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

Philosateleian Blog

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Roto-Gage at Disney World

Earlier this month, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. It’s something that had been on our “bucket list” for several years, and it seemed as good a time as any to go.

Even though this is not peak season for Disney World, the place was packed. Wait times for some attractions were as much as 90 minutes, but the Hall of Presidents—a building with displays featuring presidential memorabilia and a brief show about United States Presidents—was, rather sadly, less than crowded. Suprisingly enough, one of the items on display had to do with stamp collecting.

Descriptive placard and Roto-Gage tool that belonged to Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Roto-Gage

The card describing the “stamp collector’s Roto-Gauge,” which is on loan from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, states the following:

Franklin D. Roosevelt began collecting stamps at age nine and continued the hobby the rest of his life. Even while President, he found time to expand his prized collection, inspiring new philatelists across the nation.

FDR was probably one of the best known stamp collectors in the world at large, but I had never heard of this tool before. The Roto-Gage (as the item was marketed) features not just a perforation gauge and small ruler, but a built-in magnifying glass and watermark tray. It was apparently intended to be something of a Swiss Army knife of stamp collecting, or as a piece of marketing material described it, “A compact and handy instrument that takes all the labor out of stamp collecting…the one thing needed to make this fascinating hobby a perfect relaxation.”

I have to wonder about the utility of having all of these tools combined into one unit; it seems to me it might be a bit unwieldy. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting piece of philatelic history, and definitely not the sort of thing I expected to see at Disney World.

Have you ever seen the Roto-Gage before? Ever used one? What do you think of the idea of combining multiple tools into one product like this?

New issue ceremony in Daytona Beach

You may have seen pictures of the new United States stamps depicting “muscle cars” of the 1960s and 1970s. These stamps are being formally issued down the road a bit from me in Daytona Beach on Friday. For those who aren’t stock car racing fans, the Daytona 500 is this weekend, so there’s a bit of a tie-in there.

The official ceremony is being held at Daytona International Speedway, and stock car racing legend Richard Petty and his son Kyle will be signing autographs. According to an e-mail notification I received last week from the American Philatelic Society, collectors are welcome to attend the ceremony, but must purchase a ticket to the truck race being held tomorrow evening plus a pass to the “Sprint Fanzone” area, a total cost of $65.

I would love to meet “The King” (Richard’s nickname), but my work schedule and the cost of admission will both work against me. Nevertheless, it sounds like a fun event for those who get to attend.

Free stamp album pages for Vietnam

It’s not often that you run across English-language album pages for stamps from Asia, but the Society of Indo-china Philatelists is offering some for free.

If you visit the SICP website and scroll about a third of the way down the homepage, you should see the heading “Printable National Liberation Front (Vietcong) Stamp Album Pages”; beneath that is a link to the free pages, which contain explanatory text and color illustrations of each stamp.

This is, of course, a rather narrow area of collecting, but the pages are no doubt a wonderful tool for those who specialize in such stamps.

Automated Postal Center error labels

Toward the end of last year, various message boards on the Internet were abuzz with news of a new paper being used for labels printed at Automated Postal Centers, the self-service kiosks located inside many post offices across the United States. The paper featured a pre-printed image of a mailbox full of envelopes and packages.

Automated Postal Center label picturing mailbox
Mailbox APC label

These labels, which are listed under “Computer Vended Postage Stamps” in the Scott Specialized Catalogue, temporarily replaced plain labels with black designs that are printed on them at the time of purchase.

Automated Postal Center label picturing flag
Flag APC label

In most locations, postal employees correctly reprogrammed the machines so that they would not print the designs on top of the pre-printed paper, but in at least a few locations, the new paper stock was loaded with no changes made to the APCs. That resulted in labels that appear to have been overprinted like the “Flag Over Mailbox” error pictured below.

Automated Postal Center label picturing flag printed on top of mailbox
“Flag Over Mailbox” APC label

Designs other than the flag also exist printed on top of the mailbox labels since customers can choose which of half-a-dozen designs they want to buy.

Although these erroneous overprints are less common than their correctly-printed counterparts, I’ve examined two or three examples personally, and seen enough reports online to doubt that these are exceptionally rare. That’s not to say folks aren’t asking a pretty penny for them on eBay, but we’re not exactly talking about “Inverted Jenny” level material here. Certainly, the error labels are nice to have, but the market for APC labels is in my estimation rather thin, and you’re not likely to earn enough by selling them to fund your retirement.

Theoretically, it could be possible to have labels with no design on them—just the barcode and words—if the APC units were not recalibrated when plain paper was put back into use, but I haven’t seen any reports of such items.

Have you seen any of the accidental overprints? How about blank labels? Share your finds with us in the comments section.

South Florida hosting winter stamp show

I received a postcard in the mail today from the American Stamp Dealers Association regarding their upcoming Winter Postage Stamp Show in Boynton Beach, Florida. It’s being held February 8–10 at the Courtyard Marriott.

Over two dozen dealers are scheduled to be present at the show, and there will also be an auction and even gift certificate giveaways. Not bad for a show with free admission.

I probably won’t make this show due to the distance, but it sounds like a fun time. Do you plan to attend?

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