Monthly Archives: October 2018

  1. Tao of Philately

    Image result for timeWe live in a time different in many ways from all the times of the past. Perhaps the most significant difference is the ability for so many people today to have nearly instant gratification of most of their wants. Bored? Turn on the TV or pop in a video game or check out the tweets of anyone you wished you knew. Hungry? We know what the alarming obesity rate tells us about how easy it is to gratify that desire. Our malls are filled with the treasures of the world and most things cost less for the upper middle class in real monetary terms than they have ever cost before. It is easy to see why philately has not attracted the quantity of youth that it had in the past and why our hobby

    Read more »
  2. Minutia

    Image result for minutiaYears ago I taught an evening class in philately at Temple University. The class was made up mainly of well educated people who were either getting back into collecting or who were, never having been stamp collectors, thinking of trying our hobby on for size. At one point after a few weeks the topic of plating was introduced. Most engraved Nineteenth Century stamps were engraved from a single die that was entered into a large plate usually 100 times to make plates of 100. In the earliest period of stamp issuing, such entering of the die to the plate was done by hand, rocking the hardened steel die into the softer unhardened steel or copper plates. The steel of the plate was still pretty hard and considerable effort and rocking back and forth was necessary to make th

    Read more »
  3. Telephone and Telegraph Stamps

    There are four broad categories of  bearer labels that have been issued to indicate prepayment for a service or tax. They are postage stamps, revenue stamps, teleImage result for wells fargo stampgraph stamps and telephone stamps. Worldwide  issues of these stamps vary but overall the number of postage stamps greatly exceeds the number of  revenues, telephone and telegraph stamps. Indeed since 1940 there have been virtually no telegraphs and telephone stamps issued and the number of newer revenue issues has greatly declined. The reasons are technologica

    Read more »
  4. Advertising

    Image result for german advertising stampWorldwide postal services have tried numerous experiments over the years at increasing revenues. Most common has been the experiment of advertising with postage stamps. This experiment was first made almost coincidentally with the issuance of the first postage stamp. The Mulready envelope was issued together with the Penny Black as the world's first piece of postal stationery and private companies quickly began advertising on part of the writing page of the stationery. These letter sheets were then sold at discounts from the postage value to people willing to have such advertising with their mail. In the late nineteenth century, New Zealand experimented with placing printed ads on the backs of postage stamps. As these ads could only inf

    Read more »
  5. The Danger of Estate Sales

    Read more »
  6. Packets

    Image result for piles of stampsIn 1960 when a young person started stamp collecting the situation played out like this. A parent took you to a stamp shop or the Minkus concession at a Gimbels or other large department store. You looked at several world wide albums and usually settled on a Harris Statesman Deluxe (or maybe a Citation) which had spaces for 30,000 different stamps and cost a bit less than $5. You bought a pair of stamp tongs that were heavy and nearly took two hands to use,  a thousand Dennison stamp hinges and a world wide packet of probably 5000 different stamps. All told you spent ten or twelve bucks-a decent birthday or Christmas present but a bit less than the Pee Wee Reece model baseball glove which competed with it as as gift (for$19.95). It was t

    Read more »
  7. Mounting

    Mounting stamps in albums has had four major phases in the 170 years that philately has been a hobby.  In the very beginning, collectors were just saving stamps as a whimsical endeavor.There was no science to collecting and the earliest stamp savers would lick the glue on their mint stamps and place them in their albums (This is why today so many of the earliest issue stamps that exist unused don't have any gum). The first generation of collectors never thought that anyone would want their stamps after them and so no effort was made to mount philatelic items in a way that made them tradeable.
    Image result for stamp mounts
    The second generation of collectors learned from this and saw that many specimens tha

    Read more »
  8. Cancellations

    Image result for great britain postal cancelOne of the earliest objections to Rowland Hill's idea for a gummed label that indicated prepayment of postage was the fear that such a label could be soaked off and reused. A postage stamp is one of the simplest examples of a bearer certificate-anyone who possesses it can use it to mail a letter and the fear of reuse was very real. Postage of a British penny in 1840, when wages of a pound a week would support a family of four with ease, was the equivalent of perhaps $5 today so such fear had a real basis in fact. The first stamps were cancelled with Maltese cross cancellations which provided a sometimes disfiguring obliteration and the town from which the letter was posted placed its d

    Read more »