Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kids Learn The Art of Stamp Collecting

Stanley Cotter, a founding member and former president of the Goebel Senior Center Stamp Club, was pleased with the attendance at the 10th annual Youth Stamp Day this past weekend at the senior center in Thousand Oaks," writes California's Ventura County Star reporter Robyn Flans.

Stanley is quoted in the article as saying, ""Our intent is to bring as many kids from the area as possible, probably from ages six to 12, which is when stamp collecting usually becomes a passion. Then when they become adults, sometimes along the line, they many pick it up again. Over the years we've averaged between 20 and 30 kids."

According to the report, "Children, parents and grandparents sifted through the large pile of cancelled stamps from all over the world provided by club members. They were allowed to take them to begin their own collections, which club members showed them how to do. They learned how to soak stamps off paper, and how to use hinges/mounts."

There were also games to match presidents with their stamps, as well as states and their stamps.

Simi Valley resident Austin Tenn, 10, has attended Youth Stamp Day three years in a row. On Saturday he came to get to his Boy Scout Merit Badge for stamp collecting.

"A few years ago, I won one of those big stamp collecting books and then the next year I got another for the entire world," Austin said. "I got a great way to collect stamps."

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Canadian Counterfeit Postage Operation Stamped Out

The Montreal Gazette reports thousands of counterfeit stamps have been seized in the largest postage fraud bust in two decades.

According to an article by Bradley Bouzane of Postmedia News, "Two people were arrested in Montreal Tuesday after police searched two dozen businesses in that city. Those arrests are linked to three previous arrests in Montreal and Toronto that have led to the seizure of more than 40,000 phoney stamps and about 10,000 authentic stamps that were set for reuse. Charges were also laid Tuesday in connection to the earlier arrests."

Canada Post spokeswoman Genevieve Latour is quoted in the piece as saying,  "...Canada Post officials allowed the fake and reused stamps to go through the system for the benefit of the investigation, which was launched in May 2010."  Postage fraud of this scale is not common, Latour said, adding the last major bust took place about 20 years ago.

The counterfeit stamps feature images of the Queen, Canadian lighthouses (similiar to those shown above) and stamps with themes from the Vancouver Olympics.

Canada Post estimates it lost about $2.6 million in revenue.

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Postal Stationary That Carried Anthrax-Filled Letters

Noah Shachtman writes on Wired's Danger Room website, "It was the biggest manhunt in FBI history. So it’s not surprising that investigators took all kinds of extraordinary measures to try to figure out who mailed the anthrax-filled letters that killed five people, scared the country half to death, and have jumped back into public consciousness, thanks to a series of independent reviews over the last six weeks."

According to Noah, "The envelopes were an immediate locus of the investigation. Forensic technicians from the FBI Laboratory and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service ran all kinds of tests on the envelopes and letters recovered from the anthrax attacks. Most of them went nowhere."

He goes on to say, "There were still one potential lead left, however. All four envelopes were of the same type — 6 3/4 inches wide, pre-stamped with a blue eagle logo, and made by the MeadWestvaco Corporation between January 2001 and June 2002. But they weren’t exactly alike.

"The printing plates that produced those stamps were made of a flexible polymer material. Which means there were microscopic differences between the eagles — the result of tiny irregularities that arose as the printing plates pressed ink onto the envelopes. A little excess ink or a slight abrasion could cause small changes. In theory, those small changes could identify approximately the point within a press run when the killer mailings were produced.

"In December, 2006, U.S. Postal Inspection Service agent Tom Dellafera traveled to MeadWestvaco’s Altoona, Pennsylvania, production plant, and ordered a print run of a half-million of the so-called “Federal Eagle” envelopes. By comparing the microscopic differences in these blue eagle stamps to those in the original envelopes, Dellafera’s team was able to point to the part of the press run that produced the envelopes used by the anthrax mailer."

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Stamp Collecting Rediscovered

David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen recently discovered that there are still stamp stores.

Dave pens,"I don't mean post offices. I never go in one of those by choice, any more than I would visit a tax office for the sake of the ambience. Instead I mean stores that supply stamp collectors with the materials of their hobby.

