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

Philosateleian Blog

Summer heats up with Total Solar Eclipse stamps

One day earlier this week when I came home for lunch, I headed straight for the refrigerator and placed a newly-purchased sheet of stamps inside. Sarah looked at me like I had completely lost my mind, and maybe she’s right, but I wanted to cool off those stamps in a hurry so I could show her how they work.

United States stamps picturing total solar eclipse
United States total solar eclipse stamps

The new Total Solar Eclipse stamp features a special heat-sensitive ink that when warm turns clear to reveal the surface features of the moon. When cool, the moon is represented only as a black disc. It doesn’t take much heat to spark the transition, either—just touching one of the stamps with your finger or thumb for a couple of seconds is enough.

Much like the new ball stamps, the Total Solar Eclipse is without question unnecessary and gimmicky, but I like it. Is it likely to attract droves of new collectors to the hobby? Probably not, but I have no problem with the USPS trying something new.

(For what it’s worth, I don’t usually put stamps in the refrigerator, nor do I recommend that you do so, either. It was simply a quick way to get the stamps back to their “normal” state.)

New ball stamps have textured surfaces

When the USPS first unveiled the designs of the recently-released ball stamps, my initial reaction was one of indifference. Sure, the stamps are round, but they’re hardly the first round stamps the United States has released; for example, all of the so-called Global Forever stamps have been round.

United States stamps picturing football, volleyball, soccer ball, golf ball, baseball, basketball, tennis ball, and kickball
United States ball stamps

What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that the eight stamps—one each for football, volleyball, soccer, golf, baseball, basketball, tennis, and kickball—are textured. Run your finger across the surface of one of the stamps, and you can actually feel that ball!

In my opinion, the golf ball and kickball textures are the best, while the treatment is probably least effective for the football and the tennis ball. The tennis ball in particular would have benefitted from being a bit fuzzy, but perhaps postal officials didn't want green fibers gumming up their processing equipment.

Is this an “unnecessary” stamp issue? Certainly. Is it gimmicky? Without a doubt. Nevertheless, I like these stamps, and will keep a set for my collection. That’s something I don’t say about many modern stamps, but these are neat enough for me to want to save them.

Summer 2017 update for The Philosateleian

I’m posting a bit later than normal, but I’m happy to say that the Summer 2017 Supplement (169 KB, 3 files, 8 pages) for The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album is now online! You can download and print these pages, which include spaces for the United States stamps issued over the past three months, at your convenience.

(If you’ve made the switch to The Philosateleian’s annual upgrade track, don’t forget to skip this update and wait for the complete set of 2017 pages to be released early next year. Otherwise, go get the update now.)

30¢ bison double transfer variety

I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours at the TSDA San Antonio Stamp Show on Sunday, and stumbled across this beauty while browsing through a dealer’s stock book.

30-cent Bison stamp with double transfer evident in righthand '30' and word 'Postage'
30¢ Bison variety with double transfer

The 30¢ bison stamp is part of the Fourth Bureau issue. It was printed in sheets of 400 that were then split into panes of 100 for distribution to post offices. On one of the printing plates that was used, the design of one stamp was partially entered twice, resulting in this stunning variety. The double transfer is most obvious in the righthand “30” and in the “STAGE” of “POSTAGE.”

This is a remarkably easy variety to spot even with the naked eye, but it’s one that’s worth watching for since the catalogue value for a mint copy is roughly 10 times that of a normal stamp. If you can pick up the variety for the price of a normal copy, you’re getting a bargain.

When life is too busy for stamps

Out of curiosity, I just checked to see when I last posted something to this blog, and it looks like it was well over a month ago. Wow, where has the time gone?

As you might guess, the past few weeks have been very busy with family, church, and doing some freelance web development. The last of those has brought in a little bit of extra income, but it has also consumed the bulk of what little time I might otherwise have spent on stamp-related pursuits.

On the plus side, I’m hoping there might be a little breathing space over the next week or two. The days are just about long enough for me to once again start making an occasional meeting of the San Antonio Philatelic Association, and the Texas Stamp Dealers Association’s quarterly San Antonio bourse is scheduled for this coming weekend at the Norris Conference Center off Interstate 410. Hopefully I’ll get to pop in there for a couple of hours.

In addition to those activities, I’ll be working on the next issue of the Philosateleian Post Horn as well as the May–June issue of The Poster. Busy times, but hopefully some fun too after some very busy weeks!

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