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

Philosateleian Blog

Real value of a 1977 Fleetwood first day cover collection

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity after running a couple of errands during my lunch break to stop in at the local stamp shop for a few minutes, and while digging through a pile of albums stacked in a corner found this Fleetwood album containing 27 Europa first day covers from 1977.

Front cover of Fleetwood Europa first day cover album
1977 Europa first day cover album

There was no price on the album, and I have no particular interest in Europa, but there were enough stamps that looked like they would fit in my landscapes collection that I figured it was worth asking how much the shop owner wanted for it.

After quickly flipping through the album, Steve, the proprietor, told me that he would take $5 for it. I handed over the money and was soon on my way; I was happy to add some stamps to my collection, and the dealer was happy to have the album out of the way.

1977 Spain Europa stamps on first day cover
Spain 1977 Europa stamps on first day cover

While looking through my new acquisition, I noticed that an original flyer advertising the set was tucked inside the front cover. The advertising copy seemed reasonably typical, but the original price was what caught my attention: $85! That works out to more than $3 per cover.

Fleetwood advertisement for 1977 Europa first day cover collection
Fleetwood Europa first day cover advertisement

That’s not the entire story, though. Consider that the price of a first class postage stamp in 1977 was 13¢, or a little less than quarter of the current first class letter rate in the United States. Apply the same increase to the original purchase price, and it works out to somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 in today’s money.

My goal here is not to criticize the album producer for their original asking price, nor the original purchaser for spending that much money on it; neither of those are any of my business. My point is just that 40 years down the road, this collection has a value of somewhat less than 2% of its original retail price, and while this may be an extreme example, this sort of “limited edition” material is virtually never a good buy new. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy it; by all means, collect what you like and can afford, because that’s kind of the point. Just don’t expect it to hold much value if you or your heirs ever decide to sell.

Philosateleian Post celebrates Grand Canyon National Park centennial

San Antonio-based Philosateleian Post will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Grand Canyon National Park next month with the release of a special local post stamp marking the park’s centennial. The planned first day of issue is May 15, 2019.

The stamp’s vignette is based on a photograph taken by Philosateleian Post proprietor Kevin Blackston during a cross-country trip in the 1990s.

Philosateleian Post stamp picturing the Grand Canyon in Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park Centennial

“Grand Canyon National Park was the first of America’s national parks that I had the opportunity to see in person,” says Blackston. “Some people say it’s just a big hole in the ground, but there is a certain beauty and immenseness that certainly justifies a visit.”

Grand Canyon National Park was officially established in February 1919. It is the third national park to be featured on a Philosateleian Post stamp, following Yosemite National Park in 2014 and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2016.

Technical Specifications

Format: sheets of 36 (6×6). Design size: 36×28 mm. Separation method: perforated 12. Adhesive: water-activated dry gum. Printing method: inkjet.

Philatelic Services

To receive a mint single of Philosateleian Post’s Grand Canyon National Park Centennial stamp, or for first day cover service, send either $2 or a self-addressed stamped envelope and your request to:

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

Purgatory Post commemorates Apollo 9

Certain of the Apollo missions get all the glory. Apollo 8, the first to orbit the moon. Apollo 11, the first to put men on the moon. Apollo 13, which returned its crew safely to Earth in dramatic fashion. Even the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was commemorated with a pair of stamps in 1975.

Apollo 9 has gotten relatively little recognition in comparison, but New Hampshire’s Purgatory Post changed that earlier this month with a pair of stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of the mission.

Pair of 9-sola Purgatory Post stamps commemorating Apollo 9
Purgatory Post Apollo 9 stamps

The first of the two 9-sola stamps pictures Jim McDivitt, David Scott, and Rusty Schweickart, along with Apollo 9’s launch. The second stamp pictures a portion of the spacecraft in orbit along with the Apollo 9 mission patch.

Purgatory Post is issuing stamps for the 50th anniversary of each of the Apollo missions, so there are plenty more stamps still to come!