 "Picture this scene: an old office building, with grotty corridors, off a traffic-crashed street that has seen better days. You find the correct floor and door. And there, inside, is a small huddle of old men -my age, or worse -gathered around a sorting table, going through catalogues, albums, trays. And every one of them looks like a character, and there is light in every fine old eye."

There, Dave says, he found himself "shopping for the like of glassine envelopes and stock sheets; and thus in peril myself of stamp collecting again."

Dave, who comes from  four generations of stamp collectors, remembers, "My grandpa could never give it up, for to the day of his death (in 1978) he was sending his grandchildren unwanted First Day Covers. From out of the wreckage of human life, the family collection, full of memories from my own childhood, devolved upon me. Much had been unaccountably lost -or rather, such losses are easily explained by the speed with which the goods of the enfeebled old and deceased are junked or hustled, in our world full of "stuff." (Modern marital breakups also come into this.)"

According to Dave, "With the decline, nay death, of letter writing, stamps quickly exited our lives. An ever more specialized antiquarian market lives on, in which the price of rare and famous stamps remains astronomical. The hobby is still breathing in Asia, I'm assured. But here in the West, the mass of collectors are no longer schoolchildren. No mass at all, but a few old men with stories to tell, and only each other to listen."

Shown above, cover of the Feb. 27, 1954 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

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

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Young Philatelic Leaders Fellows Go Hollywood

Young Philatelic Leaders Fellows John Phillips, Andrew Shaw and Ryan Wellmaker have produced a fun movie in support of the Mighty Buck Club. The entire movie was created during the Fellows' visit to the American Philatelic Society's (APS) headquarters in Bellefonte, PA.

The APS created the Mighty Buck Club fundraising campaign to demonstrate to APS members that donations even in small amounts pooled together can provide much needed funds to improve APS/APRL services and support the hobby.

Click here to learn more about the APS's Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Swing Away Mailbox

A Connecticut entrepreneur has designed a Swing Away Mailbox that allows the mailbox to swing to the right - then back again - should a snow plow or other vehicle hit it according to a report by Jessie Sawyer on the Simsbury, Patch website.

Scott Simmons' business is situated along a major state highway.  “Try to get the mail on Route 44 during rush hour and they’ll run you over,” Simmons is quoted as saying. And with the heavy snow this season, Simmons has also seen a lot of mailboxes knocked down by snowplows. 

So he designed a mailbox that was safe and protected from damage.

“When the snow [pushed by the snowplow] hits it, it swings [to the right] and the spring bounces back,” he said. The swinging motion also enabled him to swing the mailbox back to retrieve mail without stepping into the road.

Simmons also called it “vandalism proof” in the event that someone took a swing at it with a bat from a car driving past it.

To read the entire article, click here.

Click here to order the Swing Away Mailbox.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Zealand Recalls Royal Wedding Presentation Packs

Radio New Zealand reports New Zealand Post wants to recall more than 2000 Royal wedding stamp presentation packs after an 'embarrassing' mistake.

As shown above, the text in the presentation pack says Prince William was born on 21 May 1982. He was actually born 21 June.

New Zealand Post says the error was not picked up during the checking process and "it is regrettable and embarrassing."

Purchasers are being asked to return the packs which went on sale Wednesday.  British stamp dealers, Apex Philatelic Auctions, are quoted as saying, "the mistake and the small number of packs may increase their value." 

With that in mind, perhaps purchasers should think twice before giving them up.

To watch a TV New Zealand video regarding the printing boo-boo, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Thursday, March 24, 2011

British Stamp Artist Pays Tribute to Prince William and Kate reports, "A British artist has created a portrait of Prince William and Kate Middleton – made entirely of stamps!"

According to an article appearing on their website, "Peter Mason, or the Post Pop Art Man, as he is known, made the portrait of the royal couple to celebrate their upcoming wedding by recycling British postage stamps to create a pixilated image of the pair."

The website reports in a related article that the 3 foot by 4 foot portrait took two weeks to create, with the talented former art teacher spending at least six hours a day working on the artwork."

Mason, 66, is quoted as saying he uses 3,500 stamps for a typical  3 foot by 4 foot postage stamp painting and up to 22,000 stamps for his larger pieces.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stamp Catalogues - Can't Live Without Them

Canadian Ron Tabbert(aka The Stamp Guy) writes about "those ubiquitous catalogues" that start coming out in a few weeks.

