Zais Edges Nilsestuen For APS Presidency

Mick-ZaisIn one of the most contested American Philatelic Society elections in recent years — while maintaining an air of civility — Mick Zais of South Carolina (right) has been elected President for a three-year term that begins at APS StampShow 2016 in August. [Links go to the candidates’ statements.]

Zais defeated Ken Nilsestuen of Ohio by a mere 3.5% of the vote.

For Board of Vice Presidents, the three-person ticket of Trish Kaufmann, Jeff Shapiro, and Bob Zeigler upset the slate that included incumbents Alex Haimann and Yamil Kouri, plus newcomer John Barwis. The “BVP” is the disciplinary body of the APS, hearing cases that cannot be resolved by an APS staffer.

For Secretary, a position that is rarely contested, Steve Schumann defeated Mark Butterline.

McCann,-Peter-#2-smile-5-03-08aFormer president Peter McCann (left) returns to the Board as a Director-at-Large, polling significantly more votes than any other candidate. He will be joined by Mark Schwartz, Rich Drews and Michael Bloom. The one candidate not elected was Gordon Eubanks, but less than 5 percent of the vote separated Eubanks from Schwartz.

Kristin Patterson and Steve Zwillinger, both coming off terms as Directors-at-Large, easily won election to the American Philatelic Research Library Board of Trustees. Hugh Lawrence was also elected to the APRL Board, in voting by Founders, Patrons and Fellows of the Library.

Here are the complete voting results released by the APS:

President

*Mick Zais Columbia, SC 2,016 51.7%
Ken Nilsestuen Akron, OH 1,882 48.2%
Other   3 0.1%

Board of Vice President (run as a team of 3)

*Patricia (Trish) Kaufmann Lincoln, DE    
*Jeff Shapiro Fayville, MA 2,220 56.9%
*Robert Zeigler Indianapolis, IN    
John Barwis Holland, MI    
Alex Haimann St. Louis, MO 1,676 43%
Yamil Kouri Lexington, MA    
Other   4 0.1%

Secretary

*Stephen Schumann Hayward, CA 2,151 55.9%
Mark Butterline Maynard, MA 1,698 44.1%

Treasurer

*Bruce Marsden Short Hills, NJ 2,306 59.8%
Edwin Andrews Chapel Hill, NC 1,549 40.2%

Director-at-Large (Four Open Seats)

      Percentage of Total Ballots
*Peter McCann University Park, FL 3,049 77.2%
*Mark Schwartz Philadelphia, PA 2,748 70%
*Rich Drews Palatine, IL 2,724 68.9%
*Michael Bloom Portland, OR 2,627 66.5%
Gordon Eubanks Pebble Beach, CA 2,583 65.4%
Other   8  

 

APRL Board of Trustees

APS Member-elected (Two Open Seats)

      Percentage of Total Ballots
*Steven Zwillinger Silver Spring, MD 2,915 73.8%
*Kristin Patterson San Jose, CA 2,777 70.3%
Mark Banchik Great Neck, NY 1,322 33.5%
Other   4  

APRL Founder/Patron (Elected by Founders, Patrons, and Fellows of the APRL)

*Hugh Lawrence Encinitas, CA 36

 

Lazaroff Completes 50-State Sweep

chris_yellowstone01American First Day Cover Society Immediate Past President Chris Lazaroff is shown in this photo taking a sneak peak in Yellowstone National Park at what would become his 300th first-day ceremony in 50 states. That’s right: Chris has now attended at least one ceremony in every state, as well as a few territories and a District. I’ll have the story in an upcoming issue of Linn’s Stamp News.

His first ceremony was in 1982, but he didn’t get serious until 1989. Wyoming was the last state he needed.

Recovered Jenny Invert Turned Over To APRL

jennyfound08Sundman Also Decides To Extend Reward Offer

June 2, 2016 — The recovered Jenny Invert stamp, stolen in 1955 from a major stamp show, was turned over Thursday to its owner, the American Philatelic Research Library. Making the announcement and then displaying the stamp was APRL executive director Scott  English, while standing in front of an actual JN-4 biplane on display at World Stamp Show-New York 2016. (Behind English, left to right, APRL president Roger Brody, Mystic Stamp Company president Donald Sundman, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.)

There was no amplification for the event, unfortunately.

The stamp was part of a block of four owned by Ethel McCoy. The block was removed from a display at the American Philatelic Society convention in Richmond, Va. McCoy left the stamps, if ever recovered, to the APRL. One was found in 1977, another in 1982, and then, for 34 years, it was a “cold case.”

jennyfound16Mystic Stamp Company president Donald Sundman in September 2014 offered a $50,000 reward for the recovery of the two missing stamps, and “I thought it would be found right away with the initial press coverage,” he told The Virtual Stamp Club. It wasn’t.

“Sundman probably never expected having to write a check,” English told the reporters and onlookers.

jennyfound03Then, last month, Keelin O’Neil (right) of Belfast, Northern Ireland, brought the stamp in to the Spink USA auction house in New York, seeking to sell it. He had found it in his grandfather’s collection. Spink sent it to the Philatelic Foundation for an appraisal, and it was determined that it was one of the two missing stamps, although it had been altered to hide its identity.

O’Neil’s reaction? “Shock, more than anything,” he told The VSC. “When I found out it was stolen, I wanted to return it to its rightful owner.”

