Byodo-In Temple Priority Mail Envelope

The U.S. Postal Service confirms to The Virtual Stamp Club that there is a Priority Mail stamped-envelope with the design of the new Priority Mail stamp.

The envelope can only be order via Stamp Fulfillment Services ( or 1-800-STAMP-24) in packs of 5, 10 and 25. The ordering page is here.

  • 232805 Pack of 5, $33.50
  • 232810 Pack of 10, $67.00
  • 232825 Pack of 25, $167.50

The envelope with the same first-day pictorial cancellation as for the stamp (shown on the left here) can also be ordered from SFS, at this page. A single copy is $7.14. The order number is 232816.

Black History (Canada 2018)

From Details magazine:

Issued on the first day of Black History Month [February], these stamps recognize the contributions of two prominent, ground-breaking Canadians.

Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone (1918-75)
A long-time Toronto resident, Kathleen Livingstone was an activist, humanitarian and popular radio host devoted to the empowerment of Black women. She founded the Canadian Negro Women’s Association in the 1950s and, in 1975, launched the Congress of Black Women of Canada – now a nationwide organization. In 2011, she was named a Person of National Historic Significance by the Government of Canada.

“We are thrilled that people will learn not only about her efforts but also about the kind of person she was: a mother who served her family and a humanitarian who served her people, her city and her country,” says her daughter, Rene Livingstone. “She did it generously and she did it well.”

Lincoln M. Alexander (1922-2012)
Toronto-born Lincoln MacCauley Alexander had a distinguished career as a public servant and became a leader in the fight for racial equality. He was the first Black Canadian to be elected to the House of Commons (1968), appointed to the federal Cabinet (1979) and named to a viceregal position in Canada, as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (1985). He encouraged countless young people to pursue their dreams – often telling them, “I did it. You can. You will.”

Both stamps, designed by Winnipeg-based Tétro, evoke the personal strength of these great Canadians through historic photographs. “The images selected capture a moment that is both internally reflective and formidable,” says designer Paul Tétrault. “The gold metallic glow pays tribute to their visionary influence and trailblazing achievements.”

[press release]
2018 Black History Month stamps celebrate trailblazers Lincoln M. Alexander and Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone
Two prominent Black Canadians devoted their lives to promoting equality and opportunity for everyone

OTTAWA, Jan. 26, 2018 /CNW/ – Canada Post is marking upcoming Black History Month with stamps for 2018 celebrating Lincoln M. Alexander and Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone, two prominent Black Canadians who shattered barriers for visible minorities in Canada. The stamps will be available for purchase at postal outlets and beginning February 1, the start of Black History Month in Canada.

“Lincoln Alexander and Kay Livingstone opened countless doors for Black Canadians and other minorities across the country. They are remarkable role models who fostered Canadian values of diversity, respect and inclusion,” says Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra.

Lincoln Alexander
Born in Toronto, Alexander (1922-2012) was a distinguished public servant who championed racial equality, justice and education in Canada for decades. He was the first Black Canadian to be elected to the House of Commons (1968), appointed to the federal cabinet (1979) and named to a viceregal position in Canada, as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (1985). He encouraged countless youth to pursue their dreams, often telling them: “I did it. You can. You will.” In recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments, January 21 has been celebrated as Lincoln Alexander Day across Canada since 2015.

Kathleen (Kay) Livingstone
Raised in London, Ont., Livingstone (1918-75) lived most of her adult life in Toronto, where she was a popular radio host and became one of Canada’s most prominent visionaries, activists and humanitarians. She devoted her life to empowering Black women and is credited with coining the term “visible minority.” In the 1950s, she founded the Canadian Negro Women’s Association. In 1973, she organized the first National Congress of Black Women, and in 1975 launched the Congress of Black Women of Canada, a now nationwide organization dedicated to the welfare of Black women and their families. In 2011, she was named a Person of National Historic Significance by the Government of Canada.

NPM Gets War Cover Collection

[press release]

The National Postal Museum has accepted a donation of three volumes of postally used envelopes collected by the late Dr. George S. Brooks of Winchester, Kentucky. Dr. Brooks formed the collection in honor of his son LTJG George S. Brooks, Jr. USN, who was lost at sea aboard the submarine USS Pompano off the coast of Japan during World War II.

