Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Swedish Snowflakes on New Stamps

California's Whittier Daily News reports that the Swedish Postal Service has issued a set of winter stamps featuring images of snowflakes taken by Caltech physicist, Ken Libbrecht.

Libbrecht is quoted as saying, "To capture the characteristics of each crystal, I have developed a special microscope that allows me to add backlighting. The snow crystal functions as a complex lens that reflects light, resulting in beautiful coloring effects."

Libbrecht has taken photographs of both natural and synthetic snowflakes, revealing stunning, unusual designs. He has published several calendars and books on snowflakes describing the art and science of snowflakes.

In 2006, the U.S. Postal Service issued four stamps that also featured photographs of snowflakes taken by him.

To read the entire article, click here.

To view more of Libbrecht's photos and learn about the secret lives of snowflakes, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't Let Gifts Turn Into Dead Letters

Christmas is the busiest time at the U.S. Postal Service's mail recovery center in Atlanta according to a piece in the St. Louis Post-Dsipatch

Formerly known as the "dead letter office," items end up there when they can neither be delivered nor returned because the recipient's and return addresses are missing, incorrect or illegible writes reporter Paul Hampel.

Paul pens, "At Christmas time, poor packaging makes dead letters out of many gifts."

Beverly Lambert, the postal service's consumer affairs manager, is quoted  in the article as saying, ""I don't think the general public quite understands how mail travels through the processing center. Fancy wrapping paper can get ripped to shreds, and the address gets lost in the process."

Last year, the mail recovery center handled 68 million pieces of mail out of 177 billion that were mailed. If the mail cannot be delivered or returned, and the item is worth less than $25, it is destroyed. If it is worth more than that, it will be held for at least 90 days.

Paul also points out, "The recovery center holds regular auctions of items that it cannot deliver. The postal service keeps the auction proceeds. It also keeps undeliverable cash. Last year, about $1.7 million in cash ended up at the dead letter center, despite admonitions against sending cash in the mail. Only $300,000 was returned to the proper owners."

Shown above, recovery center employee sorting the mail.

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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Oldest Stamp Club In the United States

Connecticut's New Haven Register reports, "The New Haven Philatelic Society holds some distinction in the world of stamp collecting as the oldest continually running stamp club in the United States. There are older clubs, but none that has met, every week without fail, since 1914."

Brian McGrath, auctioneer and show chair for the Society's 4th Sunday Collectible Show, is quoted in the piece by Entertainment Editor Jordan Fenster as saying, "“We didn’t break for any of the wars.”

Brian points out that one of the fun things about being a stamp collector is finding an old album or a box of stamps and hoping that inside, "like a needle in a haystack, is a stamp worth collecting."

“That’s one of the reasons they do it,” he said, noting that you can find something worthwhile more often than you might think. “We get very good at this."

Shown above, the logo of the Society - the New Haven Postmaster Provisional Stamp of 1845. The original die was presented by the club to the New Haven Colony Historical Society where it is now on display.

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

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas Island Postmark

Reporter Laura Jean Grant writes on the Cape Breton Post website, "The holiday crunch is on at Canada Post locations across the country, and perhaps no post office feels it more keenly than in the rural Cape Breton community of Christmas Island. There, thousands of letters and packages are sent each Christmas season by people looking to have their holiday mail stamped with the distinctive and festive Christmas Island postmark."

Christmas Island postmistress Hughena MacKinnon is quoted in the piece as saying, "“They come from all over Canada, we get them from the States, we get them from several countries around the world. A lot of stamp collectors and that, like to get the postmark for Christmas. We usually do in the vicinity of 10,000 Christmas cards per season hand-stamped with our postmark, and that’s just the cards alone, not packages and parcels and everything else. Usually, our busiest day, we do about 1,000 per day, when (Christmas) gets close in December.”

To get the Christmas Island postmark on your mail, send your addressed cards with proper postage in a larger envelope to Christmas Island Post Office, Grand Narrow Highway, Christmas Island, N.S., B1T 1A0.
Located in Nova Scotia, Christmas Island got its name because of a native that lived there whose surname was Christmas according to an entry on Wikipedia.
Shown above, Postmistress Hughena MacKinnon puts the Christmas Island postmark on Christmas cards.

