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

Philosateleian Blog

Purgatory Post remembers Queen Victoria, jazz greats

We’re only a couple of months into 2015, but Purgatory Post’s Scott A. has been a very busy local poster! Scott recently sent this cover bearing four of his newest stamps to me.

Envelope cover bearing four Purgatory Post local post stamps
Purgatory Post cover

The top pair of stamps pay homage to the world’s first postage stamps, Great Britain’s Penny Black and Two-Penny Blue. Scott tells me he issued these a bit in advance of World Local Post Day, but his is the only stamp I’ve seen that recognizes the 175th anniversary of the Two-Penny Blue. Everyone else (including Philosateleian Post) focused exclusively on the Penny Black.

One interesting characteristic of these Purgatory Post stamps, which I’m calling the Quarter Black and Two-Bit Blue, is that they feature the year and issue number in the scroll work on along the sides of the stamps. At least one popular classic British issue had plate numbers in a similar location.

Pair of Purgatory Post stamps
Purgatory Post Quarter Black and Two-Bit Blue

The other two stamps on Scott’s cover picture jazz musicians Les Paul and Billie Holiday, both of whom were born in 1915.

Owning a small piece of Iceland

A couple of weeks ago, the shipping manager at work gave a stamp off of a piece of incoming mail from Iceland to me. The stamp features a photo of Eyjafjallajökull, a volcano located near Iceland’s southern coastline.

If you follow world news, you might remember Eyjafjallajökull from 2010. The volcano erupted that year, and the resulting ash that was spewed into the atmosphere grounded passenger planes across much of Europe since ash can do a number on aircraft engines.

Icelandic stamp picturing Eyjafjallajokull

So, back to the stamp. When I first looked at it, I thought to myself, “Somebody spilled glue on this thing.” That’s really what I thought it was because I could see several shiny patches on the face of the stamp.

Further sleuthing, however, revealed something a bit more exciting than spilled glue. It seems that Iceland’s postal authorities decided that the stamps issued to commemorate Eyjafjallajökull’s activity should include tiny amounts of ash from the volcano. The shiny spots on the surface of my stamp are not glue spots, but the spots where microscopic bits of ash were attached to the stamp.

Is this a bit gimmicky? Absolutely, but I love it because even though I live in the United States, I can say that I own a small piece of Iceland.

USA Philatelic arrives in mailboxes

When I checked my post office box earlier this evening, one of the items inside was the Quarter 1 issue of USA Philatelic, the United States Postal Service sales catalogue.

Cover of 2015 Quarter 1 issue of USA Philatelic
USA Philatelic

My reaction to most of the new stamps announced so far for this year has been, "Eh." The exceptions to that are the vintage flower stamps being issued this weekend.

My personal opinion is that the whole flower thing has kind of been overdone, but the vintage rose Forever stamp and the 70¢ vintage tulip are being printed from engraved plates! I’m not even certain without consulting a catalogue when the USPS last issued intaglio-printed stamps intended primarily for mail use, but I’m thinking it has been a decade or more. Sure, there was the Inverted Jenny from 2013, and it’s valid for postage, but let’s face it: that stamp was issued primary for collectors like you and me. In the illustrations I’ve seen of the new stamps, at least, they look sharp.

If you’ve received your new copy of USA Philatelic, what’s your take? Did you see anything that particularly strikes your fancy?

Let’s all give her a hand

A few weeks ago, I bundled up a handful of dilapidated old envelopes and shipped them off to Linda W. of Happy Day Mail fame. Linda is a mail artist who had indicated that she might be able to do something with them, and as they were unsalvageable for philatelic purposes, I figured she could have at it.

The results, simply put, are absolutely delightful.

Cover bearing paper ephemera including illustration of hand
Happy Day Mail hand cover

As you can see, Linda took pieces of at least a couple of different envelopes, along with some other paper ephemera, and created this lovely piece of mail art. There’s even a visual gag: the scrap of old envelope being grasped by the hand is addressed to Miss Drusilla Hand. Get it? Get it?

I’ve joked to friends in the past that I create stamp album pages because I’m not very creative, and my album pages just involve row after row of squares. Linda’s envelope, on the other hand (pun intended), is very creative, and I’m glad she’s able to give new life to old envelopes that would otherwise be destined for the trash bin.

Along those lines, that’s why I hate to throw away old stamps or covers, and discourage others from doing so. Such material may not be fit for your stamp collection, but unless it’s moldy, there might be someone out there who can make something special.

Whatever happened to postage due?

A couple of weeks ago, I received this envelope in the mail. I’ve covered my mailing address for privacy reasons, but there’s still something obviously wrong that you’ll no doubt spot right away.

Envelope without postage stamp or meter that was carried through the mail
Cover mailed without postage

That’s right—this envelope traveled with no postage at all! Oddly enough, it wasn’t even marked postage due.

On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t say it’s odd. More than once, I’ve seen envelopes at work that seemingly made it through the postal system without ever having a stamp or meter applied to them. They have also had no postage due markings.

I suppose it’s possible that collecting postage due is simply not worth the time for the USPS, but personal observation suggests prepayment (or for that matter, payment) of postage is still enforced in some quarters. If the postage meter machine at work grabs two envelopes at once and the second doesn’t get stamped, it is returned to us, not sent on to the recipient.

Have you received mail without postage paid that wasn’t assessed postage due? Or does your mail carrier mark underpaid or unpaid letters appropriately?

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