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

Philosateleian Blog

Recognizing a supporter

As you probably know, I operate Philosateleia as something of a labor of love. I would like to think that my website and free stamp album pages are my way of “giving back” to the stamp collecting world because stamp collecting is a hobby from which I’ve learned a great deal. I consider the relatively low expenses associated with running a website like this fair payment for what I’ve gained.

That’s not to say that I object to the support of collectors who find Philosateleia helpful, and with that in mind, I want to publicly thank James F. James recently sent a very generous donation that will pay this website’s hosting bills for most of the rest of 2014, and for that I say, thank you.

I’ve added James’ name to the list of Philosateleia’s supporters. If you have a moment, please leave a “thank you” of your own in the comments section for James, as well as Suzanne M. and David H., both of whom sent gifts earlier this year.

Finally, thank you for reading.

Inverted Spider-Man, meet claustrophobic Spider-Man

I wrote earlier in the week about my inverted Spider-Man APC label. Spider-Man appears upside down in relation to the printed USPS logo, which shouldn’t have been printed on the label at all.

Now I have what I like to call claustrophobic Spider-Man. The overly wide bar code almost gives our superhero the appearance of being jammed in between a couple of walls!

Spider-Man APC error label
Spider-Man APC error label

Again, I don’t think this is what was supposed to happen. It seems more likely that a narrow bar code should have been printed, and that the sale date and other information shouldn’t be plastered all over the top of Spider-Man. It will be interesting to see what other “varieties” of this label appear.

Spider-Man upside down on botched APC label

A little more than a year ago, I wrote about how postal employees not reprogramming Automated Postal Centers after loading in preprinted paper led to the creation of error labels. As you might expect, it’s happening again—and with some interesting results.

The USPS is promoting the Spider-Man 2 movie with a variety of marketing efforts, including using special preprinted paper in its APC machines. As was the case with the aforementioned holiday mailbox labels, the machines apparently are not always being properly reprogrammed when the new paper is loaded, as evidenced by this example postmarked in Bethpage, New York.

Spider-Man APC error label
Spider-Man APC error label

As you can see, not only is the preprinted Spider-Man present, but the print-on-demand USPS logo is, too! “Normal” Spider-Man labels don’t have that.

What makes this particular example even more interesting is that Spider-Man is upside down in relation to the USPS logo. (Not that Spider-Man couldn’t do that, but that’s beside the point.) The other examples I’ve seen of error labels for sale on eBay have the logo oriented in the same direction as Spider-Man.

To the best of my knowledge, it’s not possible for the print-on-demand logo to be printed upside down. The only conclusion I can reach, then, is that the preprinted paper was loaded into the machine backward, or upside down, however you want to describe it. This resulted in a sort of an invert.

Have you spotted any examples of the new Spider-Man label, either normal or errors? Let’s hear about them!

Philatelic detective work: who was E.C. Goodrum?

One of the most fascinating things about stamp collecting, to me, is the historical aspect of it. Postal history, in particular, seems to provide a link with the past, a connection, if you will, to something that happened long ago.

I’ve been researching an old World War II-era cover that I acquired as part of an accumulation several years ago. The original letter is unfortunately no longer enclosed. The cover bears a very common stamp—the 6¢ transport plane stamp that was ubiquitous on airmail of that time—and a “Passed by Naval Censor” marking that’s also not particularly uncommon. In short, it looks like a run-of-the-mill piece of mail sent by a service member during World War II.

Goodrum cover
Goodrum cover

The return address bears the name of the USS Theenim, a Coast Guard-operated attack cargo ship that was used in the Pacific theater during the final year of the war. One thing that caught my attention was the postmark: August 5, 1945. That was the day before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

Who was E.C. Goodrum?

The return address indicates the sender was E.C. Goodrum, and the recipient was Dan Stone of Bowling Green, Kentucky. My next puzzle was to see what I could find about Mr. Goodrum.

A bit of searching online revealed a newspaper article from the early 2000s that revealed that Mr. Goodrum was a radar operator on board the USS Theenim, and that he later co-owned a funeral home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, before moving on to other pursuits. I even ran across an obituary indicating he died in 2007.

Finding a home

While an interesting piece for the aforementioned reasons, this cover doesn’t exactly fit into my collection. At the same time, the stamp is common, the markings are common, and there really isn’t a great deal of philatelic value here. I decided to see if I could track down Mr. Goodrum’s family.

Once again, an Internet search came through, and I found information that allowed me to make contact with Mr. Goodrum’s widow. She was nice enough to speak with me for a few minutes yesterday, and I plan to send the cover to her this coming week.

Ruminations

I have to admit, it was pretty cool to find someone with a connection to a cover mailed nearly 70 years ago. There was a time when I would have had no way of finding out what I did learn, and certainly no way of tracking down a family member of the sender. I hope Mrs. Goodrum will enjoy it.

Titanic letter going up for auction

Since it was never mailed, I’m not sure it qualifies as postal history, but a letter going to auction next month in the United Kingdom is a piece of history nevertheless.

According to a report from the BBC, a letter written on board the Titanic on the day that it sank will be sold next month. The letter was never mailed, but one of the survivors carried it with her when she left the sinking ship.

There’s something about seeing a letter or a cover—even if it was just written around the time when something big happened—that sends a little bit of a shiver up my back. How about you?

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