Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Young Man on His Way Up in Philately

The Mt. Vernon, Virginia, Register-News reports, "Ryan Wellmaker was recently named a Senior Fellow with the Youth Philatelic Leaders Fellowship Class of 2011 at the American Philatelic StampShow held in Richmond, Va. Wellmaker, a sophomore at Tulane University in New Orleans, said collecting stamps has been a hobby of his since he was a young teen."

Ryan is quoted in the piece by Kandace McCoy as saying,“I really go for the good stuff. I have a concept that junk stays junk and I look at (stamps) as investment pieces. Stamps are most valuable for their weight and size. For example, you could have a thing of gold, but you would have to have so much to amount to those millions of dollars (like stamps bring). What makes them expensive is the scarcity. They don’t produce them from the 1840s anymore. Primarily I collect England pre-Victorian. Great Britain was the first country to issue stamps on paper and it started with the penny blacks.”

Kandace goes on to say, "This is Wellmaker’s first year as a Senior Fellow, which will be a two-year term he intends to utilize to encourage other youth to get involved with stamp collecting — or philately. He said numbers are decreasing in the hobby, because many of the older generation who began collecting as children are now passing away."

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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lawrence of Arabia - Stamp Designer

"While he was going quietly nutty as a desk jockey in Cairo attached to Britian's Egyptian Survey in 1916 during World War I, T.E. Lawrence, not yet the legendary Lawrence of Arabia, worked on a project that became the symbolic first shot fired in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire...He designed and printed postage stamps," according to a write-up on the Booktryst website.

Author Stephen J. Gertz pens,"The stamps were collected in a limited edition book in 1918, A Short Note on the Design and Issue of Postage Stamps Prepared by the Survey of Egypt for His Highness Husein Emir & Sherif of Mecca & King of the Hejaz. One of the most respected and desirable volumes of philatelic literature, it has become an extremely rare book; no copies have come to auction within the last thirty-five years."

Gertz goes on to say, "The stamps were issued in September of 1916, just prior to Lawrence's assignment to join the Arab revolt as British military liaison in October of that year. Not only were the stamps beautiful to the eye, they were, apparently, tasty on the tongue. Lawrence circulated a story, perhaps apocryphal, that he had used a strawberry-flavored glue which created a problem as the Arabs were buying the stamps simply to lick them."

Shown above, stamps designed by T.E. Lawrence.

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

Friday, October 29, 2010

Would Someone Please Send Them A Pair of Tongs?

"Stamp collecting conjures images of aging men in cardigans bent over samples, tweezers in hand, a light illuminating detail for their weakened eyes," writes Sun Chronicle theatre critic Susan McDonald as part of a review of the 2007 hit Broadway play Mauritius.

She goes on to say, "Contemporary playwrite Theresa Rebeck turns that stereotype on end with the characters and plot of her cleverly insightful dark comedy "Mauritius," now on stage at The Gamm Theatre" in Rhode Island.

"Mauritius" tells the story of two estranged half-sisters who reunite after their mother's death and quickly begin fighting over their grandfather's valuable stamp collection.

To read the entire article, click here.

Being one of those 'aging men in cardigans,' I cringe whenever I see someone holding stamps worth several million dollars with their fingers as shown in the picture above.

Would someone please send them a pair of tongs!@#!
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Allied Military Government Collectors Club

John Hotchner in his U.S. Notes column that appeared in the Nov. 1 edition of Linn's is calling for the creation of a national group for collectors of Allied Military Government (AMG) material.

John writes, "Given that the AMG issues are important, popular and not fully covered by any other stamp society (though several have dabbled in it), I am moved to suggest that the time has come to form a national groups for collectors of this material."

He goes on to say, "Such a club could aid in uncovering and sharing information, in adding to knowledge on what exists to be collected, and helping members find sources to buy from and collectors to sell to, and in promoting the field to possible new collectors."

"Volunteers will be needed to serve as officers, to handle membership records, to create and maintain a web site, and to perform other functions, such as editing a newsletter, and perhaps to manage a periodic club auction," according to John.

If you are interested in helping get the group going, please write to John Hotchner in care of Linn's Editor, Box 29, Sidney, OH 45365 or e-mail

Shown above, an example of a post-World War II AMG cover sent from Germany.

