April brings additional decorative business reply envelopes
Mailings from nonprofit organizations have brought a couple of different decorative business reply envelopes to my post office box over the past few weeks.
An envelope from Doctors Without Borders bears three preprinted images of a bird, flowers, and fruit, each of which has the outline of die cutting around it to give it the appearance of being an actual postage stamp.
Meanwhile, a second envelope from Feeding America also has three preprinted images picturing flowers, fruit, and a tree- and bush-lined path. Like the images on the Doctors Without Borders envelope, each of these images has a printed simulated die cut border, but that border is rougher in appearance than on the first envelope. In addition, two of the designs are in landscape orientation, which is unusual for this sort of envelope.
Postally used copies of BREs such as these probably don’t exist since the charities would have no interest in the envelopes once they’ve served their purpose of delivering donations, but as I’ve written before, this sort of material would probably fit into a collection of cinderellas. At the very least, it makes opening the “junk mail” more interesting!
Recycle bin find turns out to be postal counterfeit
During a stop at my local post office to check my PO box earlier this month, I spotted in one of the recycle bins a fragment of an envelope that had a stamp on it. Even though it looked like a common flag definitive, I retrieved it; after all, modern used stamps of any sort are a welcome treat! Something about the stamp didn’t feel quite right to me, but it wasn’t until I got home and had a chance to take a closer look that it clicked: I’d fished out a postally used counterfeit.
I mentioned something didn’t feel right about the stamp, and I mean that literally: the surface of the paper is way too slick, almost soapy feeling. The color is off a bit, too. But the real clincher? The stamp has two USPS microprints! One is near the right edge of the first white stripe below the top right corner, while the other is near the right edge of the second red stripe from the bottom right corner. Genuine copies of this stamp have a single smaller microprint in one of those two locations, but not in both.
Sadly, as I mentioned, this counterfeit was on a fragment of an envelope rather than on a complete cover, so I couldn’t identify who mailed it, or from where.
I’ve heard from other collectors that they find a number of postal counterfeits when going through incoming office mail or processing kiloware, so it certainly pays to pay attention. In many cases, the people using the stamps bought them on eBay at a discount off face value and don’t even realize they’re bogus, which was the case with a different counterfeit version of this stamp that I received on a mailing nearly three years ago. It’s a pity because the people printing the counterfeits are stealing, out and out defrauding the United States Postal Service of revenue, and that can only make things more expensive for the rest of us.
On February 1, the United States Postal Service issued its first new nonprofit stamps since 2017: a pair of non-denominated coil stamps picturing two varieties of garden flowers, scbiosas and cosmos. I figured it might be a while before I began seeing these on inbound mail, but used examples of each turned up on mailings this month from Meals on Wheels San Antonio.
After five years of the Patriotic Nonprofit stamp, the new designs are a bit of a breath of fresh air. We may all very well eventually grow bored of these, but for now, they’re something new and therefore exciting.
The new nonprofit issue includes two different designs, which seems like a step in the right direction toward providing some variety. As someone who receives quite a bit of “junk mail” from various charities, though, I would really like to see even more. Why not five, 10, or even 50 different designs in a single issue? Considering how infrequently the USPS updates its nonprofit stamps, we would have several years to collect the whole set.
New Hampshire-based Purgatory Post on March 3 issued its latest local post stamps, a pair of 14-sola designs picturing two American authors and poets: Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Kerouac (1922–1969) achieved the greatest notoriety for his 1957 novel, On the Road, while Ferlinghett’s (1919–2021) best-known work is A Coney Island of the Mind, a collection of poems published in 1958. Both men are recognized as being part of the post-World War II “Beat Generation” of authors.
The typewriter-style font that Purgatory Post operator Scott A. used ties in very well with these stamps and looks like a good choice to me.
Minnesota’s Como Park Post last month issued a new 5¢ local post stamp featuring an interesting “punched-out” design. It’s a feature I’ve never previously seen on a local post stamp.
Como Park Post operator Tom B. explains that each stamp is comprised of two layers of paper, and he did the punch-outs from the top layer prior to gluing the two layers together. While the bottom layer appears to be a consistent orange, Tom used several different colors and textures of paper for the top layer, and in my opinion, the lighter colors show off the punch-outs most clearly.
I’ve shared examples of Tom’s work here in the past, and his dedication to handcrafting each of his designs is impressive.