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

Philosateleian Blog

First Coast Spring Stamp Show & Exhibition set for April 16

It’s kind of hard to believe it’s already that time again, but the First Coast Spring Stamp Show & Exhibition is less than a month away. The show, which is being held at the Northeast Florida Safety Council Building at 1725 Art Museum Drive in Jacksonville, Florida, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 16.

According to a flyer prepared by the Jacksonville Stamp Collectors Club, the show’s sponsor, light refreshments will be served.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I think it’s unfortunate that this one-day show is held on Saturday only. I for one would love to see a Sunday show at some point, but the requests of this one collector are probably unlikely to make much of an impression on the organizers.

Do you plan to attend the First Coast Spring Stamp Show & Exhibition?

Antique tabletop pinhole perforator for sale

Update: this machine has been sold. Thank you for your interest!

When I finally had the opportunity to purchase an antique tabletop perforator in December 2014, I was absolutely ecstatic. Although I had been searching for one of the old machines for quite some time, I wasn’t sure that I would ever find one, or that I would be able to afford it if I did. There seem to be a lot more people who want one of these for producing local post stamps or artistamps than there are machines to go around. Owning my very own perforator was a dream come true—a once-in-a-lifetime event, I thought.

Until this past January.

In January, I had the opportunity to purchase a second tabletop perforating machine. I have a few things to say about that machine, and I’ll share some photos in a future post, but that purchase means I now have a spare. The perforator I bought in 2014 is now surplus, and beautiful as it is, it’s time to sell.

About the perforator

When I bought my original perforator, I wasn’t sure who built it. Machines that were manufactured by Rosback are most common, but they are all marked pretty clearly as being manufactured by Rosback, and my perforator had no such label on it.

It turns out that what I have is what was described in printing trade supply catalogues from around the beginning of the 20th century as a Franklin Hand Perforator, so named because it is operated by hand instead of using a foot pedal or treadle as is the case with larger antique perforators. I think Scott A. of Purgatory Post discovered an example of the ad. The machine originally sold for the princely sum of $25; that doesn’t sound like much money, but it was 1,250 times as much as it cost to mail a letter at that time.

Illustration of Franklin Hand Perforator in printer supply catalogue
Franklin Perforator catalogue illustration (credit: Google Books)

My perforator originally sold with a wooden table that lent support to whatever was being perforated. That was gone probably long before I ever saw the machine, but the perforator works just fine without it, and a replacement table ought to be easy enough to create. The perforator is really in excellent condition overall. It even has its original paint job, as you can see by comparing the following photos with the above catalogue illustration.

Front side of Franklin Hand Perforator
Franklin Hand Perforator (front)
Front side of Franklin Hand Perforator
Franklin Hand Perforator (back)

The Franklin perforator weighs 45 pounds, and its base has a footprint of 18 inches long by 6 inches deep. The pins that were in the machine when I acquired it were pretty badly worn, so late last year I installed a brand new full set of replacements. The machine does accomodate Rosback-manufactured pins, which are still available to perforator owners, and that’s what I used. In the ad pictured a bit earlier on, you may have noticed replacement pins (or “needles”) were available for 50 cents per 100. It now costs more than that to buy a single Rosback pin. Talk about inflation!

Picture of new Rosback pins in perforator
New Rosback pins in perforator

I doubt I’ve perforated more than a couple dozen sheets of paper since installing the new pins. They do leave an occasional hanging chad or bit of paper, but if you punch two sheets of paper at once, the top sheet ends up with perfectly clean holes.

Sheet of paper perforated with Franklin perforator
Sheet of paper perforated with Franklin perforator

I wouldn’t mind keeping this lovely thing for myself. It’s really a beautiful piece of machinery and it works very well. When I began my search for a perforator, though, I was searching for a tool, and since I’ve acquired another…well, quite frankly, I really don’t need two perforators. It’s time to let this one go.

My price

I’m asking $650 plus shipping, which will be done via UPS. If you want to pick up the machine from the Jacksonville or St. Augustine, Florida, area, you’ll save the cost of shipping.