Ron pens, "Catalogues come in many stripes and serve many purposes. They let us know what is available, even if we aren’t looking to purchase. They furnish our dreams, spur our desire for things we didn’t know we 'needed'. For stamp collectors, it can get as bad as lottery tickets and gambling. 'Know your limit' before you even look."

According to Ron, " 1868, John Walter Scott, a New York dealer, printed a 21-page pamphlet listing all US and foreign stamps issued from 1840 to Date. Every stamp was assigned a number and value. Over the years, Scott’s Standard Postage Catalogue has grown to six volumes, over 6000 pages. Canada’s latest stamp will be about #2400."

"Other companies, especially in Europe, print their own catalogues. Gibbons, in Great Britain, is focused on the British Empire," Ron says, " but it now issues various country and regional volumes as well. Michel is in German, but is another standard. The Unitrade Catalog is an excellent, full-colour, detailed Canada listing. Though I find their price estimates a bit high compared to the market at large, their information is most excellent and helpful."

Ron has ordered a complete set of 2012 Scott’s for himself and is anxiously awaiting the first volume in April. When he's got all six volumes [$420 plus $40 shipping] sometime in the Fall, some lucky person in his stamp club will get his old 2004 set as a door prize.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Electric Postal Delivery Bicycle Unveiled

Aaron Colter of reports, "Simon Williams, an inventor from Australia, has revealed his prototype electric bike that was designed specifically for postal carriers. Calling the new vehicle the Deliver-E Trike, Williams was originally interested in developing an electric motorcycle before he saw a titling electric trike in 2005 called The RIDER. And while he didn’t see that particular invention as being useful for implementation as a road bike, he did see potential for delivery drivers."

Aaron goes on to say, "Williams left his job to work as a postal carrier for 18 months to get an idea of what postal workers have to deal with on a daily basis. The three-wheel electric vehicle has two, rear arm-wheels that pivot independently, allowing it to rest against a slope on its own, something Williams believes is essential for a carrier vehicle. Another feature Williams says is necessary is a reserve gear, saving time and muscle backing-up a motorcycle manually."

"Currently, Williams is seeking funding to mass produce the Delivery-E Trike, which he says can be manufactured in five hours. While the design is certainly intelligent, and an excellent example of how specialization can target ideal solutions, the electric vehicle could be limited by range and ability to deliver overly large orders," according to Aaron.

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

APS Writer Unit #30

The American Philatelic Society's Writer Unit #30 reports membership is open to anyone interested in philatelic communication not just philatelic writers, columnists, editors and publishers.

Among the membership benefits are...

Seminars:  these are usually held in conjunction with the American Philatelic Society winter and summer shows.

Literature Competitions: The Writers Unit supports literature competitions in all national exhibitions. It sponsors the Literature Grand Award at the APS StampShow each year.

A Writers Breakfast: these are held on Sunday mornings in conjunction with the American Philatelic Society winter and summer shows. These breakfasts welcome everyone (not only WU #30 members), including families and friends.

In addition, members receive a quarterly newsletter.

According to the homepage on its newly redesigned website, "The Writers Unit’s quarterly journal, The Philatelic Communicator, offers a wide spectrum of news and articles of interest and benefit to philatelic writers, columnists, editors and publishers. Submissions for publication in this journal are always welcome from any source. The journal also provides information about worldwide philatelic literature competitions and lists the results of these events. Subscription to the journal is included in the membership dues."

Dues are $20 a year.

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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Students Collect Stamps in Remembrance of Holocaust Victims

Baltimore's ABC's Channel 2 reports an Ellicott City, Maryland  English teacher has her students collecting stamps in remberance of Holocaust victims.

According to the report, "Cyndie Fagan's class was reading the book, "Night" which tells the story of a father and son in a Nazi concentration camp. To drive home the point that six million people died, Fagan has the class collecting stamps for each of the victims. So far, the students have collected more than 347,000. There's still a long way to go, and at that rate it's estimated that it could take 26 years to collect six million stamps."

If you'd like to help you can call (410) 313-2880.

