After spotting a blog post early last year about how many letters the author had mailed in 2012, I thought it might be interesting to keep track of how many pieces of mail Philosateleian Post carried in 2013. The results are in!
In 2013, Philosateleian Post transported approximately 243 pieces of mail (not including items I carried, such as get well cards from church that my wife prepared, but that did not bear Philosateleian Post stamps). Of those, 194 were “business” (bill payments, donations, small eBay sales), 26 were personal letters—I’m a bit surprised that total is as high as it is—and the remainder were post cards, packages, and international mail.
It was an interesting exercise to see how many pieces of mail I actually did prepare over the course of a year. Have you ever done the same, or will you in 2014?
Mystampworld: social networking for stamp collectors
It has been a while since I reviewed a website here, but I recently heard from Rod T., who asked if I would consider taking a look at a current project of his, mystampworld (not to be confused with MyStampWorld.com, a different site). “Membership is free,” Rod wrote. “Everything is free!” How could I say no to free?
My first stop, naturally, was the signup page, where I chose a username and password and completed other required information. I was pleasantly surprised to find that you do not have to give your real name if you don’t want to—a pleasant nod for those trying to maintain a modicum of privacy. You also have the option of creating an account and using your Facebook or Google credentials to sign in if you don’t want to have to remember another username and password.
After you complete the signup process, you’re apparently supposed to receive an e-mail asking you to confirm your account creation. For some reason, that e-mail never arrived for me—not even after I used the site’s functionality to resend it. I was able to log in, but could not access the “members only” content. That presented a bit of a speed bump, but I sent a message to Rod and he was able to manually activate my account for me.
At first glance, mystampword looks like a sort of Facebook for stamp collectors. When you log in, you have a news feed, notifications about new activity since the last time you visited, and so forth. There are some distinguishing features that make it more than just a Facebook clone, however.
One feature in particular really stands out: mystampworld gives you your own web store. I tested this by listing a stamp for sale, and the process itself really doesn’t seem that much different than creating fixed price listings on eBay or Delcampe. Here’s the difference: mystampworld doesn’t take a commission when you sell something. This is a big win in my book, particularly if you’re trying to sell lower value items.
(In addition to giving you the ability to list stamps individually, mystampworld offers an import tool that purportedly helps you list multiple items at once. I haven’t tried that myself, but it looks like a nice idea.)
Mystampworld offers instructions on how to set up your PayPal account so that users can pay for their stamps without any direct intervention from you, but due to how I use PayPal, I wasn’t able to test this.
Other nice features include a classifieds section (Craigslist for stamps, anyone?) and a forum where you can swap stories and tips with other members. You can also join groups, loose bands of collectors who share your philatelic interests.
Additional areas of the site include photo albums where you can share images of items in your collection, and blogs. I’m not overly impressed with either of these offerings, but then again, I have this blog and website where I can share images; I’m already sort of invested in this endeavor. If you’re just getting started, you may very well find mystampworld’s blog and photo features sufficient.
Another interesting twist involves the concept of rewards. For each action you perform on mystampworld (logging in, replying to a forum post, uploading a picture), you receive a set number of points. Once you’ve accumulated a certain number of points, you have the opportunity to claim a reward such as stamps or a book.
These rewards obviously depend on the generosity of mystampworld’s sponsors, and I wouldn’t sign up with the sole purpose being earning points so you can get a “free” reward. You probably have better ways than chasing points to use your time. Still, it’s a nice concept, and if you get involved on the site, you may discover you’ve earned free stuff without really thinking about it.
In general, I think mystampworld has a good thing going. The personalized stores, in particular, really caught my attention, and it’s nice to see an activity feed about stamps rather than Farmville updates and posts about what that person you met one time ate for breakfast this morning and so forth.
There are, of course, some areas where mystampworld has some room for improvement. There seems to be a little inconsistency in layout from one page to the next. The help section, in particular, made me ask, “Am I still on the same site?” That’s probably all but inevitable when you’re trying to do so many different things. As long as mystampworld continues to be actively developed, minor issues like that will no doubt get worked out.
In my opinion, the biggest hurdle mystampworld faces is getting more collectors signed up and actively involved in using the site. I know from personal experience that getting people involved is easier said than done, but it can happen, and I wish Rod all the best with his project.
Scenic American Landscapes cover features all stamps from series
In my entry titled “Yosemite National Park postal card,” I mentioned that Sarah and I made a trip to California in September, and that during our time there we were able to visit Yosemite National Park. In addition to having the Yosemite National Park postal card from the Scenic American Landscapes series postmarked there, I prepared and serviced a few covers bearing all 18 of the stamps from that same series. One of those covers is pictured here.
The Scenic American Landscapes series really appealed to me, and I’m sorry that it came to an end last year. There were some truly beautiful designs, however, and although this is a totally philatelic creation, I’m happy to have the full set on a single cover.
You may have noticed the usual barcodes and sprayed-on cancellations found on modern U.S. mail are missing from my cover. Due to the high face value of the stamps I used, there was more than enough postage to pay for Priority Mail service, so I inserted each of the covers I serviced into one of the small Priority Mail window envelopes that the USPS provides for mailing #10 envelopes. This provided imperfect protection; the cover pictured here made it through to me virtually unscathed, but a couple of others were dinged up in the mail.