If you’re interested, please send me a note now. Include your ZIP code (unless you would plan to personally pick up the perforator), and I’ll be happy to provide you with an estimate of the shipping cost.

Blank APC label an obvious error

Several years ago, I wrote about error labels being produced by the United States Postal Service’s Automated Postal Centers, or APCs, now known as Self-Service Kiosks. The machines found in post office lobbies are intended to print designs and barcodes on blank labels, or just barcodes and related information on labels with preprinted images, but some labels showed up with kiosk-printed designs printed on top of preprinted images. These oddities came about when preprinted paper was used, but the machines were not reconfigured to not print images themselves.

At the time, I theorized that “it could be possible to have labels with no design on them—just the barcode and words—if the APC units were not recalibrated when plain paper was put back into use.” It wasn’t until within the past few weeks, however, that I finally saw an example of that.

Automated Postal Center label missing a printed design
Automated Postal Center label missing printed design

The information on the label indicates it was printed at a post office in ZIP code 29577 (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) in May 2013. That was within a few months of my initial blog post on the subject, but the label apparently sat unused until this year.

Do you have any examples of “blank” APC labels in your own collection? I’d be interested in knowing how common these are.

Purgatory Post commemorates Shakespeare, National Park Service, Gemini 8

It’s difficult to believe that I haven’t written about any of Purgatory Post’s new local post stamps since last July, but that does appear to be the case. Scott A. has been busy coming up with new material, however, releasing three new issues already this year.

First up is Purgatory Post’s World Local Post Day issue commemorating the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Philosateleian Post skipped that anniversary, but Scott came up with a design that’s somewhat reminiscent of a playing card with two heads. As a hidden joke, one of the heads is Shakespeare’s, but the other is English philosopher Francis Bacon’s. The two men supposedly bore a remarkable physical resemblance, and some students claims Bacon actually wrote at least some of the plays for which Shakespeare is generally considered the author.

Cover bearing a copy of Purgatory Post's William Shakespeare stamp
Purgatory Post William Shakespeare cover

Next is Scott’s stamp marking the centennial of the National Park Service. The full-bleed design depicts a scene from Acadia National Park in Maine, and it is to the best of my knowledge the first Purgatory Post stamp denominated in shillings and pence rather than its traditional 25¢ denomination. It’s a pretty design that will fit in well in my landscapes collection. Scott used a 7¢ Acadia stamp from the 1934 national park series to help pay postage on this cover.

Cover bearing a copy of Purgatory Post's National Park Service stamp
Purgatory Post National Park Service cover

Finally, Purgatory Post has a pair of stamps celebrating Gemini 8 and its astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott. The 50th anniversry of that flight is actually this week.

Cover bearing a pair of Purgatory Post's Gemini 8 stamps
Purgatory Post Gemini 8 cover

You may have noticed that Scott has begun using handcarved corks as cancels just like postmasters of some United States post offices used to do back in the 19th century. The best way I can come up with to describe that is “delightfully anachronistic.” The geometric designs are definitely eye-catching, and they help point back to a time when mail processing was done by hand rather than automated.

Another meaning for “dead letter office”

While standing at the counter at my local post office earlier this evening, a couple of outgoing packages stacked behind the counter caught my attention. The boxes were not large, but they bore dark labels with bold white lettering reading “CREMATED REMAINS.”

It turns out you can actually mail the ashes of a family member or pet, but the United States Postal Service has some pretty specific guidelines regarding how to go about doing that. According to the USPS publication How to Package and Ship Cremated Remains, ashes must be packed inside a “siftproof” container that is placed within a strong outer box; in other words, officials don’t want Aunt Mildred to end up scattered around some postal facility.

In addition, the USPS requires cremated remains to be shipped via Priority Mail Express. That service is not cheap, but on the plus side, Grandpa shouldn’t be late for his own funeral.

I joke a little bit here, but seriously, it is pretty cool that folks who are dealing with the loss of a loved one have a way to literally send them on to their final resting place. It is also a service I’d just as soon never have to use, but it’s nice to know it’s available if I do.

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