Pompano left Midway Island on patrol August 20, 1943 and never returned; its exact fate has never been conclusively determined. The elder Brooks channeled pride and grief for his son into collecting military mail that chronicled the hardships and sacrifices of wartime, especially the difficulties faced by military personnel and civilians in communicating from forward areas, secret locations and prisoner-of-war camps. Some of the last envelopes exchanged by Lieutenant Brooks and his parents – one marked simply “missing” – are an especially poignant part of the collection.

The donation was made by George S. Brooks II, accompanied by his wife, Kathy, and other members of his family. Mr. Brooks is the grandson of Dr. Brooks and the nephew of Lieutenant Brooks.

“Besides adding considerable depth to our military mail collections, the Brooks family’s gift will make it possible for the National Postal Museum to share their grandfather’s passion for collecting with others,” said Daniel Piazza, chief curator of philately.

The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Avenue N.E., Washington, D.C., across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). For more information about the Smithsonian, please call (202) 633-1000 or visit the museum website at

Women in Winter Sports (Canada 2018)

[press release]
Canada Post celebrates Canadian Women in Winter Sports
Six barrier-breaking role models honoured in special five-stamp issue

CALGARY – Weeks before the cauldrons are lit for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in South Korea, Canada Post lifted the veil on stamps that honour some of the most accomplished athletes Canada has known.

The Women in Winter Sports stamp issue commemorates six remarkable athletes in five beautiful stamps: Sharon and Shirley Firth (cross-country skiing); Sonja Gaudet (wheelchair curling); Danielle Goyette (hockey); Nancy Greene (alpine skiing); and Clara Hughes (cycling and speed skating).

“Sport is a vital element of our cultural fabric. It has the power to build bridges between people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities,” says the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement. “The women of these stamps have contributed to Canada beyond the medals they’ve won or the records they’ve broken. As a group, they have been champions of accessibility, community-builders and thought leaders.”

“The women who share the podium in these stamps broke barriers, inspired generations and have contributed to our country’s national story both on and off of the ice and snow,” says Deepak Chopra, President and CEO of Canada Post. “They have been ambassadors for their sports, impressive role models and a great source of national pride.”

The stars were honoured today at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Canada Olympic Park, a hub of winter sport. Shirley Firth, who passed away in 2013 at age 59, was represented by her husband, Jan Larsson, and daughters Marie and Nina Larsson.

Designed by Roy White, Matthew Clark and Jacquie Shaw of Subplot Design Inc. of Vancouver, B.C., the stamps marry candid photos with action shots of the athletes. The stamps and all related products are available at retail outlets and online at

Sharon and Shirley Firth transformed Inuvik into a hotbed of Nordic skiing. They competed in four Olympic Games and four World Ski Championships and dominated their sport from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, winning 79 medals at the national championships, including 48 national titles.

Sonja Gaudet is the world’s most decorated wheelchair curler, with three Paralympic gold medals and three World Wheelchair Curling Championships. A tireless advocate for accessibility, she is an ambassador with the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Paralympic Committee.

Danielle Goyette scored more than 100 career goals and dominated women’s hockey into her 40s. She won two Olympic gold medals and a silver, as well as eight gold medals at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships. She was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.

Nancy Greene put Canada on the map in alpine skiing. She competed at Squaw Valley in 1960, Innsbruck in 1964 and Grenoble in 1968, winning gold and silver medals. Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century, Greene won 17 Canadian titles, 13 World Cup victories and three U.S. Ski Championships.

Clara Hughes is the only athlete in history to win multiple medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. She made six Olympic appearances, winning six medals: one gold, one silver and four bronze – in cycling and speed skating.

Entertainment Legends Awards (Australia 2018)

[press release]
Australian TV entertainment greats celebrated in this year’s Australia Post Legends Awards

18th January 2018 — Five of Australia’s much loved television personalities will today be honoured in Australia Post’s 2018 Legends Awards to celebrate their significant contribution to the country’s entertainment industry.

This year’s legends – Denise Drysdale, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Ray Martin AM, Bert Newton AM MBE and Daryl Somers OAM – will each have their image featured on new postage stamps, which will form part of the 2018 Legends of TV Entertainment stamp series.