“I don’t think he had a choice,” Sundman says. “When the Philatelic Foundation jennyfound24recognized that the stamp was stolen, they contacted the FBI, so he wasn’t getting the stamp back, once it went to the Foundation.”

However, O’Neil is getting the $50,000 reward, as presented by Sundman during the news conference.

The U.S. Justice Department then took a few weeks to determine who that “rightful owner” was.

jennyfound04“This was good citizenship,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “They did the right thing and they ought to be commended for it.”

O’Neil tells The VSC he’s surprised at all the attention the recovery of the stamp is getting, and also how much attention stamp collecting is getting at WSS-NY.

“Now I actually feel kind of hopeful” that the one remain stamp from the “McCoy Block” will surface, Sundman said in The VSC interview, because of the press coverage for the return of the stamp. Among those covering the news conference were the local affiliates for CBS, NBC and Fox, New York 1, and Reuters print and television.

Sundman’s original reward offer ran through the end of World Stamp Show-New York 2016, which is Saturday, June 4.

jennyfound06“I told Roger [Brody, president of the APRL], ‘I’ve got to have a time limit on this, because I don’t want my grandkids to have to pay off this reward,” Sundman told The Virtual Stamp Club. (At left, Brody receives the recover stamp, Jenny Invert position 76, from Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director in Charge, New York Field Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation.)

However, he is now extending it through the end of 2016, at the request of English.

“The more I thought about it, I think it’s great for the hobby and great for the APS, and so I’ve decided to do that today,” he said.

mccoy76jennyTo mask the stamp’s identity, someone altered the left-side perforations and regummed the stamp, which removed the penciled number applied in 1918. However, because the two-color printing process in 1918 was so rudimentary, the centering of each stamp is different enough that the Philatelic Foundation was able to identify it anyway.

The stamp will reside at APS/APRL headquarters in Bellefonte, Pa., “to share it with our members for awhile,” English told reporters.

How much is the recovered stamp worth? While the best-condition copy of the error stamp sold during this show for $1,175,000, another not-as-good copy, also “reperfed” sold the following day (June 1) for $190,000. “We won’t know [the value of the recovered stamp] until we sell it,” English said.

National Research Council envelope (Canada 2016)

From Canada Post’s Details magazine:
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF CANADA Commemorative envelopeIssue date: June 6thcan_researchenv

We honour the 100th anniversary of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) by showcasing some of the many cutting-edge Canadian inventions it has fostered over the past century. From advances in early aviation safety and nuclear medicine to vaccines and space-based engineering, they represent NRC’s dedication to the science and innovation that builds new industry, enhances national security, and improves the well-being of Canadians

Congressman Calls for U.S. World War I Stamps

lowresCleaverRep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Missouri, is calling on the U.S. Postal Service to issue stamps in 2017, 2018 and 2019 commemorating the country’s involvement in World War I. He has been active in commemorating World War I in other ways, from commemorative coins to designating existing monuments and parks as national monuments for the war.

“These stamps will allow us to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of World War I,” Cleaver said in a press released posted on his Congressional website.

Why 2019, when the war ended in 1918?

“The Treaty of Versailles, formally ending the war, was signed by Germany and the Allied Nations on June 28, 1919,” the press release says.

$_57In a letter to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, Cleaver says, “no stamp exists to honor the brave veterans of World War I.” He or his staff must have missed Sc. 2154, issued in 1985, and shown on the left, or some of the other World War I-related stamps, such as the “I Want You” Uncle Sam poster in the Celebrate the Century series.

He may also be unaware that the USPS would never (well, hardly ever) announce plans for a stamp this far in advance. We’ll learn about 2017 stamps in 2016 or, more likely, 2017.

We talked about why the U.S. hasn’t yet issued any World War I stamps a year ago in a radio feature.

Here’s the complete text of his letter:

ctc_samEarlier this month, I had the pleasure of being present at the White House when President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army Sergeant William Shemin and Army Private Henry Johnson for conspicuous gallantry during World War I. The year 2017 will mark the centennial of America’s first engagement in World War I and commemoration of the anniversary will consist of educational and interactive events nationwide, including the construction and dedication of the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Mint will begin circulation of a WWI Commemorative Coin in 2018 to celebrate those who served. It seems fitting for the United States Postal Service to join in honoring the memory of World War I, its role in American and world history, and its veterans with a commemorative series of stamps from 2017-2019.

The United States Postal Service has a history of memorializing significant historical events through stamps, including the 100th Anniversary of the Civil War, World War II, Vietnam War Veterans, Korean War Veterans, Desert Storm-Desert Shield, Rough Riders 50th Anniversary, and the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, but no stamp exists to honor the brave veterans of World War I.

More than four million men and women from the United States served in uniform during World War I and over two million American soldiers served overseas in our pursuit for peace. Issuing a series of stamps would allow us to pay tribute to the diversity of American involvement in World War I hostilities while honoring the memory, service, and sacrifice of over four million outstanding Americans.

Once again, I ask the Committee to give careful consideration to a series of postage stamps commemorating World War I. Between the World War I Centennial Commission, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and the hundreds of state and local organizations working on this effort, I believe there would be significant interest in these stamps. It is time to pay tribute to the great sacrifices made by these brave Americans.