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

Friday, November 26, 2010

Korea's Postal System

With tensions mounting on the Korean pennisula, the Korean Times reports Korea’s first modern postal service started in 1884.

According to an article by Robert Neff, following its opening to the West in 1882, one of Korea’s first modernization attempts was the postal service. Beginning in June, 1884, at least four former Japanese postal employees were hired to act as advisors and assist setting up the country's system.

Robert writes, "Korea’s first stamps were printed in Japan and were of five denominations: 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 'mun.' Nearly 2,800,000 stamps were ordered by the Korean government but only 15,000 stamps (5 and 10 mun denominations) had arrived when the first post offices were opened on Nov. 18, 1884 at Chemulpo and Seoul."

He goes on to say, "Most of the early post office records were destroyed and no covers (postally used envelopes or postcards) with Korean stamps from this period still exist.

According to a separate article on Wikipedia, "In 1905, Japan assumed administrative control of Korea, and subsequently all mail used Japanese stamps. This state of affairs continued until early 1946. On 1 February 1946, the US military administration in South Korea overprinted Japanese stamps, supplanting them on 1 May with designs commemorating liberation from Japan."

Shown above, one of Korea's first stamps from 1884.

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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

 "In 1920, Gimbels Department Store in Philadelphia held a parade with about 50 people and Santa Claus bringing up the rear. The parade is now known as the IKEA Thanksgiving Day Parade and is the nation’s oldest Thanksgiving Day parade. Established in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ties for second as the oldest Thanksgiving parade. The Snoopy balloon has appeared in the parade more often than any other character. More than 44 million people watch the parade on TV each year and 3 million attend in person," according to a write-up on the WickedLocal.com website.

Shown above, 2009 Thanksgiving Day Parade commemorative stamp.

For more Thanksgiving tidbits and trivia, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Canadian Postal Workers Protest New Delivery Method

The GlobalWinnipeg.com website is reporting, "Nearly 75 Canadian postal workers walked off the job Monday after a letter carrier was disciplined for reorganizing his deliveries."
According the article,"It’s just the latest shot in a dispute between the post office and its employees over a new delivery method being pioneered in Winnipeg... It’s a first in Canada, where a so-called state of the art mail facility streamlined mail sorting. Letter carriers are also now equipped with vans for larger loads and longer routes, but they say it's a health hazard."

Bob Tyre, president of the Postal Workers Union is quoted as saying, "Once the other letter carriers found out that they had suspended somebody for that, they just reacted I guess and decided that they were just going home The new method requires that them to carry mail on their arm, so not only do they have to try and balance mail all day while walking, they can't see their feet."

Canada Post says the new system is not only time efficient, but tried and true in the United States.

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

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Club Putting Together a Stamp Collecting "Country Fair"

In the United States Army there is such a thing known as a "Country Fair." 

These are training exercises that consist of several stations where soldiers learn first aid, map reading, weapons assembly/disassembly as well as other topics.

Individual or small groups go through the various stations and are receive instruction. When finished they move on the next station.

The Glendale/La Crescenta, CA stamp club is putting together something similar for local Boy Scouts to earn their stamp collecting merit badge and as a way for others in the community to learn about the hobby.

The club has come up with four stations, that after completing, individuals will know a great deal about the hobby and fulfill the scout merit badge requirements.

At station one, participants learn about the history of stamps and stamp collecting.

At station two, they find out about types of albums (commercial, homemade) and stock books as well as various ways of collecting stamps - i.e. geographical, topical, etc.

At station three, they are introduced various types of stamps, covers, use of catalog and the factors that affect value.

At station four, they get a demonstration on the tools of the hobby - tongs, hinges, glassine envelopes, watermark fluid, magnifying glasses, etc. They also get hands on soaking stamps.

The club plans to hold these twice a year.

For more on scout merit badges, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pittsburgh Native to be New Postmaster General

Reporter Bill Toland of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pens, "In two weeks, Mr. Patrick Donahoe, now the deputy postmaster general and chief operating officer of the U.S. Postal Service, will take over for longtime Postmaster General John E. Potter, who has held the position since 2001 and who is retiring Dec. 3."

