Although envelopes with any sort of stamp—even the ubiquitous non-profit star on virtually every piece of mail that non-profit organizations that even bother with stamps use on their mailings—catch my eye, those with postage paid imprints are typically of little interest. I thought that was the case with an envelope I received in the mail this week, and it would be except for one tiny bit of text on the front of the cover.
“Do Not Discard: Live postage stamps enclosed.”
Granted, postage stamps are many wonderful things: miniature works of art, windows to faraway places, pieces of history. But “live”? I’d never before thought of them in quite that way.
It turns out that in the printing and direct mail industry, a “live stamp” is a real postage stamp, not just a meter impression or business reply envelope with no postage attached.1 In the case of this mailing, the enclosed BRE bears several copies of the current 1¢ apples definitive—in other words, “live” postage.
Much as I enjoy stamp collecting, I still think it’s a funny turn of phrase to apply to a non-living thing.
Still, all things considered, I would much rather receive live stamps than dead ones.
When I checked my post office box following the extended Memorial Day weekend, I found an unexpected treat inside, a first day cover from Bat’s Private Post in Beverly Hills, California. On the front of the cover and enclosed inside were pairs of 60¢ Dodo stamps issued on May 23.
As you can see, one of the stamps is a standard issue, while the other bears an “OFFICIAL” handstamp in green.
According to a press release included with the stamps, the image of the dodo is taken from a 1907 painting by Frederick William Frohawk. The stamp, which is the first in a planned series featuring extinct birds of the Mascarene Islands, pays local postage on letters weighing up to one ounce.
The cover was postmarked in Beverly Hills on May 23, and I received it on May 26. Considering that May 24 was a Sunday, and May 25 was a holiday, I’d say that’s pretty speedy delivery on the part of the USPS!
For more information about Bat’s Private Post’s new dodo stamps, write to:
Bat’s Private Post
PO Box 11175
Beverly Hills CA 90213-4175
United States of America
Philosateleian Post to issue American flamingo stamp in June
Philosateleian Post next month will celebrate summer with a new stamp picturing an American flamingo. The very pink 1-stamp design is based on a photograph that Philosateleian Post’s proprietor, Kevin Blackston, took in July 2019, and the stamp is scheduled to be issued on June 22.
Although Philosateleian Post has previously issued stamps picturing birds, the American flamingo stamp is a first for the San Antonio-based local post in two ways. First, the design is a non-rectangular trapezoid, with a narrow top gradually expanding to a wider base; all previous Philosateleian Post stamps including a single diamond-shaped stamp have been rectangular in format. Second, the stamp’s unusual format and resulting unusual sheet layout means that 22 tête-bêche pairs exist in each sheet printed.
“With COVID-19 and related world events, 2020 has already been a really weird year, so why not issue an odd-shaped stamp?” asked Blackston. “I was inspired by a picture of an old Monaco stamp that is also trapezoid-shaped.
“Although the design of Philosateleian Post’s new stamp is not complicated, this was a technically challenging issue to lay out and perforate, and I hope collectors will like it as much as I do.”
Format: sheets of 44. Design size: 36×28 mm. Separation method: perforated 12. Adhesive: water-activated dry gum. Printing method: inkjet.
To receive a mint single of Philosateleian Post’s American Flamingo stamp, or for first day cover service, send either $2 or a self-addressed stamped envelope and your request to:
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America
Purgatory Post celebrates 50th anniversary of Earth Day
As we close in on the end of this work week, I have one more philatelic item to share with you. The latest release from New Hampshire’s Purgatory Post, a souvenir sheet commemorating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, was issued on May 4.
As is typically the case with Purgatory Post’s souvenir sheets, this sheet includes four stamps, in this case a 4-sola Earth Day design that I personally like more than the official USPS issue commemorating the same anniversary.
More out of the ordinary is the inclusion of two labels, one of which pictures United States Senator, Wisconsin Governor, and Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson (1916–2005), and the second of which pictures Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg. Neither of the labels bears a demonination.
The Minute Man graces high value Postal Savings stamp
When I announced late last month that a set of pages for United States savings stamps was available for The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album, I had no such stamps in my own collection. Now, thanks to reader Steve R., I do have one, and it’s a beauty: a $5 United States Postal Savings stamp originally issued in 1941.
The stamp pictures Daniel Chester French’s The Minute Man, and although it’s not necessarily apparent from the scan above, it’s an impressive piece in terms of size alone. At roughly twice the width and twice the height of a standard United States definitive stamp of the same era, it covers an area roughly equivalent to a block of four definitive stamps!
In Postal and Treasury Savings Stamp Systems: The War Years, Dr. Harry K. Charles Jr. explains that this stamp and its standard definitive sized 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, and $1 siblings could be saved up and redeemed for defense or war savings bonds. A booklet produced specifically for the $5 stamp contained spaces for 15 copies; for that total expense of $75, the buyer could purchase a $100 savings bond redeemable for its full value 10 years after purchase.
Will I ever own a complete collection of postal savings stamps? It doesn’t seem likely, but this is certainly a good place to start! I can’t thank Steve enough for so generously sharing a spare from his own collection with me.