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

Philosateleian Blog

Post office closure list keeps shrinking

The USPS is still looking at closing post offices, but there’s a good chance yours is no longer on the list.

Back in August I wrote that nearly 700 post offices across the U.S. could be shut down to save money. Officials later shortened that list to just 241, and this week they announced less than 170 branches are still potentially on the chopping block.

California and Ohio could each lose as many as 25 post offices, according to the latest list [PDF]. Smaller numbers of offices remain under review in other states.

There’s still no word when a final decision will be made on which post offices will close their doors.

Winter update for The Philosateleian

If you live in the U.S., the temperatures have definitely taken a turn toward cold. It’s a great time of year to spend some time indoors with your stamp collection.

To help you with that, the Winter 2009 supplement (180 KB, 3 files, 21 pages) of The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album is now available.

One of the most exciting aspects of this update is the addition of pages for the popular hunting permit or “duck” stamps. If you don’t collect those stamps, there’s no need to print the pages for them, but the pages are there if you need them.

Comments and suggestions are welcome. Enjoy!

USPS still considering shuttering dozens of offices

A few months ago I wrote about the United States Postal Service’s study of more than 700 post offices that could be closed in an effort to cut costs. That number has now been pruned to 241, and further changes to the list of offices under review [PDF] are not out of the question.

Closing a post office branch is tricky business since there will invariably be people who regularly use that branch who don’t want to have to go elsewhere. You have to figure some of the offices on the original list are not on the updated list because someone complained to their representative in Congress.

At the same time, the USPS ended fiscal year 2009 with a $3.8 billion loss. The really scary part? Officials are predicting a $7.8 billion loss next year. The USPS recently explained the reasons for all the red ink.

With its financial problems, the USPS might seem like a prime candidate for bankruptcy. The agency does have close ties to the federal government, however, and employs 650,000 Americans. With that sort of impact on the economy, is it possible the feds might consider it “too big to fail”?

House of Seagram poster stamps honor states

Last month I made a trip to Wisconsin, and while browsing in a thrift store I found an old stamp album. All the stamps had been removed, but the album did contain a folded sheet of 48 poster stamps, or cinderellas as they’re known in the stamp collecting world, honoring U.S. states.

Sheet of Seagram poster stamps honoring U.S. states
House of Seagram State Poster Stamps

These were apparently produced before 1959 since that’s the year Alaska and Hawaii achieved statehood. Based on the population figures printed on the stamps, and historical census data, I think 1930s or 1940s is a reasonable guess.

The stamps are printed in four different colors: green, brown, blue, and red. On the back of each stamp is printed the phrase, “Compliments of The House of Seagram.” The front of each stamp includes the phrase “America’s Finest,” a state’s name and a picture of its capitol building, and the state’s population.

House of Seagram poster stamp honoring Florida
House of Seagram Florida Poster Stamp

I don’t know what the story is behind these poster stamps, but they’re a nice looking set!

What are they worth?

I saw a sheet of these sold last year for the equivalent of about US$40. Unfortunately the sheet I found has some creases and wrinkles and lacks selvage (the paper around the edges of a sheet of stamps) and probably wouldn’t be worth quite that much, but it’s still an interesting piece.

Have you seen these poster stamps before? Can you add any details about when or why they were produced?

U.S. postage rates holding steady in 2010

For the first time since 2005, annual postage rate adjustments are not affecting the price of a first-class U.S. postage stamp.

The USPS announced last week that the domestic letter rate in 2010 will remain at 44¢ for the first ounce and 17¢ for each additional ounce. The base rate had increased each of the last four years.

International letter rates will also remain the same: 75¢ to Canada, 79¢ to Mexico, and 98¢ everywhere else.

If you use Express Mail flat rate envelopes, the news isn’t good, with prices going from $17.50 to $18.30. Priority Mail flat rate envelopes, however, will actually become 5¢ less expensive to mail, with that rate dropping from $4.95 to $4.90.

There’s no official word yet, but I would expect to see new Express and Priority Mail stamps. The current $4.95 Priority Mail stamp might stick around, too, however, since it will continue to cover the cost of mailing a small Priority Mail flat rate box.

You can download a full list of new rates [PDF] from the USPS Postal Explorer Web site.

Are you surprised by any of rate changes, or that the regular letter rate is staying the same?

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