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

Philosateleian Blog

Trying my hand at stamp collage

If you read the American Philatelist, the American Philatelic Society’s journal, you may have seen the article about stamp collages in the December 2012 issue. This inspired me to try my hand at the art, and my incredibly patient wife Sarah and I created this piece that I’ve titled (with apologies to Bruce Springsteen) “Barn in the USA.”

Stamp collage picturing barn and tractor
“Barn in the USA” stamp collage

Does this come anywhere close to the level of the collages in the American Philatelist? No, absolutely not. Nevertheless, it was a fun way to use some duplicate and in some cases damaged stamps.

Have you ever created a stamp collage? How did it turn out?

Solo usage of 14¢ American Indian stamp turns up in Sweden

I recently received a very interesting e-mail from a collector regarding the 14¢ American Indian stamp. Sören Andersson, webmaster for the Swedish Postal History Society, sent an image of a parcel wrapper bearing the stamp, and he has generously given me permission to share the picture with you.

Parcel wrapper bearing 14-cent American Indian stamp
14¢ American Indian stamp on parcel wrapper

According to Mr. Andersson, the 14¢ stamp correctly paid postage for a 1-pound parcel mailed from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Sweden in 1930, the year the wrapper was postmarked.

As you may be aware, solo commercial usages of the 14¢ American Indian stamp are, as is sometimes said in the South, “scarcer than hens’ teeth.” I have two covers in my personal collection on which the Indian stamp traveled solo, but one is a FDC, and the other is a first flight cover. This is the first example I’ve seen of the stamp on a parcel wrapper, and one can only assume even fewer wrappers survived than covers featuring solo usages of this stamp.

Do you have any other examples of the 14¢ American Indian used by itself on a wrapper? How about on a wrapper sent to Sweden? If you know of any, please let us know, and we’ll pass the information along to Mr. Andersson.

Free postal cards for me, free postal cards for you

While poking around on Facebook last week—did you know The Philosateleian has a Facebook page?—I ran across a post from the USPS Stamps page regarding the Scenic American Landscapes postal cards issued earlier this year. There was a link to the USPS Stamp of Approval blog, and being a huge fan of the Scenic American Landscapes series, I naturally clicked through to read.

As it turned out, the good folks at the Stamp of Approval blog were giving away several sets of the postal cards, and on a lark, I entered. And lo and behold, I won! Score! The postal cards were waiting on my when I checked my post office box today. Here's the writing side of one of the cards from the set:

Forever U.S. postal card with imprinted stamp design picturing 13 Mile Woods in New Hampshire, USA
13 Mile Woods postal card

First, many thanks to the people at the USPS Stamp of Approval blog for the awesome freebie. If you have a chance, you might like to check them out; they post some interesting material.

Second, these postal cards come in a booklet of 20, and since there are only 10 designs per booklet, that means there are two copies of each card. That means I have a set to share!

So here’s the scoop: a set of all 10 cards from the Scenic American Landscapes postal cards set two will be the giveaway in the January issue of the Philosateleian Post Horn. If you’re not already subscribed to the Post Horn (which is free), sign up now. You’ll be able to enter to win the postal cards. Good luck!

Winter 2012 update for The Philosateleian

As 2012 comes to an end, you can update your copy of The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album using the Winter 2012 Supplement (245 KB, 3 files, 8 pages). As always, these pages are free to download!

This supplement adds spaces for U.S. stamps issued since early September. It also relocates the 8¢ General John J. Pershing stamp from the 1954-61 Liberty series to the 1961-63 definitives group—a move also recently made by the editors of the Scott catalogue.

Again, this supplement is completely free, but if you want to donate to support The Philosateleian’s development, I will most definitely appreciate your support. Download the updated pages now!

Dealing with damaged stamps

Philosateleian Blog reader Danny J. says he has a little problem with his incoming mail:

Has anyone else noticed that envelopes with actual stamps attached seem to be mutilated more often than not? These days only a small percentage of mail is processed with an actual definitive or commemorative stamp, but I’ve noticed that most of them are mutilated somehow.

Sometimes the post office has canceled the stamps by scribbling through them with an ink pen; other times the stamps arrive ripped or torn as if they barely made it though a sorting machine of some type.

In my experience, Danny’s not too far off the mark: a lot of stamps on modern mail do seem to be damaged in some way, and often the mailpiece itself is bent or has suffered other damage along the way.

The explanation I’ve most commonly heard for ink scribbles on the stamps is that mail carriers are supposed to ensure that stamps cannot be easily reused; that is, they are supposed to be canceled. Mail carriers don’t necessarily have an official post office canceler with them on their routes, however, so they make use of whatever is handy, and that’s usually an ink pen or—even worse—a marker. The horror!

Although we as stamp collectors would prefer to have every stamp arrive in pristine condition, the folks in charge of postal services are more concerned with moving the mail than with fulfilling our every wish, so I’m not sure there’s much that we can do to protect our incoming mail. There are a couple of things you can do with your outgoing mail, however:

  1. When affixing stamps to an envelope, leave at least ¼″ of space between the stamp and the edges of the envelope. Many of the damaged stamps I see have been placed as close as possible to the edge of the envelope, and it takes very little for the stamp to end up damaged in that situation.
  2. If mailing anything other than a standard sized envelope, have it postmarked by hand at a post office counter if possible. I’ve noticed that large and non-rectangular envelopes are often not postmarked at all; I presume the cancellation machines in at least some mail facilities simply don’t accommodate larger items, and those larger envelopes seem to end up with a disproportionate share of pen cancellations.

Have you noticed the same problem Danny pointed out with damaged stamps? Have any ideas on how to prevent the damage from happening? Share your thoughts below.

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