For more on Allied Military Goverment stamps, stationary and covers, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Postmaster General John E. Potter to Retire

After nearly 10 years as U.S. Postmaster General and CEO of the U.S. Postal Service, John E. Potter today announced that he will retire on Dec. 3, after 32 years of service. The Governors of the Postal Service named Patrick R. Donahoe, shown here, currently Deputy Postmaster General and Chief Operating Officer, to succeed him.

Ed O'Keefe in his Federal Eye column in the Washington Post writes,"But it's unclear how Donohoe will be any different from Potter since he's spent the last five years in his shadow, implementing cost cuts and operational changes that both have touted as their solution to solving the Postal Service's financial woes."

Ed goes on to say, "And much like Potter, Donohoe eagerly wants Congress to back off and let postal executives manage USPS in a more nimble way."

Donohoe is quoted in the piece as saying, "Leave us alone. Providing access to the American public is a critical thing, we know that. I think that Congress should rest easy that everybody here - our board of governors or leaders in our organization - want to do the right things."

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nassau - The Street of Stamps

An unidentified New York Times reader asks reporter Michael Pollak,"When I collected stamps as a child, I used to love exploring the dealers’ shops along Nassau Street in the financial district. Is that stamp district still there?"

Michael responds, "They’re all gone, dispersed by high rents, tax increases and lack of room for expansion. The last one, Subway Stamp Shop, left in 1994 for Altoona, Pa., where it has 15 employees."

He goes on to say, "But in the 1930s, perhaps the collectors’ heyday, the stamp district was a booming bazaar...Herman Herst Jr., who had been a dealer in the former Stamp Center Building at No. 116, described the scene in his book Nassau Street (1988): The busiest day of the week was Saturday. On that day, the buyers descended on Nassau Street like locusts, and when they left, the stock books themselves resembled a cornfield devoured by locusts.”

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

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Postman Used To Ring Nine Times a Day

According to Brooklyn-born Canadian journalist, Allen Abel, writing in Canada's Winnipeg Free Press, "In New York and other cities, late in the 19th century, the postman rang not twice, but nine times a day, but that was before most homes and businesses had a telephone."

Calling the Postal Regulatory Commission the 'The Supreme Court of Sticky Stamps,' Allen, who is based in Washington, D.C, pens that probably sometime next month the commission will vote on the elimination of Saturday delivery, "a luxury... that was abolished in Canada in 1969."

He goes on to say,"But to a writer who first learned about the nations of the world and their proud, sad histories from a stamp album, and who still rushes to buy and use the latest commemorative issues, the deeper worry is that the letter to Grandma and the postcard from the seaside soon will follow Morse code and the singing telegram to extinction."

Shown above, advertisment for the 1946 movie "The Post Man Always Rings Twice." 

Editor's Note: According to Wikipedia, the title of the film comes from the idea that "when a person is expecting to receive a letter, it is of no concern if at first he does not hear the postman ring the doorbell, because the postman will always ring a second time, and that second ring will invariably be heard."

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

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Scott Specialized Lists Grades for U.S. Stamps

The new Scott Specialized Catalogue of U.S. Stamps and Covers now includes pricing for stamps issued between 1847 and 1956 in eight different grades between "Very Good 50" and "Superb 98", writes Peter Rexford, Sacramento Bee stamp and coin columnist.

According to Peter, "A few years ago, an independent company or two came into the field and started assigning a number grade to rare and/or collectible stamps ranging from 1 to 100, similar to a system coin collectors already had embraced."

He goes on to say, "Naturally, many traditional collectors objected to the new grading system. After all, for a stamp to be graded, it must be submitted to the third-party grader who assigns the grade and then seals the stamp in a tamper-proof plastic casing. Consequently, the stamp can no longer be displayed in a stamp album."

Shown above, various grades for Scott No. 210 based on condition and margin sizes. 100J is the highest rating a stamp can get. "J" stands for "Gem".

To read the entire article, click here.