To watch a video, click on the photo above.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stamp Club Celebrates Half Century

AOL Patch editor John Celock reports New Jersey's Westfield Stamp Club has a packed agenda for their 50th anniversary year.

John pens, "Launched by a group of local stamp collectors, the group brought in stamp enthusists from around the county last week for their 49th annual stamp show. With a focus on stamps featuring in the Statue of Liberty this year, the group is looking to continue to unite area stamp collectors."

According to John, "One of the main goals of the group for the year is youth outreach. With many of the members over the age of 60, club leaders said they plan to reach out to local schools to promote the benefits of stamp collecting to students. Among the benefits are organizational skills, increased knowledge of American history and integrity, according to stamp club leaders."

Click here to watch video along with additional still photos.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hawaii USPS Checks Japan Mail For Radiation

The U.S. Postal Service in Hawaii has begun checking mail arriving from Japan after mail in San Francisco and New York showed low levels of radiation according to an article that appears on Honolulu's KITV website.

Hawaii USPS spokesman Duke Gonzalez is quoted as saying there has been no mail in Honolulu found with radiation yet and that the Customs and Border Patrol in Honolulu is helping to ensure that the mail is screened properly.

Gonzalez went on to say, "CBP routinely screens mail for radiation... There are fixed radiation monitors as well as portable units that can be used to screen mail and cargo on the tarmac."

Honolulu is one of five International Service Centers for U.S. mail distribution. There are also centers in Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Decorated Army Vet Fired From Post Office Because of War Time Service

Washington Post reporter Joe Davidson reports that the U.S. Postal Service loses court case over firing of a decorated Afghan vet.

Joe writes, "Uncle Sam can be one generous dude. He allows workers, in the public and private sectors, to be away from their jobs for five years without losing their gigs, if they are on temporary military duty.

"On top of that, some assignments — fighting in a war is one — don’t count toward the five years. That means some employees who also are in the military could be missing in action from their civilian jobs for a really long time and not be fired."

Apparently USPS didn't read the fine print in Federal law when it fired Richard Erickson (shown above), a decorated sergeant major in the Army’s Special Forces, in April 2000.

Joe points out, "Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has overturned a Merit Systems Protection Board ruling in favor of USPS that Erickson, an Afghanistan war veteran, had abandoned the post office for military service."

According to the article, "The decision appears to pave the way for Erickson to get his job back, though the Postal Service hasn’t surrendered yet. Erickson’s attorney says the case could have broad implications for thousands of vets."

Besides having " broad implications for thousands of vets," Erickson could be eligible for 11 years of back pay and compensation for benefits. With legal fees added, Erickson’s attorney figures USPS might have to dish out more than $1 million.

The Postal Service doesn’t agree and has appealed the decision.

To read the entire article and watch a related video, click here.

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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Elvis Spotted at the Lewisburg Post Office

Robert Wakefield, postmaster of the Burns Post Office in Tennessee, writes about his career in the Tennessean newspaper.

Robert started off as a letter carrier and then moved on to being a retail clerk. He says among the perks of having an inside job is that it's "warm in the winter and cool in the summer and dry all the time."

Robert also describes his most memorable day which was in 1992 when the Elvis stamp (shown above) went on sale.

Prior to the stamp going on sale, Robert says he asked a semi-professional Elvis impersonator if he could borrow one of his outfits. According to Robert,  it was "an authentic Elvis outfit – white jump suit with bell bottom legs and red sparkle buttons, a red scarf and TCOBs necklace. (Taking Care Of Business)."

On the day the stamp went on sale there were about 125 people lined up, the post office parking lot was full and people were parking at a church next door just to buy the stamp which went on sale at noon.

"When the magical hour hit, one of the window clerks shouted, “Could I have your attention please? Could I have your attention? The King is Here!”

Robert says, "I walked around the corner and the crowd went wild. Thunderous applause erupted as I walked to the counter to start selling the Elvis stamp. The best part of that day – with every Elvis Stamp I sold, I said the immortal words, “thank you, thank you very much.”

The next day, the headlines for the local newspaper read “ELVIS SPOTTED AT LEWISBURG POST OFFICE”.

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pigeons to Post

Pigeons to Post by Steve Borgia  traces the story of the origin and the evolution India's postal history over a period of nearly two thousand years.

