Is the Hobby Viable? Some Warning Signs

By John M. Hotchner

hotchnerI scanned with trepidation an article in Bottom Line Personal (March 15, 2012) titled “Buyer Beware: 10 Collectibles Not Worth Collecting Anymore” by Terry Kovel. Happily, stamps were not included in the list, but there were some surprises, and some object lessons for our hobby.

Among the ten are “Hummel figurines,” “anything made by the Franklin Mint,” “Limited edition Barbie dolls,” “Thomas Kinkade paintings and prints,” and “Autographed sports memorabilia.” Explanations given by Ms. Kovel of why she chose these items provide some tips for us in philately.

She says that the generation that appreciated Hummels is now downsizing or dying off, dumping Hummels back onto the market by the thousands. With few exceptions, most have dropped from hundreds of dollars apiece to less than $100.

Could we see this happen in philately? Yes, indeed, if we do not work to recruit the next generation to stamp collecting and encourage them until they catch the fever as serious collectors. We seem to be doing all right with this if serious auction prices are a guide, but it would be a mistake to leave it to chance in the future. Every generation needs to recommit itself to bringing aboard the next; not just so that our stash retains its value but also because we have a wonderful hobby to share.

Ms. Kovel notes regarding the Franklin Mint that they “sell a wide selection of ‘limited edition’ coins, plates, medals, and other collectibles, but there is little resale market for any of it.” Happily she did not mention commemorative covers, which along with the other material have been packaged with descriptive information and hawked as products with historical significance.

There are other parallels in stamp collecting — fancy first day covers, gold-leaf reproductions of U.S. stamps, subject collections of specialized commemorative cancels celebrating something like Norman Rockwell. This sort of stuff is usually bought by novice collectors with an interest in stamps. The purveyors are careful not to say explicitly that their products have investment potential, but that is implied.

But Ms. Kovel is right, it is not unusual to see those covers selling for 5¢ on the dollar ‘invested’ in the aftermarket. This emphasizes the fact that collectors who approach the hobby as investors are often disappointed. Bad enough that they get burned, but they or their heirs will badmouth the hobby forever after their unfortunate discovery. Thus, we should not be “selling” the hobby for its investment potential, but for its joys as a pastime in everyday living.

Limited edition Barbie dolls were sold as toys, but were toys in name only. Ms. Kovel explains that “most were never played with, just set aside as investments, so they never became any rarer.” The company selling them “issued so many different limited-edition Barbies that few collectors could collect them all, and most stopped trying.”

Early very limited editions still have value, but as time passed and more buyers entered the market, more Barbies were released in larger numbers. Think about the growing boom market in the early stamps of the United Nations, Vatican City and Israel. Though after the very first issues, some were indeed used on mail, the great majority were snapped up by collectors as investments, and were never scarce. As new collectors came into the market (believing the hype about these areas having value potential) and started buying older issues, investors began to ‘dump’ their holdings.

It rapidly became apparent that there were more stamps available than buyers for them, and the bottom dropped out of those markets. The lesson: Beware of new flash-in-the-pan collecting areas. If investing is your game, older, high-quality stamps with established value are a far better bet.

Ms. Kovel’s article was written before his untimely passing in April, 2012, but she reports that Thomas Kinkade paintings and prints were heavily promoted, and sold in huge quantities in the 1990s, and now have “very limited” resale value. Because of his passing and attendant publicity, there is now a boomlet, but over time, I think we will see the market return to Ms. Kovel’s reported level.

It isn’t that the art has no merit. Rather, anything that becomes an instant hit through marketing can also become an instant dud when the hype passes and a new product takes its place in popular culture.

Finally, we have autographed sports memorabilia, which Ms. Kovel reports has declined sharply as it has become clear that many of the autographs are forgeries, and it is difficult to tell the good from the bad.

Like some elements of stamp collecting, proof of authenticity is required from an expertising service for the article to be salable. We are blessed in philately with several very good expertising committees that are able to render authoritative opinions in the vast majority of cases. Thus, happily in the case of autographed sports memorabilia, as with others the problem which has sunk a collectible has affected only a small portion of the broad stamp and cover collecting hobby. Still, the cumulative effects can be a concern, and we who are practitioners and guardians of our hobby need to be watchful.