For a free printable Guide to Grading and Expertizing U.S. Stamps, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New "Forever" Holiday Stamps and Possible Rate Hike

Ed O' Keefe in his Washington Post Federal Eye column reports, "The U.S. Postal Service started issuing its 2010 holiday stamps this week, issuing four Forever stamps and a single stamp featuring a musical angel.The four new Forever stamps feature ponderosa pine, eastern red cedar, blue spruce and balsam fir conifers."

The Angel With Lute represents peace on earth and is from a fresco by Italian Renaissance artist, Melozzo da Forli painted in the 1400s.

Ed also reports, "The price of postage stamps may still increase to 46 cents next year. The U.S. Postal Service plans to appeal a regulator's decision to deny permission to raise rates by 2 cents."

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

Decorate Your Mailbox for the Holidays

Columnist Kathy Van Mullekom of the Newport News, Virginia, Daily News pens, "When you want to improve your home's curb appeal, think outside the mailbox."

Kathy suggests you consider a Creative Mailbox Planter which slips over a standard galvanized steel rural mailbox.

Shown above, she goes on to say,"... the planters are crafted in a high-density polyethylene with fade-resistant protection and drainage holes for plants. Faux and dried plant material can also be used in the planter; just fill the planter with weatherproof plastic foam and insert the stems."

With the holidays coming up, why not spruce up your old mailbox, impress the neighbors and bring joy to your mail carrier.

Available for $79.95 with free shipping, Creative Mailbox Planters can be ordered at www.creativemailboxplanters .com or by calling (573) 377-2246.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Young Philatelists in the Making

Bangalore, India's Deccan Herald reports, "India Post had organised various competitions for 185 students from 20 schools across the City. J P Sarda, General Secretary of Karnataka Philatelic Society educated children on how to collect and maintain stamps."

According to the piece, "Young philatelists in theCity had an insightful session on how to collect stamps as India Post had organised Philafest 2010 here on the occasion of Philately Day on Wednesday."

Srisha and Ashwin from Jyothi Kendriya Vidyalaya are quoted in the piece saying that they have a passion for collecting stamps and, “Stamps improve our knowledge about other countries culture and heritage. We learn a lot from collecting stamps from different countries.”

Srisha has more 80 stamps to his credit. Ashwin has a fascination for stamps of different shapes. Though he has a collection of more than 800 stamps from different countries, Indian stamps are the best, he says.

Shown above, children taking a stamp quiz during the Philately Day activities.

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

World's First Ceramic Stamps is reporting the world's first set of ceramic stamps --11 pieces of 0.3 mm thick ceramic chips -- have been unveiled in Jingdezhen in east China's Jiangxi province as part of the 2010 China Jingdezhen International Ceramic Fair.

A spokesperson with the China National Philatelic Corporation is quoted as saying, "The company will release only 10,000 limited edition sets of the 'World Expo National Ceramic Stamp', made with Chinese traditional craftsmanship and modern techniques. The patterns of the ceramic stamps are based on 11 World Expo-themed stamps released by China since 2007. Different from paper stamps, these stamps, it is claimed, will not fade, corrode or catch fire."

Liu Jingbo, director of the Jingdezhen Municipal Philatelic Corporation, is also quoted. "Each of these ceramic stamps is unique in the world. It overcomes the limitation of paper stamps and shows the world the creativity of Jingdezhen as the ceramic capital of China in modern times," he said.

Shown above, An ultra-thin ceramic bowl is placed on a cobweb for exhibition at the 2010 China Jingdezhen International Ceramic Fair. The bowl weighs a very few grammes and is less than one millimeter thick similiar to what the new stamps are.

No picture of the new stamps was available at press time.

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


 The Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library (RMPL) is a privately funded public library, open to all who are interested in stamp collecting. 

Its bi-monthly newsletter, Scribblings, has been published continuously since the library was founded in 1993.

The RMPL is committed to promoting and helping to facilitate the pursuit of stamp collecting as a hobby at all levels. Beginners are just as welcome as experienced philatelists.Membership is not necessary to use library materials.

More than a dozen stamp clubs and organizations call the RMPL "home," and hold their monthly meetings in a space set aside for the purpose in the building.

Shown above, the view just inside the front door of the library.

Click here to read the latest edition of Scribblings.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, October 18, 2010

Youth Stamp Fair a Huge Success

The 20th Annual Ventura County (California) Youth Stamp Fair was a huge success with dozens of enthusiastic children learning about the hobby this past weekend.

