so that the RAF crew could be rescued. They were flying a Catalina Flying Boat which ditched over the Hebrides. This bird flew 60 miles in atrocious weather over heavy seas. It was awarded one of the 14 ‘Dickin Medals for Gallantry’ awarded to homing pigeons. In all 32 bravery medals were awarded to pigeons in the 2nd World War."

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

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Was A Strange Child

Canadian Journalist Paul Rellinger writes on the MyKawartha website, "I was a strange child. At age eight, I knew Nepal was bordered on the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east and west, by India. It still is. I knew the Asian country's capital was Kathmandu. It still is. I knew Nepal was home to the world's highest mountain. It still is. Yes, I was a strange child. I was a collector of stamps. I still am. Uh, a collector of stamps, not a strange child, although you'll get an argument on that one from some."

He goes on to pen, "What's nice is I collect stamps for the same reason now that I did way back when - for enjoyment, plain and simple. It's not an investment. There's no plan. It simply satisfies my thirst for useless information; to know as much about nothing that I can know before shuffling off."

"I know stamp collecting doesn't rank up there on the exciting pursuit scale. I rarely open a conversation with, 'Hi, I collect stamps.' The folks here in the newsroom have a lot of fun ribbing the stamp man. But they don't laugh when someone needs to know the name of Nepal's capital. Google has nothing on me," Paul states proudly.

Shown above is someone else's strange child not Paul.

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

Friday, March 26, 2010

USPS Uses Internet to Explain "5-Day Delivery"

The United States Postal Service is using the Internet to provide customers with information about its a five-day delivery proposal.

According to new webpages on the website, "... our five-day delivery plan calls for five days of delivery to street addresses and six days of service at Post Offices and P.O. Boxes. Under five-day delivery, there will no longer be delivery of mail to street addresses — residences or businesses — on Saturday. Post Offices will remain open on Saturdays, continuing to provide normal customer services, including the sale of stamps and other postal products. Mail addressed to P.O. Boxes will continue to be available Saturday."

USPS explains, "Why Saturday? It has the week’s lowest daily volume, and more than a third of U.S. businesses are closed Saturday. Most businesses and households surveyed in a national Gallup Poll indicated Saturday would be the least disruptive day to eliminate mail delivery. That conclusion has since been reinforced by recent Postal Service market research."

The Postal Service plans to implement five-day delivery in fiscal year 2011. Implementation is contingent on Congress not enacting legislation to prevent that change in service. In addition, the Postal Service must ask the Postal Regulatory Commission to review its plans and issue a non-binding advisory opinion."

To learn more about 5-day delivery, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Penny Magenta of Guiana

"A dirty, lurid pink octagon owned by a murderer, which is worth a fortune," is how Paul Fraser Collectibles describes one of the world's rarest stamps - the penny magenta of Guiana, shown above.

The company says in an article that appears on its website, "In 1856, E. T. E. Dalton, the local postmaster of British colony of Guiana (now independent Guyana) was frustrated to hear that a shipment of stamps had failed to arrive. Not wishing the citizens to be without this extremely useful, and still relatively new, facility [sic] he commissioned an emergency production from a local printer.

"He was then further irritated to find that the printers had exercised creative input on the stamps over and above his simple specifications, and the three stamp types (two 4c stamps, one blue and one magenta, plus a 1c magenta for newspapers) had had a ship emblem added. Dalton didn't like the design. He restricted its use to that one emergency issue, and also had post office clerks sign all the stamps as a guard against fraud."

According to the article,  the ugly looking stamp has belonged to John du Pont, an athlete, ornithologist and philatelist since 1980. He paid $935,000 for it.

It goes on to say, "In 1997, du Pont was convicted of murdering his friend, Olympic wrestler David Schulz, without rational motive, due to du Pont suffering from schizophrenia. Experts estimate the stamp to be worth upwards of $5m - it is currently stored in a bank vault, hidden from the world."

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Drugs Hidden Under Prison Postcard Stamps

Florida's St. Petersburg Times reports, "Postcards sent with love from a wife to her incarcerated husband had a little something extra — drugs, crushed to a powder and hidden underneath the stamps."

