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

Philosateleian Blog

Upper Slobovia souvenir sheets take tongue-in-cheek approach

Last month, I attended a meeting of the San Antonio Philatelic Association for the first time since delivering my “How to Make Your Own Stamps” presentation last summer, and the club treasurer had a packet of material he thought I might like given my interest in cinderella stamps: a stack of Upper Slobovia souvenir sheets produced by the Wilkinsburg Stamp Club of Pennsylvania. The dates on the souvenir sheets range from 1962 to 1983, and although the selection may be missing one or two sheets from that time span, there is without question some interesting material in there.

One of the souvenir sheets dates from 1970, and the designs of the “stamps” thereon are obvious spoofs of the XIth International Botantical Congress United States stamps of 1969, but with a baseball theme. The designs commemorate the 33rd anniversary of Wrigley Field in Chicago and also pay homage to the Apollo missions and the first manned moon landing.

1970 Wilkinsburg Stamp Club souvenir sheet containing four Upper Slobovia cinderella stamps
1970 Wilkinsburg Stamp Club souvenir sheet

The 1976 sheet bears four stamps picturing “flags of states of our country ignored by the U.S. P.O. Dept.”: state of inflation, state of crimiinal prosecution, state of corporate political patronage, and state of phiatelic confusion. The designs spoof the 50-stamp state flags issue of 1976.

1976 Wilkinsburg Stamp Club souvenir sheet containing four Upper Slobovia cinderella stamps
1976 Wilkinsburg Stamp Club souvenir sheet

The text along the left side of this souvenir sheet suggests the stamp issue picturing state flags did not impress the souvenir sheet’s designer: “There is a movement gaining momentum to ostracise from all philatelic organizations any member who reminds the Post Office Department that each state also has a state flower, state bird, state tree, etc.” This tongue-in-cheek protest apparently had little effect since the United States Postal Service did indeed issue a sheet of 50 stamps picturing each state’s official bird and flower in 1982.

The Wilkinsburg Stamp Club’s website indicates that the first of their Upper Slobovia souvenir sheets was issued in 1961, and the club has produced issues every year since then. An order form on their website indicates that all but the 1961, 1965, and 1966 sheets are still available for purchase.

Fake Canal Zone overprint will fool virtually nobody

While in the local stamp shop a few weeks back, I was flipping through stock cards when I found what was labeled as a Canal Zone Scott 92, the 20¢ Golden Gate fourth Bureau issue stamp with a Canal Zone overprint. Except for the overprinted 14¢ American Indian stamps from the same issue, Canal Zone stamps are not something in which I’ve ever taken much interest, and I almost certainly would have passed on this one except for one thing.

The overprint is fake. I mean really and truly fake, the sort that you don’t have to be an expert to spot. I thought it might be of interest to you, so I bought it so I could share it here.

20¢ Golden Gate stamp with fake Canal Zone overprint
Fake Overprint

Why do I say that the overprint is fake? For one thing, the letters in the overprint aren’t in a straight line; for example, look how the “O” in “ZONE” dips down below the vinette, while the other letters don’t. In addition, the “N” in “CANAL” looks like it can’t decide which way to lean—the left leg is bowed in at the top, while the right leg is more vertical but not overly straight—and the top of the “L” in “CANAL” is not far from being as long as the bottom! Yes, it’s a fake, and not an overly convincing one. Finally, the letters in the overprint have a generally smudgy appearance that’s a far cry from the sharpness of genuine examples that I’ve seen.

The basic United States stamp is valued at just over catalogue minimum even in very fine condition, which this stamp is not, but even if the overprint was genuine, it would still have a Scott catalogue value of less than $4. It hardly seems worthwhile to fake! Perhaps whoever added the fake overprint was simply practicing on a cheap stamp; I guess we should just be thankful they didn’t ruin something nicer.

Purgatory Post commemorates transatlantic flight centennial

The United States last year celebrated the 100th anniversary of airmail in the USA. Earlier this month, New Hampshire-based Purgatory Post commemorated another centennial: the 100th anniversary of the first non-stop transatlantic flight, which originated in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on June 14, 1919, and ended in County Galway, Ireland, the next day.

The design of the 15-sola local post stamp is based on an unissued essay prepared by the British printing firm De La Rue in 1922.

Purgatory Post stamp picturing Vickers Vimy airplane
Purgatory Post First Transatlantic Flight

Purgatory Post operator Scott Abbot notes that John Alcock, pilot, and Arthur Brown, nagivator, “carried a small amount of mail on this flight, making it also the first transatlantic airmail flight!” The Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps & Covers values covers from that flight at over $1,000 each.

Wild and Scenic Rivers stamps are truly wild

There are a lot of modern United States stamps about which I don’t have particularly strong feelings. It’s nothing personal, but whether it’s the designs or the subject matter or whatever the case may be, my reaction is little more than a shrug of the shoulders.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers stamps released in May, on the other hand? Absolutely gorgeous!

Pane of 12 United States stamps picturing American rivers
Wild and Scenic Rivers stamp pane

The stamps picture a dozen North American rivers: the Merced, the Owyhee, the Koyukuk, the Niobrara, the Snake, the Flathead, the Missouri, the Skagit, the Deschutes, the Tlikakila, the Ontonagon, and the Clarion. The photo of the Merced River, which runs through Yosemite Valley, is used a second time as the pane’s selvage.

Again, these stamps are beautiful. I’ll be the first to admit that my love of landscapes is no doubt a big part of why I like these stamps so much, but wow. I purchased five panes; one pane’s worth of stamps are for my collection, and the rest are for use as postage. I would not be at all surprised to see this issue sell out just like last year’s O Beautiful stamps.

Flag stamp falls clearly in the counterfeit category

When I checked my post office box yesterday, there was only one item inside, but it was one I’d been eagerly anticipating: a 14¢ American Indian cover that I hope to share in a future post. Today, however, I wanted to examine the envelope in which that purchase was shipped.

When I first saw that envelope, something about the stamp on it didn’t look exactly right. I think it was the somewhat jagged left edge of the design that caught my eye, but in any case, I wasn’t sure until I got it home.

Cover bearing counterfeit 2017 United States flag stamp
Cover bearing United States flag stamp

Now, after examining the stamp under a magnifying glass, I know for certain what’s wrong with it. It’s a counterfeit.

How can I be so sure? Well, it’s actually easy. Here are close-ups of the stamp on the envelope and a genuine copy of the same issue.

Counterfeit and genuine 2017 United States flag coil stamps
Left: counterfeit stamp from envelope. Right: genuine stamp.

Note that there is no microprinted “USPS” along the right edge of the fourth red stripe on the counterfeit stamp, while on the genuine there is. Note the repeated circular pattern in the shaded areas of the white stripes on the counterfeit, while the white stripes on the genuine appear more smooth. Note how the edges of some of the letters in the “USA FOREVER” on the counterfeit stamp are poorly defined. Note the poor color registration resulting in a jagged-edged design that was what caught my attention in the first place. And the list goes on.

I’ve blocked out the sender’s return address in my scan of the envelope since they may not even be aware that they’re using counterfeit postage, but I did send them a message through eBay to let them know they might want to take a closer look. Hopefully, now that they’ve been notified, they’ll start using genuine stamps to mail their eBay lots, maybe even some nice commemoratives.

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