Children received a 'philatelic passport' which was stamped at each of the tables where members of the Ventura County Philatelic Society and others explained how to put together a first class collection.

The event was also open to adults. Several came to find out what their old collections were worth and rediscovered the magic that is stamp collecting.

John Weigle, stamp columnist for the Ventura County Star and chairman of the Youth Stamp Fair, pointed out in a recent article, "Many of our visitors have attended for several years, returning to brush up on their knowledge, get new stamps for their collections, make stamp bookmarks, take part in the cachet (pictorial envelope) contest and hope for one of the many door prizes."

He went on to say, "While the most popular part of the event is no doubt the boxes of free stamps to search through, members of the adult club will also show how to safely get stamps off paper (and why you might want to), how to store and mount stamps and covers, how and why to find watermarks and perforations, how to identify stamps, and collecting covers and topical stamps. There are also stamp games and, for the first time in several years, we expect a Boy Scout Merit Badge counselor to be available for Scouts working on the badge."

A tip of the tongs to John and everyone else involved in putting together this great National Stamp Collecting Month event! Well done folks!

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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rare Audrey Hepburn Stamps Up For Sale

The BBC reports a rare sheet of 10 stamps showing film star Audrey Hepburn smoking is expected to fetch at least 400,000 euros (£350,000) at an auction next week. The German Postal Service printed 14 million of the stamps in 2001 but Hepburn's son refused to grant copyright and all but a few sheets were destroyed.

According to the report, "During the last six years, five of the missing stamps were sold at auction for between 62,500 euro (£54,700) - 173,000 euro (£151,000) by stamp appraiser Andreas Schlegel."

The stamps were printed as part of a series featuring classic film stars, but it was only after production that Sean Ferrer, the actress's son, was contacted for copyright permission.

Ferrer is quoted as saying, "In the original photo, she's got sunglasses hanging from her mouth, but they had flipped the negative and replaced the glasses with the cigarette holder."

"Mr Ferrer had wanted a different image to be used because he objected to the fact that she was smoking. He is an anti-smoker and supporter of cancer research. Audrey Hepburn died of colon cancer in 1993 at the age of 64," according to another article that appears on Britain's The Independent website.

Ferrer suggested either the original photo or an alternative be used, but the postal service hastily replaced the actress with a generic film roll and ordered the stamps to be destroyed.

Money raised will be split between Unicef and the Audrey Hepburn Children's foundation.

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

Saturday, October 16, 2010

British Post Office Described as 'A Large Steel Tin'

Britain's Worcester News reports a 21-foot, vandal-proof steel cabin will become the village of Kempsey's new post office.

Reporter John Savage pens, "It may look like a large steel tin but this is the new village post office."

The old post office closed nearly two years ago when the postmaster retired. The new one was delivered last weekend. A candidate for the job of postmaster is currently going through the Post Office’s process of approval.

According to the article, "The cabin is situated next to the community center and is fitted with its own toilet, wash basin, water heater and cupboards."

Shown above, Chairman of Kempsey Parish Council Terry Ward with the 'large steel tin' which will house the village’s new post office.

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Winnie The Pooh and his Pals

Britain's Herald Express reports, "Winnie the Pooh and his pals from the 100 Acre Wood have been putting their stamp on Dartmouth – the home of the original Christopher Robin."

According to reporter Steve Peacock Speacock, "The Royal Mail chose the town to launch their latest batch of Winnie the Pooh stamps. It all took place at the Harbour Bookshop in Fairfax Place which was run by the late Christopher Robin – the son of Winnie the Pooh author A.A.Milne and the model for his Pooh Corner character."

Bookshop manager Andrea Saunders,is quoted as saying, "Christopher was a real gentlemen and I remember him with great fondness. Even after his retirement he was a loyal customer."

The new stamps feature all the books' favorites including Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, Owl and, of course, Tigger. Illustrations by E.H. Shepard, and original illustrations from Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner and the book of verse, Now We Are Six, were used.

Shown above, Bookshop owners Roland and Andrea Abram holding blow-ups of the new stamps with the help of Dartmouth postie Simon Webb.