Bill points out, "Were he running a Fortune 500 company -- supervising 700,000 employees, collecting billions in annual revenue -- Patrick Donahoe might well be a household name by now. And if the year were, say, 1935, Mr. Donahoe might well be known as one of the country's top politicians. But in 2010, Mr. Donahoe's promotion to the position of United States postmaster general will go unnoticed by most casual news observers -- except, probably, by friends and family in his hometown of Pittsburgh."

He goes on to say, "Donahoe entered the Postal Service as a clerk. Later he was put in charge of the service's local vehicle maintenance division, then elevated to vice president of the Allegheny Area Operation, a delivery zone that includes parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. He has been working out of Washington since 2000, serving first as senior vice president of human resources, then senior VP of operations."

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

HeroBox Needs Postage For Holiday Packages

Doug Evans writes on the MyFoxAtlanta.com website, "Hard times have forced the HeroBox organization form its offices and now the charity works from a storage building as it builds care packages and sends them to troops overseas."

According to Doug, "Coupled with a decline in cash donations as well as the rising cost of postage, the charity worries it will fall far short of its goal of sending 1,000 care packages to the troops by Christmas."

HeroBox founder Ryan Housely is quoted as saying, ""We have thousands of soldiers in our data base. We have thousands of items. We have volunteers to pack them. But we don’t have the money to ship them because the postage is 10, 11 12 dollars a box. We need monetary donations right now to ship these off to the troops."
Each HeroBox contains food, hygiene items and small supplies. All of the items in the boxes are donated by major contributors and school children from across the country. Starbucks donates thousands of packages instant coffee.

For more information on HeroBox and how you can help, go to http://www.herobox.org/.

To read the entire article, click here.

Editor's Note: I'm sure they would be happy to have any unused high-value Priority Mail stamps you happen to have laying around collecting dust in an album somewhere. 
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chinese Stamps a Good Investment

The New York Times reports, "Once banned by Mao Zedong as a bourgeois activity, stamp collecting has become increasingly popular in China in recent years. While early collectors were from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the international Chinese diaspora, some important Mainland Chinese collectors are today 'repatriating' stamps, in the same way that others are bringing back Chinese artworks."

Louis Mangin, owner of the auction house Zurich Asia, is quoted in the piece by reporter Sonia Kolenikov-Jessop as saying, "“I would say presently that half of my buyers are from Mainland China and half are from outside China. Many Westerners also buy Chinese stamps. It is seen as a diversification and investment into China.”

He went on to say, "“The 1960s and 1970s issues have risen on average between 150 percent and 200 percent over the last two years. On the other hand, 1930s and 1940s issues have probably risen 50 percent on average over the same period.”

“I estimate that the market capitalization of the older issues is 1 percent of the modern issues and they therefore have the potential to rise tenfold very easily,” according to Mangin.

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

Friday, November 19, 2010

Collecting Harry Potter on Stamps

Part 1 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows opens today at theatres nationwide.

Since the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which was released in 2001, there have been six other films in the series.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is part 1 of the seventh and final film (so they say) dealing with the boy wizard.

Part 2 will be released sometime next summer.
As regards Harry Potter on stamps, William Silvester writes on the Suite101.com website,"Stamp collectors are often searching for new, fun and exciting subjects on which to base a topical collection. Harry Potter stamps offer an appealing choice for all ages."

He goes on to say, "Anyone starting a Harry Potter collection in the 1990s would have soon discovered that there were no legitimate Harry Potter stamps available. The early years of Harry Potter collecting were marred by the release of a number of illegal stamps supposedly originating in such places as Benin, Turkmenistan, Congo and Tadjikistan. These 'stamps' were colorful and appealing but unfortunately not authorized by the country whose name was imprinted on the label."

This changed in 2004 when the Republic of China released two miniature sheets of six stamps depicting scenes from the film.  A second set was issued by Isle of Man and includes eight stamps showing characters and objects from the film.

Shown above, the first legitimate Harry Potter stamps which were issued by China in 2004 as a miniature sheet.

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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Post Office Was Once An Outdoor Toilet

Britain's Daily Mail reports, "A building which was once an outdoor toilet for a primary school has been transformed into a fully-functioning post office staffed by pupils."

