As a general rule, I’m not all that into first day covers. That’s not to say they’re unattractive—some cachets are very nice indeed—it’s just not an area in which I have a great deal of interest.
The foregoing does not, however, mean that I don’t appreciate a nicely prepared FDC when it shows up in my post office box. The August Wilson FDC shown here was serviced in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on January 28, 2021, and sent my way by a generous reader.
I wasn’t familiar with August Wilson (1945–2005)—I’ll freely admit I’m not the popular culture expert in my household—but a quick search revealed that he was a successful American playwright whose works have been performed by actors ranging from James Earl Jones to Samuel L. Jackson. That sounds like a pretty good legacy!
The most recent addition to my collection of 14¢ American Indian stamps on cover is a cover fragment mailed from Ohio to Denmark in August 1938. The 14¢ postage covered the then recently-introduced 5¢ for first ounce international surface mail plus 3¢ per ounce surcharge for air mail within the United States, plus 3¢ per half ounce for air mail within Europe.
The cover was at some point in the presumably distant past cut down to probably about half of its original size, probably to make it fit more nicely on an album page. I bought it because it’s a difficult solo usage that fits into my collection, but it’s definitely not the nicest example I own.
I can remember a stamp or two that I wish I had left alone, and perhaps you can think of a stamp or cover that you didn’t treat quite as well as you wish you had. Still, I would like to think that in today’s collecting world, a cover such as this would have been preserved intact as a piece of postal history. The visual impact of a full cover instead of a fragment like this is indisputable.
Update (2021-09-12): a previous version of this post identified the cover as being postmarked in 1932 with the 14¢ American Indian stamp paying a different rate, but closer inspection revealed that the date in the postmark could not be 1932. I’m sorry about the error.
Purgatory Post issues 2021 World Local Post Day stamp
World Local Post Day 2021 is coming up this Monday, January 25, and participants like me will be issuing stamps celebrating the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. New Hampshire-based Purgatory Post got a bit of a jump on the rest of us, however, by issuing its World Local Post Day stamp on January 5. The 21-sola stamp pictures a strawberry.
Scott A. printed the stamp on a glossy-surfaced paper, and to paraphrase my non-collecting wife’s reaction, it looks like the real deal.
Scott says his stamp’s design is inspired by Mexico’s Exporta series of the 1970s through the 1990s, and I have to hand it to him: his design makes that of my upcoming Philosateleian Post stamp look like a poor cousin in comparison. Not every local post stamp is a home run just like not every United States stamp is a home run, but Purgatory Post’s new stamp is the sort of result we local post operators aim for even if we don’t always achieve it.
I checked my post office box on Friday for the first time in over a week, and it was pretty well packed with everything from cards and letters to non-profit solicitations. Among the items was the January–February 2021 issue of The Philatex, the San Antonio Philatelic Association’s newsletter.
At first glance, I thought postage on the envelope had been short-paid with just a pair of stamps, but then I realized that the remnants of a third stamp still adhered to the right of the others.
It’s not unusual to see surface scrapes on stamps with water-activated gum that have been used in recent years, but this is excessive! There’s nothing left except “USA,” the 22¢ denomination, and a tiny piece of the lower right corner of the stamp’s design.
My initial guess at which stamp this is was wrong, but it didn’t take me long to track it down once I cracked open my Scott Specialized Catalogue. Can you identify it?
I realize that I talk quite a bit about how scarce solo uses of the 14¢ American Indian stamp on cover really are, particularly those that are commercial in nature, yet here I am sharing another new addition to my collection: my third solo cover in the past three months.
This particular envelope was mailed from the National Sugar Refining Company of New Jersey, headquartered in New York City, to New Haven, Connecticut, in December 1923, just a few months after the American Indian stamp was issued.
It has long seemed to me that of the various potential solo uses of the American Indian stamp, a double-weight registered cover would have been about the most common even though the 14¢ rate for such a cover was only in effect for the first couple of years of the stamp’s use, but it wasn’t until my last few acquisitions that I started seeing a definite trend to support that. Of the six apparent commercial solo uses of this stamp in my collection, three of them are double-weight registered envelopes.