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The Albuquerque Philatelist Society is gearing up for this weekend's NewMexPex2010.

The two-day event is for "those going postal for the square-sized postmarks," writes reporter Alexandra Swanberg on the website.

John DeBoo, the society’s librarian, said the exhibition will have variety of exhibits. As far as putting together a stamp exhibit, DeBoo is  quoted as saying, “There are certain rules to follow as far as how the material is presented and organized, and that gets to be quite anal, to me. It’s like the whole world is there, from left to right. That’s how stamp exhibiting tends to be, as far as what people exhibit.”

Also quoted is Thomas Clinkenbeard, the society’s president, who said, "For those composing thematic collections for the exhibition, stamp arrangement is a vital aspect... The postal history would tell me more about what’s on the covers, where a thematic (arrangement) is going to give me a storyline of whomever I’m showing or whatever I’m showing on that stamp."

Shown above, part of collector Don Swartz's Vatican collection.

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Don Jones - Distinguished Philatelist and 'Outhouses on Stamps' Collector

Don Jones, shown here, is featured in a article by Diane Tennant in the Virginian-Pilot. 

Don who was honored with the 2010 Luff Award for Distinguished Philatelic Research from the American Philatelic Society, is quoted  in the piece as saying that the Luff Award could be described as “the Nobel Prize of philately.” 

The Luff Award is given by the American Philatelic Society for meritorious contributions to philately by living philatelists. The award was established in 1940 in memory of John N. Luff who was president of the society from 1907 to 1909.

According to the article, Don has "earned five Grand Prizes at national stamp shows, which led to his writing a book in 1993 about the earliest air mail service, which led to his becoming an international philatelic judge, which led him to Norway, which led to his meeting the grand-niece of the first civilian air mail pilot in America, which led to his second book, about that pilot, Max Miller, in 2004."

"Don Jones essentially stopped collecting stamps in the 1980s to focus on his research, but because he does not and never has done anything halfway, he still dallies with small themed collections on scuba diving and the Lithuanian province of Memel, and after a meeting of the local stamp club, when a bunch of the guys were talking about how it is possible to illustrate virtually any topic philatelically, and one of them said it couldn't be done on outhouses, well, Jones took that as a challenge," pens Diane.

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

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

80% of Post Offices Losing Money

Reporter Sean Reilly pens on Federal, "One reason the U.S. Postal Service is teetering on financial ruin: four in five post offices lose money. And shutting any of the 32,662 outlets down is nearly impossible. As mail volume plummeted 12 percent from 1999 to 2009, the number of post offices, stations, branches and carrier annexes shrank only 3 percent. More than half of those outlets generate less revenue than the average self-service mail kiosk, Postmaster General John Potter said at a news conference this month."

"We need to rationalize our postal-owned locations," Potter said.

"It may need to, but it can't. The agency has been stymied by procedural hurdles, opposition from lawmakers and unions, and the public's emotional bond to an institution that it uses less and less," writes Reilly.

USPS spokesman Greg Frey is quoted as saying, "In July 2009, for example, the Postal Service began studying almost 3,200 stations and branches — which sell stamps and mailing services, but don't have a postmaster — for possible closing. Since then, the list has dwindled to 162. Only two of those facilities have actually closed, although another 25 closings are in the works and more could follow."

According to the article, "...The agency is barred from closing post offices solely to save money. Before closing a post office, officials must consider the impact on the community, on employees, and whether the proposed closing is consistent with government policy. If the Postal Service proceeds, it must provide 60 days' public notice; any customer can appeal the decision to the Postal Regulatory Commission, a five-member oversight panel."

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

Monday, October 11, 2010

World Post Day 2010

This past Saturday countries around the world celebrated 'World Post Day', which marked the establishment of the Universal Postal Union (USU) and the beginning of the free flow of mail between nations.

"In 1874, the representatives of 22 countries from around the world met in the Swiss capital Bern and formed 'General Postal Union" with a view to facilitating the smooth and unhindered exchange and movement of mails from one part of the world to another. The General Postal Union was later renamed Universal Postal Union (UPU). The creation of the UPU has brought the world under a single postal territory," writes Mobasher-ur Rahman on Bangladesh's New Nation website.

Postcrossing  points out postal administrations celebrate in many different ways.