According to the piece, "The small brick building was refurbished by the school several years ago and used as a library and for assemblies. But following a £250 grant from local Conservative Councillor Clare Wood they began to transform it into a post office. It opens daily during the pupils’ lunch break between 1pm and 1.15pm, and for another 15 minutes after lessons at 3pm. During school holidays Lucy Pilgrim, landlady at the local pub The White Swan, has offered to step in and run it until the children return."

It goes on to say, "Money earned by the students will be put into the school’s accounts, with the children then deciding what they would like the cash spent on - with sporting equipment and books expected to be top of their shopping list."

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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Post Office to Test Preprinted Postage on Holiday Greeting Cards

The Associated Press reports, "Sticking stamps on all those holiday or birthday cards could become a thing of the past."

"The Postal Service wants to test the idea of letting greeting card companies preprint postage on the envelopes they include with their cards," writes reporter Randolph E. Smid.

He goes on to say, "The post office hopes that by making it easier to send cards it will win back some of the business it has been losing to the Internet.  Full details haven't been published yet, but the test is expected to last up to two years. Card makers presumably would add the cost of the postage to the price of the card."

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

100th Anniversary of First U.S. Air Mail Flight

Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of air mail in the United States.

According to the AirMailPioneers.org website, "In the year 1911 demonstrations of airplane mail service were made in India, England and the United States. The first air mail service in the United States, however, was conducted at the aviation meeting at Nassau Boulevard, Long Island, N. Y., during the week of September 23 to 30, 1911.

"Earle L. Ovington with his 'Queen' monoplane, was duly appointed an air mail carrier and covered a set route between the temporary post office established at the flying field and the post office at Mineola, N. Y., dropping the pouches at the latter point for the postmaster to pick up. This service, performed without expense to the Department, was flown at regular intervals during the period, a total of 32,415 post cards, 3,993 letters and 1,062 circulars being carried. It was quite satisfactory on the whole, and very promising."

An entry on Wikipedia points out, "Ovington took off on September 23, 1911 with a load of 640 letters and 1,280 postcards in a mail bag tucked between his legs - the first airplane carry of United States mail authorized by postal authorities. Ovington flew to Mineola, about three miles away, where, as agreed, he dropped the bag in a prearranged spot to waiting postal officials. The drop landed on time and on target, but unfortunately the bag broke on impact with the ground, scattering the mail hither and yon. After a scramble, all the letters and cards were retrieved and sent on the way via regular postal channels, all of them bearing the cancellation 'Aeroplane Station No.1 - Garden City Estates, N.Y.' For this feat Ovington was awarded the title "Air Mail Pilot No.1."

Shown above, Pilot Earle Ovington receiving the first pouch of air mail letters ever flown in the US, September 23, 1911 from a Post Office official.

To read the entire article, click here.

For more on the first to fly the mail, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eccentric Aristocrat's Amazing Stamp Collection

Britain's Daily Mail reports, "The vast stamp collection of an eccentric aristocrat who used to greet guests with a parrot on her shoulder is expected to fetch up to £3 million at auction later this month."

Lady Mairi Bury became one of the world's most renowned female philatelists by amassing a remarkable collection of British postage stamps including a Penny Black used on the first day of official use - May 6, 1840 which is shown here.

According to the article, "Following Lady Mairie's death, aged 88, last year, Sotheby's said it would need three days to sell her huge collection of more than 2,000 lots, describing it as one of the finest postage stamp collections to appear on the market in 25 years."

The Sotheby's auction takes place in London from November 24 to 26.

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

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Selvage on New Canadian Stamp Shows The Wrong Printer

Canada's Telegraph-Journal reports the printer's inscription is wrong on the selvage of one of the new beneficial insect stamps which were released last month.

According to the article by David Williams, "The printer's inscription on the selvage of the six-cent stamp says 'Lowe Martin.' In fact, the Canadian Banknote Co. printed the stamp."

The other stamps released along with the misprinted slevage on the six-cent (assassin bug) stamps include a four-cent (paper wasp), seven-cent (large milkweed bug), eight-cent (margined leatherwing) and nine-cent (dogbane beetle) stamp.

In addition to individual stamps, a miniature sheet with all five stamps was issued and is shown above.

Canada Post said the mistaken inscription will be corrected in future printings of the 50-stamp pane after the initial print run has been used up.

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Canada Post Launches Its First Stamp Design Contest

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that first design competition in Canada Post's 159-year history will be held to promote awareness of mental health.