RIP Les Winick 1927-2015

Longtime Linn’s Stamp News columnist Les Winick has died at the age of 87 in Galesburg, Illinois. The local paper in its obituary says “his passion became promoting the hobby of stamp collecting.”

Many collectors remember him as the executive director of Ameripex ’86, the very successful “international” stamp show in Chicago.

Although we corresponded a few times, I’m afraid I only met him once, briefly. If you knew him, or even if your memories of Les are only through his writing and other philatelic work, please take a moment to share your thoughts here.

Medal of Honor: Vietnam War (U.S. 2015)

Updated May 20th: Here are the inside pages for the booklet, with photographs of most of the living recipients.

But not one, the one who lives closest to the first day ceremony, in a Washington suburb: He hates his official DOD photo, and wouldn’t give permission for its use!

If you click on the pictures, you’ll get larger versions on which the text should be readable. MOHinside1MOHinside2

MOHinside3MOHinside4Updated May 13th: Here are the first day postmarks for this issue: moh_viet_dcp_vscsize: 2.16″ x 2.60″moh_viet_bw_vsc3.96″ x 1.97″

Updated April 15th from the Postal Bulletin:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.00.01 AMOn May 25, 2015, in Washington, DC, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue Medal of Honor: Vietnam War First-Class Mail® Forever® stamps, in three designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) prestige folio of 24 stamps (Item 589700).

The stamps will go on sale nationwide May 25, 2015.

In October 2014, the U.S. Postal Service invited the last living Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients to join in hon­oring the extraordinary courage of every member awarded the medal for their valorous actions during the war. The first and fourth pages of this four-page prestige folio display photographs of the 48 living recipients of the Medal of Honor from the Vietnam War who agreed to be part of this issuance. The photographs on each of these pages sur­round a group of 12 Forever stamps (24 total), consisting of three different designs, one for each version of the Medal of Honor: that of the Army, the Navy (also presented to members of the Marine Corps), and the Air Force. Page two contains a short piece of text and a key to the individuals pictured. Page three features an alphabetical listing of those individuals who agreed to be included and of the deceased Medal of Honor recipients from the Vietnam War. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the prestige folio and the stamps, working with photographs of the medals by Richard Frasier.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store® website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.00.01 AMMedal of Honor: Vietnam War Stamps
Special Events
PO Box 92282
Washington, DC 20090-2282

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers have to pay five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by July 24, 2015.

There are nine philatelic products for this stamp issue:

  • 589706 Press Sheet with Die-cut, $35.28 (print quantity 1,000)
  • 589708 Press Sheet without Die-cut, $35.28 (print quantity 1,500)
  • 589710 Digital Color Postmark Keepsake (set of 3), $16.95
  • 589716 First-Day Cover (set of 3), $2.79
  • 589721 Digital Color Postmark (set of 3), $4.92
  • 589724 Framed Art, $39.95
  • 589730 Ceremony Program, $6.95
  • 589731 Stamp Deck Card, $0.95
  • 589732 Stamp Deck Card with Digital Color Postmark (random stamp), $1.99

Technical Specifications:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.00.01 AMIssue: Medal of Honor: Vietnam War Stamps
Item Number: 589700
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
Format: Prestige Folio of 24 (3 designs)
Series: N/A
Issue Date & City: May 25, 2015, Washington DC 20066
Designer: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Art Director: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Typographer: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Photographer: Richard Frasier, Vienna, VA
Modeler: Donald Woo
Manufacturing Process: Offset, Microprint
Printer: Banknote Corporation of America/SSP
Printed at: Browns Summit, NC
Press Type: Alprinta 74
Stamps per Pane: 24
Print Quantity: 30 million stamps
Paper Type: Phosphor Tagged Paper, Block
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive
Processed at: Banknote Corporation of America, Browns Summit SC
Colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Metallic Gold, Gray
Stamp Orientation: Vertical
Image Area (w x h): 0.84 x 1.42 in./21.34 x 36.07 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 0.98 x 1.56 in./24.89 x 39.62 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 7.5 x 17.0 in./7.5 x 8.5 mm (folded)
Press Sheets Size 
(w x h): 22.5 x 17.00 in./ 571.50 x 431.80 mm
Plate Size: 72 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: “S” followed by six (6) single digits
Marginal Markings: © 2015 USPS • Plate position diagram 
• Barcode (589700) • Promotional text

Updated March 24th: First day ceremony information from the USPS: Medal of Honor Vietnam
Memorial Day, May 25 at 1:30 p.m.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in DC

From the USPS Conference Call earlier in the month:
May 25th, Washington first day: 1 p.m. ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial “The Wall.” The front and back of the panes will be a little different than previous Medal of Honor issues. There are 48 living recipients who have agreed to be part of this. Some will be depicted on the front, some on the back, and a listing of all the recipients will be “inside.” Panes of 24. Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.00.01 AM More from the USPS:
With Medal of Honor: Vietnam War, the U.S. Postal Service® issues its third prestige folio.

This format consists of a large sheet folded in half to form four separate pages. When folded, the two-pane design is 8 ½ inches wide by 7 ½ inches tall.

The first and fourth pages (front and back) display photographs of the 48 living recipients who agreed to be part of the Medal of Honor Vietnam War issuance.

