Random ruminations on collecting and Philosateleia
New United States stamps
We’re only a little more than a month into the new year, and already there are dozens of new stamps for those of us who collect modern U.S. material. As is the case with a great deal of modern material, however, finding some of those stamps used is probably going to be a challenge.
So far, I’ve acquired only three of the new stamps for my own collection. I have two of the weather vanes—one of which came on a piece of mail from my credit union, oddly enough—and one of the bonsai stamps. That’s it. I’m still seeing a lot of holiday baubles at work, but hopefully the newer issues will gradually replace those as time moves on.
Editor’s note added March 27, 2012: Rachel asks, “Why can’t you just mail yourself to get a used stamp?” An excellent question—and of course, you can. What I meant, but failed to convey, was that finding a lot of new issues used commercially rather than by stamp collectors won’t be easy. My thanks to Rachel for pointing out my omission, and giving me the chance to clarify!
In local news
A couple of projects are in progress here right now. First, I’m working on posting images of and write-ups about my landscape stamps. That’s not exactly a small undertaking, and I don’t know how long it might take me to get everything online, but I’m doing what I can.
Something else on my plate is the stamp gallery as a whole. I’m trying to bring the look of the oldest pages, some of which haven’t been updated since 2006, up to speed with the rest of Philosateleia. This is an “as time permits” sort of thing, but it would be really nice a uniform look across the entire site again one day.
New Post Horn, new album pages
The February issue of the Philosateleian Post Horn is just about ready to go. My current plan is to distribute that on Sunday. That newsletter is free, so if you’re not already receiving it, sign up.
After that’s done, I’ll need to turn my attention to putting together the Spring 2012 supplement for The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album. As I mentioned earlier, there are several dozen new stamps for which we’ll need spaces. Look for the new pages by the middle of March.
Show your support
I try not to spend a lot of time on this topic, as I like to think of Philosateleia as a public service of sorts. Nevertheless, I do appreciate your support, whether it’s a small donation to help cover expenses, a link from your website or blog, or even just an e-mail letting me know you’re using my stamp album pages. Finally, you can like The Philosateleian on Facebook, if that’s what floats your boat.
The United States Postal Service last week finished unveiling its 2012 stamp program, and it’s full of goodies for landscape collectors like myself.
The following stamps will feature images of landscapes across the U.S.:
Louisiana Statehood (Flat Lake, Louisiana)
Arizona Statehood (Cathedral Rock, Arizona)
New Mexico Statehood (Cerro de Santa Clara, Cerro de Guadalupe, and Rio Puerco)
Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania
Glacier National Park (Logan Pass, Montana)
Several of the stamps from a planned “Earthscapes” sheet will also meet my requirements for consideration as landscape stamps.
Other notable commemoratives include the final 10-design coil in the long-running Flags of Our Nation series; a new set of five stamps honoring Pixar movies like Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo; and a variety of stamps picturing individuals best known for their work in the fine arts.
Interestingly, the USPS has also announced multi-design issues at the 65¢ one-ounce non-machinable or two-ounce rate, and the 85¢ three-ounce rate.
In each case, the stamps in question depict animals, and may very well be popular with topical collectors. One could argue that the number of stamps being issued (five in each denomination) is a bit excessive, but such complaints are more likely to come from collectors rather than the general public, who have little reason to care whether a pane of 20 stamps contains 20 different designs or only a single design repeated 20 times.
Among the highlights of the Post’s planned new issues is a stamp honoring Aunt Donna, whose death I recently mentioned in this blog. This stamp will be issued on World Local Post Day (January 30, 2012).
You can read more about the Aunt Donna stamp and the other stamps planned for 2012, plus learn how to get copies of these stamps for your own collection in Philosateleian Post’s press release.
Earlier this evening, I learned that my Aunt Donna died. We weren’t actually biologically related—she was the sister of a longtime family friend—but for the better part of two decades she filled the “aunt” role about as well as anyone could ask. I will miss her friendship.
You may wonder why I’m writing about this here; this is, after all, a blog about stamp collecting. The simple answer is that, although not a stamp collector herself, Aunt Donna had a huge influence on my pursuit of the hobby. Indeed, had it not been for her support, I don’t know that I would be a collector today.
I first learned of Aunt Donna when I was a kid. It was either 1992 or 1993 when she started sending letters to me, and with those letters, stamps. Not just United States stamps, either, although there were plenty of those. One of the first things she sent to me was an Elvis souvenir sheet of nine stamps from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a country I had no idea even existed. If I had to point to a single event as getting me “hooked” on stamps, that would be it.
Over the nearly two decades between then and today, Aunt Donna and I exchanged dozens of letters. Our correspondence became somewhat less frequent as I went off to college, started my career, and got married, but we managed to stay in touch. And with most of those letters came a batch of stamps she pulled off mail she received, or some packet acquired through a mail order offer. I have no idea how many thousands of individual stamps she must have sent to me over the years.
Far more important to me than the stamps, however, is that Aunt Donna took an interest in me and my interests. To a kid, especially, there’s little that’s better than that. Her encouragement is a big part of why I collect stamps today, and by extension a major reason that Philosateleia even exists.
There’s much more that I could write, but I’ll just close by saying that I’m grateful for the influence Aunt Donna had on my life, and I look forward to seeing her again in the future.