" A clerk in the jail's mail room noticed a bumpy-looking stamp, reported it to a deputy who peeled the stamp back to reveal a blue powder that later tested positive for oxycodone," according to the article by reporter Erin Sullivan.

The wife was arrested and charged with eight counts of introduction of contraband into a detention facility - seven postcards with oxycodone and one with morphine.

She told authorities she sent the drugs because her husband asked her to do it.

The jail changed its mail policy last year, forbidding letters in envelopes to inmates and only allowing correspondence on postcards to reduce contraband.

To read the entire article, click here.

For a related story on on the switch to prison postcards, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Stamp Collecting Habits of King George V

UK's Telegraph reports, "From May 7 to July 25 the British Postal Museum and Archive, in collaboration with the Royal Philatelic Collection, is putting on an exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London of stamps and postal memorabilia from the reign of George V. This is because May 6 is the centenary of the King’s accession to the throne, and, as you may be aware, he was Britain’s most famous stamp collector."

According to reporter Simon Heffer,"Men of George V’s generation (he was born in 1865) took up philately for at least one of two reasons: either they used them as an aid to geography, collecting especially Crown Agents’ stamps from what was then our vast Empire and its colonies, and to assist an understanding of the extent of British power; or they collected because they had a desire to have a small private art collection housed in an album. It would be easy to imagine that the King pursued the hobby (to which, in later life, he would devote three afternoons a week) because it was a practical means of keeping track of his territorial possessions around the globe. In fact, the anecdotal record suggests he had a keen eye for design and took a close and at times rather technical interest in it."

Simon goes on to pen,"It is certainly true that he would keep track of auctions of rarities and use his private money to spend what were then astronomical sums on stamps to fill gaps in the Royal Collection: which, as a result, is probably the best in the world. In 1904 he paid £1,450 for the Mauritian 2d blue, then a record price for a stamp. The next day a courtier, having read about the sale in a newspaper, asked the then Prince of Wales whether he had seen that 'some damned fool has paid £1,400 for a stamp'. 'Yes,' the Prince replied. 'It was this damned fool.' Were one to go at auction today, it would probably realise at least £750,000."

Shown above, rough sketch for a King George V memorial stamp that was never issued.

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

Monday, March 22, 2010

Harry Potter Post Office to Open in Orlando

John MacLauchlan of the CBS-TV affiliate in Orlando, Florida reports "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Studios Orlando will open this week.

According to John, "Nearly three years in the making Universal's Wizarding World, set in the Islands of Adventure, will feature not only shops from the Harry Potter books and movies, but also three rides."...AND A POST OFFICE!

John writes, "More than two dozen owls will roost in the rafters of the Owl Post where guests can send letters and postcards with an official Hogsmeade postmark and buy stamps from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter."

Shown above, Hogwarts Castle at the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando.

Click here to read the entire article.

Click here to learn more about collecting Harry Potter on stamps.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Linns Trys To Revive Old Subscribers With Free Copies

John Apfelbaum, president of Earl P.L. Apfelbaum auctioneers, writes on his blog, "Trying to revive their declining subscriber base, Linns is planning to send an additional 100,000 copies of their weekly magazine to older subscribers who have let their their subscriptions lapse."

John goes on to say, "The hope is that they will see the new Linns and resubscribe. Trade press and specialty societies have been clobbered in the last ten years. Back then, to be a serious collector one had to get a weekly philatelic magazine and be a member of a national philatelic society in order to buy stamps and keep up to date with philatelic happenings. Now, because of the Internet, there are hundreds of philatelic websites and blogs devoted solely to stamp collecting and millions of items are offered online. Online collectors can get far more stamp offers and philatelic reading than they could possibly want for free. People only belong to the APS and subscribe to Linns out of habit or a sense of loyalty to their philatelic past."

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

Saturday, March 20, 2010

American Philatelic Society Embaces the Virtual World of "Second Life"

The American Philatelic Society (APS) is considering holding virtual stamp shows, exhibits, dealer bourse, seminars in the virtual world of Second Life.