The photographs on each of these pages surround a group of 12 Forever® stamps (24 total), consisting of three different designs, one for the Medal of Honor: for the Army, the Navy (also presented to members of the Marine Corps), and for the Air Force (1960s).

Page two contains selvage text and a key to the individuals pictured. Page three consists of an alphabetical listing of those living individuals who agreed to be included and of the deceased Medal of Honor recipients from the Vietnam War.

Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the prestige folio and the stamps, working with photographs of the medals by Richard Frasier.

Currently finalizing and getting approval for photographs of the living recipients.

[March 5th press release]

Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipients To be Recognized on Forever Stamp Sheet
Stamps to be Dedicated Memorial Day at Vietnam Veterans MemorialScreen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.00.01 AM
WASHINGTON — Sun., March 8, marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the ground war in Vietnam with the deployment of 3,500 Marines. By war’s end on April 30, 1975, nearly 3 million service men and women fought in the conflict that would take the lives of more than 58,000 Americans.

Of those who served during the Vietnam War, 258 were awarded the Medal of Honor. More than six out of 10 award recipients made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives while performing the courageous acts for which they were later honored. American military advisers had been involved in South Vietnam since the 1950s.

The Postal Service will honor these brave Americans by dedicating the Limited Edition Vietnam War Medal of Honor Prestige Folio Forever stamps on Memorial Day, May 25. The 1 p.m. ceremony, hosted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and the National Park Service, will take place at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The event is free and open to the public.

The Prestige Folio stamp sheet depicting many of the nearly 50 living Vietnam War recipients will be previewed later. The folio, which lists the names of all 258 recipients, will be modeled after the World War II and Korean War Medal of Honor Prestige Folio stamp sheets issued in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Nation’s Most Prestigious Military Decoration
Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.00.01 AMThe Medal of Honor is our nation’s most prestigious military decoration. It is awarded by the president of the United States on behalf of Congress to members of the armed services who distinguish themselves through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty” while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States.

The Medal of Honor traces its origins to the first year of the Civil War, when Congress saw the need for a formal means of recognizing or rewarding acts of heroism. In 1861, James W. Grimes, a senator from Iowa, introduced a bill to “promote the efficiency of the Navy” by distributing “medals of honor.” President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law on Dec. 21, 1861. Lincoln signed a similar measure on behalf of the U.S. Army on July 12, 1862, and the country had two Medals of Honor: one for sailors, and one for soldiers.

Three Versions of the Medal of Honor
There are now three similar, yet distinct, versions of the Medal of Honor, one for each Military Department (Army, Navy, and Air Force). The medals are similar in that each consists of a variation of a five-pointed star worn around the neck on a light blue ribbon. The Navy version is awarded to those serving in the Navy and Marine Corps, and during times of war, to members of the Coast Guard. The Air Force, which was established as an independent department in 1947, adopted its distinctive Medal of Honor in 1965. The first presentation of the U.S. Air Force’s medal took place in 1967 during the Vietnam War.

Missing Children (U.S. 2015)

Updated May 13th: Here is the first-day Digital Color Postmark for this issue: missing_dcp_vscsize: 2.47″ x 1.23″. The Black & White or “rubber” postmark is the standard FDOI 4-bar.

Updated April 15 from the Postal Bulletin:
Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.55.35 AMOn May 18, 2015, in Anaheim, CA, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue the Missing Children First-Class Mail® Forever® stamp, in one design, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps (Item 473100).

The stamp will go on sale nationwide May 18, 2015.

Affirming its long-standing commitment to help find missing children, the U.S. Postal Service® issues this new stamp to make the public more aware of the ways they can assist — and to offer hope to families as they continue their search. The stamp features a photograph by Harald Biebel showing a small bunch of purple forget-me-nots alongside a single flower. Text at the top of the stamp reads “FORGET-ME-NOT.” Text along the bottom of the stamp reads “HELP FIND MISSING CHILDREN.” The pane’s verso text discusses this important issue, describes the program that delivers materials featuring photos of missing children to millions of American homes, and provides con­tact information for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store® website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.55.35 AMMissing Children Stamp
Postmaster
Anaheim Post Office
701 North Loera Street
Anaheim, CA 92803-2282

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers have to pay five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by July 17, 2015.

There are eight philatelic products for this stamp issue:

  • 473106 Press Sheet with Die-cut, $58.80 (print quantity 500)
  • 473108, Press Sheet without Die-cut, $58.80 (print quantity 1,500)
  • 473110 Digital Color Postmark Keepsake, $11.95
  • 473116 First-Day Cover, $0.93
  • 473121 Digital Color Postmark, $1.64
  • 473130 Ceremony Program, $6.95
  • 473131 Stamp Deck Card, $0.95
  • 473132 Stamp Deck Card with Digital Color Postmark, $1.99