The site says, "This includes: special philatelic exhibitions, free entrance in postal museums, introducing new products and services, special cancellation marks, seminars, workshops and more! In somome countries it says, " can even get free goodies (like free postage!)."

It also encouraged people to "...go out, buy some postcards or some nice letter paper and write to all your friends and family; remind them that the post is a very important part of our lives."

And don't forget to use stamps!

For more on World Post Day, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Canada's $10 Blue Whale

Canada's Telegraph-Journal reports the country's new $10 blue whale stamp is the biggest in value and size of any stamp ever issued by Canada Post.

According to the article by columnist David Williams, "The stamp is the latest in a series of high-value definitive stamps that began in 1997 with the release of the $8 issue showing a grizzly bear. For 13 years, that stamp had held the record as the country's highest value postage. The $10 blue whale, double the length of the grizzly bear stamp, has taken the title from it, both in value and size."

Williams goes on to say, "Like the grizzly bear and other definitives that preceded it, the blue whale stamp was produced using a combination of printing techniques. They include intaglio and silkscreen for the whale and offset lithography for the colours in the background."

Alain Leduc, manager of stamp design and production at Canada Post, is quoted as saying, ""The intaglio process was recently reinvented using a new, state-of-the-art laser engraving technology,"

Master engraver Jorge Peral, who engraved many of the wildlife definitives issued earlier, including the moose, loon and white-tailed deer, did the image of the whale.

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

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The New "Philatelic Literature & Research" Blog

The  American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) now has a blog.

Maintained by APRL librarian Tara Murrary and co-bloggers, Larry Nix and David Straight, "Philatelic Literature Research"  hopes to keep philatelists up-to-date with the latest news in between issues of the Philatelic Literature Review, the library's quarterly journal.

Larry Nix, who has been doing the Library History Blog for several years, writes, "The blog format for communicating information is well established in the virtual world of the Internet, and I’m confident that it will be an effective way for the APRL to assist philatelists in the study of a broad range of philatelic topics."

The American Philatelic Research Library is the largest public philatelic library in the United States. Its holdings include many of philately's classic periodicals, and it receives more than 400 current periodicals from around the world. Catalogues, government documents, auction catalogues, and a variety of other materials are available.

To visit "Philatelic Literature Research", click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, October 08, 2010

First Automated Post Office in the U.S.

This month marks the 50th Anniversary of the first automated post office in the United States.

According to the National Postal Museum (NPM), "On October 20, 1960, the Post Office Department placed into service a new mail processing facility at Providence, Rhode Island, and widely promoted it as "the first automated post office in the United States." Intelex, a subsidiary of the International Telephone & Telegraph conglomerate, built the thirteen-acre facility under contract and turned it over to the Post Office Department ready to operate. It incorporated the first automatic, high-speed sorting, facing, and cancelling machines as well as three miles of conveyor belts that moved mail between processing areas within the plant and to the loading docks for transport."

To promote the opening of the facility, the stamp shown above was issued.  It depicts an architect's rendering of the new facility and was the first US issue that directly celebrated the Post Office Department.

The NPM points out, "When the idea for a postage stamp publicizing the new facility was presented to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee on June 28, 1960, it was unanimously rejected as 'obviously self-serving.' The committee further predicted that the stamp would be "unpopular because it is promoting automation at a time when unemployment is increasing."

"Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield authorized the stamp anyway (the committee's findings are not binding), and it proved very popular: 833,306 copies of the stamp were sold on the first day of issue, and 458,237 first day covers were serviced. The success paved the way for future postal themes on stamps, including the 1963 5-cent City Mail Delivery issue, the 1971 8-cent United States Postal Service logo issue, and the 1974 Postal Service Employees issue."

To read the entire article, click here.

This Sunday there will be a free tour of the facility (which has tripled in size). Attendees will be able to view the latest state-of-the-art postal processing equipment, listen to the 60s music, pay tribute to our military, decorate pumpkins, take a photo with Mr. ZIP, touch a truck, give blood and more. Refreshments will be served. For more information, go to
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Support Our Troops - Mail Holiday Packages Early

Ensuring care packages arrive in time for the holiday season is a priority for friends and family members of military personnel serving around the world. To help get packages on their way, the U.S. Postal Service offers a discount on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box according to a USPS press release.