Are we recruiting? Are we providing information to help newbies make good collecting decisions? Are we gently discouraging fads (recognizing that everyone should ultimately be free to make their own decisions, based upon their interests and pocket book, about what to collect) and refusing to be taken in by excessive hype? Are we collecting for the joy of the hobby, avoiding using stamp collecting as a get-rich-quick scheme? Finally, are we careful to assure that what we buy is genuine?

If we can answer yes to each of these questions, then stamp collecting will not be a subject of future iterations of Ms. Kovel’s article.


Should you wish to comment on this editorial, or have questions or ideas you would like to have explored in a future column, please write to John Hotchner, VSC Contributor, P.O. Box 1125, Falls Church, VA 22041-0125, or email, putting “VSC” in the subject line.

Or comment right here.

Thoughts on The Replacement of Ken Martin as APS Executive Director

by Lloyd A. de Vries

kmartin2013aI hate to use this phrase, because it was used to describe my situation seven months ago, but Ken Martin’s position as executive director of the American Philatelic Society “wasn’t a good fit.” It was never a good fit.

His tenure as the APS CEO was uneasy from the start. Ken wasn’t what many on the Board of Directors and other organizational leaders wanted. Efforts to make him into that type of an executive director weren’t successful, and probably weren’t ever going to be successful.

Ken is one of the most popular people in U.S. stamp collecting. Practically everyone likes him. Many older collectors watched him grow up in philately, from president of the now-defunct Junior Philatelists of America into employment with the APS. If you have attended an APS-sponsored or -sanctioned stamp show in the last two decades, chances are you ran into him — perhaps literally! As APS Shows & Exhibitions Director, we called him the Blue Blur, walking rapidly (and sometimes running) from one part of the show to another.

Ken was the only APS executive director I ever saw on his back under exhibit frames, pulling out reluctant screws. (No one does it better.) But as an APS leader told me last summer, “I’m not sure we want to see our executive director on his back under exhibit frames.”

Operations are Ken’s strength, though, and it’s part of why he is so popular with stamp collectors: Although he is a gold-level exhibitor and judge (Chief Judge, in fact), Ken looked and acted like most of us.

Unfortunately, it’s not what the current leaders of the APS feel the organization needs in its executive director. To keep trying to make him conform to that model is like trying to make one of those stripped screws fit into a frame. No one was happy with the result.

“What happened to the message board?”

“Pam, that ship has sailed.”

sabrinapix_lloydThere is a postscript to the new movie “Saving Mr. Banks,” and it really happened. After watching the premiere of “Mary Poppins,” author P.L. Travers buttonholed Walt Disney — right there at Graumann’s Chinese Theatre — and started to give him a list of changes to be made in the movie.

His reply is above.

The same can be said of the old Virtual Stamp Club message board: That ship has sailed.

Last spring, for reasons that were justifiable, DelphiForums took control of the message board away from me, and eventually awarded it to someone else, Chris “StampPuzzles” Steenerson. The name of the forum was changed from “The Virtual Stamp Club” to “The Stamp Collecting Forum.”

Several months later, my professional situation had changed, and I entered into discussions with Chris and his staff about what my role on Delphi would be, if any. No decision was reached.

The former VSC staffers and I then had extensive discussions on what the future course was for The Virtual Stamp Club and us: Start a new Delphi message board, start a new message board somewhere else, or something else.

Eventually, we decided that that ship had sailed. We couldn’t put the GEnie* back in the bottle.

Instead, I am now concentrating on this website, which had been neglected in favor of the message board, and make it a major source of philatelic news and information (admittedly, with a strong bias toward U.S.). I always saw the Internet as a great boon to distribution of philatelic news and information. I never saw it as an avenue for verbal muggings and character assassinations.

However, setting up a webpage can take time, and we have been looking for some months for a way to quickly disseminate “breaking news” or new information. After several months, we have decided to give this WordPress blogging system a try.

We now have a minimum of discussion, and it is more tightly controlled. The discussions stay on topic: If you start reading about stamps for science fiction authors, you won’t suddenly find messages about postal stationery from Mongolia or the low intelligence of Certain Stamp Collectors.

Instead of refereeing petty arguments and personality conflicts, I’m spending more time working on stories for www.virtualstampclub.com — or doing something else entirely, even activities that are non-philatelic!

Most of the staff has moved on, too. Many told me they were burned out by years of moderating the forum, and wanted a break. As time goes on, I, too, am finding I don’t miss being a moderator.

I think in its heyday, The Virtual Stamp Club Message Board was the best one anywhere on the English-speaking Internet.

