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

Blog archives (June 2017)

Summer heats up with Total Solar Eclipse stamps

One day earlier this week when I came home for lunch, I headed straight for the refrigerator and placed a newly-purchased sheet of stamps inside. Sarah looked at me like I had completely lost my mind, and maybe she’s right, but I wanted to cool off those stamps in a hurry so I could show her how they work.

United States stamps picturing total solar eclipse
United States total solar eclipse stamps

The new Total Solar Eclipse stamp features a special heat-sensitive ink that when warm turns clear to reveal the surface features of the moon. When cool, the moon is represented only as a black disc. It doesn’t take much heat to spark the transition, either—just touching one of the stamps with your finger or thumb for a couple of seconds is enough.

Much like the new ball stamps, the Total Solar Eclipse is without question unnecessary and gimmicky, but I like it. Is it likely to attract droves of new collectors to the hobby? Probably not, but I have no problem with the USPS trying something new.

(For what it’s worth, I don’t usually put stamps in the refrigerator, nor do I recommend that you do so, either. It was simply a quick way to get the stamps back to their “normal” state.)

New ball stamps have textured surfaces

When the USPS first unveiled the designs of the recently-released ball stamps, my initial reaction was one of indifference. Sure, the stamps are round, but they’re hardly the first round stamps the United States has released; for example, all of the so-called Global Forever stamps have been round.

United States stamps picturing football, volleyball, soccer ball, golf ball, baseball, basketball, tennis ball, and kickball
United States ball stamps

What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that the eight stamps—one each for football, volleyball, soccer, golf, baseball, basketball, tennis, and kickball—are textured. Run your finger across the surface of one of the stamps, and you can actually feel that ball!

In my opinion, the golf ball and kickball textures are the best, while the treatment is probably least effective for the football and the tennis ball. The tennis ball in particular would have benefitted from being a bit fuzzy, but perhaps postal officials didn't want green fibers gumming up their processing equipment.

Is this an “unnecessary” stamp issue? Certainly. Is it gimmicky? Without a doubt. Nevertheless, I like these stamps, and will keep a set for my collection. That’s something I don’t say about many modern stamps, but these are neat enough for me to want to save them.

Summer 2017 update for The Philosateleian

I’m posting a bit later than normal, but I’m happy to say that the Summer 2017 Supplement (169 KB, 3 files, 8 pages) for The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album is now online! You can download and print these pages, which include spaces for the United States stamps issued over the past three months, at your convenience.

(If you’ve made the switch to The Philosateleian’s annual upgrade track, don’t forget to skip this update and wait for the complete set of 2017 pages to be released early next year. Otherwise, go get the update now.)