Philosateleia
Kevin Blackston
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America

Blog archives (April 2020)

Savings stamps added to The Philosateleian

It has been a while since I added pages for anything other than the most recent United States commemorative and definitive stamps to The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album, but I’m pleased to announce a new addition. Volume IX (back of book) now includes pages for Postal Savings, Savings, War Savings, and Treasury Savings stamps produced from 1911–61, and you can download the pages from my individual stamp album pages page.

Savings stamps may seem like an odd choice, but a user of The Philosateleian requested pages for those stamps, and it’s a small enough grouping that I was able to knock out the pages without too much trouble. If you have any of those stamps in your collection, I hope you’ll find the pages to be useful.

I do welcome suggestions for other United States stamp album pages if there’s back of the book material that you collect. I’m not promising I’ll make them—with a job and a family to keep me busy, some things just don’t get done—but I’m open to ideas.

The world’s tiniest perforating machine

In 2016, I wrote about my Southworth tabletop perforator. It is, as far as I know, the largest of the tabletop perforating machines built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, capable of perforating a line of tiny holes approximately 15″ long. Full-size, treadle-operated machines sold during the same period were wider, but the Southworth was the biggest model that didn’t come with its own cast iron legs.

Today, I’m excited to go to the other end of the scale and tell you a little bit about what may be the world’s smallest pinhole perforating machine. To provide a sense of scale, it is shown here sitting on top of my Southworth perforator.

Miniature perforating machine sitting on top of Southworth tabletop perforator
Miniature perforating machine

Granted, I have no proof that this is the world’s smallest perforating machine. Somewhere, perhaps, there might be an even smaller model, but I’ve never seen another one nearly this compact, nor any old advertisements for any perforators quite so diminutive.

Physical attributes

When I spotted the listing for this perforator on eBay back in February, I could tell it was small, but I don’t think I really understood just how tiny the thing is until it arrived in the mail. The base of this nearly palm-sized perforator measures only about 5″ square, and it is capable of punching a line of holes only about 3″ long.

Even more shocking is how light the perforator is. Despite being made of solid metal, the machine weighs in at only two pounds! This is virtually featherweight compared with the larger antique perforators that are around. It is, as far as perforating machines go, basically a travel-size model.

Flaw, or feature?

My miniature perforator does an excellent job of punching perforations in a piece of paper, but there’s one aspect that seems like a bit of a flaw. Unlike larger perforating machines that I’ve seen, this one lacks a stripper bar, the piece of metal that pulls the paper loose from the perforating pins as they rise out of the metal die. As a result, whatever I perforate tends to “stick” to the pins, and working the paper free is a bit of a pain.

I did discover, however, that it is simple enough to tear the paper away from one side of the perforator, leaving a nicely perforated edge on each side. That works well enough, so perhaps it was the designer’s intention.

Hand tearing paper from perforating pins
Removing paper from the tiny perforating machine

Final thoughts

This perforator will by no means replace my Southworth as it’s really too small to be of use in producing sheets of stamps. It is without question the most portable perforator I’ve ever seen, however; it’s light enough and small enough to fit in my backpack, and I plan on keeping it as a demo model that I can carry around to stamp club meetings or shows.

Considering the aforementioned lack of a stripper bar, I’m not entire surely what the original purpose for a machine this small might have been. I can’t rule out the possibility that it was created for the sole purpose of producing fake perforations on genuine postage stamps, but it seems remarkably well made to be a counterfeiter’s one-off production. Perhaps it was intended to do something other than perforate stamps, but I really don’t know.

I also have no information regarding how old the machine is, or even who produced it. The perforator has no such identifying markings; indeed, there are no markings at all except the number “11” punched or hammered into the back of the perforator head. Does that mean that at least 10 more of these tiny perforators were built? Once again, I don’t know, but if you have any information, I would certainly be grateful to hear it.

Easter bunnies take center stage on Boys Town envelope

I’ve been quite tardy in getting this posted, but wanted to share a scan of the latest Boys Town business reply envleope that I received last month. The front of the envelope has five preprinted examples of an Easter bunny design, three of them with green backgrounds and two with pink.

Boys Town business reply envelope bearing pre-printed Easter bunny designs
Boys Town business reply envelope bearing pre-printed Easter bunny designs

The outer cover in which this BRE was enclosed also had three different stamp-sized designs printed on it. I haven’t bothered to scan that since the designs were the same ones Boys Town used for its 2019 Easter fundraising mailing. I don’t know if they received a particularly strong response to that mailing, or if someone simply decided to reuse the artwork, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen one of their designs make a second appearance.

Purgatory Post commemorates Burkehaven Lighthouse, Apollo 13

Having to work from home has meant that I haven’t been checking my post office box quite so regularly as normal, but I did make a quick trip over this morning to pick up the mail that had accumulated over the past week. Among what I received was a new cover from Purgatory Post…but before I get to that, I need to back up to Purgatory Post’s March issue, the last in a set of five stamps depicting working New Hampshire lighthouses.

Burkehaven Lighthouse is one of three functional lighthouses on Lake Sunapee. Purgatory Post operator Scott Abbot says the light, which is pictured on the new 5-sola stamp issued on March 2, was built in 1893 by a pair of brothers who operated steamships on the lake.

5-sola Purgatory Post stamp picturing Burkehaven Lighthouse on Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire
Purgatory Post Burkehaven Lighthouse stamp

This has been sitting in my mail tray for several weeks, but I am, shall we say, somewhat behind on my blogging. But at long last, here it is.

The stamps on and in the cover I picked up today may have a bit more widespread appeal, especially among collectors of space thematics. The pair of 13-sola stamps commemorate the 50th anniversary of the near-disastrous Apollo 13 mission.

13-sola Purgatory Post stamps picturing Apollo 13 crew, spacecraft, and mission patch
Purgatory Post Apollo 13 stamps

The first of the stamps issued on April 6 pictures Apollo 13 crew members Jim Lovell, Jack Swiger, and Fred Haise, along with their spacecraft’s launch. The second pictures the command module that carried the crew back to earth splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, plus the mission patch.

I read over some of the details about the Apollo 13 mission again yesterday, and while that pre-dated me by a few years, it’s not at all difficult to get a sense of what a big deal it was for the crew to make it home alive. It’s incredible that the crew and their support team on the ground were able to clear one hurdle after another to make that possible, and the anniversary of that mission is certainly well worth Purgatory Post’s commemoration.