According to a recently released 51-page report, Into the Future, by the APS long range planning committee, "Philatelic exhibitions offering all of the current show activities (exhibits, dealer bourse, seminars) could be staged in the virtual world right now. In fact, it is being done on in a virtual reality platform called 'Second Life' ( and within an area called 'Philatelica.' (See also Exponet with more than 500 exhibits online:

"Second Life is free for visitors to use. It is a virtual world. Visitors create representations of themselves (called 'avatars') and wander through the virtual world where there are villages, shops, museums and other activities, including Philatelica, a sort of virtual American Philatelic Center."

The report goes on to say by the end of 2015, "APS will plan and have a Virtual Stamp Show on its own website or a virtual reality website."

Show above, a pavilion dedicated to the American Philatelic Society which is under construction in Second Life. Also, a screen shot of a virtual stamp exhibit which was recently held in Second Life's Philatelica section.

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

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mother Theresa Stamp Conspiracy?

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the "Catholic Church conspiracy" behind the upcoming Mother Teresa commemorative stamp.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Young Collectors Becoming Scarce in Germany

According to an article on the website, "Time appears to have stood still in the 78-year-old stamp collecting shop on the Reinhardtstrasse in central Berlin. Surrounded by yellowing copies of magazines and stamp albums, 65-year-old shop owner Norbert Mankiewicz likes to reminisce about the 'better' times when philately was a popular hobby."

With most of his customers between 45 and 90 years old, Mankiewicz says young people are "less interested in stamps as email has replaced the letter and 'postcards' can be sent from almost any mobile phone. If you need a stamp in Germany you can send a text message to the post office and then receive a code to write on your letter."

There are three million philatelists in Germany, which makes it the second biggest stamp collecting nation in the world according to the piece.

The chairman of the country's philately association, Dieter Hartig is quoted as saying he regrets that young Germans are more partial to surfing the internet or using a Playstation than collecting stamps.

In order to encourage more youngsters to take up the hobby, the philately association places advertisements in magazines, makes school visits and even has a department dedicated to teenagers.

Shown above, a 1951 stamp from East Germany promoting youth philately.

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mexico's Fighting Irish

The website reports, "As the Irish and would-be Irish raise a glass for St. Patrick today, in San Antonio, the Southwest and Mexico, there's reason to remember a long-forgotten chapter of 19th-century history that has received new life this month.

"It involves St. Patrick's Battalion, also called the San Patricios and Los Colorados, whose members deserted Gen. Zachary Taylor's army in the late 1840s and took up arms for Mexico in the Mexican American War."

Fierce anti-Catholic prejudice within the ranks fueled their desertion.

According to the Los San Patricios website, "By the 1840s a significant proportion of the enlisted men in the United States Army were Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Germany. The Mexican government, aware of prejudice against immigrants to the United States, started a campaign after the Mexican War broke out to win the foreigners and Catholics to its cause.

"The Mexicans urged English and Irish alike to throw off the burden of fighting for the 'Protestant tyrants' and join the Mexicans in driving the Yankees out of Mexico. Mexican propaganda insinuated that the United States intended to destroy Catholicism in Mexico, and if Catholic soldiers fought on the side of the Americans, they would be warring against their own religion. Using this approach, the Mexicans hoped to gain 3,000 soldiers from the United States Army."

Reporter Elaine Ayala writes, "During various campaigns of the two-year conflict, from which the U.S. gained half of Mexico's territory, the San Patricios served as an artillery unit. Long honored in Mexico on St. Patrick's Day and Sept. 12, the anniversary of many of their executions, they've received little attention in the U.S."

Shown above, 1997 Mexico/Ireland joint issue honoring the 150th anniversary of Mexico's fighting Irish.

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

Postal Service - Stuck Between a Rock and a Mailbox.

"Even though many Americans can’t remember the last time they visited their local post office, the mere suggestion of closing post offices guarantees an outcry. Postmaster General John Potter says the USPS is considering replacing some post offices with postal facilities in high traffic venues such as the supermarket and large retail stores," writes Sharon Ryan in a guest Op-Ed that appeared on the website.