Canadians can submit designs online until Jan. 17. A short essay of up to 100 words should be included to explain why entrants think their design will raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues according to the article.

Entrants are being encouraged to promote their submissions using social media such as Facebook. The submission that proves most popular online will become one of the 20 semi-finalists, and its designer will win an iPad.

The other 19 semi-finalists will be chosen by a panel made up of mental health experts, representatives from the Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health and "stamp and design experts from Canada Post who have historic, design or philatelic knowledge."

Mary Traversy, senior vice-president, Transaction Mail, at Canada Post, is quoted as saying, "“A stamp design will be seen by millions of Canadians; it has an incredible power to invite conversation.”

For more information and full contest rules, visit http://www.deliverhope.ca/.

The winner will be announced in April.

Shown above, this year's Canadian mental health semi-postal. Each year starting in 2008, Canada has issued a surcharged mental health stamp. Since then some $2.5 million has been raised for Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health.

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

'Post Mark' Gets Letters for Santa

Mark Perry, shown here, as “Post Mark,” has officially started his new job as the North Pole Postman with his trip to the Franciscan Hospital for Children in Brighton, Massachusetts.

During his visit, Mark received Santa letters from nearly 50 children according to a article that appears on the WickedLocal.com website.

Mark is quoted as saying, “Some of them were a little unsure, they thought it was Santa coming to visit. I had to explain that no, Santa only comes to visit on Christmas, but he sends me out during the year to talk to you kids and find out what it is that you want for Christmas and to deliver the letters back to him.”

Mark went on to say, “I figured I would start with the Franciscan Hospital for Children because eight years ago my nephew was born with a rare diesis called myotubular myopathy x. He was transferred to the Franciscan Hospital for Children after his surgery and his therapies and spent pretty close to the first year of his life there.”

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and others can purchase personalized letters from Santa on his website http://www.northpolepostman.com/. Priced at $9.95, each letter will be postmarked from North Pole, Alaska. 

Mark says he will donate $1 to the Franciscan Hospital for Children for each letter purchased.

The deadline to order is Dec. 10.

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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Flyspeck Philately and Complusive Collectors

Senior reporter Lee Matthews "steps into the world of flyspeck philately and compulsive collecting" at the New Zealand National Stamp Exhibition reports New Zealand's Manawatu-Standard.

According to an article that appears on the paper's website, "Stalking stamps probably won't qualify as heart-pumping excitement for most people. But there is a certain group of people for whom philately in all its associated manifestations creates palpitations that range from mild interest to full-blown obsession."

One of the people interviewed for the article was 'complusive' collector Bruce Graves.

Bruce proudly displayed "a book filled with stamps which, to the unphilatelic eye, all look like identical 1946 3d Peace stamps."

"My father collected these," Bruce is quoted as saying, "I've got 55,000 of them. Take a look at this...They printed thousands of these, and there was a flaw in every 120 of them. This is flyspeck philately."

Shown above, Bruce Graves pointing out flaws on a blown-up of a New Zealand stamp.

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Despite E-mail, Stamps Have A Bright Future

"Even with e-mailing and electronic billing, stamp collectors believe their hobby is still going strong," writes reporter Trevor Terfloth on Britain's Chatham Daily News website.

Trevor covered the annual Kentpex Stamp Show, hosted by the Kent County Stamp Club, was held Saturday at the Kent Belgian Dutch Canadian Club over the weekend.

Alan Charlesworth, one of the dealers at the show, told Trevor he's had some interesting experiences with buyers. He's quoted as saying that one time a lady purchased stamps to hang as artwork in a dollhouse!

Shown above, Alan Charlesworth with some first-day covers of U.S. stamps from the 1990s at the show.

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

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Reluctant Philatelist

Facebook friend Sandy Russell Strzalkowski has started a new blog called The Reluctant Philatelist.

Sandy posts, "What is a reluctant philatelist?  I believe it is a stamp collector that is in it for fun, not to be bound by the stuffiness of the hobby. More serious philatelists zero in on a particular area of the hobby, which enables them to put together high quality exhibits. These exhibits are put on display at various stamp shows and are judged by a panel of experts. This is all good and well, but I believe this is not for the faint of heart (or the broke of wallet). Exhibitors are usually very serious, spend lots of money acquiring material for their exhibits, and spend tons of time of research."

