Monthly Archives: January 2012

  1. German Occupation Of Luxembourg

    Luxembourg is a small and wealthy country located between France and Germany. In 1940, Luxembourg was on the invasion route that Nazi forces took to overrun France and the government of Luxembourg was quickly overthrown. As they did for most of the countries that they occupied, the Germans quickly issued Occupation stamps. The most remarkable thing about the German Occupations were the abundance of philatelic items that they produced. The Third Reich in the early WW II period seemed to do three things particularly well- quickly overrun their enemies, round up Jews and other undesirables for extermination, and create philatelic occupation covers. The cover here was made by a Nazi phila
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  2. Stamp Collecting in the 1940's

    The decade of the 1940's was defined by WW II. The totality of the war experience is hard for Americans today to understand. Currently, we have been at war for over ten years with most of the impact for most Americans being the character of the nightly news. WW II required a total mobilization of America. Every man between the ages of 18 and 35 was subject to the draft and most were in the military. Rationing existed for nearly everything and most drivers got a gallon or two of gas a week and no tires. In 3 1/2 years America mobilized and fought a two front war projecting military might around the globe and defeating two powerful enemies at once. It was perhaps the greatest military feat in history and the war's effect on American philately was profound. Most people didn't have time for stamps. Workers were working overtime and the huge military effort took millions of men of prime philatelic age out of the market. Worldwide, the massive destruction of Europe made stamp

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  3. Discount Postage

    For the next week we have a pretty good discount postage offer going. $200 of mint NH US stamps issued from 1960-2000 all of which are still valid for postage. The price for the $200 of postage is 75% or $150 plus $10 shipping and handling. Please email me if you want this with your address and credit card details. One per customer and we may run out so order early. Most groups have duplication, sheets and plates but if you send letters and packages through the post office this is a cheap way to go.

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  4. War Tax Stamps

    Most special stamps relate to postal use and postal purposes. Stamps such as Airmails are higher denominated stamps and the extra revenue is used to defray the cost of the class of service that is being used. But War Tax stamps are a different animal entirely-they are a country using its postal service to generate revenue for another purpose, in this case war funding. The first War Tax stamps were issued by Spain in the late Nineteenth Century and War Tax stamps have been issued as late as 1974 in Bahrain. But by far the most significant use of War tax stamps was in the British Commonwealth for raising revenue for WW I. Most of the Colonial issues are overprints, but Canada produced different st
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  5. Tobacco



    Economic theory extols the virtue of trade and many anthropologists credit trade with being among the human inventions that most advance
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  6. Large Queens

    Among the most interesting specializations in our hobby are the stamps of Canada and especially the issue of 1880-1890 that are called the "Large Queens". The name that philatelists have given this set refers to their physical relationship to the set of stamps that came after them. These stamps are large-the next issues was much smaller. Large Queens have several interesting philatelic points going for them, primarily the fact that there are so many varieties to collect. The stamps themselves are well printed and attractive and the varieties ensure that a specialist never comes to end of items to acquire. There are perf varieties and paper varieties, especially three of the stamps being issued on Laid paper (al
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  7. British Honduras

    British Honduras was the only Colony in Latin America, British, Spanish, Portuguese or French, that wasn't set up to extract silver or gold or produce the eighteenth and nineteenth century agricultural equivalent, sugar. British Honduras was an extractive colony of a different kind-it was set up to harvest timber. Some of the finest trees in the world, especially mahogany, grow there and the British had received economic rights to the Colony as early as 1783. British Honduras then was run as a massive timber camp, with slave labor of course, though timber is less labor intensive than sugar and required a smaller population. The population of British Honduras never exceeded 30,000 and the ratio of slave and Indi
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  8. Stamp Collecting in the 1920s

    Suppose you were a fellow collector of my grandfather Earl Apfelbaum in the 1920s. The probability is that you would be a world wide collector with perhaps a single country concentration. You would have a hardbound Scott album or a McKeels album as Minkus and Harris were still years in the future. You mounted your stamps with hinges and the prevailing philatelic dispute was not over "hinged" versus "never hinged" but over whether the new fangled invention of peelable hinges was worth the additional price (previous to the invention of "peelable glassine hinges", hinges took off most of the gum if you could remove them at all). The Scott catalog was one volume in less than 300 pages and for your $2.95 you got a listing of all the stamps in the world in a hardbound volume. Everyone belonged to a stamp club and the better clubs set up "catalog clubs" where everyone put in a penny or a nickle a month so that the club could purchase a new volume of Scott each year. Philat