Rattlesnake Island Local Post covers arrive

I recently received a piece of mail from a sender whose name I did not recognize, and when I opened it up, there was a nice surprise inside: a stack of Rattlesnake Island stamps, postcards, and covers like the one shown here from the late 1960s and early 1970s!

Cover bearing three Rattlesnake Island Local Post stamps canceled on December 1, 1969
Rattlesnake Island Local Post cover

Rattlesnake Island Local Post was one of the earlier modern local posts, and is of course probably one of the best known. According to the Rattlesnake Island Club website, the operation based on Rattlesnake Island in Lake Erie issued stamps from 1966–1989, and then again from 2005–2013.

Although I already had a few Rattlesnake Island stamps, this donation will definitely expand my collection. The sender expressed a desire to remain anonymous, but I want to say “thank you” anyway!

Boys Town mailing includes hydrangea cinderella stamps

The vast majority of mailings I receive from nonprofit organizations are unremarkable from a philatelic perspective. Many bear nothing more than a postage paid imprint; some might have a meter mark or one of the ubiquitous nonprofit stamps with the letters “USA” and a star.

Last week, I received a Boys Town solicitation that did hold some interest for me as a stamp collector. The outside of the envelope was unremarkable, but inside were several packets of wildflower seeds, along with a business reply envelope for returning donations that bears what at first glance appeared to be postage stamps. Upon closer inspection, however, I realized that the labels are not stamps at all, but cinderellas picturing artwork from a hydrangea seed packet!

Boys Town business reply envelope bearing hydrangea cinderella stamps
Boys Town business reply envelope with hydrangea cinderella stamps
Boys Town cinderella stamp picturing hydrangea seed packet
Boys Town hydrangea cinderella stamp

You’re probably familiar with Boys Town Christmas stamps issued over the years, and I’ve seen mailings from Boys Town and other nonprofits in the past where the postage on the return envelope is paid in whole or in part with actual postage stamps, usually low value definitives—in recent years, the coil stamps depicting various fruits. What I don’t recall seeing before is a reply envelope bearing cinderella stamps or labels of the type on the envelope that I received last week. Oddly enough, there’s no text on the labels themselves indicating the Boys Town origin, but if they’re being used exclusively on business reply envelopes intended to be mailed back to the organization, maybe no need was seen for that.

At this point, I do not know whether this is a trial to determine if response rates are affected when real stamps are not affixed to the reply envelopes, or a permanent move to eliminate the cost of real postage stamps, or simply a marketing expert’s idea for linking the return envelope to the rest of the mailing. I also don’t know whether any other cinderella designs are being used on Boys Town reply envelopes. Have you received one of these in the mail? If so, did it have the same labels as the one I’ve shown here, or something different?

Update: I wrote to Boys Town asking for more information about the cinderella stamps mentioned above, and received a reply from Mike Vcelik, Director of Annual Giving. “We tested a series of one cent stamps on our BREs and the use of those stamps lifted response that more than paid for the postage affixed,” Mike wrote. “Many non-profits are now using this enhancement.

“The USPS allowed us to test other non-postage stickers and seals on our BREs which have worked on par with the one cent stamps. We have also tested printed on images of what are referred to as ‘faux’ stamps and those also work to lift response. I think the addition of the stamps, seals and stickers on the BREs makes the BREs stand out in the package.”

Not too long after receiving his response, I received another mailing from Boys Town that included some preprinted Easter-themed “faux” stamps of the sort that Mike mentioned both on the outer envelope and on the business reply envelope that was enclosed.

Boys Town cover with preprinted Easter stamp designs
Boys Town cover with imitation Easter stamp designs
Boys Town business reply envelope with preprinted Easter stamp designs
Boys Town business reply envelope with imitation Easter stamp designs

I personally like the hydrangea cinderellas a lot better, but I still found it interesting that even stamp size designs printed directly on the envelopes apparently serve to boost response rates for Boys Town, and appreciated the response that Mike provided to my inquiry.

One final note: Mike mentioned that Boys Town is testing “other designs as well in this and other appeals,” so keep your eyes peeled and don’t forget to open your “junk mail.” There could be something special waiting inside!

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