Sharon goes on to pen, "Virtually every hamlet across this nation has a post office. In many smaller towns, it serves as the hub of the community. The nearly 37,000 retail outlets run by the USPS outnumber all the Starbucks, McDonald’s and Walmarts combined. Unfortunately, many of these post offices were designed and built many years ago for a different type and amount of mail.

"When postal service began, delivery was seven days a week, sometimes several times a day. Economic realities have changed this through time. The USPS believes it will save $3.5 billion annually by delivering only five days a week, a request made by Potter to Congress as a part of the effort to improve the financial outlook.

"Individual customers might prefer to pay higher postage rates to keep Saturday mail delivery, but postal rate increases have a far-reaching impact," according to Sharon who is is president/owner of Dasher Inc., a full-service direct mail company based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Shown above, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" by an unknown sculptor.

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

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

APS Lowers Minimum Expertizing fee

Effective March 1 the minimum fee for guaranteed opinions from American Philatelic Society dropped from $25 to $20 making it more economical to submit less expensive stamps.

According to the APS, "We have long encouraged collectors and dealers to get many of those less expensive stamps certified for authenticity and condition. But when the Scott Catalogue values a stamp or cover for $200 or less, you may think twice about spending $25 for an APEX certificate. So, effective March 1, 2010, we have adjusted our minimum fee down from our current $25 to $20 for APS members to help take the bite out of expertizing costs."

Below is a complete schedule of fees...

Scott Catalogue value APS Members Non-APS Members

$200 or less $20 $40
$201–$500 $25 $45
$501–$1,000 $30 $50
$1,001 or more 3% of Scott value 5% of Scott value
Not catalogued/Unpriced $30 minimum $50 minimum
Maximum fee: $400 $800

The APS says, "With more than 120 specialist collectors and dealers currently serving, the American Philatelic Expertizing Service committee represents the largest pool of philatelic expertise in the Western Hemisphere."

Shown above, a American Philatelic Expertizing Service report.

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

Monday, March 15, 2010

Collectors Anonymous

Vijay Nagaswami writes on India's Deccan Herald website, "Collectors collect a wide range of things, from the relatively common place stamps and coins to obscure and exotic things that would astonish the non-collector, such as elephant toenails, which are not, as one may imagine, collected by being intrepid enough to find a pachyderm in need of a pedicure, but a type of American knife of very early 20th century vintage (which one can buy off the Net)."

In an article titled "Collectors Anonymous," Vijay scribes, "Most of us tend to collect something or the other in our lives, even if not completely consciously and sometimes when we shift residence we cannot understand for what purpose we have an impressive collection of unused shoelaces or rolls of ribbons of different colours."

He goes on to say, "But this does not make us collectors, for we are not subject to the most important aspects of collecting: The joy of the hunt, the exhilaration of object ownership and the joy of seeing it regularly amongst one’s possessions. Also evident is the pain experienced by the collector when a coveted object is misplaced, carelessly handled, broken or unobtainable for whatever reason, as well as the increasing quantities of time that are devoted to the collection, even at the risk of neglecting other priority domains in the collector’s life."

"The mindset of a collector is best summed up in the following statement that appeared a few years ago on the website of ‘The Card Collector’s Company’: “A Card Collection is a magic carpet that takes you away from work-a-day cares to havens of relaxing quietude where you can relive the pleasures of a past time brought to life in vivid picture and prose. This is history from an original source.”

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

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Canada's Surprise Gold Medal Stamp

Canada's Telegraph Journal reports, "Canada Post was more than confident that one of our country's athletes would win the first Olympic gold medal on Canadian soil at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. It secretly went ahead and printed some five million stamps in advance of the games to commemorate the event."

The piece by columnist David Williams goes on to say, " So, when freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau did a back double full on the first jump and then a back iron cross to win Canada's first home-earned gold medal on the third day of the games - Sunday, Feb. 14 - Canada Post issued a previously unannounced stamp that was available immediately on line, then in post offices in Vancouver the next day and across Canada starting Feb. 16.