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  9. One Percent

    Philately is a far more democratic hobby than most. In America today, the top 1% of people own about 40% of societal assets. Such a pyramided wealth schema is probably true of many of the more serious collector hobbies as well. Outside of museums, the top 1% probably owns nearly all the Old Master paintings or Picassos. And all the fine antique collectible jewelry. That is not a problem in those fields because there are so few works available and each work is unique so that a collector could own more than one. But if philately were a hobby where the one percent controlled such a high percentage of the assets of the hobby, our hobby would be in sad shape indeed. There are perhaps 250,000 serious stamp collectors today in the US ("serious" defined loosely as collecting more than just new postage stamps as they are issued and having a long term interest in matters philatelic). Think what such a control of philatelic wealth in the one percent would mean. There

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  10. Stamp Shows

    Forty years ago the stamp selling world was divided into four main methods of sale. There were retail stamp shops, stamp auctions, dealer price lists and stamp shows. Apfelbaum attended over thirty shows a year as bourse dealers and I did most of them. The show life was a hard life. Packing up your stock each week and flying it to a different part of the country, the time changes and the late nights and the constant booth set up and take down. The up sides were that you got to meet more collectors in a weekend than you could usually meet in a year and you got to know them and hear their concerns. What amazed me then and what has made for the tremendous success of the Internet as a selling mechanism for philately is the tremendous diversity in collector specialization. Most collectors maintain basic stamp collections and yet most of the collectors who came to our booth at shows seemed to be looking for things like covers with postage dues used to small islands or state and county postal

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  11. Chile

    Chile is the wealthiest country in Latin America. The country lies along a narrow strip of land along the west coast of the South American continent bordered by the Andes mountains on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Chile's climate ranges from some of the driest hottest deserts to frozen Antarctic landscapes. It's wealth is multidimensional based on mineral wealth including copper, and great agricultural produce including fruits and wines. Philatelically, Chile is fairly simple though the country is an interesting one to collect. The first issues (the imperforate Columbus heads) are very specialized and Scott lists different printings with the same plates as different stam
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  12. Libya

    The Arab spring which started out so peacefully with the change of the governments of Egypt and Tunisia took a turn for the more violent this summer when NATO was involved in the overthrow of the Libyan government. Libyan stamps have now begun their fourth phase. First, there were the issues of the Italian Colony of Libya which issued over a hundred different stamps before 1951. After WW II and the Italian occupation, there were the Independence issues which were issued from 1951-1969. In 1969, Muammar Gadaffi staged a coup and became the sole ruler of Libya for over 40 years until he was overthrown last summer. Libya has a large geographic area but a small population and is largely desert and ha
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  13. Envy

    The concept of envy has been in the press recently in a non philatelic context. Envy is the feeling of pain at that which someone else has and which you wish that you had. Philately is one of the hobbies one would think would be most prone to envy. After all most collectors are after the same items and most philatelic material is sold at auction which means that competition for material is largely a matter of size of wallet. Perhaps some of the appeal of ultraspecialization is to keep the fires of envy from burning too fiercely in the specializing collector. If he is the only one who can appreciate the importance and scarcity of the item he desires he runs no risk of losing it to others and fanning his envy. But another factor plays in here and it is that which has gotten so much press in the political arena. Some people's main drive in acquiring important philatelic material or material goods is to stoke the envy of others. Their self esteem is enhanced by eliciting env

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  14. Color

    Color and shades are one of the most overdone areas of our hobby. During the earliest years of collecting, before 1900, there were simply not enough new stamp issues for the amount of time that collectors had to devote to our hobby. Collectors then parsed and refined their specialties and one way to do this was by shade. Collecting this way ignores the reality that certain colors, blues and reds especially, degrade and change over time especially depending on exposure to light or air. What we call different shades today are often due merely to different handling criteria on 100 year old stamps that may have well been printed next to each other on a sheet. When significant shade variations exist, they should be saved and studied. When different printings at different times produces different shades then of course they should be saved. But just two anecdotes to end this post. Many years ago I did a year long study on the three major shade differences of the United States 3c 1851-the ordi

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  15. Postage Dues

    Postage Dues are one of what are called special service stamps, that is stamps issued for special postal purposes. Such stamps include Parcel Posts, which are stamps intended to be used on packages, Officials which are stamps used on government mail and all of the array of Newspapers and postal tax stamps that grace the back of each country's catalog listing. All major countries, with the exception of Germany, have issued Postage Due stamps and they are unusual as they are more of an accounting device than a real prepaid postal label which is what other postage stamps and special service stamps are. Postage dues are issued to facilitate internal post office accounting and to let the carrier know that the
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  16. Jordan


    Middle Eastern stamps  are very appealing for a few reasons. First they are politically fascinating. Nearly all of the Middle East was under Turkish control until after WW I. The breakup created a power vacuum which brought Britain and France into play both with and against local populations in setting up new governments. The philately reflects this with a wide range of locally produced stamps under changing postal administrations. And the stamps are all scarce and for the most part under appreciated and under valued all of which makes the possibility for collector "finds" (which are fun) and for rising prices. One of my favorite sets is the 1933 Jordan pictorial. This set represents the first
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  17. Stamp Memories

    Like most collectors, different stamps take me back to different times in my life. In the 1960's my parents sent me to overnight camp and the stamp they sent me with to post my letters home was the 1963 Food For Peace stamp. Every time I see this stamp in a collection I have memories of loneliness and joy at writing home and the connection which that stamp gave me to people I loved and missed. The stamp illustrated at the top triggers a different memory. In the 1970's I was traveling in Italy with my new wife. We were driving in the Italian Alps on a toll road and I came to a stop to pay a toll. Italy was experiencing a change shortage at this time and, rather than give change, d
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  18. Political Orientation of Stamp Collectors

    Observers of philatelists have long believed that stamp collectors are a very conservative group politically. We don't have Gallup polls, but through letters to the editor of philatelic publications and personal conversations most of us believe our group to be well to the right on the political spectrum. True we have our liberal outliers but if only stamp collectors were to vote in the 2012 Presidential election it is likely that we'd be criticizing a President Romney a year from now rather than a President Obama. But with political affiliations, demography is destiny and as a group stamp collectors tend to be more conservative largely because they tend to be older, whiter and maler than the population as a whole. Create a group of demographic specs-a young, urban, Hispanic woman for instance- and a political scientist call tell the percentage liklihood that she is a Democrat or Republican. Oddly, and again this is anecdotal, I think that stamp collectors are actually le

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  19. Amtrak and The Post Office

    A question that Americans are going to have to answer in the next few years is whether we want to keep our post offices open and have them continue their daily trips serving us all with mail. We have reluctantly made this decision with Amtrak. Rail travel is not a money maker but we have decided that the benefits of allowing people to go from city to city and not use their cars is a good that accrues to society that we are all willing to pay for. This is what a government does-collect revenue from us all in a way that the majority deems fair and parcels it out in ways that society deems fair. Social Security and Medicare are programs similar to Amtrak and mail delivery (with the added benefit of having a larger constituency). Several European countries, such as Holland, have made their decision and have largely privatized mail delivery. But Holland is an overwhelming urban country where private delivery companies can easily co

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  20. Stamp Newspapers

    The high point of stamp journalism was in the 1930's. Scores of weekly and monthly philatelic periodicals existed, many of them only a few pages and many of the journals existing for only a few issues. The Great Depression put many people out of work and printing companies had tremendous excess capacity so there were many people with time to write and publish and printing costs were cheap. WW II put many of the less significant publications out of business as rationing made printing more difficult and the war meant full employment here at home.

     In the last sixty years the history of philatelic journalism has been one of decreasing resources and readership. In the 1970's there were four large general circulation weeklies, having a combined readership of over 200,000 stamp collector and dealer readers firsthand (the surveys at the time said the the average stamp weekly was passed on to 2.5 additional readers so the weekly readership totals were probably closer to half a

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