According to a write-up in the website, "Borgia travelled across India and the world to gather every bit of collectibles that would piece together the history of the country's postal history. Photographs of old postoffices, dilapidated post boxes dating back several hundred years, stamp printing presses that are now antiquated, he has it all."

Borgia is quoted as saying, ""Initially I wanted to display all the items I collected in a museum but the postal department stressed on the need for a book. The research and sourcing for the book has been going on for the past 15 years."

Borgia had to take help from British archives, retired post masters and books written by post generals before 1947 in order to get enough material about India's 'mail runners'.

"The mail-runner in earlier times not only carried people's messages but they also carried their emotions and hopes. The used to write and read out letters for people. They had a simple lifestyles compared to their British bosses and were the real backbone of the postal system," says Borgia,.

One of the highlights of the book according to Borgia is the section on line drawings on the mail runners fighting natural calamities like wild animals and flooded rivers for delivering the mails in time.

Borgia, 51, also runs a chain of hotels in South India. In them he has created small museums to display his various collections of philatelic material and objects.

To read the entire article, click here.

For more on the book and its author, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wisconsin, Collective Bargaining and Stamps

Columnist Bill Shein writes on his Reason Gone Mad website, "The protests in Wisconsin in support of collective-bargaining rights for working people have an odd link to my longstanding hobby: Stamp collecting."

Bill explains:

"As news broke from Wisconsin, I thought immediately of an American stamp issued in 1975 that honors 'Collective Bargaining: Out of Conflict … Accord.' It shows two overlapping circles, suggesting common ground...

"Back then, the U.S. Postal Service regularly issued commemorative stamps that recognized the lives of working people. Perhaps the impetus was the hundreds of thousands of postal employees who earned decent wages and benefits – particularly beginning in the early 1970s, when collective bargaining helped to secure them...

"Review the last half-century of our postal history and you’ll find stamps honoring railroad engineers (1950), truck drivers (1953), Labor Day (1956), and a campaign to employ disabled Americans (1960). One 1950 stamp honored Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor. A 1957 commemorative honored teachers and the National Education Association. In 1962, a new stamp even gave a nod to union-run apprenticeship programs that trained young people for good-paying jobs...

"In the mid-80s, as President Ronald Reagan’s policies began to undermine the economic prospects of lower- and middle-class Americans, our postage stamps abandoned these topics. Stamps boosting labor were replaced with benign subjects like sea shells and steam engines, cats and owls, classic cars and polar explorers...

"Last month, just days before the first Wisconsin mobilization, the Postal Service issued another stamp featuring Reagan – a man whose approach to labor, organized and otherwise, set in motion the 30-year race-to-the-bottom that today pits workers against workers across the nation. (Ominously, the new Reagan issue is a “forever” stamp.)...

"Could stamp collecting bridge the partisan divide or make a difference in Wisconsin? Um, no. But it’s worth noting that 1975’s collective-bargaining stamp features two solid circles, one red and one blue, overlapping to produce an area of bright purple."

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

Sunday, March 13, 2011

His First and Only Stamp Collecting Post

Kevin Drum writes his "My First and Only Stamp Collecting Post" on the Mother Jones website.

He pens,  "A couple of weeks ago I noticed a dusty stamp album sitting in one of my bookshelves and realized that I'd never actually opened it up. I don't know where it came from, but it's dated 1940 and I assume it must have been my father's."

Kevin goes on to say, "Anyway, I took a look inside, and on the very first page there was a stamp from 1851. This was part of the second series of stamps ever released in the United States — issued before the perforated stamp revolution of 1857 — and you'd think it might be worth something, even in used condition. But no. According to this site, it's worth at most either $70 or $7 depending on whether it's orange-brown or dull red. What do you think? Looks like orange-brown to me, which makes it worth $70. Maybe.

Cheap! And that's for one of the earliest stamps ever issued in America. I guess stamp collecting must be a pretty accessible hobby — though they make up for the low prices with a fantastic array of varieties and special issues. Still, a bargain compared to coin collecting."

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

Saturday, March 12, 2011

National Postal Museum Offers Online Games

Mary Johnson-Gerard, Ph.D., a contributor to the website, reports The Smithsonian Postal Museum offers a collection of children's games on their website that have to do with stamps and postal history.