"It was the first time in Canada Post's history that the company commemorated an event the day it occurred. Previously, the stamp had been one of the best kept secrets ever at the post office. An initiative of this magnitude would have been unheard of only a few years ago."

According to David, "As bold as Canada Post's surprise gold medal stamp was, the move wasn't nearly as dramatic as some other postal administrations around the world, such as Australia, Austria and Croatia. Those countries put a close-up photo of every individual gold medal winner on their stamps. Canada Post put an illustration of a gold medal on its stamp, not a photo of Bilodeau himself. The nearest our post office could come to that was to use a small, distant shot of skier Chandra Crawford, gold medal winner in Torino in 2006, on one side of one of the two Olympic spirit stamps."

Shown above, Olympic Gold souvenir sheet issued by Canada Post. The stamp, designed by Naomi Broudo and Violet Finvers of the Vancouver-based firm Tandem Design, shows a Vancouver 2010 Olympic gold medal. Gold maple leaves are scattered around on the booklets of 10 stamps and souvenir sheets of two stamps.

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

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Postal Service and Newspaper Business Models Outdated

The Hill website reports the head of the U.S. Postal Service said that his organization's business model is as outdated as the newspaper industry's.

According to reporter Drew Wheatley, "John Potter, United States Postmaster General, cited changes in technology and channels of communication as justification for a revamp of the Postal Service's delivery schedule and pricing system."

Potter is quoted as saying, ""Twenty years ago we would laugh at the notion that a newspaper would ever embrace the idea that maybe the channel of the future is electronic and that you may have to change your business model.

He went on to say, " "Likewise, the postal service is in a situation where the behavior of America is changing and we have to fix and change our business model to adapt to it."

To read the entire article and the interesting comments, click here.

How Would You Fix the Post Office? Click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, March 12, 2010

Stamp Thieves Jailed

Britain's Sun newspaper reports a young woman has been jailed for "secretly plundering one of Britain's biggest stamp collections — to blow it on drugs."

According to reporter Richard Moriarty, the woman along with her boyfriend stole her stepfather's collection while he was in the hospital. Up to 80 Penny Blacks, 600 Penny reds and 400 Penny blues, worth more than £46,000, were taken to pay for illegal drugs.

"A court heard the pair are both heroin addicts and most of the stamps have never been recovered," according to the article.

The woman was jailed for two years and her boyfriend jailed for nine months.

The judge told them: "You took full advantage of this gentleman's hospitality to steal a significant part of his much-prized stamp collection.

"It means much more to him than its monetary value - it is a life-long hobby to which he was devoted."

Shown above, Penny Reds and Penny Blues.

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

Thursday, March 11, 2010

FDR's Grandson Visits National Postal Museum

Last month, Curtis Roosevelt toured Delivering Hope: FDR & Stamps of the Great Depression at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. with Director Allen Kane and exhibit curators Cheryl Ganz and Daniel Piazza.

According to a post on the NPM website, "The oldest grandson of FDR and Eleanor, Curtis Roosevelt lived with his grandparents in the White House from 1933 until the president’s death. Though Roosevelt now lives in France, he was back in the U.S. on a six-week tour to promote his book, Too Close to the Sun: Growing up in the Shadow of my Grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor."

The post goes on to say, "Curtis Roosevelt shared personal remembrances of FDR’s stamp collecting activities, and said that his grandfather tried (unsuccessfully) to interest him in the hobby. Roosevelt said that his grandfather’s collection made him a better informed president. During wartime briefings, FDR rarely needed much background information on faraway islands and places; he already knew their location, history, and resources from their stamps."

Shown above, Curtis Roosevelt views the auction catalogues from the sales of his grandfather’s stamp collection. He said that he and other members of the family regretted the estate’s decision to break up the president’s collection as lacking an appreciation for heritage. Pictured with Roosevelt is NPM curator Daniel Piazza.

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

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Connecticut Postmaster Starts "Philatelic Wednesdays"

An article on the New Canaan, Connecticut Advertiser website leads with, "With a quarter of a century of United States Postal Service experience under her belt, Nancy Cornelio is ready to be the first female postmaster at the New Canaan post office since the position was first created in 1818."

