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

Philosateleian Blog

Milford post office mural on Purgatory Post stamp

Purgatory Post got its December 2019 stamp issue out the door a few days early. The new 6-sola stamp placed into use on November 25 pictures a mural painted on the wall of the Milford, New Hampshire, post office. The mural, painted in 1940 by Philip von Saltza, depicts a group of loggers.

6-sola Purgatory Post stamp picturing Milford, New Hampshire, post office mural painted by Philip von Saltza
Purgatory Post post office mural stamp

“I think it’s a bit unusual they chose a logging scene for Milford since we never had a big lumber industry here,” writes Purgatory Post operator Scott Abbot, “but I think the traveling artists had a number of designs prepared and felt it fit the character of the town.”

Beginning in 1933, the U.S. Department of the Treasury paid artists to paint murals in post offices and public buildings in every state. The program ended in 1943 during the middle of World War II.

The United States Postal Service earlier this year issued a set of five stamps depicting post office murals from around the country, but not the one in Milford. I think Purgatory Post’s new stamp strikes a nice balance between local relevance (Purgatory Post is based in Milford) and popular appeal, which I know from experience is not always an easy accomplishment for a modern local post.

Winter 2019 update for The Philosateleian

We’re into the final month of 2019 now, and it's time for one last stamp album update for the year. As of this morning, the Winter 2019 Supplement (72.2 KB, 1 file, 3 pages) for The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album is available for you to download and print at your convenience.

If you previously switched to The Philosateleian's annual update track instead of using my recommended quarterly updates, I hope to have a full set of pages for 2019 ready for you in January.

I hope you enjoy the new album pages.

German postcard tells story of long journey

During my most recent visit to San Antonio’s local stamp shop, ABC Stamps, I spent a few minutes browsing through one of the boxes of postcards. Last year, I found a genuine used 1¢ Washington coil stamp on a postcard in one of those boxes; the odds of finding anything else of particular value are probably pretty slim, but it’s always fun to look.

The postcard that I ended up buying during my most recent visit is in rough shape and not, so far as I can tell, of any particular value. The heavily postmarked stamp is not even from a country that I normally collect, but the postcard itself has a bit of a story to tell.

The picture side of the postcard bears the text “Fröhliche Ostern!” (German for “Happy Easter!”) plus a picture of a trouser-clad rabbit carrying a basket of flowers and riding a stick horse. That’s not exactly my idea of great art or something that I would ever send personally, but hey, tastes in such things were probably a bit different over a hundred years ago in Germany. As you can probably tell, this postcard is creased and bits of the picture have flaked off; it has certainly seen better days.

Early 20th century German Easter postcard depicting trouser-clad rabbit carrying flowers and riding a stick horse
Early 20th century German Easter postcard

The 10-pfennig Germania stamp on the address side is presumably some flavor of Germany Scott 83. Some valuable color shades are listed in the Scott 2015 Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps & Covers (paid link), but I know next to nothing about shades on early 20th century German stamps, and it seems highly unlikely that I scored one of the valuable ones. I’m assuming I have something just as common as it can be.

Address side of postcard mailed from Germany to San Francisco and forwarded to New York
Address side of postcard

The note written vertically on the address side of the postcard, which is addressed to Dr. William E. Hopkins, is a bit difficult to make out, but reads something along the lines of, “It is a great pleasure to find vocational(?) friends and all wish you might be with us anight(?) to join in.” (If you have a better suggestion, please leave a comment at the end of this post.) That message is followed by several signatures presumably belonging to acquaintances of Dr. Hopkins.

What really caught my eye, however, were the multiple addresses and postmarks on the card. If I’m reading the trail correctly, we see:

  1. The postcard was addressed to Dr. Hopkins at the Pacific Union Club in San Francisco, California, and postmarked in Dresden, Germany, on March 13, 1914 (“13/3/14” using the European convention of writing dates as day/month/year). I’m guessing the postcard probably sailed from Germany to New York City, then traveled by land from New York City to San Francisco.
  2. Dr. Hopkins was no longer present in San Francisco. The address was scratched out and replaced with National Bank of Commerce in New York City, and the postcard received a March 30 San Francisco slogan postmark advertising the World’s Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915. The postcard was then dispatched eastward.
  3. When the postcard reached New York City, the National Bank of Commerce address was scratched through, and someone scribbled an address of 751 West 89th Street. The postcard received two April 6 Hudson Terminal Station postmarks—the one that’s upside down was probably applied because the first was not particularly legible due to the signatures and existing San Francisco postmark already present—and was forwarded on once more.

We can conclude that the postcard must have finally reached its intended recipient following this final rerouting as there do not appear to be any markings indicating that any additional forwarding took place. I don’t see any indication that any charges were levied for the forwarding, either, which means the postcard traveled from Germany to the United States and then back and forth cross the width of the continental U.S. for roughly the equivalent of 2¢. That seems like a bargain to me!

More faux stamps from Boys Town, St. Joseph’s Indian School

I’m attempting to clear some things off my desk as we head into the weekend, and found three more business reply envelopes that I’ve been meaning to share with you.

The first is from the latest Boys Town mailing I received. The envelope bears four preprinted stamp-sized designs depicting various birds along with the words joy, hope, peace, and love.

Boys Town business reply envelope bearing four pre-printed stamp-sized designs picturing birds
Boys Town business reply envelope with faux bird stamp designs

The other two envelopes are both from St. Joseph’s Indian School. One of them has three copies of a stamp-sized Nativity image, while the other has three stamp-sized images picturing a dreamcatcher, a star, and a teepee. All are preprinted on the envelopes.

St. Joseph’s Indian School business reply envelope bearing three pre-printed stamp-sized Nativity designs
St. Joseph’s Indian School business reply envelope with stamp-sized Nativity designs
St. Joseph’s Indian School business reply envelope bearing three Native American-themed preprinted designs
St. Joseph’s Indian School business reply envelope with Native American designs

Although the latter three designs are not the boldest I’ve seen on BREs, I do like that the subjects are related to the organization that distributed them.

While I still receive plenty of nonprofit mailings containing plain old business reply envelopes, receiving more colorfully decorated items such as these in “junk mail” is a nice treat. Perhaps one of these days I’ll have a chance to properly organize them!

Purgatory Post marks Apollo 12’s 50th anniversary

Apollo 11 gets all the fame for putting the first men on the moon; Apollo 13, for returning its crew safely to earth despite near catastrophe. But Apollo 12? Not so much recognition, which Purgatory Post addressed earlier this month with a pair of stamps commemorating the second mission to put men on the moon.

The first of the 12-sola stamps pictures crew members Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon, and Alan Bean, plus their launch, while the second stamp reproduces the Apollo 12 mission patch and features a photo of Bean stepping down from the lunar lander.

Pair of 12-sola Purgatory Post Apollo 12 stamps picturing crew, spacecraft, Alan Beach, and mission patch
Purgatory Post Apollo 12 stamps

Purgatory Post is commemorating the 50th anniversary of each of the United States’ space missions, so we can expect the next stamps in the series commemorating Apollo 13 in April 2020.

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