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

Blog archives (March 2016)

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.

Philosateleian Post celebrates National Park Service centennial with new local post stamp

The National Park Service turns 100 years old this year, and Philosateleian Post is commemorating the major milestone with a new local post stamp. The green and orange stamp featuring a view of Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be issued on May 2.

National Park Service Centennial stamp
National Park Service Centennial stamp

The new stamp’s vignette is based on a photograph taken by Kevin Blackston in October 2015 while traveling through Tennessee and North Carolina on US Highway 441. It is the second Philosateleian Post stamp to feature a scene from a national park—a 2014 issue honored Yosemite National Park—and the latest in a long string of Philosateleian stamps picturing landscapes.

“The national parks located throughout the United States of America contain some of the country’s most beautiful scenic vistas,” says Blackston, proprietor of the local post based in Jacksonville, Florida. “I’ve been fortunate enough to visit several of them myself: Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon.

“The National Park Service performs a vital role in preserving and protecting some of our nation’s greatest natural treasures, and I congratulate the agency on its centennial celebration.”

With approximately 10 million visitors annually, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the United States. The park is renowned for its colorful fall foliage, and within its borders live hundreds of black bears, plus deer, elk, and turkeys.

Technical Specifications

Format: sheets of 48 (6×8). Design size: 36×21 mm. Separation method: perforated 12. Adhesive: water-activated dry gum. Printing method: inkjet.

Philatelic Services

To receive a mint single of Philosateleian Post’s National Park Service Centennial stamp, or for first day cover service, send either $2 or a self-addressed stamped envelope and your request to:

Kevin Blackston
Philosateleian Post
PO Box 57622
Jacksonville FL 32241-7622
United States of America

About Philosateleian Post

Founded in 2004, Philosateleian Post transports mail only from the Philosateleian Embassy to the nearest mail receptacle or post office. This private local post exists solely for the enjoyment of its proprietor and does not compete with any official mail service. For more information, please visit

  1. 2