Australia Post Managing Director and Group CEO, Christine Holgate, said all of the award recipients have demonstrated imagination, perseverance and compassion throughout their distinguished entertainment careers.

“Each of these multi-award winning television personalities have made unique contributions to the Australian entertainment industry and have played a role in forming our national popular culture,” Ms Holgate said.

“They are consummate performers who have entertained, informed and entranced generations of Australians. Together they encompass an incredible range of remarkable talents including journalism, variety hosting, interviewing, singing, acting and comedy.”

Now in its 22nd year, the Australia Post Legends Award celebrates the lives of living Australians who have made a unique contribution, inspired the community and influenced the way Australians think about themselves and the community.

Past recipients have included Sir Donald Bradman, Dame Joan Sutherland, Barry Humphries, Medical Scientists, Legends of Philanthropy, Fashion Legends, Legends of the Screen, Legends of Cooking, and Legends of Singles Tennis. A complete list of past recipients can be found at

The 2018 Australia Post Legends will be honoured at official Australia Day Council events hosted in Melbourne and Sydney, with the first luncheon taking place in Melbourne today. Each Legend will be presented with a unique 24-carat gold replica of their stamp at the luncheon.

The 2018 Legends of TV Entertainment will feature on a $1 stamp, a first day cover, stamp pack, maxicards, and booklet pack for collectors.

The stamps and associated products are available at participating Post Offices, via mail order phone 1800 331 794, and online at from 18 January 2018 while stocks last.

2018 U.S. Postal Rates




Letters (1 oz.)

49 cents

50 cents

Letters additional ounces

21 cents

21 cents

Letters (metered)

46 cents

47 cents

Outbound International Letters (1 oz.)



Domestic Postcards

34 cents

35 cents





Small Flat Rate Box



Medium Flat Rate Box



Large Flat Rate Box



APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box



Regular Flat Rate Envelope



Legal Flat Rate Envelope



Padded Flat Rate Envelope



Convict History (Australia 2018)

Australia Post is this month commemorating the 150th anniversary since the last convict transport ship docked in Australia, with the release of three new stamps.

Australia Post Philatelic Manager Michael Zsolt said the stamp issue depicted three former penal colonies — New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and Swan River (Western Australia).

“We trust Australian history buffs and those with a convict family connection will find this stamp issue of great interest,” Mr Zsolt said.

From the first days of penal transportation to the Australian colonies, the forced labour of convicts formed part of a penal system that would help build thriving settlements.

The two domestic base-rate ($1) and one international rate ($3) stamps were designed by Tim Hancock of Melbourne-based design studio Backpack.

  • The NSW Colony stamp (above) features the heritage-listed Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney – the first government-built convict barracks. Opened in 1819, it served as a principal depot for male convicts in NSW until 1848. The stamp design also shows the ticket of leave, dispensed for good behaviour, issued to William Anson in 1828 and a lithograph of a Sydney chain gang.
  • The Van Diemen’s Land stamp (right) represents the World Heritage-listed Port Arthur – a penal settlement for men and operated from 1830 to 1877. The penitentiary is one of the site’s most recognisable buildings. The stamp design also features a graphic of a convict love token, which is believed to relate to John Camplin, a 15-year-old convicted of stealing a silver watch, who received the death penalty, which was later commuted to life imprisonment.
  • The Swan River Colony stamp (below) depicts the end of the convict transportation era. The Hougoumont was the last convict ship to sail to Australia, carrying 279 prisoners to the Swan River Colony in 1868. The stamp shows the Convict Establishment, built in the early 1850s with convict labour, and later known as Fremantle Prison. The stamp design also shows a fragment of text from The Wild Goose, a newspaper written by the Irish political prisoners aboard the Hougoumont.

The products associated with this stamp issue are a first day cover, stamp pack, maxicard set of three, postal numismatic cover, sheetlet of five $3 self-adhesive stamps, booklet of 10 x $1 stamps and a roll of 100 x $1 self-adhesive stamps.

The Convict Past stamp issue is available from participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at while stocks last.

