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

Philosateleian Blog

Floresville, Texas, Mailer’s Postmark Permit #1

Over the years, I have received many pieces of “junk mail” (and a few pieces of mail sent by other collectors) bearing mailers’ postmarks. The USPS permits authorized mailers—individuals or companies holding mailers’ postmark permits—to apply their own cancellations to their outgoing mailpieces.

As of this month, I’m one of those mailers. I’ve been assigned Mailer’s Postmark Permit #1 in Floresville, Texas.

Floresville, Texas, mailer’s postmark on postcard
Floresville, Texas, mailer’s postmark on postcard

That’s right. I applied the mailer’s postmark on the pictured postcard that I mailed to myself on Friday.

You may be thinking, “I’d like to do that with my mail.” If you can, I recommend it; it’s great fun and another way to play postmaster. Before you rush off to order a rubber stamp, however, read on.

Use of precanceled stamps and mailer’s postmarks is governed by section 604.3 in the Domestic Mail Manual. That document makes for absolutely fascinating reading if you’re into that sort of thing, but if you’d rather not dive into the minutiae of USPS operations, I’ll touch on a few of the high points:

  • First, the fun begins with Form 3615, “Mailing Permit Application and Customer Profile.” This form allows you to request authorization to use precanceled stamps (such as those labeled nonprofit, presorted standard, etc.) and to use your own postmark.
  • According to section 604.3.2.1, there is no fee for a permit to use precanceled stamps (though as Form 3615 notes, there is a fee to present and send presorted mail at a discount). Likewise, there is no fee for the permit to use a mailer’s postmark. Convincing my local postmaster of this took a bit of doing, but in his defense, his office had never handled a Form 3615 before. I had to call the postmaster’s contact at the bulk mail facility in San Antonio to explain that I’m not doing any bulk mailings or expecting to make use of any discounted rates—in short, that I’m just a nutty stamp collector.
  • If you do succeed in getting approved for a mailer’s postmark permit, you can’t just stick the mail you cancel in the mailbox outside your house or drop it in a blue collection box. You have to hand such mail over the counter at your post office.
  • You are supposed to use the mailer’s postmark format specified in DMM section 604.3.4.9. Some of the mailer’s postmarks I’ve seen suggest some postmasters may employ a rather liberal interpretation of this regulation, but officially, your mailer’s postmark is supposed to follow the specified format.

Considering the requirement to hand my precanceled mail over the counter at the local post office, I don’t anticipate using my mailer’s postmark on a daily basis, but if I’m planning a visit to check my post office box anyway? Might as well.

If you’re interested in pursuing approval to use a mailer’s postmark of your own, I recommend taking a look at the Mailer’s Postmark Permit Club website. Although that club is no longer active, their website’s archive does provide some very useful information about how to apply for and obtain a mailer’s postmark permit or MPP, and I referenced it at length.

I have read on various stamp forums that some collectors have encountered roadblocks with local postmasters or other USPS staff insisting that there’s a fee for using precanceled stamps or a mailer’s postmark, and I ran into some of that myself as previously mentioned. Thankfully, my local postmaster and his contact at the bulk mail facility in San Antonio were willing to listen to my explanations and, although they probably consider me a nuisance, they were very helpful in the end.

Finally, if you would like a copy of my mailer’s postmark for your own collection, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope or $2 and your request to:

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

ALA recycles BRE images, Shriners personalizes

Last week’s incoming mail brought us a couple of new business reply envelopes for my collection.

The first is from the American Lung Association and has four stamp-sized images picturing birds, candy canes, candles, bells, and so forth.

American Lung Association business reply envelope bearing four pre-printed Christmas-themed stamp-sized designs
American Lung Association business reply envelope

A quick dig through the archives revealed the ALA used this same artwork right down to the rotation of the individual images on a business reply envelope in November 2021. The envelope I received last week represents a new variety, however, as none of the images have an outer border around the stamp designs; the images on last year’s BRE did.

The other new BRE is from Shriners Hospitals for Children, and has five identical stamp-sized images of a teddy bear. If you look very closely, you can just make out the Shriners Hospitals logo on the bottom of the bear’s left foot!

