Kevin Blackston
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America

Philosateleian Blog

Book review: Standard Handbook of Stamp Collecting

It’s not often that you find a new review for a book written more than 50 years ago. It’s also not often that you find a book containing as much valuable information as the Standard Handbook of Stamp Collecting, which is why I felt a need to review it.

Written by the late American philatelist Richard McPherren Cabeen, the Standard Handbook of Stamp Collecting was first released in 1957, but it was revised and reprinted several times. This review specifically covers the 1965 edition, which is part of my personal library.

Cabeen split his work into five parts: introduction to stamp collecting; postal history and cover collecting; miscellaneous subjects; technical matters; and classification and identification.

Beginning with an explanation of how to begin collecting stamps, Cabeen proceeded to explain how a collector should store stamps, use accessories related to the hobby, and even focus his or her collection on a specialized area. He then moved on to more esoteric areas of philately, such as collecting postal history and unusual uses for stamps.

The fourth part of the book—technical matters—may be the most valuable section. With the relatively recent widespread adoption of self-adhesive stamps and the use of less expensive printing methods than were previously used, some of the information presented in Cabeen’s work is arguably incomplete. Nevertheless, his detailed descriptions of various printing and perforation methods make the book an invaluable reference tool for anyone who collects stamps issued before 1960.

Other chapters in the book make for enjoyable leisure reading. The author presents a broad overview of the developments that led to the introduction of postage stamps. He also lists several phantom and bogus stamp issues occasionally encountered in older collections and accumulations.

If you’re looking for pictures, this book is not for you. Cabeen went heavy on descriptive text and very light on illustrations, which is not necessarily a bad choice. In addition, it is not a particularly specialized work, but is rather an overview that will benefit the new collector and prove to be a handy reference for the more advanced philatelist.

The Standard Handbook of Stamp Collecting has long been out of print, but you can still find used copies for sale at, often discarded from public library collections.

Do you own this book? What’s your opinion? Would you advise another collector to buy it?

Ohio mail carrier shot and killed

A mail carrier in Ohio is dead after being shot while making his daily rounds.

According to news reports, 53-year-old Daniel Kondas was delivering mail in Maple Heights—a suburb of Cleveland—on Thursday morning when someone shot him in the head.

So far the police haven’t said why Mr. Kondas was shot, or who’s responsible. One person was apparently taken into custody, but there’s no official word on any arrests.

A quick search shows Mr. Kondas is hardly the first mail carrier to be killed in the line of duty, but it’s still a sad story. And while I have no reason to think his family reads this blog, I do want to express my condolences to anyone who may have known him.

Fall update for The Philosateleian

If you’ve been waiting for a new update for The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album, the wait is over. The Fall 2009 supplement (257 KB, 5 files, 17 pages) is now available for download.

This update does not include spaces for the 2007–09 Liberty Bell stamps nor the 2009 U.S. Flag stamps. I still don’t have complete information on perforation and format varieties on those stamps, but I should be able to update the applicable pages later this year.

Don’t forget, downloading and printing updates on a regular basis prevents your stamp album from getting out of date.

Free Brazilian stamp album pages

You probably already know about Philosateleia’s free U.S. stamp album pages, but other Web sites offering free pages are also coming online.

One such site is BR Stamp, which offers free album pages for stamps of Brazil. As of this writing, the pages cover 1950–72 and 1980–2008, and the site owner promises more pages are on the way.

BR Stamp is written in Portuguese, but the site’s simple layout makes downloading the PDF files a snap even if you don’t know the language.

Other sites exist that offer free stamp album pages for international collections, and I’ll work on listing some more of those here. Do you use any sites that should be included in the list?

Web site notes

Just a quick update to let you know I’m still around and working on material for the Web site. Sometimes “real life” gets in the way of our hobbies!

At any rate, updates for The Philosateleian should be available in mid-September. If you haven’t signed up to receive e-mail notifications when I release new supplements, head on over to the album pages landing page and sign up!

A couple of people have asked in the past how they can help support the work I do here. There are several ways you can contribute, one of the most important of which is linking to Philosateleia on your own Web site or in your e-mail signature. In addition, I can now accept online donations via PayPal.

Is there anything else that you would like to see on Philosateleia? Leave a comment or send an e-mail and I’ll see what I can do!

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