The Gevatron (Folk Music Group) (Israel 2018)

This stamp will be issued February 6. From Israel Post:

The Gevatron – 70 Years

The Gevatron Chorus was founded in 1948 by a group of young people from Kibbutz Kvutzat Geva in the Jezreel Valley to perform at the dedication ceremony for a new basketball court.

When asked “How did the group come into being?” one of the original members replied, “We used to sing together in the granary”, uniting, strengthening singing that causes one to forget the poverty and the difficulty of daily life.

The group’s name, the Gevatron, was reminiscent of the popular Palmach troupe the Chizbatron (which is also being honored with a stamp). To this day, members of the chorus come from Kibbutz Geva or from nearby kibbutzim Beit HaShita and Kfar HaHoresh, the towns of Moledet, Kfar Tavor and Tamrat, and the city of Afula. Participants are all Volunteers.

At first, the troupe only appeared at Kvutzat Geva and in the surrounding area, performing songs about kibbutz life. Composer Nachum Heiman began working with the chorus in 1961 and diversified its repertoire. The group was initially accompanied by an accordion player and later by a number of musicians. Various musical arrangers worked with the troupe after Heiman, including Haim Agmon, Dov Carmel, Zvika Caspi and Ilan Gilboa, who has served as the chorus’ musical director for the past 28 years.

The Gevatron has a rich repertoire, comprised of songs written especially for the troupe as well as its own versions of familiar Israeli songs. The troupe is mostly identified with “songs of the homeland” and songs about settling the country, although it has recorded numerous styles and arrangements. Some of its most well known songs are: Yam Hashibolim (Sea of Grain Stalks), Emek Sheli (My Valley), Gvanim (Color Shades), Nitsanim Niru Ba’aretz (Flowers Appeared in the Land), El Borot Hamayim (To the Cisterns), Or Ve’Yerushalayim (Light and Jerusalem), Ha’Hita Zomachat Shuv (The Wheat Sprouts Again) and Bat Shishim (At Sixty).

Throughout most of its existence, the troupe was led by Rina Firstenberg, who took the managerial duties upon herself. The height of the troupe’s success came in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when it performed extensively in Israel and abroad, mostly on a volunteer basis.

On Independence Day 2007, the Gevatron was awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and contribution to the State of Israel.

—The Gevatron

Description of the Stamp
The stamp design was inspired by a Gevatron album cover designed by and courtesy of Menachem Lasky. The stamp tab features a quote from the song Yam Hashibolim (Sea of Grain Stalks). Lyrics: YItzchak Kinan, Music: Haim Agmon.

Ha’Chizbatron (Folk Music Group) (Israel 2018)

This stamp will be issued February 6. From Israel Post:

Ha’Chizbatron – 70 Years

Ha’Chizbatron – The Palmach Troupe 1948-1950
“The Chizbatron Troupe was established from within the Palmach during Israel’s War of Independence and accompanied the paupers’ army that arose from the underground organizations to face intense war”, said poet Haim Gouri.

[The Palmach was the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Israeli community during the British Mandate post World War II. —VSC]

Poet Haim Hefer, a veteran of the Palmach, knew and understood that the soldiers desperately needed a respite between the fierce battles. He knew of the Red Army military bands and the role they played during WWII and thought to establish such a band in Israel as well. He asked Palmach commander Yigal Alon for a budget of 10 GBP to purchase an accordion. Alon liked the idea and provided the requested funds. Thus began this important and successful troupe, which left its mark on musical masterpieces for generations to come.

The first production included improvised skits and foreign melodies to which Haim Hefer added well written texts. Shaike Ophir and Naomi Polany were recruited from among the Palmach ranks, accompanied by Yoel Zilber on the accordion. The Negev desert area was under siege at that time, and was accessible only via air. The troupe flew south and went from post to post, where they were received very warmly. While en route to Kibbutz Be’eri, the troupe’s truck drove over a landmine. Troupe member Ohela Halevy was seriously injured and recognized as an IDF disabled veteran. This event of course changed things and it was necessary to reorganize and even write new material. Director Shmuel Bunim came into the picture and new troupe members were recruited.

Hefer wrote lyrics for melodies by Sasha Argov, Moshe Wilinsky, Parshko and David Zehavi.