Reporter Carrie Schmelkin pens, "In addition to her daily tasks of overseeing retail windows, customer services and day-to-day operations, Cornelio said she is ready to continue to build on the relationship between the office and the community by creating weekly and monthly traditions."

According to Carrie, "At the top of her list is holding Wednesday Philatelic Days, where residents can learn the art of stamp collecting as well as monthly seminars about the importance of businesses using direct mail as opposed to e-mail announcements."

Shown above, New Canaan post office’s new postmaster, Nancy Cornelio, greeting a customer.

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

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Janet Klug Appointed to Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

Postmaster General John Potter announced yesterday the appointment of Janet Klug, the former president and current member of the board of directors of the American Philatelic Society, to serve on the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC).

According to a USPS press release, Janet, a lifelong stamp collector who says she “never met a stamp she didn’t like,” is the current chair of the New Initiatives Committee on the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s Council of Philatelists.

Postmaster Potter is quoted as saying, “Janet brings a wealth of expertise and knowledge to the committee. She represents one of the many voices of the stamp collecting community and we welcome her to CSAC.”

Janet writes regular columns about stamp collecting for Linn’s Stamp News and Scott Stamp Monthly, and her work has also appeared in American Philatelist, Stamp Collector and Global Stamp News.

Her recent publications include Guide to Stamp Collecting (2008) and 100Greatest American Stamps (2007), which she co-authored with Donald Sundman.

Members of the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Postmaster General. The committee, established in 1957, is composed of 15 members, whose backgrounds reflect a wide range of educational, artistic, historical and professional expertise. All share an interest in philately and fulfilling the needs of postal customers.

Janet will join the committee in April.

To read an interesting interview with Janet about her stamp collecting interests, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, March 08, 2010

Postcards Document Early Train Wreck

"Plane crashes are today’s headlines, but train wrecks were the major newsmakers 100 years ago," writes reporter Matt Surtel on New York's Daily News website.

According to Matt, local resident Mark Milcarek came across four old postcards that documented a train wreck that happened more than a hundred years ago.

"The resulting impact was horrific. It left locomotives, train cars and wreckage strewn over the countryside. Photographs taken the next morning were quickly made into postcards," pens Matt.

Mark, who found the images online, is quoted as saying, "I just came across them and because they had a date and some information with them, they were something you could trace.”

After buying the postcards, Mark began researching the accident looking through old newspapers and learned that the wreck occurred in early January 1907 after a northbound Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh coal train lost its air brakes heading north in the town of Gainesville.

Ken Wilson writes on his Postards [sic] - A Brief History of Postcards & Postcard Collecting website, "The use of postcards exploded in the early 1900s. They were the "e-mail" of their day.Cards included advertising, artwork, and documentation of current events, and places."

To read the entire train wreck postcards article and see additional pictures, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Happiest Mail Boxes on Earth

Patricia Raynor writes on the National Postal Museum blog, "If your vacation destination this year happens to include Walt Disney World® in Florida, try playing the game of who can spot the most mailboxes. From Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom® to the international pavilions at Epcot,® careful observers will discover a variety of mailboxes scattered around the many park attractions."

According to Pat, "If you begin your park journey at Main Street USA, you will be transported to the turn-of-century-the 20th-century American small town with a lamp-post mounted collection box that fits right in to the time period. At Epcot®, you will find collection boxes such as the United Kingdom’s eye-catching red pillar post box or the American turn-of-the-century Owens- style lamp mail box (shown here), on loan to the park from the U.S. Postal Service. Disney cast members collect mail from this box each day for eventual delivery to postal service facilities in Orlando, Florida."

To read the entire post, click here.

To see and learn more about American mailboxes, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, March 06, 2010

A Printer, a Gallery and the New Abstract Expressionism Stamps

Tom Buckham writes in the Buffalo News about a "serendipitous convergence of business and art."

Tom reports, "When Ashton Potter USA Ltd. in Amherst bid last year on a contract to print a series of postage stamps commemorating the art movement known as abstract expressionism, no one there realized that Albright-Knox Art Gallery owned four of the 10 featured paintings."