Technical Specifications:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.55.35 AMIssue: Missing Children Stamp
Item Number: 473100
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
Format: Pane of 20 (1 design)
Series: N/A
Issue Date & City: May 18, 2015, Anaheim, CA 92803
Designer: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Art Director: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Typographer: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Existing Photo: Harald Biebel
Modeler: Joseph Sheeran
Manufacturing Process: Offset, Microprint
Printer: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
Printed at: Williamsville, NY
Press Type: Muller A76
Stamps per Pane: 20
Print Quantity: 60 million stamps
Paper Type: Nonphosphored Type III, Block Tag
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive
Processed at: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
Colors: Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, PMS 159 Orange
Stamp Orientation: Horizontal
Image Area (w x h): 1.42 x 0.84 in./36.07 x 21.34 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 1.56 x 0.98 in./39.62 x 24.89 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 7.24 x 6.20 in./183.90 x 157.48 mm
Press Sheet Size (w x h): 21.72 x 12.53 in./551.69 x 318.14 mm
Plate Size: 240 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: “P” followed by five (5) single digits
Marginal Markings: Front: Plate numbers in two corners of pane 
• Year of Issue • Header “Help Find Missing Children”
Back: © 2015 USPS • USPS logo • Plate position diagram • Barcode (473100) in upper right and lower left corners of pane • Promotional text • Verso text

Updated April 1 from the Postal Bulletin: There are now also stamped envelopes with this design. The first-day date is May 18th.

From the USPS Conference Call February 20th:
May 25th is Missing Children Day but that date has not yet been confirmed. Pane of 20. The Forget Me Not flower shown on the stamp is the symbol of the campaign.Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.55.35 AM More from the USPS:
This public service message stamp features forget-me-nots. This flower is the symbol used for International Missing Children’s Day.

The photograph on this stamp was taken by Harald Biebel. Ethel Kessler was the art director and designer.

This is the second stamp to bring attention to this issue. In 2006, the USPS issued the AMBER Alert stamp.

This stamp is intended to make the public more aware of ways they can assist in helping find our Missing Children. It offers hope to the families of missing children as they continue their search.

Since 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has helped law enforcement recover more than 205,000 missing children.

The recovery rate for missing children continues to increase, thanks to greater public awareness, law-enforcement training, laws, and technology.

May 25 is National Missing Children’s Day. It is also International Missing Children’s Day.

Gifts of Friendship (U.S., 2015)

Updated April 15th: The USPS has added a few philatelic products. The new ones are shown in bold:

  • 589806, Press Sheet without Die-cut, $35.28, (print quantity 1,000)
  • 589808 Press Sheet with Die-cut, $35.28 (print quantity 1,500)
  • 589810 Keepsake with Digital Color Postmark, $12.95
  • 589816 First-Day Cover (Set of 4), $3.72
  • 589817 Joint First-Day Cover, (Set of 2), $5.95
  • 589818 Full Pane First-Day Cover, $8.38
  • 589819 Cancelled Full Pane, $8.38
  • 589821 Digital Color Postmark (Set of 4), $6.56
  • 589822 Japan Cancelled Half-Sheet, $5.45
  • 589823 Notecards, $16.95
  • 589824 Framed Art, $39.95
  • 589830 Ceremony Program (random), $6.95
  • 589831 Stamp Deck Card, $0.95
  • 589832 Stamp Deck Card with Digital Color Post­mark (random), $1.99
  • 801211 Japan Half-Sheet, $2.95

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.49.36 AMchris_japanUpdated April 11th: Photos from the U.S. first day ceremony are here.

Updated April 10th: VSC member Chris Lazaroff attended the first day in Tokyo, and tells us there wasn’t much of a ceremony there. However, there was quite a bit of activity, with many collectors flocking to the main post office for to service FDCs with one of the four postmarkes — only one of which will be available through the U.S. Postal Service’s Cancellation Services.

On the left is Chris servicing his CL Cachets FDCs. He tells The Virtual Stamp Club he got a few strange looks because of the number of covers he had!

This is Chris standing before the post office where the postmarks were available:chris_japan2Updated April 8th: From the USPS:
Stamp Fulfillment Services will be offering a joint FDC set of 2, each cover will have 2 US and 2 Japan matching stamps. We will also offer a Japan Post half sheet of mint stamps, and a Japan Post half sheet with Japan Post FDOI cancellation. These items will be listed shortly on the Postal Store @ https://store.usps.com/store for purchase. The US stamps and products are available for pre-sale now and others are being added as quickly as possible.

SKU / $ / Issue / Description
589804 $5.88 Gifts of Friendship Souvenir Sheet
589816 $3.72 Gifts of Friendship FDC Set of 4
589818 $8.38 Gifts of Friendship Full Pane FDC
589819 $8.38 Gifts of Friendship CNC Full Pane
589821 $6.56 Gifts of Friendship DCP Set of 4
801211 $2.95 Gifts of Friendship Japan Full Pane
589817 $5.95 Gifts of Friendship set/2 2 US & 2 Japan on each Joint Issue
589822 $5.45 Gifts of Friendship Japan  CNC Full Pane

Updated April 4th: It appears FDC servicers and others won’t have to buy an extra 6 Japanese stamps with different designs than the Gifts of Friendship joint issue. From USPS spokesman Mark Saunders:

“We will be offering a Japan Post Sheet of 4 stamps, item 801211 for $2.95; Joint Cover Set of 2 (each cover has 2 US stamps with DCP cancel and 2 Japan Post stamps with Japan Post Pictorial Postmark. We also plan to offer a First Day Cover Cancelled Pane of the Japan Post sheet. I don’t have the item number or price on that one yet. These should be available on the Postal Store within the next week.”

Updated April 1st: Here are the basic Japan Post FDCs for this issue: jpn_fdcsHere’s a closeup of the Japanese postmark: jpn_cancel_workUpdated March 24th: First day ceremony information from the USPS: Two ceremonies
Fri., April 10 at 11 a.m.
Sat. April 11 at 2 p.m.