The recommended mailing date for the most economical postage to overseas military destinations, including Iraq and Afghanistan, is Nov. 12.

Mail sent to overseas military addresses is charged only domestic mail prices. The domestic mail price for the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box is $14.50, but for packages to APO/FPO addresses overseas the price is reduced to $12.50. Additional discounts are available for customers printing their Priority Mail postage labels online at Click-N-Ship.

Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes are available at no cost at any Post Office, or can be ordered online at Postage, labels and customs forms can be printed online anytime using Click-N-Ship.

The Postal Service continues to show support to those serving in the armed forces by offering free Military Care Kits, designed specifically for military families sending packages overseas. The mailing kits can be ordered by phone by calling 1-800-610-8734 and asking for the Military Care Kit. Each kit includes two “America Supports You” large Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, four medium-sized Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, six Priority Mail labels, one roll of Priority Mail tape and six customs forms with envelopes.

For online ordering of the large Priority Mail APO/FPO Flat Rate boxes featuring the “America Supports You” logo and information about mailing letters and packages to military destinations, go to Supporting Our Troops.

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

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Volcanic Ash Embedded in Iceland Stamps

According to a piece that appears on Canada's Telegraph-Journal website, Iceland issued three stamps this past summer that have pieces of volcanic ash embedded in the designs.

Columnist David Williams writes, "... all three stamps are silkscreen printed with very fine-grained trachyandesite ash which fell at Eyjafjallajokull on April 17, a little more than three months before the stamps' issue date of July 22."

He goes on to say, "Iceland is not the first nation to implant things in their postage. Other items, including soil, rock, meteorite dust and even jewels, also have been embedded in stamps."

"In 2002, pieces of the Rock of Gibraltar were incorporated into four stamps put out by the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau. In 2008, Aland, an island archipelago in the Baltic Sea, burned pieces of red granite onto a stamp by a heating process known as thermography. And soil from a school for children with special needs was silkscreened onto a set of 10 South African stamps issued in January of this year," pens Williams.

Shown above, one of the volcanic ash stamps.

To read the entire article, click here.

For more stamps illustrated with volcanoes from around the world, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

How To Get Rich Collecting Stamps

Thomas Kelly posts an article about stamps as an investment on the Yahoo! Business webpage

Thomas points out,  "Although many millions have been printed, there are many ways to invest into and enjoy your collection. Quality, scarcity and historical interest are the key themes."

Four things he says you should keep in mind when are..

1. Follow the basics
2. Know what you're looking for
3. Be focused
4. Don't go overboard

Shown above, a 'Penny Black', the world's first adhesive postage stamp. It had a print run of over 68 million, but at that time there were few, if any, collectors and many were simply thrown away. Because the supply is small and the demand high, it is an excellent choice as a stamp investment provided it has clean margins on all sides and is not damaged.

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

Monday, October 04, 2010

Mike the Mailman Makes Going Postal a Pleasure

"Mike the Mailman Makes Going Postal a Happy Event in Happy Valley," headlines a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Mike Herr who runs the one-man post office branch on the campus of Penn State University.

Reporter Dennis B. Roddy writes, "When someone enters wearing a shiny pair of sneakers, Mr. Herr drops everything, rings a small bell and holds up a handwritten sign that says, "Nice Sneakers. Ask him if he's Mike the Mailman he'll say it's a possibility. Ask him where he grew up he'll challenge the proposition that he ever did. Tell him you are sending a late birthday card, and he will pull out a rubber stamp and slap on an official-looking "I Sent This Last Week." Students have come to ask for that one by name."

Dennis goes on to pen...

"Ask him if he's Mike the Mailman he'll say it's a possibility. Ask him where he grew up he'll challenge the proposition that he ever did. Tell him you are sending a late birthday card, and he will pull out a rubber stamp and slap on an official-looking "I Sent This Last Week." Students have come to ask for that one by name.

"When someone enters wearing a shiny pair of sneakers, Mr. Herr drops everything, rings a small bell and holds up a handwritten sign that says, "Nice Sneakers." Ask him if he's Mike the Mailman he'll say it's a possibility. Ask him where he grew up he'll challenge the proposition that he ever did. Tell him you are sending a late birthday card, and he will pull out a rubber stamp and slap on an official-looking "I Sent This Last Week." Students have come to ask for that one by name.

