Fascination Philatelic

A collector once challenged me in an email. Find the first stamp object on your desk, and write an article on it, the only rule being that the item have no obvious philatelic value. Straight away my eyes alighted on the item found above.
The Dutch stamp on this cover is one of the most common stamps of the world, similar to the 1¢ Franklin stamps that the United States issued from 1900-1970, mostly to make up postage differences on envelopes with other stamps. This cover was sent in 1955 from Graveshaven to Trenton New Jersey. It bears the corner card of the International Patent Research Office (IRPO) and is addressed to the Thermoid Corporation. Thermoid is a maker of industrial belts and machine equipment used in the automotive and farm machinery industry. As such, they are owners and users of a large number of patents. Patents are generally recognized internationally, but they must be filed with the patent offices of each individual country. Accordingly, the patent departments at major technology companies need to have access to foreign patent offices both to enforce the patents that they own and to buy rights to foreign patents that they wish to use. This cover represents an early example in the trade of “intellectual property” which is a topic that we hear so much about today. Like so many things, it’s not really new, just a new name for something that we have done for a long time.
The envelope which I found on my desk contained “printed matter.” As such, it qualified for very inexpensive postal carriage. Most nations have long subsidized printed matter, circulars, and newspapers. The rationale for newspapers receiving preferred postal rates is the responsibility of governments to aid in educating the population. The reasons for postal underwriting of circular and printed matter costs are murkier and probably related to business lobbying of postal authorities. It exists in all countries, and, in this case, allowed the IPRO to send its monthly newsletter to the patent department at the Thermoid company for a greatly reduced rate. Use of a single franking of the 5¢ is unusual, and the question of the value of this cover rests on just how common was the use of international circular rate mail from the Netherlands in the mid-1950s and how many of these types of covers, which were sent to large patent offices that usually didn’t keep the envelopes, were saved.
All of the above was ascertained from this cover from just a few minutes on Google. A real postal historian could have a field day with the Dutch circular rates of the 1950s by trying to get covers to all the different countries that the rate was valid to (this would be an inexpensive to make specialty that would result in a collection of real philatelic value). An intellectual history thematic collector could research the patents Thermoid was keeping track of, and the cover is appealing to basic Dutch collectors trying to assemble single issue rate frankings. All in all, this 5¢ cover has enormous interest if you are willing to invest our hobby’s most precious commodity—a little research and imagination. That is what philately is all about.
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