According to Dr. Johnson-Gerard, "The website contains a game for budding stamp collectors. It shows children the tools needed for stamp collecting and how to label and identify types of stamps. There is a mail-sorting game that tests the player's ability to sort mail as quickly and accurately as possible. Get a taste of what mail carriers of the past dealt with in the game, Rail, Sail or Overland Mail. The player must get 20 bags of mail over a long distance using actual mail routes while getting there efficiently in a stagecoach, boat or train."

To view these and several other games, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Friday, March 11, 2011

APS Releases Free Non-Denominated U.S. Postage Stamp Album

The American Philatelic Society (APS) has released another one of its downloadable stamp albums for non-denominated United States postage stamps. The 26-page album is in full color and has write-ups about each of the stamps.

Non-denominated postage stamps are stamps with no value printed on the face of the stamp.

According to the APS, "As postal costs increased, the Postal Service began to increase their rates for the various classes of mail. Before becoming effective, however, these rate increases had to be submitted to the Postal Rate Commission for approval. Often, the PRC would take as much as a year conducting studies and compiling data before accepting or rejecting the changes. If the rate increase was approved, the Postal Service then had to rush to design and produce the new stamps. In 1975, the Postal Service began printing non-denominated stamps so it would be ready and waiting for the next rate change. A letter of the alphabet was used to represent the unknown rate, so the stamps could meet customer demand until new definitives bearing the actual rate were printed."

With 36,000 members in 100 countries, the 125-year-old Society is the largest, nonprofit society for stamp collectors in the free world. APS offers services and educational opportunities to broaden your enjoyment of the hobby and enhance your special collecting interests, whatever they may be.

The APS is supported entirely by membership dues, gifts, and the sale of its publications and services. Financial support for the development of this and other album pages is provided by Mystic Stamp Company.

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

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pot Dealers Go Postal

One Malverne, New York resident received a surprise in the mail recently - 14 pounds of marijuana, according to local police.

Tara Conry writes on the website, "Malverne Police Chief John Aresta said the unexpected delivery was addressed to a home in the village, but contained a fictitious name. When the homeowner opened it up, there were 14 pounds of marijuana inside."

"This is the new way of delivering marijuana," Aresta is quoted as saying. "It appears to be that they are buying medical marijuana out of San Francisco for a low price and having it shipped here to resell at a high price.

"...drug smugglers will pick an address at random from the phone book and have the weed sent there. Then, they'll track the delivery and when they expect it to arrive, wait down the block for the postal truck to drop off the package. Once the employee has left, they'll swoop in and pick up the package - unless, the homeowner beats them to it."

A spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says the agency has stepped up its efforts in recent years to crack down on the mailing of illegal narcotics. Recent reports say that since 2007, seizures of marijuana by the postal police have increased four-fold.

Authorities ask if you recieve an unexpected delivery of something valuable or illegal to contact them immediately.

They may let you keep the stamps.

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

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Stamps Being Replaced By Text Messages?

Allen Tsai reports on the website that, "Sweden's postal service is considering letting customers pay for their mail using text messages, rather than with traditional stamps, in a move to use mobile technology to ease the lives of its citizens."

According to the report, "Users pay for postage by sending a text. They'll receive a reply that includes a code to be written on a package as proof of postage payment."

Denmark plans to unveil a similar service starting in April.  Both countries are looking for new ways to convince its citizens to send more letters.

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

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Winning Young People's Hearts and Minds

Roy Lingen writes on the website, "The most common refrain heard in discussions about the state of the hobby is, 'there are too few young people taking up the hobby. The hobby is in a state of decline'. There is no question that the first part of this statement is true. Stamp collecting is having a very difficult time competing for the hearts and minds of young people when pitted against their current activities of computers and computer games. As a father to one teenage son, and an uncle to seven others ranging in ages from 8 to 15, I can vouch firsthand for the difficulty of generating an interest in stamp collecting."