The Chizbatron’s most well known songs included: Hare’ut (The Friendship), Hayu Zmanim (There were Times), Hen Efshar (Yes, it’s Possible), Hey Ha’Jeep (Hey, the Jeep), Hakol Inyan Shel Ofi (It’s all a Matter of Character) and more.

The Chizbatron staged four productions during its military tenure and a fifth as a civilian theater. Shaike Ophir did not participate in the fifth production, because he left to study mime under Marcel Marceau in Paris. His absence was felt immediately and the fifth production was not popular among audiences, despite its high level material (which may have been overly political).

Some Chizbatron members went on to study at the Cameri Theater acting school and others returned to their private lives. We were left with wonderful memories which we carry with us to this day. Today there are only three living former Chizbatron members: Naomi Polani, Shlomo Bar-Shavit and Rivkaleh Kramer. We continue to meet monthly to reminisce.

— Rivkaleh Kramer

Description of the Stamp and First Day Cover
The stamp and first day cover feature a photo of the Chizbatron members performing in a tent. Courtesy of: the Palmach Museum. Part of a drawing by Arie Navon appears on the stamp, from the Israeli Museum of Caricature and Comics, Holon, courtesy of the family. The Palmach insignia is also featured.

WWI: Indian Cavalry (Israel 2018)

This stamp will be issued February 6. From Israel Post:

WWI in Eretz Israel Centenary – The Indian Cavalry, Haifa (1918)

When WWI broke out in August 1914, the Ottoman Empire formed an alliance with the Central Powers (Germany and Austria) against the Allies (Britain, France and Russia). The Great War, as it was known at the time, went on for more than four years and fundamentally changed world history in general and the situation in Eretz Israel in particular.

In early 1918, after an offensive in which the British conquered the southern part of Eretz Israel from the Ottoman army, the frontline between the two forces was drawn along the Abu Tellul ridge. Both armies were exhausted from their strenuous efforts during the previous several months. They were in need of a respite in order to regroup and renew equipment and supplies. Some of the British troops were transferred to the Western Front in Europe, and military forces from India were sent to Eretz Israel to replace them. The large British offensive to conquer the northern part of Eretz Israel began on September 19, 1918. British and Indian forces broke through the Turkish line near the Poleg River and proceeded rapidly northward along the coastal plain. By evening, the attackers reached the Tul Karem area, the next day they captured Afula and Nazareth and on September 21st British aircraft attacked the retreating Turks in northern Samaria, inflicting many casualties.

The British route of attack did not include Haifa, and conquering the city was not part of the plan at that stage. However, on September 22nd an erroneous report was received advising that the Turks had abandoned the city. When they attempted to enter the city, the British were met with fierce resistance and barely succeeded in extracting their troops. Following this failure, the Indian 5th Cavalry Regiment was ordered to conquer Haifa. On the morning of the 23rd the Ramchi Jodphur battalion began progressing toward Haifa, but was not able to achieve its goal. At 2:00 pm another battalion, commanded by Major Takhur Dalfat Singh was assigned the task. The battalion’s cavalrymen bravely charged the Turks’ machine gun positions, subdued them and successfully conquered Haifa. Major Dalfat Singh, who was killed during the attack, was posthumously called “The Hero of Haifa”. This battle is considered by the Indian military to be one of the cornerstones of its military history, and it is marked annually with ceremonies throughout India.

In the following days, the British continued their progress northward, which was concluded on September 30th, with the capture of Damascus. A short time thereafter the Ottoman Empire conceded, thus ending WWI on the Eastern Front.

Description of the Stamp and the First Day Cover
The stamp features an Indian cavalryman (Library of Congress, from photos of the American Colony in Jerusalem) against the background of the Indian Cavalry battalion in the streets of lower Haifa (Imperial War Museum). The tab features the insignia of the Indian army’s Ramchi Jodphur battalion.

The first day cover features a photo of the monument erected in the British Military Cemetery in Haifa in memory of the Indian soldiers who fell during WWI. The background features a British military map depicting the battle moves for capturing the Haifa area in September 1918. Photo: National Library of Israel.

Production of the WWI in Eretz Israel Centenary stamp series is aided by The Society for the Heritage of World War I in Israel, which researches the events of the war, publishes books on the subject and hosts conferences and tours for members of the society and the general public.