Kevin Blackston
PO Box 217
Floresville TX 78114-0217
United States of America

Philosateleian Blog

Why I’m not buying the Harry Potter stamps

Last week, the United States Postal Service issued a booklet of 20 stamps featuring scenes from the Harry Potter movies. Time will tell whether or not the stamps will sell as well as postal officials might like, but I will not be buying the stamps for my own collection for several reasons.

First, even if we accept the argument that Harry Potter is a subject worthy of a commemorative U.S. postage stamp—something of which I’m not at all convinced—there is absolutely no reason that 20 different stamps are needed. The issuance of these stamps is nothing more than a money grab by the USPS.

Second, the stamps have absolutely nothing to do with United States history or culture. The Harry Potter books were written by a British author and the movies (on which the stamps are based) featured British actors. I have nothing against Britons, mind you, but there is nothing American about Harry Potter. For decades the United States had a reputation as a country whose stamps had some national connection, but no more.

Third, the designs of the stamps show a complete and total lack of creativity or artistic design value. They are nothing more than still frames captured from the Harry Potter movies. I could create the exact same designs with nothing more than my computer and the movie DVDs.

Fourth—and this is for me the most critical reason, though many may disagree—I don’t believe Harry Potter is compatible with Christianity. Deuteronomy 18:12 refers to sorcery as “an abomination to the Lord”; Galatians 5:20 mentions sorcery in the same breath as murder; and Acts 19:19 indicates that early Christian converts burned books related to magic. Laugh if you will, but I simply cannot justify spending my money to support the honoring of sorcery—even if “it’s just a children’s book”—when it is clearly identified as evil.

As far as I’m concerned, the USPS can keep its Harry Potter stamps. I’ll wait for something more appealing.

Winter stamp album update on the way

I’ve begun work on the Winter 2013 supplement for The Philosateleian. The update will primarily add pages to the 2013 file, but there are also a couple of changes to the pages for 2012 due to some new additions.

My goal is to make the new pages available on Sunday, December 1. Considering that that is only about a week and a half away, I better get busy!

Completing a transformation

When I started converting Philosateleia to its current layout a few years ago, little did I know that it would take this long to finish.

I’m happy to say, however, that that project is complete.

What does this mean for you, my loyal reader? Well, as you navigate the website, you should no longer notice the width of the content or color schemes changing from one page to the next. Other than that, you shouldn’t notice much difference.

What does it mean for me? It means a website that is easier to update and maintain, and one that looks more consistent (and more professional). I like consistency. It also means not leaving something half done, and I don’t like leaving something half done.

What’s next? A stamp album update, for one thing. After that, we’ll see. Enjoy the ride!

What would you grab?

In the October issue of the Philosateleian Post Horn, I asked readers a question: if they awoke and found their home on fire and had time to grab only one thing from their stamp collection, what would it be?

Vivian B. responded in this way:

I was surprised that I had an answer without even thinking about it. I first started collecting when I was in second grade. I started with the ones at home that we received through the mail—from relatives in Japan, from my dad’s Army connections abroad and around the country—and then started buying grab bags of random assortments. And then came my very first order for specific stamps.

Bhutan had issued a set of six scented stamps depicting a variety of roses. They were magical. I remember taking them to school and everyone was fascinated by the exotic locale and the sweet fragrance. Of course, they don’t smell like anything anymore—it’s been too many years. But they are the stamps I would grab if I could only pick one item from my collection.

Vivian’s response is well put, and illustrates a common thread shared by many collectors. Our most prized possessions are often not those of exceptional value or rarity, but the ones that hold some sentimental value.

I had to think a bit longer to come up with my own response. As you know, I’m a huge fan of the 14¢ American Indian stamp, and have a not insubstantial collection of stamps picturing landscapes. I’ve spent a lot of time on both of those collections, and yet they’re not the first items I would grab from my collection on my way out the door.

You see, after the woman who was to become my wife and I met, we corresponded and really got to know a lot about each other by mail right up until she moved to Florida. (We lived in different states at the time we met.) Sarah had a frustrating habit (to me as a stamp collector) of using the most absolutely common definitive stamps, and the vast majority of letters she sent me bear Forever Liberty Bell stamps.

The value of the stamps on those envelopes? Practically nil. But I could buy more American Indian covers on eBay. I could start over on my landscapes collection. I could even acquire a different Civil War POW cover for my collection.

What I couldn’t replace is those letters from Sarah.

Yosemite National Park postal card

If you read the Philosateleian Post Horn, you found out earlier this month that my wife Sarah and I made a trip out to California in September. One of the places we visited during our time there was Yosemite National Park. It fulfilled a long-held dream for me, and given the chance, I would go back again in a heartbeat. I’m not even sure how to put into words the beauty of that area as a whole, and Yosemite Valley in particular.

We spent most of our time staring at the incredible scenery, but being a stamp collector, I also had to seek out the Yosemite Village post office. I had this postal card postmarked there.

Postal card postmarked at Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park postal card

As you can see, this is the 28¢ Yosemite National Park postal card from the first Scenic American Landscapes postal card booklet. To make up the additional postage required, I used the 5¢ John Muir stamp issued in 1964.

There are two markings in green on the left side of the postal card. The first is a dated stamp that reads “Yosemite National Park/Yosemite Valley.” Both this marking and the one below it—a round image depicting Half Dome and reading “Yosemite National Park”—were available at the visitor center in Yosemite Village. They’re intended for use primarily by visitors who can purchase a little book to get stamped at each of the nation’s national parks, but they also provided a nice cachet for my card.

I’ll post more about the philatelic highlights of our trip to Yosemite later.

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