He keeps the newest stamps -- the kind honoring old comic strips or filled with floral patterns -- on hand. One customer told of the time a student brought in a package marked "fragile." Mr. Herr excused himself, walked to a back room where he picked up another box filled with loose metal and dropped it with a wonderful, heart-stopping crash."

Mike is quoted as saying, "I think if you're going to be someplace for eight hours, make it fun not only for yourself but the customers."

According to the article, "People have suggested Mr. Herr seek a higher station. He has been advised to run for mayor of State College. He prefers to run a post office, so long as he can run it in a way that keeps people happy."

Shown above, Mike Herr holds up a sign that reads "Nice Sneakers" to the next person in line at the University Park post office.

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

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Postal Service "Heroes of the Year "

"The 2010 Heroes of the Year represent the efforts of thousands of letter carriers who not only deliver the mail to 150 million households six days a week, but often assist or save residents in situations involving accidents, fires, crimes or health crises," according to a press release put out by the

Eight letter carrier heroes will be honored at a special event this Thursday in Washington, DC.

Among those being honored...

Arkansas letter carrier who saw a two-car, head-on collision and pulled the driver from one vehicle and, as the vehicle caught on fire, saved a passenger engulfed in flames. He then rescued of the other driver whose car was on fire,

~ An Ohio carrier who one morning rescued a resident from a house fire and that afternoon aided a 12-year-old boy who had crashed his bicycle into a van,

~ A Utah carrier saved a resident suffering a heart attack after noticing the man's dog barking urgently; a New Jersey carrier rescued a homeowner from a fire,

~ Two Michigan carriers saved an elderly woman after they became worried about her whereabouts,

~ A retired Kansas carrier has helped feed 35,000 families across the state,

~ Seattle carriers who built housing for Katrina victims in Louisiana.

Congratulations to all the recipients!

To read the entire release, click here.

For more on the Heroes of The Year program, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Stamps to Stay at 44 Cents

Papers around the country are reporting that the Postal Reglatory Commission, the five-member panel that oversees the U.S. Postal Service, has unanimously denied the agency's request to raise the price of stamps to 46 cents.

"The Postal Service proposed the two cents rate hike for first class postage in July as part of a cost-savings plan to deal with losses that amounted to $3.8 billion last year. Postal officials say part of the problem is the move of many customers to digital communications. But they say the losses have been compounded by the recession, " writes Tom Diemer of Politics Daily.

He goes on to pen, "The Postal Service can appeal the decision, file a new special rate increase request, or go for a smaller boost -- like one cent -- in the cost of mailing a letter, the Associated Press said. Among the cost-cutting measures, the Postal Service wants to end Saturday mail delivery, although most post offices would remain open on Saturdays under such a plan."

 In a news conference the Postal Regulatory Commission said the Postal Service had failed to justify the requested 5.6 percent increase. Ruth Goldway, chairwoman of the commission, said the increase had more to do with long-term structural problems at the Postal Service than with the recession.

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

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Philatelic Hall of Shame

Henry Gitner Philatelists Inc.'s Philatelic Hall of Shame website asks if the stamp shown here is "some sort of rarity?"

"Sorry, this neat looking invert is a fake," the Gitner site points out. "This nifty little invert was probably contrived by a collector with a sense of humor and no ill intentions. Notice how the cancellation covers the frame and the inverted vignette? Whoever created this oddity took quite a bit of time to make it look this good. A gullible collector might be talked into buying this clever invert as a modern rarity: after all, how could the cancellation lines match so well if it was a fake?"

"Monochrome stamps, like this one, only went through the printing press once: there is no chance for an inverted center because all the elements of the design were printed with the same press stroke. Inverted vignettes or frames can only happen when a stamp is passed through the printing press two or more times," Gitner writes.

The Philatelic Hall of Shame  website is dedicated to showing dealers and collectors "how to sniff out those dubious stamps that so many people buy and sell simply because they don't know how to identify the problems."

Must reading!

Click here to learn more about this forgery and others.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM