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

Philosateleian Blog

Philosateleian Post 2018 year in review

With the 2018 calendar year now officially in the books, I can take a look back at Philosateleian Post’s numbers and see how my outgoing mail flow in 2018 compared to years past.

2018 was not by any means Philosateleian Post’s busiest year ever. It seems my household had about a 10% decrease in the number of pieces of mail we sent last year (374) compared to 2017 (417). The drop in volume is fairly consistent across the board—letters, bills, etc.—although we did send a couple of extra postcards.

Even the lower number is still far above what I sent in 2016, however; that’s the year we relocated to Texas.

One interesting side note: the number of items I marked “return to sender” last year was exactly the same as in 2017. It seems like someone’s not cleaning their mailing lists very well!

Unveiling my new Republic of Texas fantasy stamps

When I designed my first Republic of Texas fantasy stamps in 2015, I intended to eventually create a whole collection of stamps that could have been if independent Texas had issued its own stamps. My big plans got delayed by real life, but I’ve finally designed the second entry in my Republic of Texas series: a set of five stamps commemorating the Battle of Gonzales, which took place on October 2, 1835.

Republic of Texas Battle of Gonzales fantasy stamps
Republic of Texas Battle of Gonzales fantasy stamps

As was the case with my initial set of Republic of Texas stamps, these labels are denominated in 6¼¢, 12½¢, 18¾¢, 25¢, and 37½¢ values that match up with actual postage rates used during the first year of the Republic of Texas.

I’ll be the first to admit that my initial set of definitives is more visually pleasing than this batch, but I’m okay with the way these turned out. This is the third design I’ve completed in less than a month, the other two being my upcoming Philosateleian Post moon landing stamp and a not yet announced second Philosateleian Post issue for 2019.

If you like my new stamps, you can order a set from my online shop.

Postage rate increases coming in January

In just about a month, the cost to send a first-class letter within the United States will be increasing by 10%.

Beginning on January 27, 2019, you’ll need 55¢ postage to mail a standard envelope weighing up to one ounce. That means the value of Forever stamps you already own goes up, but any Forever stamps you purchase after that date will be more expensive than what you have been paying.

Interestingly, for first-class letters, the charge for additional ounces is dropping from 21¢ to 15¢, as is the non-machinable surcharge. If you send a lot of overweight or stiff envelopes, you might actually save a penny or two, but that’s probably not going to be the case for most people.

Substantial price increases are also coming for Priority Mail including flat-rate envelopes and boxes; for example, a regular flat-rate Priority Mail envelope will cost $7.35 to mail, up from $6.70.

International letter rates are unaffected by the upcoming changes. If you’re curious about new prices for specific types of mail, or you want to dig deep into the details, you can take a look at the United States Postal Service’s 75-page price list reflecting the new rates.

Non-profit cover makes use of Ethiopian stamp images

Like a lot of people, I receive a decent amount of “junk mail,” including solicitations from various non-profit organizations. Some of those solicitations actually have stamps on them, mainly the Patriotic Nonprofit over the past couple of years, but probably roughly as many do not.

This cover that I received from Orbis International earlier this month falls into the latter category. It has a pretty enough border reminiscent of old airmail envelopes, but only a 13.5¢ meter mark to pay postage.

Front of envelope mailed by Orbis International
Orbis International cover front

Flip the envelope over, however, and there are four stamps—or rather, images (with denominations removed) of four stamps from Ethiopia!

Back of envelope mailed by Orbis International depicting four Ethiopian stamps
Reverse of Orbis International cover picturing four Ethiopian stamps

The stamps depicted are:

  • 1967 Black-winged lovebird (airmail)
  • 1950 Dejach Balcha Hospital
  • 1919 Ostriches
  • 1958 UN Economic Conference for Africa (airmail)

My guess is the graphic designer who put together this envelope probably found the images on some stock photo website and decided to use them simply to make the envelope more attractive. Whatever the case, it certainly added a bit of color to something I would otherwise have discarded almost immediately.

(As interesting as this cover is, it doesn’t even come close to fitting into any of my collections, so I’ve listed it on my online shop.)

USPS unveils several 2019 stamp designs

The United States Postal Service has unveiled several of its planned stamp issues for 2019, and there are some real beauties among them.

For those of us who like natural landscapes on stamps, there are a couple of upcoming issues of particular note. The first is a single design commemorating the bicentennial of Alabama statehood, which features a scene from Cheaha State Park in eastern Alabama. The artwork for that stamp looks quite nice, but even more impressive is the Wild and Scenic Rivers issue featuring images of 12 different waterways in the United States. Absolutely beautiful! I certainly plan to snag some of those for my landscapes collection, plus some more to use as postage.

The Post Office Murals issue which depicts five murals painted during the Great Depression also looks interesting, along with the a set of four stamps picturing frogs. The latter set is arguably unnecessary, but has nice colors. I’m intrigued by the USS Missouri stamp, too; I can’t imagine it was easy to come up with a vertical design picturing a battleship!

One set I’m not too excited about? The Cactus Flowers booklet. Bleh. Completely unnecessary in my opinion, though some might feel the same way about the aforementioned rivers issue, so maybe there is a little something for everybody.

There are two more stamps not announced in the USPS press release that we can pretty much count on. I can’t imagine that the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing won’t be recognized in some way—even Philosateleian Post is issuing a stamp commemorating that event—and it seems like a good bet that George H. W. Bush will be remembered, too. In all fairness, the former president didn’t die until after the preliminary list of new stamps was released, but I would be shocked if a commemorative picturing him is not issued within the next year.

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