The Stamp Collecting Forum, formerly known as Delphi’s Stamps, Coins & Postal Forum, and then The Virtual Stamp Club, is still there: forums.delphiforums.com/stamps/messages There’s no reason a hobbyist can’t participate there and here. I still do.

Will I ever manage a philatelic online discussion forum again? Maybe, maybe not. But for now, that ship has sailed.

— Lloyd A. de Vries, Manager
The Virtual Stamp Club


* Pun intended: I got my start as a stamp collecting online discussion leader on General Electric’s GEnie message board system.

Science Fiction Writers

These 4 or 5 stamps were rumored for 2013, then supposedly pushed off to… when? Speculation is they will be issued at Comic Con 2014 in San Diego, which runs July 24-27. Since science fiction is also called “speculative fiction,” it’s appropriate to speculate that the subjects are likely to include Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Frank Herbert.

Frederik Pohl (who passed away last September 2) might also be a strong candidate. He, Asimov and Heinleinwere called the Big Three of SF in the 1950s and 1960s, but at the time the stamps were first rumored, he was still alive.

Noted Science Fiction author Robert Silverberg wrote an editorial in Asimov’s SF Magazine in support of an Asimov stamp, which you can find here (but don’t try the link at the top; it no longer works).

Other Internet entries of possible interest might be ScienceFiction.com, File 770, and Blastr (with a wonderful uncaptioned photo of Robert Heinlein autographing a book).

A word of caution to cachetmakers: Asimov and others disliked the term “Sci-Fi.” Oh, and I’m an avid reader of speculative fiction (which includes fantasy and alternate history), so I know the subject well.

As we get more information, we’ll post it in this “thread” or blog entry.

Janet Klug To Chair US Advisory Panel

klug_thumbWell-known stamp collector Janet Klug has been named chair of the U.S. Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, reports Linn’s Stamp News. Klug is a past president of the American Philatelic Society (and probably holds the record for the longest-serving Immediate Past President), a member of The Virtual Stamp Club, and has described herself as a lifelong collector. She lives in suburban Cincinnati.

If confirmed (and Bill McAllister of Linn’s is almost always accurate), this will mark the first time in recent memory that a “pre-existing” stamp collector (that is, someone who collected stamps before being named to CSAC) has chaired the panel.

Added: The USPS later in the day confirmed the Linn’s article:

Postmaster General Announces New Chairman of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee

WASHINGTON — On a telephone conference this morning with the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC), Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe enthusiastically appointed Janet Klug, past president of the American Philatelic Society, to become chairman of the committee, beginning Jan. 16, 2014.

“I am pleased to appoint Janet Klug chairman of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. Janet has already made her presence felt on the committee, having served since 2010. She continually champions ideas that are contemporary, timely and relevant,” Donahoe said.

“As Janet takes on this leadership role, the Postal Service will benefit from her wealth of expertise and knowledge of philately as she helps the Postal Service develop exceptional stamp topics that represent the best of America,” said Donahoe.

A lifelong stamp collector, Klug writes regular columns about stamp collecting for Linn’s Stamp News. Her work has also appeared in American Philatelist, Stamp Collector and Global Stamp News. Her recent publications include Smithsonian Guide to Collecting (2008) and 100 Greatest American Stamps (2007), which she co-authored with Donald Sundman.

Klug also served as chair of the New Initiatives Committee on the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s Council of Philatelists.

Klug studied computer science and history at the University of Cincinnati and worked in the computer departments of several corporations, including EDS (Electronic Data Systems). Now retired, she is a firm believer in continuing education and loves taking courses at community colleges. “I can see myself as a 90-year-old woman taking yodeling for beginners,” she says. Her considerable volunteer work centers on philately and adult literacy.

Janet will lead her first meeting on January 16th, in Washington D.C. when the group meets for the first of their quarterly scheduled meetings.

Donahoe expressed his appreciation and thanks to outgoing chair Jean Firstenberg, who served on the committee since February 2002.

“Jean brought passion to her work on the committee and served with great distinction and the utmost dedication. She often referred to her work developing stamps as a noble cause and we echo that sentiment ,” Donahoe said.

Firstenberg championed many interesting and unique stamp subjects over the years, including the Legends of Hollywood series, Film Directors, American Journalists, Pixar, Disney and Classic Comic Strips. Other memorable and highly successful stamps issued under her leadership included such topics as Thanksgiving Day Parade, Negro Leagues Baseball, Baseball All-Stars, United States Supreme Court Justices, and several Black Heritage stamps.

