Monthly Archives: February 2017

  1. 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, bu

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  2. Future Of Philately

    We tend to think of Philately as one hobby when it is really three separate and distinct endeavors, each with its own goals, problems, future and marketplace. The three are Mainstream Philately, High-end Philately and Aspirational Philately. Mainstream Philately is what most of us engage in from the youngster enjoying his first packet to the collector perusing Ebay for the best price and quality for the items he wants to add to his collection. Mainstream Philately is determined largely by the market-the stamps that mainstream philatelists desire are for the most part readily available, with most of the search and negotiations going on over price and quality rather than over whether the item is going to be offered at all. Most of the stamps that most collectors want fall into this category.


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  3. Independence Day - Colonial Post

    Two hundred and forty one years ago, the thirteen American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and began a seven year war that would result in the the founding of the United States of America. Before our Revolutionary War, Great Britain thought of her American Colonies as a whole and lumped the thirteen colonies in with the sugar islands of the West Indies and the British possessions in Canada. Our revolution resulted in profound changes of thinking on the part of Britain on the value of her Colonies and the proper steps needed to retain them. Before 1776, Britain treated her colonies in a cavalier and dictatorial manor, with little regard
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  4. Affordable Premium Albums

    Image result for lighthouse stamps albumsThere is an unfortunate hobby arc that goes like this. A wealthy person decides that he wishes to be an enthusiast, buys an enormous amount of gear, and loses interest before he has gotten any of the real enjoyment out of his new whim. This is the fly fisher who has all the latest Orvis gear or the guy with the 120" projector screen in a private home. In philately, this shows itself in the new collector who buys a large set of very beautiful and expensive matched hingeless specialty albums, fills them with thousands of the mostly more basic stamps and loses interest in our hobby before all the real fun begins. For the great pleasure of philately is the chase, searching for difficult to find material and s

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  5. Standard For Gum?

    Imagine the year 2100. You are starting to collect stamps and have progressed beyond the latest chip hologram issues and are beginning to acquire the stamps of the early twenty-first century. You get all the self adhesive issues, paying special attention to see that none of the adhesive has yellowed with age and that none of the die cutting between the stamps (replacing what in a previous day had been perforations) are folded or in any way loose. And then you begin to look for stamps issued before 1990 and you start to learn about gum.
     
     
    Image result for g
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  6. Philatelic Estate Planning

    Image result for philatelic estateIn the 1950s and 1960s our company had an Estate Planning department. Estate Planning (it is so far in the distant philatelic past that it needs explanation) was advice to philatelists on what to do with their collections after they died, especially with regards to estate tax appraisals. This was needed because the level at which estates became taxable was much lower in 1970 than it is today (It was $600,000 vs $5 million now) and because many fewer people engaged in tax planning with regards to their non philatelic assets so that even at the lower tax threshold rate of the 1960s many estates were taxable that wouldn't be today given the sophisticated estate planning that many wealthy people  use.

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  7. Stamp Collecting In The 1930s

    The greatest publicity push that stamp collecting ever received was in 1933. Ivory soap promoted a radio show that featured stamp collecting. Called "The Ivory Stamp Club with Captain Tim" the show was a radio stamp club where kids followed along as Captain Tim, for fifteen minutes at a time, three times a week, regaled his listeners with stories about stamp collectors. This was the perfect year for philately. A new President, an avid stamp collector, was in the White House. And there was a prime time radio show devoted to promoting our hobby.
     
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  8. Inflation Hedge

    For many years there was no relationship between the price of stamps and the price of gold. The value of gold, in currency terms, was fixed by national governments whereas the price of stamps was left to rise and fall with the market. Gold was decoupled from currency in 1971. The next ten years saw a rapid rise in the price of gold due to inflation and pent up demand because of price controls and limited availability of gold. Because stamps also rose rapidly in price during this decade, many philatelists assumed that their stamp holdings had similar inflationary hedge qualities to gold.
     
    The forces driving stamp prices are not the same as those that influence g
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  9. Hobby vs A Fad

    Image result for children philatelyWho doesn't know what a Hula Hoop is? Who, of a certain age, never played with a slinky? When the Baby Boomers were kids nearly everyone collected stamps. In my neighborhood there were two different kid organized stamp clubs, created and administered by ten year olds. We were very adult in our social organization skills, spending enormous amounts of time on such matters as by-laws and rules and schedules and very little time trading and discussing stamps. Weeks were spent on discussions of whether we would admit girls to our august proceedings and the dispute would have continued to this day if it wasn't pointed out to us that there were no girls who wanted to join.
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  10. Columbian Exposition

    The story of the 1893 Columbian Exposition issue is well known. World's Fairs, which was what the Columbian Exposition was, were a big thing until the advent of television and theme parks (in fact the last great US World Fair, the 1964 World's fair in New York, had the first version of the "It's a Small World" ride that was incorporated into Disney world). World's fairs were a chance to see the latest innovations, and companies and nations vied with presentations to awe and impress. In 1893 the United States Post Office wanted to do just that, and as part of their exhibit they issued a new set of stamps commemorating Columbus' discovery of the new world. It was a sixteen
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  11. Perforations

    Image result for stamp perforation machineThe first postage stamps were issued without a pre-ordered method of separation. In 1840, it was revolutionary enough for the stamp itself to be issued. Rowland Hill hardly thought it necessary to provide Great Britain's postal users with a means of separating their stamps apart, or, in the case of large mail users where speed was essential, razors were used so that entire rows, several sheets deep, could be separated at once. Such separating methods were crude, and resulted in many stamps being damaged. The situation caused complaints in 1840, and it has been a bane of collectors even today.
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  12. Russian Propaganda Stamps

    Russian stamps of the 1930's have always fascinated me. They are beautiful and well designed with friendly, internationalist themes and yet they were issued by a vicious regime that was systematically exploiting its citizens and was highly militaristic in orientation. Another aggressive state of this period, Germany, at least was more honest about its goals and had a highly nationalistic stamp issuing policy. In the exaltation of the Volk and the Fatherland its easy to see the factors that led to WWII. But as George Orwell explained so well in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the pathological hypocrisy of the Soviet communist system was without equal in history. Even as he was condemning millions of his own citizens to the Gulag or starvation,

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  13. Underground Post

        Civilization requires communication. As societies have developed, communication has developed with it, both for personal use and for commerce. Throughout the early stamp issuing period many different ways have been tried to speed mail delivery (and remember before electronic communication, the only way to communicate at a distance was by the post). Postal agencies tried airmail. They tried balloons and railroads and trolley cars and even the Pony Express. Speed of communication was always at a premium especially in business where the value of timely information could be immense.

     

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  14. Jean de Sperati

    While Francois Fournier was a philatelic facsimile maker whose work fools only novices or collectors who have never seen the real thing, Jean de Sperati spent his life creating forgeries designed to undermine the most knowledgeable philatelists. Even his book "Philatelie sans Experts" (Philately without Experts) shows his prime motivation was the thrill of creating forgeries that even great experts couldn't tell apart. And Sperati's work is good, so good, in fact that until about 1920, when it became known t

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  15. Irish Philately

    The best model in the twentieth century for an evolved peace has been Ireland and Great Britain. After centuries of British occupation, the Irish finally obtained independence in 1922 through armed struggle and political effort. Early relations between the Irish Republic and the balance of Great Britain were difficult and even in the last decades of the 20th century terrorist violence over Northern Ireland (part of the island of Ireland that the British retained control over) has continued. Peace has finally broken out though, and it is attributed, more than anything else, to rising living standards in the Irish Republic. Politicians on both side of the Irish Sea realized that better opportu

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  16. Russian Propaganda Stamps


    Russian stamps of the 1930's have always fascinated me. They are beautiful and well designed with friendly, internationalist themes and yet they were issued by a vicious regime that was systematically exploiting its citizens and was highly militaristic in orientation. Another aggressive state of this period, Germany, at least was more honest about its goals and had a highly nationalistic stamp issuing policy. In the exaltation of the Volk and the Fatherland its easy to see the factors that led to WWII. But as George Orwell explained so well in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the pathological hypocrisy of the Soviet communist system was without equal in history. Even as he was condemning millions of his own citizens to

    Read more »
  17. Airmails Of France

    Aerophilately has been a popular philatelic specialty for nearly a hundred years now. No country has as many interesting Airmails as does France, and indeed the Airmails of France cover many of the more esoteric aspects of our hobby. The first two Airmails are overprints and show that aspect of stamp issuance; an earlier issue receives an additional print that changes its purpose and often the postage that it was originally sold for. The second issue of the Airmails of France are the famed Ile de France Airmails. These Airmails are provisionals issued for just one flight and not available through the general philatelic agency. Like many of the rarest early worldw

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  18. War And Philately

    The three great scourges of humanity have historically been war, famine, and pestilence. Modern technology though seems to have solved the problems of the devastation of two of these. In the last two centuries over 100 million peo

    ple have died in famines. But fertilization, irrigation and genetic engineering have today made famine more of a byproduct of war than a primary killer. And infectious  disease, after kil
    ling hundreds of millions throughout histor
    y, has largely been de
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