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

Philosateleian Blog

A stamp is forever

Could 1¢ and 2¢ stamps be on the endangered species list? Such an idea may seem laughable, but it’s no longer unthinkable with the USPS announcing today that all 2011 commemorative stamps will be “forever” stamps.

If you live in the U.S., you’re no doubt familiar with the Liberty Bell forever stamps introduced in 2007, which will always be valid at the current first-class rate regardless of how much the cost of mailing a letter increases. But until now, only a handful of definitives and some of this year’s holiday stamps have received that designation.

The official announcement regarding the change states that the Liberty Bell stamps now constitute the majority of first-class stamp sales, but there’s also a potential financial benefit for the struggling post office. As David Failor, executive director of stamp services, explains, the USPS will no longer have to destroy unused stamps. What’s printed can simply remain on sale until supplies are exhausted, which actually makes sense.

While some denominated stamps will still be necessary for paying the postage on a second ounce, for example, or the non-machinable surcharge, the lowest value definitives would seem to become all but useless. If all first-class stamps are forever stamps, then there will never be any need to add a penny or two of postage to reach the current rate. It will be interesting to see where the postal service goes with this.

What do you think of the change? Will you miss denominated commemoratives, or do you think it’s high time the postal service made this move?

Setting sail on the SS Europa

After a delay of a few weeks, I’m back to work on Philosateleia’s 14 Cents: the American Indian Stamp. The latest addition is a cover carried on the SS Europa in 1936.

This particular cover has a letter inside, but its written in what appears to me to be German, and in a somewhat spidery hand. I would be interested to know what it says. If you can help translate, please let me know!

New website for Philosateleian Post

As we start the week, Philosateleian Post now has a revamped website! It’s my hope that this will make it easier for local post stamp collectors to learn about the “stamps” I’ve produced and the philatelic services Philosateleian Post offers to the public.

A full press release reviewing the changes to the site is available. I plan to keep working on the site as time permits so that it stays up to date.

Winter 2010 update for The Philosateleian

2010 is almost over now, and winter temperatures are definitely sinking in in many places. If you’re hunkered down indoors, you’re probably working with your stamps—and now you can update your stamp album.

The Winter 2010 Supplement (112 KB, 2 files, 8 pages) for The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album is available for download. This update includes spaces for the final U.S. issues of 2010, as well as the stamps from the Hawaiian Rain Forest sheet.

If you like these pages, your support is appreciated. If you don’t like them, I’d like to know what you would change. Leave a comment or contact me and share your opinion.

Unofficial use of official stamps

In over 15 years of collecting stamps, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of official mail stamps I’ve seen used on commercial mail. This example was delivered to my place of employment earlier this week.

Cover bearing a pair of 41-cent official mail stamps
Official Mail Stamps on Cover

The USPS sells official mail stamps directly to collectors, so they’re easy to come by in mint condition. On cover, however, they are far from common. I doubt most that are used ever reach the philatelic market.

As shown in the scan, this pair of stamps was canceled with a marker instead of a postmark, which would have made the piece far more desirable. Nevertheless, I strongly suspect this would qualify as an improper use of official mail stamps, as one would be hard pressed to argue the contents of the envelope involved government business.

Do you collect official mail stamps? If so, how do you acquire them?

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