Roy goes on to say, "Part of the problem is the current general impression of stamp collecting as an activity for 'nerds'. Recently, I watched a television episode of 'Relic Hunter', certainly a show for teenage boys if there ever was one. When Tia Carrera [sic], the sexy star, asked another character, a CIA agent, what he did in his spare time he answered "I collect stamps -- anything wrong with that?". Her reaction of suppressed mockery and disbelief would have been a sufficiently clear signal to any aspiring teenage boy that this is not an activity to engender respect in the female population! Possibly a better answer would have been 'I study the history of the world. My favourite medium is the stamps that have been issued for the last 160 years'.

According to Roy, "The lack of young newcomers, at least in North America and Europe, is a demographic fact. However the stamp market is not uniformly weak, there are many areas of dramatic strength. How can we explain this? In this writer's opinion, it's all in the demographics, but one must look at the global picture."

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

Monday, March 07, 2011

Postal Detector Vans

Steve Lawson writes on the website, "Michael Ravnitzky, chief counsel to the chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission (US) puts forward a novel suggestion for maximising the use of postal delivery vehicles - by converting them into environmental data gathering machines."

Steve pens, "...he proposes that mobile sensors mounted on postal trucks could collect and aggregate a variety of important data as a byproduct of postal delivery, taking advantage of efficiencies of scope and scale. The data collected might include, among others, air pollution levels, weather data, sensing of chemical and biological agents, and areas of weak cell phone service. If the market challenges could be addressed, these services could provide substantial public good."

According to Steve, "The idea would appear to have some real merit and for that reason I'm filing it alongside David Criswell's concept of putting solar panels on the moon to meet the worlds energy demands. Now and again someone comes up with a neat idea like this and one that might just take off. Oh, and just in case someone in the neighbourhood is intent on producing their own chemical weapon or bomb, with all the right gear on board, your postie could be the first to know...."

To read the entire article, click here.

For more on Mr. Ravnitzky's idea, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Canada's National Philatelic Centre Laying Off Employees

Nova Scotia's Chronicle Herald reports 18 temporary employees at Canada's National Philatelic Centre expect to be unemployed soon and the permanent employees are worried about Canada Post’s privatization of the centre.

A Canada Post spokeswoman is quoted as saying a private contractor was recently hired to take over the work now done by temporary employees and that permanent staff will be replaced as they retire or leave until all of the centre’s services are privatized.

The article points out, "The philatelic centre is a contact point for stamp collectors, people with small to medium-sized post office orders and those with individual and commercial postage concerns."

According to the piece, "Canada Post says it is struggling with the declining use of its mail and courier services, forcing it to cut costs. The Union of Postal Communications Employees, which represents the centre’s workers, has launched a campaign to fight the privatization."

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

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Sixth Annual Postal History Symposium and USSS Exhibition

The Sixth Annual Postal History Symposium,“How Commerce and Industry Shaped the Mails," will be held
Friday - Sunday, September 16 – 18, 2011 at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

The Symposium, which is sponsored by the American Philatelic Society, American Philatelic Research Library and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, will be held in conjunction with a philatelic exhibition hosted by the United States Stamp Society (USSS) and

Proposals for symposium papers may be submitted either as individual papers or in panels. Possible themes for papers include:
  • Vending and Affixing – the age of order by mail
  • The postal system goes to War
  • Those little flying machines revolutionize the Mails
  • How the mail order business necessitated the creation of the parcel post system
  • Special handling stamps addressed special business needs
  • Express Mail Wars: How the USPS battled Federal Express
Deadline for proposals is May 1.

Dr. David Hochfelder, assistant professor of history at SUNY-Albany will be the keynote speaker. Conference co-chairs are David L. Straight, Tara Murray and Thomas Lera.

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

Friday, March 04, 2011

Extraordinary Russian Stamp Collection Found in Smithsonian Vault

"One of the best collections of Russian stamps in the world was recently found within the deep recesses of a storage vault at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum. The collection, composed of more than 14,000 Russian stamps, is truly exceptional in terms of its quality and rarity, according to a leading expert in Russian stamps," writes Sally R. Rountree on the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium website.

Leon Finik, a frequent contributor to the Journal of the Rossica Society of Russian Philately, one of the world’s leading publications on Russian stamps calls the find, “one of the greatest collections outside Russia,”

He goes on to say, “Certainly this collection ranks as one of the top three collections in the world... rivaled only by collections at the Popov Museum of Communications in Russia and the British Library. The quality of the stamps is outstanding for this type of material.”