April 10 – First-Day-of-Issue Stamp Ceremony
Tidal Basin at the Welcome Area Performance Stage (near the Paddle Boats)
1501 Maine Avenue, NW
Washington, DC (event is free and open to the public)

April 11 – Special Dedication Stamp Ceremony
55th Annual Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival
Pennsylvania Ave. Stage (13th Street on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC (festival requires a $10 admittance fee for ages 13 and older)

Updated March 20th, from the Postal Bulletin:

589804-L0On April 10, 2015, in Washington, DC, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue the Gifts of Friendship (Forever® priced at 49 cents) in four designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhe¬sive (PSA) souvenir sheet of 12 stamps (Item 589800). This is a joint issue with Japan Post who will issue their stamps on the same day. The $5.88 Gifts of Friendship souvenir sheet may not be split, and the stamps may not be sold individually.

The stamp will go on sale nationwide April 10, 2015.

The U.S. Postal Service and Japan Post jointly issue Gifts of Friendship, a pane of 12 Forever stamps fea¬turing beautiful images of dogwood and cherry blossom trees. This issuance celebrates the enduring bond between two nations on the centennial of the gift of flowering dog¬wood trees from the United States to Japan in 1915. The left side of the pane features four new stamp designs, two created by the Postal Service™ and two by Japan Post. It also includes two Japanese characters meaning “friend¬ship,” the title of the issuance “Gifts of Friendship,” and a short line of selvage text.

On the right side of the pane are eight additional stamps (four each of the two U.S. designs). The first U.S. stamp showcases the Lincoln Memorial with cherry blossoms in the foreground and the second stamp, the U.S. Capitol Building surrounded by pink and white dogwood trees. The Japanese-designed stamps each feature a prominent building in Tokyo: the National Diet Building framed with cherry blossoms and the clock tower outside the National Diet Building behind a foreground of white dogwoods. Text appears on the back of the stamp pane. Stamp artist Paul Rogers worked with art director and designer William J. Gicker to create the stamps. Gicker and Greg Breeding designed the stamp pane. Junko Kaifuchi illustrated the stamps for Japan Post.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store® website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.49.36 AMGifts of Friendship Stamps
Special Events
PO Box 92282
Washington, DC 20090-2282

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service™ will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers have to pay five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by June 10, 2015.

There are twelve philatelic products for this stamp issue:

  • 589806, Press Sheet without Die cut, $35.28, (print quantity 1,000).
  • 589808, Press Sheet with Die cut, $35.28, (print quantity 1,500).
  • 589810 Keepsake with Digital Color Postmark, $12.95.
  • 589816 First-Day Cover (Set of 4), $3.72.
  • 589818 Full Pane First-Day Cover, $8.38.
  • 589819 Cancelled Full Pane, $8.38.
  • 589821 Digital Color Postmark (Set of 4), $6.56.
  • 589823 Notecards, $16.95.
  • 589824 Framed Art, $39.95.
  • 589830 Ceremony Program (random), $6.95.
  • 589831 Stamp Deck Card, $0.95.
  • 589832 Stamp Deck Card with Digital Color Post¬mark (random), $1.99.

Technical Specifications:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.49.36 AMIssue: Gifts of Friendship Stamps
Item Number: 589800
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
Format: Pane of 12 (4 designs)
Series: N/A
Issue Date & City: April 10, 2015, Washington, DC 20066
Designer: William J Gicker, Washington, DC
Art Director: William J Gicker, Washington, DC
Typographer: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
Artist: Paul Rogers, Pasadena, CA
Modeler: Joseph Sheeran
Manufacturing Process: Offset, Microprint
Printer: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
Printed at: Williamsville, NY
Press Type: Muller A76
Stamps per Pane: 12
Print Quantity: 80,000,004 million stamps
Paper Type: Nonphosphored Type III, Block Tag applied
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive adhesive
Processed at: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
Colors: Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow
Stamp Orientation: Horizontal
Image Area (w x h): 1.35 x 0.91 in./34.22 x 23.18 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 1.49 x 1.05 in./37.78 x 26.74 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 8.50 x 5.25 in./215.90 x 133.35 mm
Press Sheet Size (w x h): 10.63 x 25.75 in./269.88 x 654.05 mm
Plate Size: 144 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: N/A
Marginal Markings:
Front: Header: Gifts of Friendship
Back: © 2015 USPS • USPS logo • Barcode (589800) • Promotional text • Verso text

Updated March 16th: Here’s what the entire U.S. pane or souvenir sheet will look like. (We’ll try to replace this with a larger, clearer version.) 589804-L0Updated March 8th: Here are the first-day postmarks for this issue: gifts_dcp_vscgifts_bw_vscFrom the conference call with the USPS on February 20th: April 10th, joint issue with Japan, in Washington, DC, both Dogwood and Cherry Blossom trees (one stamp for each, 2 stamps from each country). Each country will issue the stamps in panes of 12 stamps. The U.S. panes will have 10 of the U.S. designs, plus two of the Japanese design with the U.S. Forever denomination. It will be the reverse on the Japanese panes: 10 of its designs, plus two of the U.S., all with Japanese denominations. Awaiting agreement and designs from Japan, could be as soon as Monday the 23rd. Coincides with the centennial of when President Taft sent the 50 dogwood trees to Japan, in return for the 3,000+ trees Japan sent the U.S. in 1912.