Shriners Hospitals for Children business reply envelope bearing five pre-printed stamp-sized designs picturing a teddy bear
Shriners Hospitals for Children business reply envelope
Closeup of stamp-sized image of teddy bear with Shriners Hospitals logo on foot
Shriners Hospitals for Children business reply envelope stamp design

That’s a nice touch of personalization, and the first that I can recall seeing on a nonprofit’s business reply envelope; most use fairly generic imagery that you wouldn’t be able to link to any particular organization.

Generous collector shares Hawaiian postal card clipping

Although I’ve long been aware that Hawaii—first the kingdom, and then the republic—issued postage stamps prior to becoming part of the United States of America, I’ve never put much effort into pursuing those things. There are some really pricey Hawaiian stamps even once you get past the famous Missionaries.

This week, I did receive a surprise mailing from Brian W., one of the users of The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album. He sent several items for my collection, including a clipping from a Hawaiian postal card issued in either 1894 or 1897. Knowing the size of the frame around the edge of the postal card would help us pinpoint the exact year, but since we're working with a cut square, we can’t get any more specific.

Hawaii 1-cent postal card cut square picturing ʻIolani Palace
Hawaii 1¢ ʻIolani Palace postal card cut square

The design pictures ʻIolani Palace, which was the residence of Hawaii’s rulers during its time as a kingdom, and later capitol building for the republic, territory, and state. As you can see, this item was postmarked in Hilo, Hawaii, on July 8, 1899, less than one year before Hawaii became a U.S. territory.

Intact, this postal card is worth a bit of money; my aging Scott Specialized Catalogue values it at $40! Postal stationery collectors tend to frown upon cut squares from postal cards, however, which means this has very little retail value, but I’m still thankful to have it.

Brian noted that he was sending this item and the other stamps he included as a token of appreciation for my work on The Philosateleian. While that’s not at all necessary—I offer my album pages for free as a means of giving back to the hobby in some small way—I do appreciate such surprises when they show up in my mailbox. So, as we get ready to enter Thanksgiving week, I want to say thank you to Brian and other supporters who have contributed over the years.

Purgatory Post commemorates SpaceX Crew-5 mission

On October 25, Purgatory Post issued a pair of 5-sola stamps commemorating the SpaceX Crew-5 mission. Crew-5 launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 5, carrying three astronauts and one cosmonaut to the International Space Station.

Purgatory Post 5-sola stamps picturing SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts, spacecraft, and mission patch
Purgatory Post 5-sola SpaceX Crew-5 stamps

One of the stamps pictures Russia’s Anna Kikina the United States’ Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann (commander), and Japan’s Koichi Wakata, along with the launch of the Crew-5 capsule. The other stamp features an image of the spacecraft in orbit plus the mission patch.

Crew-5 is expected to remain docked with the ISS until February 2023 and to return to Earth the following month.

Bat’s Private Post reissues postal tax stamps on rose paper

Earlier this year, Bat’s Private Post in Beverly Hills, California, issued a set of six postal tax stamps on white paper in various denominations to raise funds for Yemeni Civil War relief efforts. On October 24, those stamps were reissued on rose paper.

The reissued stamps include the following values:

  • 10¢: Mother and child
  • 20¢: Dar al-Jahar (museum)
  • 50¢: Early Yemeni stamp
  • $1: Yemenis searching through rubble
  • $2: Military aircraft dropping bomb
  • 65¢ + $1: Yemeni Arabian Nights stamp (semipostal with postal tax included in price)
Bat’s Private Post Yemen Relief stamps
Bat’s Private Post Yemen Relief stamps

The 65¢ + $1 stamp is a denomination change, with the original issue being a 63¢ + $1 stamp. In addition, the text on the new stamp is in black instead of the red used on the original. Otherwise, there are no glaringly obvious differences except for the paper color.

According to a press release issued by Bat’s Private Post, all domestic mail carried by the private local post between September 15 and December 31 must bear one or more of the postal tax stamps, with letters facing a 10¢ charge in addition to normal postage, parcels a 20¢ charge, and freightsheets a $1 charge.

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