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

Philosateleian Blog

Automated Postal Center error labels

Toward the end of last year, various message boards on the Internet were abuzz with news of a new paper being used for labels printed at Automated Postal Centers, the self-service kiosks located inside many post offices across the United States. The paper featured a pre-printed image of a mailbox full of envelopes and packages.

Automated Postal Center label picturing mailbox
Mailbox APC label

These labels, which are listed under “Computer Vended Postage Stamps” in the Scott Specialized Catalogue, temporarily replaced plain labels with black designs that are printed on them at the time of purchase.

Automated Postal Center label picturing flag
Flag APC label

In most locations, postal employees correctly reprogrammed the machines so that they would not print the designs on top of the pre-printed paper, but in at least a few locations, the new paper stock was loaded with no changes made to the APCs. That resulted in labels that appear to have been overprinted like the “Flag Over Mailbox” error pictured below.

Automated Postal Center label picturing flag printed on top of mailbox
“Flag Over Mailbox” APC label

Designs other than the flag also exist printed on top of the mailbox labels since customers can choose which of half-a-dozen designs they want to buy.

Although these erroneous overprints are less common than their correctly-printed counterparts, I’ve examined two or three examples personally, and seen enough reports online to doubt that these are exceptionally rare. That’s not to say folks aren’t asking a pretty penny for them on eBay, but we’re not exactly talking about “Inverted Jenny” level material here. Certainly, the error labels are nice to have, but the market for APC labels is in my estimation rather thin, and you’re not likely to earn enough by selling them to fund your retirement.

Theoretically, 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, but I haven’t seen any reports of such items.

Have you seen any of the accidental overprints? How about blank labels? Share your finds with us in the comments section.

South Florida hosting winter stamp show

I received a postcard in the mail today from the American Stamp Dealers Association regarding their upcoming Winter Postage Stamp Show in Boynton Beach, Florida. It’s being held February 8–10 at the Courtyard Marriott.

Over two dozen dealers are scheduled to be present at the show, and there will also be an auction and even gift certificate giveaways. Not bad for a show with free admission.

I probably won’t make this show due to the distance, but it sounds like a fun time. Do you plan to attend?

New U.S. landscape stamp to commemorate West Virginia statehood

For those of us who collect landscape stamps, there’s some great news from the United States Postal Service today. According to the USPS Stamp of Approval blog, a stamp commemorating West Virginia’s statehood sesquicentennial will be issued later this year, and it’s a beauty!

Stamp picturing wooded mountains in West Virginia
West Virginia stamp

According to information released today about the stamp, the scene it pictures is from Monongahela National Forest in eastern West Virginia. While it’s hard to beat the engraved designs of yore, this is one of the prettiest stamps announced so far this year, and I look forward to adding it to my landscapes collection when it’s issued. (No issue date has been announced yet.)

What do you think of the West Virginia stamp? Share your thoughts below.

Trying my hand at stamp collage

If you read the American Philatelist, the American Philatelic Society’s journal, you may have seen the article about stamp collages in the December 2012 issue. This inspired me to try my hand at the art, and my incredibly patient wife Sarah and I created this piece that I’ve titled (with apologies to Bruce Springsteen) “Barn in the USA.”

Stamp collage picturing barn and tractor
“Barn in the USA” stamp collage

Does this come anywhere close to the level of the collages in the American Philatelist? No, absolutely not. Nevertheless, it was a fun way to use some duplicate and in some cases damaged stamps.

Have you ever created a stamp collage? How did it turn out?

Solo usage of 14¢ American Indian stamp turns up in Sweden

I recently received a very interesting e-mail from a collector regarding the 14¢ American Indian stamp. Sören Andersson, webmaster for the Swedish Postal History Society, sent an image of a parcel wrapper bearing the stamp, and he has generously given me permission to share the picture with you.

Parcel wrapper bearing 14-cent American Indian stamp
14¢ American Indian stamp on parcel wrapper

According to Mr. Andersson, the 14¢ stamp correctly paid postage for a 1-pound parcel mailed from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Sweden in 1930, the year the wrapper was postmarked.

As you may be aware, solo commercial usages of the 14¢ American Indian stamp are, as is sometimes said in the South, “scarcer than hens’ teeth.” I have two covers in my personal collection on which the Indian stamp traveled solo, but one is a FDC, and the other is a first flight cover. This is the first example I’ve seen of the stamp on a parcel wrapper, and one can only assume even fewer wrappers survived than covers featuring solo usages of this stamp.

Do you have any other examples of the 14¢ American Indian used by itself on a wrapper? How about on a wrapper sent to Sweden? If you know of any, please let us know, and we’ll pass the information along to Mr. Andersson.

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