Considering the amount of mail the USPS moves each year—more than 200 billion pieces in 2008—it’s fair to say that the vast majority makes it to its destination safe and sound. Every once in a while, however, the mail system chews something up and spits it back out.
Such is the case with this battered and bruised envelope that contained payment for my electric bill.
The folks at the utility company didn’t even bother to open this one up, electing rather to simply return it to me with a note saying my check could not be processed. As the scan shows, the cover is enclosed in a USPS “body bag,” a plastic bag used to carry the remnants of destroyed envelopes to their intended recipients.
Amusingly, the postmarks on the stamps aren’t in much better shape than the cover itself. Someone at the post office apparently inverted the “25” of the date when inserting it into the postmark device, leaving the date upside down in relation to the month and year!
I wrote a replacement check to the utility company, and plan to keep this cover and “body bag” intact. If nothing else, it’s an interesting conversation piece, and one that I would not own had everything gone right.
Do you have any covers that like this one look as though they could tell a war story or two after doing battle in the mail stream?
Mother Teresa is still nearly seven months away from appearing on a U.S. postage stamp, but the stamp’s planned issue is already drawing fire from one group.
According to a story on FOXNews.com, the Freedom from Religion Foundation is protesting the plans to release the stamp, urging officials to cancel the commemorative—and urging people to boycott the stamp if the USPS doesn’t back down.
The group claims the USPS is violating its own policies by issuing a stamp honoring a religious figure, but a USPS spokesperson says Mother Teresa is being recognized for her humanitarian work—not for her religious beliefs.
Despite the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s protests, it seems likely to this author that the planned commemorative will go on sale as scheduled this August. Indeed, compared to other recent honorees—no offense, Bart Simpson—a woman who ostensibly dedicated her life to serving others seems worthy of recognition.
What do you think? Should the USPS scrap its plans for the Mother Teresa commemorative? Or is it okay to move forward with a “controversial” subject?
Virtually any collector of U.S. stamps will own at least a few Prexies, the definitive stamps that were issued in 1938 and remained in use until the 1950s. The series of stamps got its moniker because it honors all former United States presidents who had died by the time of the stamps’ issue.
The United States Stamp Society’s Prexie Era Committee explains on its Web site how each value in the series was most commonly used. Some of the stamps had denominations that did not cover a specific postal rate, and solo usages of those can be difficult to find.
The Web site also contains information about other stamps in use at the same time as the Prexies.
The Prexie Era Committee Web site’s layout is very basic and not particularly visually appealing, but the info on how different stamps were used makes it a valuable resource. If you collect U.S. stamps from that era, it’s a Web site worth bookmarking.
Do you know of any other Web sites that provide data on how particular stamps were most commonly used?
Modern first day covers (FDCs) are for the most part a dime a dozen, but if you go back a few decades you can find pieces with a bit of value. This first day usage of the 14¢ American Indian stamp is a fine example.
Postmarked on the morning of May 1, 1923—the first day the 14¢ American Indian stamp was available to the public—this FDC was mailed at a time when FDC collecting still hadn’t captured the imaginations of most philatelists.
The cover is addressed to Frank Wood of Worcester, Mass. A backstamped return address indicates one Kenneth Salzman of Milwaukee, Wis., was responsible for the cover’s mailing.
This is not a common FDC by any means, but can be found for sale on the Internet or from dealers who specialize in material from the 1920s. Examples postmarked in Muscogee, Okla., on the first day of issue are far scarcer, and correspondingly more difficult to locate.
The 14¢ American Indian stamp doesn’t turn up on cover particularly often, but examples are out there if you can wait around for a bit. Finding one used with a commemorative stamp, however, is a trickier proposition.
That’s what excites me about this example of Scott No. 695 (perf. 11×10½) on cover with Scott No. 793 in what appears to be a completely legitimate commercial usage of the stamps.
The return address indicates H. Rodda of Whittier, Calif., mailed the envelope to Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company agent George E. Lackey, in 1937. The cover was postmarked on the reverse in Whittier on April 23, and in Detroit on April 27.
The first-class postage rate at the time of mailing was 3¢, meaning 15¢ went to pay the registration fee.
The only explanation I have for why a commemorative was used is the 4¢ stamp picturing William Sampson, George Dewey, and Winfield Schley was issued in March 1937, just a month before the cover was mailed. It was at the time a “new” commemorative, one that easily could have been in the Whittier post office’s regular stock.
Have you seen any other examples of the 14¢ American Indian used with commemorative stamps?