She goes on to say, "Instead of exhibiting, I enjoy looking at the beautiful and interesting exhibits.  I believe in being active in any group that I'm involved in, so I give back to my club, the West Suburban Stamp Club.  I am currently the secretary and newsletter editor.  I also serve on the committee that puts together our annual show, The Plymouth Show.  My husband and I have taken several vacations attending stamp shows in various parts of the country.  I probably spend more time talking with other collectors at stamps shows than I do searching for stamps and covers."

Shown above, Sandy Russell Strzalkowski.

To check out Sandy's blog, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, November 08, 2010

Hamilton Township Philatelic Society celebrates 35 years

Congratulations to New Jersey's Hamilton Township Philatelic Society which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year!

According to the society's website, "The Hamilton Township Philatelic Society (HTPS) actively promotes all philatelic collecting including stamps, postcards and postal history. Our activities include monthly meetings, member exhibits, and field trips to philatelic presentations."

Reporter Stacey Pastorella interviewed several of the society's members for an article that appears on the Mercerspace.com website.

Ed Murtha is president of the Society. After starting to collect stamps as a young man,  he often dreamed about the different countries he had in his collection.

Ed told Stacey, "...that’s how we used to travel.”

Ed believes that his interest in the hobby has paid dividends. He quoted in the article as saying, “You become better educated. You get better at Jeopardy if you collect stamps."

Ed also mentioned in the piece said that the club has had a few youth members. Although youth members can’t always attend meetings due to commitments with school and other obligations, Murtha said the club tries to keep them involved by sending newsletters and packets of stamps.

Shown above, members of the Hamilton Township Philatelic Society.

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

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Postcards: Where Did They Get Their Start?

Ben E. Franklin (yes, that Ben Franklin) posts the following on his Facebook page...

"In 1861, John Charlton of Philadelphia obtained the first copyright on privately produced postcards which he transferred to HL Lipman. The first “Lipman Postal card” was postmarked October 28, 1870 and required letter-rate postage.

"In 1898 – congress passed an act approving a special rate for postcards, one cent, which was the same rate as used for cards issued by the Post Office Department.

"Originally, the picture and a space for a message appeared on the same side of the card, with the entire flip side used for the address. This changed in 1907 with the first card issued with a picture on one side, with sections for the message and address on the other. That is the design that is still used today.

"As early as 1900, businesses began using postcards to advertise products and services."

Shown above, a  Lipman postal card.

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

Saturday, November 06, 2010

There's Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality

Published this past Spring by the University of North Carolina Press, There's Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality focuses on black postal workers and operations primarily in New York City and Washington, D.C.

According to a description on the University of North Carolina Press website, "Black postal workers--often college-educated military veterans--fought their way into postal positions and unions and became a critical force for social change. They combined black labor protest and civic traditions to construct a civil rights unionism at the post office. They were a major factor in the 1970 nationwide postal wildcat strike, which resulted in full collective bargaining rights for the major postal unions under the newly established U.S. Postal Service in 1971. In making the fight for equality primary, African American postal workers were influential in shaping today's post office and postal unions."

Author Philip F. Rubio, Ph.D., a former postal worker, is currently a professor at North Carolina AT State University. His other publications include A History of Affirmative Action, 1619-2000.
To read the book, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, November 05, 2010

New Lady Liberty and U.S. Flag Forever® Stamps

The U.S.Postal Service is reporting that it will issue two new First-Class Forever stamps in December 2010. The stamps feature world-recognized symbols of the United States: the Statue of Liberty and the American flag.

Designed as a se-tenant pair, Lady Liberty and U.S. Flag will be the first Forever stamps to be issued in coil format.

Manager of Stamp Development and art director Terry McCaffrey used existing photographs to create the designs. The photograph of the Statue of Liberty was taken by Raimund Linke, and the photograph of the U.S. flag is by Ron Watts.

Pressure-sensitive coils of 100 go on sale nationwide December 1.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, November 04, 2010

New Priority Mail Options Coming in 2011

James Cartledge reports on the Post and Parcel website that several new types of  Priority Mail envelopes will be added to the USPS portfolio next year along with a price increase of 3.5%.