The printer, Ashton Potter, the world’s largest producer of postage stamps with secure printing plants, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery are both located in and around Buffalo, New York.

The Albright-Knox works in the commemorative series are Pollock’s iconic “Convergence,” Mark Rothko’s “Orange and Yellow,” Robert Motherwell’s “Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 34” and Arshile Gorky’s “The Liver Is in the Cock’s Comb.”

Yesterday evening the gallery held a special event celebrating stamps and art.

Titled, "The Hobby of Kings: Stamp Collecting and the Albright-Knox," members of the public were given tours of the paintings and invited to create postage stamp scrapbooks. Also on hand was stamp expert Lou Montesano from Lincoln Coin & Stamp Company, Inc. who answered questions about stamps and stamp collecting.

To bring the evening to a close, the gallery showed Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog (1989), an episode from the acclaimed Decalogue series which featured estranged brothers slowly developing a fanaticism for the stamp collecting of their late father.

To read the article about the printer of the new stamps, click here.

For more on the Albright-Knox Gallery, click here.

Shown above, Barry Switzer, chief executive officer of Ashton Potter USA, displays a press approval sheet for the postage stamp series honoring abstract expressionists.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, March 05, 2010

National Postal Museum: Victim of "Modernization"

"James" writes on his Everyday Correspondence blog about visiting the lobby of National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.

He points out that,"Originally the main post office serving the District, the museum building was designed in the Beaux Arts style, and was completed in 1914...On one side of the grand hallway are post office boxes, and on the other, mail windows where clerks would receive outgoing mail. And, in the middle of the grand lobby, wonderful, ornate marble counters.

"As it would happen, the lobby area was renovated in the 1950s. According to the docent leading the tour I was on, it had less to do with improving fixtures and increasing efficiency, than because the marble floors and plaster ceiling were held to be "dated," and in dire need of modernization.

"So, in the grand wisdom of our forefathers, the ceiling of the lobby was dropped, the lighting replaced with what look to be fluorescent light bulbs, and, again according to the docent, the marble covered with formica. Below is a picture of the lobby area taken during that (what I call) dark time.

"While all of the original plaster work was destroyed during the modernization process, the lobby area has been restored with very well crafted and sculpted replicas.And, by golly, if you didn't read the placards, and ignored the fact that people were snapping pictures with digital cameras, you might just be able to make yourself believe it was 1914, and you were there to buy a sheet of 3 cent stamps to mail off a bundle of letters."

To read more about James' trip to the NPM, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, March 04, 2010

USPS Considers Post Office Lottery

A post on the USPS Inspector General's blog asks, "Could Longer Lines Be Coming to Your Local Post Office…Lottery Lines?"

It goes on to report, "According to a representative on the Postal Regulatory Commission’s staff, a Postal Service-run lottery 'could offer the potential for substantial profits for the Postal Service and utilize its current retail infrastructure with its 36,000 retail outlets.' Popular lottery formats in many states include drawings and instant lottery tickets.

The claim is that running a national lottery could help the U.S. Postal Service close its multibillion-dollar budget gap. It could also build foot traffic to post offices, increasing retail sales of postal products."

Is it appropriate for the Postal Service to offer a national lottery?

Click here to let the Inspector General know what you think.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Space Stamp Artist Robert McCall, 90, Dies reports, "Artist Robert McCall, whose visions of the past, present, and future of space exploration have graced U.S. postage stamps, NASA mission patches, and the walls of the Smithsonian, died on Friday of a heart attack in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 90."

According to reporter Robert Z. Pearlman of, "McCall created the art for 21 space-themed U.S. postage stamps, ranging in subject from the moon landings to the unmanned probes sent to Mars and Jupiter. His design for a commemorative marking the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project adorned the largest stamp published in the United States."

Robert goes on to say, "In 1981, McCall designed eight stamps celebrating STS-1, the first flight of the space shuttle. At mission commander John Young's request, McCall also designed the insignia that Young and Bob Crippen wore aboard Columbia for the two-day mission."

It was through the stamps and patches that he created did McCall ultimately see his artwork merge with their subject matter and enter space. The Apollo 15 astronauts flew his "Decade of Achievement" two-stamp pane to the Moon, and the last men to walk on the lunar surface did so while wearing an Apollo 17 mission patch designed by McCall."

Shown above, McCall holding a sheet of the "Decade of Achievement" stamps.

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

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Emma Kat Richardson writes on the Bookslut website, "War is hell, and Sarah Blake, author of the new novel The Postmistress, has 101 ways to prove it."

The story takes place in 1940 and tells the story of events in pre-World War II New Hampshire as well as bomb ravaged London through the eyes of three American women.

Emma goes on to pen, "For example, did you know how graphic and devastating bomb explosions over a populated London skyline can be? Or that beloved and cherished family members (some of them even doctors and family men, no less!) oftentimes disappear without word, in much the same way their steady stream of written correspondence has the annoying tendency to abruptly dry up? These lessons (and many, many more) are all to be found here, bound and sandwiched between the interlocking stories of three World War II-era women and their copious struggles to make those elusively pesky ends meet, no matter how often the powers that be insist on moving those ends just out of reach."

Jennifer Donovan writes in an Amazon review of the book, "At the center of the story, and the town, is the old-maid postmistress Iris. The post office and the daily intake and output of mail create the hub of this small town. When Iris holds on to a letter that's been left in her care, the bedrock of order that she has created for herself is shaken. How will this affect Iris? How will it affect the doctor's wife, and even the female reporter far away in London?"

To watch a video of the author talking about her new book, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, March 01, 2010

Bisected Stamps

According to the Alphabetilately website, "A bisect is a postage stamp cut in half (usually diagonally), and used to pay half its face value, e.g. half a ten cent stamp to pay five. The practice has been permitted (in the US at least) only for special situations (e.g. a shortage of stamps). The most recent of them was over 60 years ago, so genuine bisects are usually rare and valuable. There are even trisects! Note that a bisect "off cover" (or not "tied" to the cover by its cancellation) is usually worthless, since it is the proof of actual usage that makes it desirable - anyone can cut a stamp in half, but if it survives the mails that way, it becomes something special. Don't try it today - it's illegal to cut, deface or even overlap stamps on your mail."

Shown above is an extreme example of bisected stamps which has an interesting story behind it.

Alphabetilately webmaster, William M. Senkus, wrties "There's no pretense of postal validity about this cover, a souvenir prepared by the author at Pacific 97. I call it my "ultimate bisect cover". One of the odder pasttimes of collectors at philatelic events is the creation of such souvenirs, though most are more conventional First Day and event covers. I had to stand in line for almost an hour just to reach the counter with this one, and then was told that the stamps, having been cut in half, were no longer postally valid, and even though the cover would never pass through the mails, it could not be cancelled! I pointed out that there was over $2.50 in postage on the envelope, and surely it would do no harm to cancel it. Twenty minutes and several levels of consultation later, I was told it could be cancelled, though not in the manner I had requested - I forget now exactly what the changes were, but was pleased with the result, as much for the commotion it caused as for the actual product."

Senkus goes on to say, "I have just (October, 2001) been informed by a fellow collector who saw my page of Pacific 97 souvenirs that the USPS actually authorized bisects of stamps from the two USPS souvenir sheets issued at the show. He says that the slightly odd conditions were that the cuts must not separate the digits of the denominations, and the bisects were valid only during the show. So diagonal separations were ok, and horizontal separations were ok, but vertical separations (cuts from top to bottom down the middle) were not. Since I was not told about that when I submitted the cover above for cancellation, I can only presume that if this is true, the policy was revealed to the public only after the show; so if one thought to try it, one succeeded, but one never knew whether that success was a fluke or deliberate.

"And this could help explain, perhaps, why my cover caused such a stir among the clerks and required a secret backstage consultation - If they had said the bisects were totally illegal, they would have been lying, while if they had told me the problem with my cover was that I had bisected the triangle stamps, they would have been revealing that the other bisects were ok. So perhaps they decided to let the cover pass as it was, and let me think the whole thing was a special favor."

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