From the USPS:
In 2015, the U.S. Postal Service and Japan Post will jointly issue Gifts of Friendship, a pane of 12 stamps featuring beautiful images of dogwood and cherry blossom trees. There are two stamp designs for each country…one featuring the dogwood and the other featuring the cherry blossom.

The stamp issuance coincides with the Centennial of President William Howard Taft’s gift of dogwood trees to the people of Japan in 1915.

In early 1912, Tokyo gave the city of Washington, D.C., more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees.

As a show of gratitude for this generous gift, former President Taft arranged to have 50 flowering dogwood trees (Cornus florida) sent to Japan in 1915. This reciprocal gift featured a species of tree native to the eastern United States and Canada.

These gestures of goodwill fostered a rich tradition of exchanging cherry blossom and dogwood trees that continues to this day.
Artist: Paul Rogers
Art Director: Bill Gicker

Here’s what the Japan Post issue will look like: japan_friendshipAccording to Japan Post’s website, the four individual stamps on the left will measure 25.0 mm (0.984 inches) by 35.5 mm (1.398 inches). The stamps on the right will measure 28.0 mm (1.102 inches) by 38.5 mm (1.516 inches). The denominations will be 82 yen (currently 68¢ U.S.) The entire sheet will sell for $6.80; no word yet if the USPS will sell just the two Japanese stamps. The two Japanese stamps show Sakura and the Houses of Parliament and Dogwood and Kenseikinenkan Clock Tower.

A Google translation of the Japan Post page is here.

Open Letter from Former CSAC Members

An Open Letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan
From Benjamin Franklin Bailar, Cary R. Brick and John M. Hotchner

February 1, 2015

Dear Postmaster General Brennan:

No reasonable economist can make a convincing argument that the out-of-sight financial crises of the Postal Service can be fixed with 49 cent stamps. Postal Service marketers who believe that are dead wrong. Yet some do.

In our combined three-plus decades of service on the Postmaster General’s Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, we have seen an increasing emphasis on the part of a few senior Postal Service managers on assigning to the stamp subject and design program a burden it was never meant to bear: making a significant contribution to reducing Postal Service deficits.

Major reductions over time in its Stamp Services Office staffing and operating budgets have contributed to near-term but miniscule long term savings but at the cost of doing things to develop the program, communicate effectively with the public and support the committee as well as it should. Certainly the ideas behind these changes are understandable, but at best they are not well thought out, and at worst, the Law of Unintended Consequences has operated to produce results that we believe negatively impact the program. Over the last five years, increasing pressures for the stamp program to produce both savings and revenue have seriously derailed the program.

First, let’s establish our objective is not to trash the Postal Service. Our criticism is meant to be constructive. If we didn’t care about the Postal Service, we would remain silent. But we feel strongly about the direction a few of its managers at and above the stamp subject selection and design level are pushing the stamp program. They are doing a disservice to the respect enjoyed by an institution that touches every American every day in their own homes and neighborhoods.

The major aim of the stamp issuance program is to recognize and honor the best of America – its people, its culture, its diversity, the panorama of its history, its accomplishments in science and medicine, sports, the arts, its founding principles and societal goals, and to educate, to name just a few. Were it otherwise, the Postal Service could issue a single stamp for each prevailing postage rate.

In fact, there are collateral benefits to issuance of the wide variety of stamps. The popular commemorative stamps have the power to educate our own citizens, represent the United States to peoples abroad, recognize people and causes, and yes, encourage the collecting of US stamps domestically and abroad for the financial benefit of the USPS. Collecting reaps a monetary reward in two ways: cancelling hundreds of thousands of collectible first day covers that do not have to be processed through the mails and through the buying of stamps that are never used.

To our disappointment, the prevailing attitude on the part of some pie-in-the-sky USPS marketers has been and continues to be that this cow is not yielding the amount of milk that it could, and that more needs to be done to maximize profits.

Among the actions we have seen to that end include:

1. An increasing emphasis over time to change the content of stamps from substantive subjects with gravitas to more and more which are assumed to have wider appeal to the buying public. Let us make it very clear we don’t object to including pop culture subjects; we just believe the major aims of the stamp program should not be forgotten.

2. Sometimes repeated use of themes that were popular, and therefore are expected to sell well if used again, rather than broadening the program to honor or recognize a wider range of subjects.

3. Over the last 20 years there has been a huge increase in the number of designs per issue; capped by the controversial 20-design 2013 issue for Harry Potter, and the eight-stamp 2014 Batman issue. It is no wonder that the pop culture issues expected to sell well are also the issues most often picked to have multiple designs. Marketers sometimes hijack the primary role of the advisory committee.

4. When we joined the Stamp Committee, most of the members were substantive subject matter experts in their life’s work. In the last l5 years, increasing numbers of stamp advisory committee appointments have gone to artists and marketers. These people are too often oriented to ‘what will sell?’ As a result, they have created odd multiple designs that often tip toward art that is edgy and even incomprehensible.

5. We have seen increasing numbers of stamps with higher face values – some justified by rate changes that occur far more frequently than happened in the past; but others with no justification whatever except to test the limits of what the market will bear. Take, for instance the $8 Inverted Jenny souvenir sheet and the shameless hawking of these to those who might hope to win a lottery to get one of the 100 un-inverts. Did that lottery capture the excitement of the marketers? Sure. How about the everyday consumers? No. Collectors? No.

All of this reflects the change in the culture of the Postal Service that puts increasing emphasis on defining success of the stamp issuance program in terms of profit realized. This extends from the evaluations of mid-level managers to the ways that Stamp Services is treated in the budgeting process.

The bottom line is that this one element of profitability has become a tail that wags the USPS dog, to the exclusion of or minimizing other important program goals.

Yet the Postal Service continues to say it wants a quality program that appeals to a wide demographic; that they respect and want to cater to stamp collectors, and that it wants to maintain a high-level reputation among the world’s postal administrations.

We believe that how they actually behave says loud and clear what they truly value— revenue expansion and cost cutting.

While this is not a new phenomenon, it has grown exponentially as the USPS has faced continuing deficits due to manufactured financial burdens placed by the Congress and due to decreasing first class mail volume.

This situation is enabled by two dynamics. First, a single year budgeting cycle that discourages investment in marketing and buyer development for monetary gains on the longer term and second, a method of calculating profits that is not simply faulty in concept, but downright deceptive.

Expensive contracted and internal studies of stamp profitability over the years have not been very rigorous, and much of the profit ascribed to the stamp program may be illusory. Smoke and mirrors, if you will.

These are studies that ask respondents if they will retain any of the stamps they have purchased rather than use them as postage. The results are then swallowed whole as representing the level of profit. In fact, they represent the triumph of hope over reality.

What actually happens to stamps bought to be collected? Undeniably many, maybe even a majority, go into collections never to be used as postage. But some are ultimately re-sold to be used as postage when their collectability spirals downward.

Suffice it to say that many collectors and investors buy anything from a single pane to hundreds of panes of new issues hoping that their value will appreciate over time. In many cases, this takes decades to happen, and in most cases it does not happen at all.

The result is that quantities of mint U.S. stamps are often bought and later sold when an owner needs money, or disburses a collection, usually at markedly less than face value, sometimes as low as half the original purchase price. Savvy bargain hunters know discounted postage is easily available through the Internet, at stamp shows and in stamp publication ads. Some of those will be bought to go back into collections, but the majority will be used for mailing, thus cutting deeply into the supposed Postal Service “retention” figures.

The bookkeepers retention figures may be accurate at the single moment they are developed, but they melt away rapidly. To our knowledge there are no current studies assessing the true long-term profits

So marketers get to slap their own backs congratulating themselves on the basis of short term gains. They ignore the fact that a substantial portion of those paper-only profits have a short shelf life. That dynamic simply does not fit the narrative on which they base internal rewards. Nor do the increases reported internally take much account of the fact that increased retention revenue is often based on nothing more than the ever-higher face values of the stamps retained due to rate increases. They are dreamers.

It is fact that a marketer mentality has taken root within the Postal Service demanding that postage stamps must meet unreasonable expectations of profitability. To our dismay those expectations have been institutionalized in such a way that they operate to make it more difficult to attain non-monetary goals that are much harder to quantify.

We believe that many of the Postal Service managers, including the Postmasters General under whom we have served, were and are sincere in wanting a high quality stamp program. The problem is that elements of the Service have in actual practice ignored the bedrock purpose of the program— to honor the people, guiding principles and events that have made this nation great— and replaced it with an institutionalized effort to maximize profits.

Finally, we offer some suggestions:

Reverse the trend of appointing more and more artists and marketers to the Stamp Advisory Committee. Consider revising its makeup. How about a diverse two-thirds membership of subject matter experts from the areas of history, science, sports, international relations, law, government and the fine arts . The emphasis in designs should be on substance rather than edgy art reflecting the ooo’s and ahh’s of the artists and designers themselves. It’s not about them. It’s about the American people.

U.S. collectors have valid concerns. They are important consumers. Hear them out. They’ve been overlooked in too many instances.
 
Invest in marketing US stamps rather than simply relying on news coverage of their issuance. Promote their availability in the current television campaigns promoting package deliveries.
 
Improve the distribution of new stamp issues so that when customers ask for specific stamps, local post offices have them in stock. Increase their promotion and availability in the retail marketplace as well.
We respectfully appeal to you as you take up your new duties to grab hold of the rudder and put the stamp subject and design process back on course.

Cordially and with respect,

Benjamin F. Bailar / Cary R. Brick / John M. Hotchner

About the Authors
Bailar2Benjamin Franklin Bailar (right; Lake Forest, IL 60045-2254), Postmaster General from 1975-1978, former Dean of the Business School at Rice University, served on the Stamp Advisory Committee from 2007 to 2014. (bbailar@mba1959.hbs.edu)

Cary R. Brick (Clayton, NY 13624-0003), retired 31-year U.S. House of Representatives Chief of Staff, President of economic development council, Chair of scholarship foundation, researcher and writer, served on the Committee from 2002-2014. (cbrick@twcny.rr.com)

hotchnerJohn M. Hotchner (left; Falls Church, VA 22041-0125), retired 42-year employee of the U.S. State Department, past president of American Philatelic Society, served on the Committee from 1998 to 2010. (jmhstamp@verizon.net)