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

Philosateleian Blog

Taking a look at First Boca

I don’t remember exactly why I started collecting stamps. Given how much I read as a child, I have a feeling that I probably read a book in which one of the main characters had a stamp collection.

Likewise, I’m not absolutely sure what got me interested in landscape stamps, but if I had to guess, I would say it was the First Boca stamp issued by Trinidad and Tobago.

1-cent Trinidad and Tobago postage stamp picturing First Boca off Trinidad
First Boca

I just finished posting this to my landscape stamps exhibit. I think this stamp—if not this exact specimen, then another copy—probably came from an old album that my grandma gave to me a number of years ago. It had belonged to a great uncle who died long before I was born.

There’s something about this stamp that really appeals to me. Maybe it’s the blue and green color scheme, I’m not sure. At any rate, it has been a part of my collection for a long time, and I’m happy to finally have a scan of it online.

Stamp album update coming this weekend

A quick programming note, of sorts. It took a bit of time and a lot of clicks of the mouse, but I’m happy to report the spring update for The Philosateleian is ready to go. The current plan is to put it online this Sunday (March 2).

Once the files are uploaded, I’ll let you know via the Philosateleian Post Horn and Facebook, and through a blog post here.

Stamp Exchange features trading, but discussions, too

If you’ve done much looking around at all, you’ve no doubt run across an online forum or two devoted to stamp collecting. I’m aware of several, have participated to some extent on a couple, and am an occasional “lurker” on two others when I have the time.

In spite of all this, I had somehow never run across Stamp Exchange until one of the administrators there recently contacted me to let me know about his site.

The organization of Stamp Exchange’s message boards suggests an emphasis on the selling and trading of postage stamps; although I haven’t tried to work out any exchanges myself, it looks like a promising resource if you’re trying to get rid of duplicates and acquire new material inexpensively.

(There’s always a risk associated with trading with an unknown individual contacted online, of course, but in my experience most such individuals are straightforward in their dealings, and those who aren’t are very quickly outed by whatever online community it is in which they’ve been participating.)

Stamp Exchange also features the usual mix of forums focused on United States or international material, plus a general discussion board for all things stamp related.

If you haven’t previously participated in the online stamp forum scene, or if you’re still looking for the right fit, give Stamp Exchange a try—and let me know how you like it.

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.

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