According to the article, "The stamps have not been seen since 1984, when they were first donated to the Museum by the estate of G.H. Kaestlin, a Russian philatelist living in England.

Thomas Lera, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s Winston Blount Chair in Research, had  'no idea' of the collection’s existence." “The museum has over 5 million stamps stored in its facility; not all have been fully processed and catalogued,” Lera told

Apparently, the discovery was the result of a recent query from State Department officers working on U.S.-Russian cultural relations.

Lera pointed out in the article, “It would have been many years before the Postal Museum worked on this collection had the State Department not inquired. Elizabeth Schorr, collections manager at the museum, remembered another Russian donation, and together we located it in one of the cabinets in the vault. Once I realized the extent of what was there, I spent three days turning over 1,000 pages!”

A special display of the collection is being planned by the National Postal Museum for viewing in the new Gross Gallery, scheduled to open in late 2012.

Shown above, one of the rare stamps from the collection.

To read the entire article, click here.

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

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Canadian Students 'Collect' Stamps for the Poor

Canada's Tillsonburg News reports, "Since October, Straffordville Public School's Kindergarten to Grade 8 classes have been collecting stamps to help raise money for an international aid group."

Teacher Deborah Kelliher said in the article by Michael Peeling that the grand total of stamps came to 57,750 once students finished counting. She went to say that the proceeds from the stamp sales will be used "to buy food and medical supplies for those in need.. in the Americas, the Horn of Africa, Southern Africa and Southeast Asia."

OxFam Canada will receive the stamps the children collected. The nonprofit group will use the proceeds from the sale of the stamps to help "champion basic human rights of those suffering through poverty and injustice."

Eighth grade student Genna Klassen is quoted as saying, "I really enjoyed doing this project because it's so easy. Stamps don't cost anything. If you get them in the mail, you can just cut them out. It's just a great way to help the poor without having to do too much."

Some of the older students pointed out that the youngest students collected the most stamps in the school, bringing in large boxes full as shown above.

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

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Teens Find Stamp Collecting Fun

Arizona's TriValley Central website reports, "Maybe it was the tiny images on the face of the stamps or the way they felt in the children’s hands, but minutes after bags of canceled postal stamps were dumped on their library tables, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders were absorbed in the search for five stamps that each child could take home or use to start a stamp collection."

Retired teacher Bill Glass and his wife, Jo, a retired substitute teacher, were at Villago Middle School the week of Feb. 14 introducing students to the world of stamp collecting.

Bill is quoted in the piece by Susan Randall as saying, "Collecting stamps makes learning fun. It helps improve grades because it teaches students how to 'go the extra mile.' It allows students to share their interests and promotes leadership when they do. It also can turn students into experts in their field, and if they want to compete, they can win awards."

Villago media center Director Karen Ronnerud said she was surprised by the number of children who have come to the library looking for stamps and now are looking for books on stamps.

One student said, “I’m sure glad I came to the stamp program, because I’m going to collect stamps. It’s sure going to be a lot more fun than those video games.”

Shown above, A student sorts through canceled postage stamps.

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

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Scout Merit Badge 'Midway' Held in West Virginia

The Parkersburg, West Virginia News and Sentinel reports, "Over 125 Boy Scouts from 11 to 18 years old gathered Saturday at Martin Elementary School for a program called the 'Merit Badge Midway' aimed at earning merit badges in a variety of areas."

The Scouts chose from among 30 merit badge opportunities ranging from auto mechanics and citizenship to genealogy and reading to traffic safety and stamp collecting.

According to reporter Wayne Tower, "The Scouts spent from 90 minutes to three hours on the sessions, learning what steps they will need to take and what accomplishments they must reach to earn the badges. They will return to Martin School on March 26 for the second half of the program where they will show what they have learned or done and will receive the badges if they have passed."

The cost is $15 per session and Scouts could participate in up to four sessions, depending on what they wanted to earn merit badges in.

Shown above, Brian Shapiro, assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 299, gives a program on stamp collecting.

To read the entire article, click here.

For a printable Stamp Collecting Merit Badge requirements worksheet, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM