Thursday, April 30, 2009

U.S. postage rate increases on May 11

D'oh!

On May 11, a Monday, the price for a one-ounce First-Class Mail stamp will increase from 42 cents to 44 cents, the U.S. Postal Service announced recently.

Each additional ounce will stay at the current 17 cents.

Since January 2001, rates for first-class stamps have gone up 10 cents.

Prices for other mailing services - Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services (including Parcel Post), and Extra Services - will also rise by an average of 4 percent.

One of the first commemorative stamps to bear the new rate is a series celebrating "The Simpsons," an animated TV show about an all-American family by the same name. The stamps bear the likenesses of . . .

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Stamp collecting obsession doesn’t end with Marilyn Monroe


"I couldn't refuse, and thus began the stamp collecting. I started out just buying Marilyn Monroe-related stamps, but I eventually turned to any and all."

Now that I have gotten the Marilyn Monroe stuff out of the way, let’s move on to other collecting hobbies that I have.

Stamps: I first started collecting stamps in 1998. I was at a collectibles show checking out the baseball cards section when I ran into a family friend who had a booth set up selling stamps. We talked for a while about baseball cards until the conversation switched to stamps. He told me all kinds of interesting things about stamps, their values and different types of errors. It was very similar to collecting sports cards.

I remember him asking me if I collected stamps, what would I start with. I, of course, answered Marilyn Monroe. That was all . . .

Full story at: Link

Monday, April 27, 2009

$80,000 stamp collection stolen

Bill Leggett turned his back for only a few seconds but it was long enough for someone to swipe his beloved $80,000 stamp collection.

He was showcasing thousands of stamps at an event at Lower Hutt's Horticultural Hall on Sunday when he was asked for advice about another collector's stamps.

"I turned round for a few seconds and that was enough for someone to steal my stamp book from the table. They must have stuffed it up their shirt or chucked it into a bag very quickly. I am devastated, absolutely devastated."

The most expensive stamps, which were not insured, were worth . . .

Full story at: Link

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lincoln Stamps Bring Neary $2 Million at a New York Auction


Seven score and four years ago, as Lincoln lay dying in a boarding house across the street from Ford’s Theater, his myth was already being born.

A good part of that myth is owed to Lincoln’s appearance on postage stamps. The first one, a black 15-cent stamp, was issued in 1866, a year after his death.

In their exquisite, miniature engravings, these early stamps began the reincarnation of Lincoln: the little images of his almost saintly visage, gazing serenely past the viewer in three-quarter profile, became part of our public consciousness. Borne on letters overseas, stamps also carried the consciousness of Lincoln around the world.

Collectors documented every detail of this process, and on Friday one of the foremost collections of stamps bearing Lincoln’s portrait was auctioned in New York by Spink Shreves Galleries, bringing nearly $2 million including commissions.

The collection was amassed by . . .

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Guided walking tour hopes to resurrect the dying art of stamp collecting in an age of e-mail and instant messaging

MANILA, Philippines -- It could be a magical mystery tour with a slight twist and a different setting.

The postal heritage walking tour around Manila hopes to resurrect the dying art of stamp collecting in an age of e-mail and instant messaging through leisurely strolls around historic sites around the country’s capital.

What’s magical about the tour is the Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club’s (FSCC) ability to uncover hidden gems of history around Manila using postage stamps as its guide.

Lawrence Chan, FSCC vice president and tour guide, conceded: “Stamp collection is a dying art. Let’s face it, people would rather send an e-mail rather than send snail mail.”

Chan told the Inquirer that the primary aim of the postal heritage walking tour is “to promote through philately our rich cultural heritage.”

Philately is defined by the Philippine Postal Service in its website as “the world’s most fascinating hobby. Through philately, you can learn of a country’s history, art, culture, and industry as depicted in special commemorative stamps.”

Chan said his group has . . .

Full story at: Link

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Helen Stephens nominated for U.S. postage stamp

The late Helen Stephens of Fulton, famed two-time Olympic champion known as the Fulton Flash, has been nominated for a United States commemorative postage stamp.

The nomination was made by the . . .

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Video reveals new U.S. Postal Service's Simpsons stamps

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Stamp of Disapproval (Stamp Collecting’s Fate in the Internet Age)

One of the innocent victims of our Brave New Electronic Age has been, I suspect, the hobby of stamp collecting. I’d give odds that there are a great many young people who are only dimly aware of the existence of the institution known as the Post Office. Who needs the Post Office when there is email and texting and tweeting and heaven only knows what else, for I don’t? Far less, then, are they likely to notice those little gummy rectangles pasted on the outside of what is snarkily called “snail mail” by those who, being a little older, know what it is that the Post Office does, or used to.

It’s a pity. Stamp collecting was once one of those phases every boy (and many girls) went through, along with a passion for dinosaurs (or horses) or an interest in space flight (I’m not sure what the feminine equivalent might have been for that).

I collected stamps. I was interested mainly in United States stamps. When I began, I . . .

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Rare postage stamps give stocks a licking


Diversifying beyond stocks into say, rare stamps or coins, baseball cards or other collectibles appears a daunting task if you don’t know anything about what you’re collecting. Aside from losing your items, the main problem is that you may pay more for something than you can sell it for. But that’s no more risk than that faced by stock investors.

There are counterfeit coins, stamps and sports cards, for example, but buying from established, reputable auction houses offers some degree of safety. Targeting the high end — paying $10,000 or more at an auction for a single coin, stamp, postcard or the like — increases the odds that you own a rare item. The drawback? The value of your investment plunges if someone else finds a box of them in his grandmother’s attic.

Are stamps a good investment? Almost no one mails letters any more so, logically, the hobby should be dying out. Stamp dealers, of course, will argue otherwise.

Three Bloomberg indexes of rare stamp prices, all based on monthly data from venerable stamp and autograph dealer Stanley Gibbons in London (stanleygibbons.com), show prices have been climbing steadily for the past decade. But a stamp dealer is hardly an impartial source, so how do we know the numbers are reliable? . . .

Full story at: Link

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

$2 million collection of Lincoln postage stamps up for auction


DALLAS — After the stamp collection he'd inherited from his father was destroyed in a flood, William J. Ainsworth's passion for the hobby foundered.

A couple of years later, in 1977, then-postmaster general Benjamin F. Bailar helped Ainsworth re-ignite it by suggesting he give the collection a focus. And for the man who at the time was living in a Chicago suburb and admired President Lincoln, the choice seemed obvious.

Ainsworth took the advice to heart and over the next 32 years amassed more than 10,000 stamps depicting Lincoln, a collection that will go up for auction Friday with a pre-sale estimate of more than $2 million.

"He put together what is probably the definitive collection of Lincoln's image on U.S. postage stamps," said Charles Shreve, president of Dallas-based Spink Shreves Galleries, which is holding the auction in New York City. "It's comprehensive. It's the best."

Shreve said the auction, which will offer the collection up in more than 600 lots, has generated worldwide interest.

Among the collection's highlights is a proof of a block of eight mint-condition 90 cent stamps of Lincoln with his image accidentally printed upside-down. The block, one of only two known, is expected to sell for between $30,000 to $50,000, Shreve said.

"Some guy just happened to take one of those sheets and slip it in upside down," Ainsworth said.

A 90 cent vertical block of six Lincoln stamps from 1869 — rare because it was never broken up — is expected to sell for between $100,000 to $150,000, Shreve said.

"If you're a Lincoln stamp collector, you'd be . . .

Full story at: Link

Stamp act: Alley stages sinister play Mauritius


Think stamp collecting is unexciting?

Au contraire! It’s the stuff of high drama in Mauritius.

Theresa Rebeck’s suspense comedy, opening Wednesday at the Alley Theatre, centers on a pair of estranged half-sisters who clash over the inheritance of a stamp collection that may contain two of the rarest and most valuable stamps in existence, if they prove authentic. These are the 1847 one- and two- penny stamps from Mauritius (an island off the coast of Africa), mistakenly inscribed with the words “post office” instead of “post paid.” It’s that small error that makes the stamps “the crown jewel of philately,” worth a fortune.

As the sisters quarrel over ownership and try to determine authenticity, they attract three characters whose designs on the stamps grow increasingly sinister.

“Mauritius is a really cool play to work on,” director Scott Schwartz says.

“It has endless layers of . . .

Full story at: Link

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Simpsons postage stamps ready


NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - "Simpsons" fans can get the first peek at stamps featuring Homer, Marge & Co. -- and vote for their favorite -- when the U.S. Postal Service unveils the designs Thursday morning.

The stamps will be available nationwide on May 7.

"This is the biggest and most adhesive honor 'The Simpsons' has ever received," said creator and executive producer Matt Groening.

Executive producer James Brooks quipped, "We are emotionally moved by the Post Office Department's selecting us rather than making the lazy choice of someone who has benefited society."

The Postal Service is encouraging people to . . .

Full story at: Link

Collectors of tiny pieces of history stick together

NAPLES — For some people, the first was the most memorable.

For others, it fades into an endless procession of memories until the first doesn’t matter anymore — only what came after.

Alice Lopresti can remember the first ones she collected at the age of 12; the vividly colored stamps adorned letters from a pen pal in Ceylon, now the country of Sri Lanka.

“They were pretty and if they were on her letters, I’d save it,” said Lopresti, 52. “That’s how it started.”

Now, co-workers clip stamps off letters for Lopresti to add to her ever-growing collection.

Many of the people perusing exhibits and collectors’ books at this year’s stamp show have collected stamps since they were children. While most can remember where their hobby started, few have ever thought very hard about what . . .

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Friday, April 3, 2009

U.S. postage stamp honors Richard Wright


Richard Wright used his pen to battle racism. The U.S. Postal Service will use his image to do the same -- and to help move the mail.

At a first-day ceremony next Thursday in the Chicago Post Office, a 61-cent commemorative stamp honoring Wright will be issued as the 25th in the Literary Arts series.

The stamp will cover the postage for first-class mail weighing up to 2 ounces when the new postal rates take effect on May 11 (44 cents for the first ounce and 17 cents for the second - the rate for the second ounce doesn't change).

Wright was born in 1908 in Mississippi, the son of an illiterate sharecropper, and he also lived with family members in Tennessee and Arkansas during his childhood. With just a grade-school education, he moved to Memphis at 17 and held menial jobs. As an African-American he wasn't allowed to have a library card, but he checked out books by claiming he was doing it for a white patron. His early literary influences were H.L. Mencken, Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis.

After moving to Chicago . . .

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Vets want Purple Heart 'forever' stamp

DELHI TOWNSHIP, Ohio, March 29 (UPI) -- A veterans' group wants the U.S. Postal Service to make its Purple Heart stamp into a forever stamp so it would not have to be reissued with rate hikes.

Jeff Lefler, whose brother died in the Vietnam War, is secretary of Delhi Veterans Association in Ohio. He is circulating petitions urging the postal service to make the change.

"A Purple Heart 'forever' stamp would not have to be reissued with every rate increase," Lefler said. "And it would remind people that the fight for our freedoms -- for which people receive Purple Hearts -- goes on forever."

The petition drive is in support of . . .

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Milk stamp backers "would get such a thrill licking Harvey again!"

(That quote is just wrong. Not really the thing to say if you want to get people to back the stamp. - A.C. Dwyer)

San Francisco artist Jim Leff has been creating stamp artworks since the 1980s. The postage mockups run the gamut from being homoerotic to political in nature.

His first in the series, created in 1984 when stamps cost 22 cents, is titled "First Class Male" and depicts the backside of a man wearing skimpy white boxer briefs. Another stamp, costing 32 cents and titled "Keep America Green," depicts cannabis plants.

But it is his depiction of a stamp honoring slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk that is now gaining national attention as an effort is under way to convince the U.S. Postal Service to issue an official commemorative stamp in honor of the former San Francisco supervisor.

"I think Jim's version is great – talk about camera ready art. It would be so great if they used an out and stalwart LGBT community artist's work such as Jim Leff's," said Dan Nicoletta, a friend of Milk's who helped oversee last year's effort to place a bust of the late supervisor inside City Hall. "I think the postage stamp project is wonderful. I would get such a thrill licking Harvey again!" . . .

Full story at: Link

Putting a stamp on collecting: Top ten most widely saved U.S. postage stamps

Did you know the most widely saved U.S. stamp was the 1993 Elvis Presley stamp? According to the United States Postal Service, there have been 124 million of these stamps bought and saved. That's a hunka-hunka lot of stamps!

Who is next on the list?

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Berlin presents Commemorative Coin and Postage Stamp Series

On Tuesday, March 31, 2009, the German Minister of Finance Peer Steinbrück presented the 10-euro commemorative coin “IAAF Leichtathletik WM Berlin 2009” (IAAF World Championships in Athletics Berlin 2009) and the postage stamp series “Für den Sport” (For Sports) in honour of the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics berlin 2009™.

This is only the third time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany that a commemorative coin has been issued for an athletic occasion, following the coins created for the Summer Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 and the FIFA World Cup in 2006.

The Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, emphasised the significance of the coin and postage stamp series: “One year after the Olympic Games, we are excited to be . . .

Full story at: Link

The Simpsons finally get to appear on U.S. postage stamps

WASHINGTON (AP) — Don't have a cow, man! The Simpsons will appear on postage stamps. America's most enduring — or is that endearing? — dysfunctional family will be honored on their own stamps, the Postal Service announced.

It's been 20 years since Homer, Marge and family invaded the airwaves on Fox television, and the Postal Service says it plans five stamps featuring the couple and their offspring, Bart, Lisa and Maggie.

No word on their . . .

Full story at: Link