Kevin Blackston
PO Box 217
Floresville TX 78114-0217
United States of America

Philosateleian Blog

To cut, or not to cut?

To cut, or not to cut: that is the question for stamp collectors who find themselves with too many old covers with very common stamps.

If you ask readers of the Philosateleian Post Horn, the answer is not to cut.

I mentioned in the February issue of the Post Horn that I was trying to decide what to do with a bunch of envelopes that are over 70 years old—some of which date back to the late 1800s—but that bear stamps so common that the envelopes are all but unsellable, and I asked what you would do. The overwhelming response? Leave the covers intact.

Mike B. has chopped up covers in the past, but doubts he would do the same now. “I did that not too long ago when I first got into collecting stamps. I hacked off the stamps from covers dated between 1900–44. What I’ve learned since then is those stamps are a dime a dozen, if not free most of the time. So while I am still today a stamp guy and not that interested in covers, since the stamps are so common I’d leave them intact on the correspondence and, like you say, preserve a piece of postal history.”

“I don’t keep many current day covers, but I cringe at cutting the stamps off of any cover earlier than 1900,” writes Don R. “The postmarks, businesses named, and return addresses of the senders could have some historical value. You would certainly want to keep intact any covers from dead post offices.”

Mick T. says, “I have come to be very much on the side of not to cut. For me, a stamp is so much more interesting within the context in which it was used. This is true whether the stamp or cover is very common or not.” Dan S. agrees. “I always leave the stamps on cover. I find them more interesting that way.”

Linda W. is also against cutting up old covers, but as a mail artist, she has a different reason. “I have used a few similar old envelopes to send a letter in. I just add additional proper postage with a couple of other embellishments and off into the mail system they return. Another life for them and the recipient gets a thrill to receive such in their mailbox.”

Of course, not everyone feels the same way. “I have a few World War 2 covers examined by a censor,“ John G. writes. “An elderly gentleman at our club said they just cut the stamps off of all those and put them in their albums.” (I assume John is referring to covers with “examined by” Army censor markings. If that’s the case, I have a stack of those, too. And I would be reluctant to destroy those.)

Okay, you’ve been heard. I can’t promise I won’t cut up any covers, but if an envelope has any redeeming qualities at all, I’ll try to preserve it—and perhaps give it away in a future issue of the Post Horn.

What’s your opinion on cutting up old covers? Do you, like Don R., have a specific date that’s your cutoff? Or do you have some other line of demarcation? Or do you refuse to cut anything? Weigh in below.

World Local Post Day 2014 covers

World Local Post Day was this past Monday, and many local post operators took part by issuing special stamps. A couple of FDCs related to that were waiting in my post office box yesterday.

The first of those covers was from me! It features Philosateleian Post’s 10th Anniversary stamp.

Philosateleian Post 10th Anniversary first day cover
Philosateleian Post 10th Anniversary FDC

The other cover came from Bob Fritz, whose stamp went with this year’s official WLPD theme, the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. I like his use of topic-appropriate United States postage.

Bob Fritz’s World War I first day cover
Bob Fritz’s World War I FDC

Are the Everglades being philatelically ignored?

I’ve been busy recently listing odds and ends on eBay, plus getting Philosateleian Post’s 10th Anniversary stamp FDCs out the door. (I mailed those on Monday.) I’ve also found a little bit of time to chip away at my landscapes collection, however, and I’m happy to say that all of the sites starting with the letter “E” are now online.

Among the stamps I posted is a United Nations issue picturing the Everglades.

20-cent United Nations postage stamp picturing the Everglades in Florida, USA
Everglades stamp

I had never really thought about it, but I realized that the United States has only issued a single stamp specifically commemorating the Everglades—that way back when Everglades National Park was established in 1947—and while it pictures a bird and an outline of the state of Florida, it doesn’t show the Everglades proper.

Green 3-cent U.S. postage stamp picturing bird and outline of Florida
Everglades National Park stamp

In addition, one of the sheets from the Nature of America series was titled “Southern Florida Wetland,” which although not specified is presumably the Everglades.

Sheet of 10 39-cent U.S. postage stamps picturing plants and animals of Southern Florida wetland
Southern Florida Wetland sheet

Considering some of the other topics the United States has honored on its stamps in recent years, isn’t it about time for an Everglades stamp that actually pictures the Everglades?

Strength in numbers

A “problem” that stamp collectors have been bemoaning for years—if not decades—is the increasing numbers of stamps issued each year by various countries including, I’m sorry to say, the United States. With some individual issues including 10, 20, or even more stamps, and with mail clerks being reluctant to part with anything less than a full sheet or booklet, some collectors have given up on trying to acquire mint copies of all new material.

Not everyone is throwing in the towel, however. Philosateleian Post Horn reader Danny J. recently shared how he and some friends are continuing to add to their collections:

“As you know, sometimes buying stamps can get quite expensive with all the imperforate issues and bulk buying requirements that hurt small collectors. An Internet friend from Kansas has formed a small group to help a few of us continue to add to our collections. Now, thanks to the strength of group buying, we can afford to get every new stamp issue that in the past might have been too expensive to buy as individuals.”

While this may not be a unique idea, it’s certainly a very sensible one: dividing the expense of acquiring sheets of new stamps by the number of people interested in taking part.

I personally buy very little new material unless it fits into my landscapes collection or otherwise particularly appeals to me, but how about you? Have you banded together with other collectors to help lessen the expense of acquiring mint copies of all of your favorite country’s stamps?

ASDA Winter Postage Stamp Show scheduled for February

Among the items that arrived in the mail today was a post card advertising the American Stamp Dealers Association’s Florida Winter Stamp Show, which is being held February 14–16 at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale.

According to the card, collectors can enter the show for free. Special stamps and albums will be available to children who attend with their parents or grandparents, and dealers will be on hand to offer appraisals.

Fort Lauderdale is a good ways south of where I live, and with a budget hit with some car repairs over the past month—nothing of the sort that breaks the bank, but enough that I shouldn’t be embarking on any weekend road trips to South Florida—I don’t anticipate getting to attend. Nevertheless, if you live in the Fort Lauderdale area, or spend your winters there, it may be a good opportunity to pick up some new material for your collection.

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