According to James, "These price increases come as USPS rivals FedEx are planning a 3.9% increase in its rates in 2011 and UPS has announced a 4.9% increase for its prices next year."

He goes on to say, "The USPS is also launching a special rate for items sent within a region of the country, using USPS-supplied packaging in two sizes for commercial customers. The Priority Mail Regional Rate Box offers a flat rate for a .21 cubic feet box of up to 15 pounds, and for a .41 cubic feet box up to 20 pounds."

New Priority Mail options will include a legal-size envelope, padded envelope, gift card envelope, window envelope and small envelope priced at $4.95.

On the express side, the USPS Express Mail flat-rate envelope will see its price unchanged at $18.30, while a new legal-sized Express Mail flat-rate envelope will be introduced at the same price.

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

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Philatelic Dissertation

John Finch, About.com Stamps Guide, posts on his blog, "Sheila Brennan, is one of two winners of this year's Rita Lloyd Moroney Award for scholarship in the area of American postal history and the postal system. Her Stamping American Memory: Stamp Collecting in the U.S., 1880s-1930s traces the growing popularity of stamp collecting in earlier years."

Shilea writes that, "This dissertation investigates the relationships and intersections among stamp collectors (philatelists), non-collectors, and the postal service and the influences that such relationships have on concepts of nationalism, consumption, and memory making in the United States."

She goes on to say, "My study begins after the American Civil War, when collecting stamps emerged as a leisure time activity approximately thirty years after the postal revolution began when Great Britain introduced the postage stamp."

"The fact that stamps existed to serve the needs of empires makes it unsurprising that collecting stamps often mimicked imperialistic tendencies, but on a much smaller scale. Stamps often acted as official and visual press releases to the world announcing the establishment of a newly-independent nation, the ascension of a new monarch, or the election of a national leader."

To read her entire (all 303 pages!) dissertation, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Royal Mail Bans Religion?

Britain's Express reports, "Church leaders are furious with Royal Mail bosses who ditched Christian images on Christmas stamps in favour of children’s favourites Wallace and Gromit."

Reporter David Paul pens in an article, "Royal Mail Bans Religion", "...the Archbishop of Canterbury was being asked to take action, just two days before the stamps go on sale. The plasticine stars of The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit will appear on seven different stamps but those wanting a religious theme have only one choice, the image of the Madonna and Child that has been on sale for the past three years. Last year, Royal Mail offered five religious designs, based on nativity scenes from stained-glass windows of different churches."

According to the article, "Critics claim the switch to Wallace and Gromit, with images of Gromit about to be hit by a snowball by his arch enemy Feathers McGraw and being made to wear an ill-fitting woolly jumper, is a ­cynical bid by Royal Mail bosses to boost profits and ignores the true meaning of Christmas."

A Royal Mail spokeswoman  is quoted as saying, “We have distributed tens of millions of the Madonna and Child stamps to go on sale alongside the Wallace and Gromit stamps.”

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

Monday, November 01, 2010

Holiday Mail for Heroes

The American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Inc. are sponsoring the 4th Annual "Holiday Mail for Heroes" campaign which distributes holiday cards to servicemembers, veterans and their families in the U.S. and abroad.

All cards must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 7th in order to have enough time to sort and distribute cards. Cards postmarked after this date will be returned to the sender. Cards will be sent to veterans centers and hospitals in December.

Send cards to the address below, and please read the guidelines carefully!

Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

  • Include your heartfelt sentiments and sign all cards
  • Entitle cards with generic terms such as “Dear Service Member or Veteran”
  • Limit cards to 15 per person or 50 for school class or business group
  • Bundle groups of cards in single, large envelopes
  • Send letters, care packages or monetary gifts
  • Include personal information such as home or email addresses
  • Use glitter – excessive amounts can aggravate health issues of wounded recipients
  • Include inserts of any kind as they must be removed in the screening process
To watch a video about the program, click here.

Editor's Note: Every year, a forwarded email goes around claiming that Walter Reed Hospital will accept cards addressed to "A Recovering American Soldier" or "Any Wounded Soldier".  And every year, it's false.  Cards sent in this manner will NOT be delivered according to snopes.comhttp://www.snopes.com/politics/christmas/walterreed.asp

So if you receive that email, DON'T forward it! 
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM