Monthly Archives: August 2016

  1. Stamp Production - Plating

    The transferring of the die to the plate is accomplished essentially through a process of pounding the design that is on the hard steel transfer roll onto a soft steel plate. In our modern era this is done mechanically, and usually flawlessly. In the classic period of philately (usually defined as lasting from 1840, when the first stamp was printed, until about 1880), transferring was done generally by hand. The extreme pressure that was required to adequately “rock in” the hardened die onto the soft steel produced a number of subtle differences between the stamps. This is because no two stamp impressions on the plate were “rocked in” with the same firmness of all minute portions of the design. Thus, each stamp on the place is subtly different, and because of these minor differences it is usually possible for a stamp specialist to “plate” a particular sta

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  2. Early Stamp Production - Engraving

    Early experiments in radical stamp design are prized by collectors. The Cape of Good Hope triangulars, first issued in 1853 by a nation that is now part of the Union of South Africa, are known by collectors everywhere because of their unique design. They were the first nonrectangular stamps issued, and despite some modern deviation into the grotesque, most stamps are still rectangular.

    Once a design has been chosen, the postal authorities decide how the stamps are to be printed. The more common methods of printing stamps include lithography and typography. Though neither offers great detail, each offers speed and ease in production at a comparatively low cost. But the most effective, and, many would say, beautiful, method of philatelic printing is line engraving.

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  3. A Stamp In Production - Penny Black

    Since the Penny Black was first produced, countless technological innovations have come and gone, but the overall process by which a stamp is made has remained constant.

     

    As for the Penny Black, a design for each stamp had to be chosen. Probably the most common design is the “framed head” type, where there is a framed center portrait. The Penny Black set the stage, and it was a number of years before there was a significant deviation from this design by any major stamp-producing nation. When looking at stamps, especially earlier issues, one is struck by how much the stamps appear to be representations of coins placed upon a background. In the pre-1870 period, stamps were not valued as an art form in themselves; rather, they were

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  4. Evolution of Stamp Mounts


    Until about 1950, philatelists were quite content hinging their stamps. The first stamp mounts in the United Stateswere Crystal Mounts, marketed by the H E Harris Company. They were not created because collectors wanted (or could be convinced they wanted, which is they same thing) a better way to mount their stamps. Rather Crystal Mounts were really a pain to use and were marketed solely to add a non-stamp item to the Harris line. Harris found he made more money from albums and mounts than he could from st
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  5. History of White Ace Stamp Albums

    One of the most popular stamp albums in the United States has been the White Ace specialty album series for United States stamps. The albums, produced by the Washington Press, have had lasting popularity for over fifty years. The albums are printed on high quality paper and use attractive page layout and design. The paper they are printed on is acid free, an important consideration in stamp albums, as it protects the stamps from being damaged by acids leaching from the paper onto the stamps. The albums were sold in many formats - singles, plate blocks, and blocks being the three most popular – so, that collectors can buy just the sections that they need. This

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  6. Stamp Collecting in the 1930's

    Philately in the 1930s was defined by two major events- one of major historical import-the Great Depression which virtually destroyed the world wide economy and the other with only philatelic importance- the rise of the stamp dealing firm of H E Harris. Our current economic malaise is serious so imagine how our unemployment rate would feel if it was four times higher than it is now-nearly 40% as it was in 1932. And this in a population of largely one wage earner families so unemployment always meant destitution. There was no unemployment insurance, and bank failures affected nearly everyone because when a bank failed people lost their money as there was no Federal bank insurance. People were not inconvenienced, they were impoverished. And yet stamp collecting flourished and in fact made its first foray into mainstream America. Led by the H E Harris company, which produced the Captain Tim radio show that promoted philately, Harris offered a wide ran

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  7. Latvian Stamps | Collecting Stamps from Latvia

    What Can Be Done: For most of the last thousand years, Latvia was a culture, an ethnicity, and a language that bound together the Latvian people. But Latvia was not, until 1918, a political entity, that is a country. We lose sight of the fact that for most of the last five hundred years, Russia was the predominant power in Eastern Europe and many countries that we think of today were incorporated as administrative districts in the Russian Empire (much of Putin’s foreign policy can be seen as an attempt to regain Russia historic importance).

     

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  8. Stamps of French Colonies

    What Can Be Done: French Colonies are one of the world’s most popular philatelic specialties and for good reason. There are over 100 issuing entities and tens of thousands of stamps. Many of the earliest issues are very hard to find, and many of the later issues are among the best designed and printed stamps there are. And French Colonies from 1900-1960 is very affordable. Many French Colonies collectors specialize further. Some only collect overseas departments such as French Southern and Antarctic Territories or St. Pierre and Miquelon. Some collect by geographic area (French Africa is the biggest and most common sub-specialty). And some collect by date, collecting either pre or post independence issues (the cutoff date here is usually 1960). The

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  9. Evolution of Stamp Quality

    Our hobby has had two great quality evolutions in the course of the 150 plus years that people have collected stamps. The very first collectors, who began saving stamps about 1860, just twenty years after the first stamp was issued, had no interest in quality. They often scraped stamps off envelopes for their collections, rather than soak them. Any piece of a stamp would do. The first quality paradigm began about 1880, when the first generation of collectors was cashing out their stamps, and the second generation was beginning to collect. These second generation collectors were more erudite and critical in their collecting. The quality terms “Good, Fair and Poor” began to be used to sort resold stamps into different categories.

     

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  10. Sergio Sismondo | Foreign Stamp Expert Sergio Sismondo

    For many years we have been searching for a world wide expert who can expertize the entire non US world. For the US area there is the Philatelic Foundation but they really don't do much with Foreign stamps. We wanted an expert who expertized a large number of countries and areas, who didn't indelibly mark the stamps whether they were genuine or not (which eliminated the German Bundesprufers who handstamp everything), who had a fast turn around time and, most of all, was accurate with clear lucid certificates that are sometimes as nice as the stamps themselves. The expert's name is Sergio Sismondo. and his address is 10035 Carousel Dr, Syracuse, New York 13290, telephone 315-422-2331. And his wife Liane is one of the nicest and professional people in the stamp business to deal with. And did I mention that their certificate costs are usually much cheaper than their competitors. Take a look at their website http://www.sismondostamps.com/.

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  11. Israeli stamps | Israeli Stamps and What They Show Us About Philately

    When Israel became a country in 1948, it became the perfect philatelic laboratory. For the vast majority of countries, stamp collecting grew up decades after the first stamps of those countries were issued. It was only about 1870 in Europe and the United States that philately began to grow beyond a few early fanatics, which meant that there was 25 or 30 years worth of previous issues that no one had put away. How those first issues were found and saved determined how stamps were collected in the early years. For instance, the great emphasis on blocks and multiples that has defined traditional philately grows out of the fact that for mainstream philatelic countries, by t
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  12. How To Tell If Your Stamp Has The Original Gum

    When Rowland Hill invented the postage stamp, an integral part of his design was a "wash of mucilage applied to the back, which, when moistened would allow the stamp to adhere to paper". In the very early years of stamp collecting, collectors primarily collected used stamps. After all, the reasoning went, why spend good money when stamps in the late 1860's was the height of folly? After all, what could they ever be worth?

    Led by the Belgian stamp dealer Moens, collectors began collecting unused stamps in the 1870's and 1880's. True, they dind't display the purpose for which stamps were invented (that is, postal use) but the collectors didn't have disfiguring cancellations to worry about. So, they pasted the unused stamps in their albums, or if they received stamps with gum, they just licked them down. This is shocking to modern day collectors, but we must all be aware that gum was a meaningless annoyance until the turn of the century. And the hinge, which now seems so bar

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  13. Brazilian Stamps |Learn About Collecting Brazilian Stamps

    What can Be Done: Brazil is one of the most interesting philatelic areas. Because Brazilian philately is so vast, with over 3,500 collectible major numbers by Scott alone, specialists of Brazil often collect by issue or subspecialty. The first issues of Brazil are called the Bull’s Eyes because the numeral in ovals were thought to look like a bull’s eye (early philatelists seemed to feel that having a catchy moniker for what they collected gave their specialty a cachet—hence “bulls eyes”, “blackjacks”, “69s” etc.). The Bull’s Eyes are avidly sought out and are tough stamps to find. The next Brazilian issue (called the “goat’s eyes”) are among the scarcest stam

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  14. Bavarian Collectors Stamps | Learn About Collecting Bavarian Stamps

    What Can Be Done: Located in southern Germany, Bavaria is one of the largest and most populous of the German States. Bavaria has issued far more stamps than any other German State, issuing stamps right up to the end of WWI (some fifty years after German confederation had caused most of the other states to cease their independent postal issues). Overall, Bavaria issued several hundred stamps, and, with the exception of the first stamp, they are readily obtainable and not very costly. Probably because the Bavarian post office issued stamps for so long, it maintained an interest in seeing to it that Bavarian stamps were not counterfeited. The most prolific period, worldwide, for stamp counterfeiting was 1890-1920, for a couple of reasons.

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  15. How Many People Collect Stamps

    Individual hobbies attract relatively small percentages of the population and always have. Take chess—a cerebral game that attracts many of the same type of people as philately but with significantly more market penetration. The writers at the chess federation website bemoan the fact that though supposedly 600 million people worldwide know how to play chess, only 83,000 belong to their federation and are considered avid chess players. By that standard, we do pretty well in stamps. The Australia post office estimates that there are 22 million collectors worldwide. Linn's stamp magazine draws an interesting picture, dividing collectors into three concentric circles. The most outer group are people who throw a stamp in a drawer if they like it, never responding to anything more than the visual appeal of a design or subject that they find interesting. In the  United States, Linn's estimates that there are four million of this type of c
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  16. Stock Transfer Stamps | Why Stock Transfer Stamps Became Popular

    United States Revenues, while a specialty in themselves, offer nearly fifty subspecialties, all of which have their fierce devotees. Stock Transfer stamps are a niche of revenue collecting that has become much more popular in the last decade. Stock Transfer stamps were issued to pay the tax on the sale or gift of shares of stock. There is no Federal tax on stock sales now (except a gains tax if you make money), but for many years a small tax was levied by the government, and, to facilitate the payment of this tax, stock transfer stamps were issued.
     
    These stamps were unpopular for many years f
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  17. Scott Hardbound Brown Philatelic 1840-1940 Album

     
     
    Many specialist collectors reach the end of their specialties fairly quickly. Two constraints cause this. First, most specialties, such as US stamps, have at most a few thousand varieties that are needed to complete the task. Most of these are quite inexpensive and easily acquired. Then, the few stamps that are left can be very pricey, and so most collectors often find themselves soon at the point where there is little that they either need or that they can afford for their collections. When this happens, these collectors often look for another specialty. But if they choose another country to collect, they soon find themselves in the same bind they were in with their original specialty—the new collection is soon nearly complete and the stamps that they need still beyond their budget.
     
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  18. Denmark's Rarest Stamp | Learn About Denmark's Rare Coat Of Arms Stamp


    The rarest stamp of Denmark is one of the most interesting rarities in that it is a simple perforation variety that is little known. The first Coat of Arms type of Denmark was originally issued perf 14x13 1/2 but then a few years later was issued in smaller quantities perf 12 1/2 (Scott #21 cv $3100 used- We've illustrated the more common 4 skilling perf 12 1/2)). There were three different denominations issued this way. Two are just scarce but the third, the two skillings value, is a rarity. And what is more it is about the only Nineteenth Century rarity from any country that can still be found, unidentified, in ordinary collections (I have found three in the last ten years)

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  19. The Approval Of A Stamp

     

    “A bit of paper just large enough to bear the stamp and covered at the back with a glutinous wash which the user might, by applying a little moisture, attach to the back of the letter.” That was it— the first ment

    Today, stamps are such an everyday experience for us that we do not appreciate the magnitude of the invention. With the advent of the stamp, postal money was created, and because the use of the post office had become so widespread, great care had to be taken to assure th

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  20. Emergence of Rowland Hill

    Postal abuse in Great Britain continued to get worse. As might be expected, the post office became an unprofitable and inefficient enterprise. Complaints mounted on all sides— from merchants, clergy and government. Finally, in 1837, a forty-two-year-old ex-schoolteacher and government bureaucrat named Rowland Hill published a pamphlet entitled Post Office Reform, Its Importance and Practibility. Hill’s pamphlet was scathing in its criticism, but broad in its ideas for change. He pointed out the postal abuses already discussed. He evaluated actual postal costs, and concluded that the real transportation cost for carrying a letter anywhere in the British Isles was less than a farthing (one quarter of 1 penny.) Even though the post office at this time was charging over 1 shilling (or 12 pence) for many internal letters, it was losing money. This, Hill said, resul

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