Prior to joining CSAC, Firstenberg was the director and chief executive officer of the American Film Institute.

Established in 1957, CSAC is tasked with evaluating the merits of all stamp subjects suggested by the public. The committee’s primary goal is to select subjects of broad national interest for recommendation to the Postmaster General that are educational, contemporary, relevant and timely. Also, the members review and provide guidance on artwork and designs for stamp subjects that are scheduled to be issued.

The Postal Service encourages individuals with stamp ideas to submit their suggestions in writing to:

Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260-3501

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Janis Joplin

JanisJoplinStamp[Newest information is at the bottom of this entry.]

In an aside to an article on the singer, The Wall Street Journal says there will be a Music Icons stamp for her later this year:

Jeff Jampol, who manages the Janis Joplin estate, is positioning the queen of rock ‘n’ roll to have one of her best business years since, well, she was alive.

The estate has worked with the U.S. Postal Service to create a commemorative stamp, out later this year, according to Mr. Jampol.

“We have nothing to announce at this town,” USPS spokesman Mark Saunders told The Virtual Stamp Club.

May 15: The VSC is told that legal issues are holding up release of the design and other information about this stamp.

The USPS confirmed this stamp on Friday, January 17th:

This Sunday, January 19, is the birthday of groundbreaking singer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Janis Joplin. Today, in celebration, we can confirm that, later this year, Joplin will join Lydia Mendoza, Johnny Cash, and Ray Charles in the Music Icons stamp series. We’ll have more details soon. Happy Birthday, Ms. Joplin!

June 6: Sources within the USPS confirm our guess that August 15th is the likely first day of issue. Her birthday is already past, and August 15th will be the 45th anniversary of the first day of Woodstock.

The stamp design was unveiled in a number of places by July 1st, although no issue date or location has been announced. Many people believe it will be on the 45th anniversary of the first day of the Woodstock Festival, August 15th, likely in Bethel, NY.

July 7th: Linn’s Stamp News reports “the stamp will be issued Aug. 8 at the Outside Lands festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.”

July 17th: The USPS is providing information on the first-day ceremony:

What: First Day of Issuance Ceremony for the U.S. Postal Service limited-edition Janis Joplin Forever Postage Stamp Collection

Where: San Francisco, CA (Outside Lands Festival “Panhandle Stage”)

When: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. PT

July 24th: From the Postal Bulletin:[I thought the line I bolded in black was very interesting -LdeV]

JanisJoplinStampOn August 8, 2014, in San Francisco, CA, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the Janis Joplin stamp (Forever First-Class Mail priced at 49 cents) in one design, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 16 stamps (Item 588100). This item will only be sold in full format, as a pane of 16.

The stamp will go on sale nationwide August 8, 2014.

The fifth issuance in the Music Icons series features Janis Joplin, a groundbreaking singer, whose powerful bluesy voice propelled her to the pinnacle of rock stardom. The artwork for this stamp features a photo of Janis Joplin taken by David Gahr in June 1970. The original black-and-white photo is rendered in shades of blue, with Joplin’s trademark round sunglasses tinted a shade of pink. The words “Janis Joplin,” along with the “Forever” denomination and “USA” appear in psychedelic-style script reminiscent of the 1960s, in shades of gold, orange, and pink. Daniel Pelavin designed the lettering. Text below the stamps briefly describes Joplin’s musical legacy. The flip side of the stamp pane, designed to resemble a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve, features a photograph of Joplin taken by Bruce Steinberg in May 1968 at the First International San Jose Pop Festival. The image is accompanied by the words “Janis Joplin Blues Rock Country Soul Folk,” in psychedelic-style lettering. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp and the stamp pane.

No merchandise allowed — only HQ pre-approved philatelic products allowed. The following credit is required: Janis Joplin is a TM of Fantality Corp.

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:

Janis Joplin Stamp
Retail Manager
PO Box 7838
San Francisco CA 94120-7838

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 October 8, 2014.

There are 15 philatelic products for this stamp issue:

  • 588106 Press Sheet w/Die cut, $70.56 (print quantity 1,000).
  • 588108 Press Sheet w/o Die cut, $70.56 (print quantity 1,500).
  • 588110 Digital Color Postmark Keepsake, $9.95.
  • 588116 First-Day Cover, $0.93.
  • 588118 First-Day Cover Full-Pane, $10.34.
  • 588119 Cancelled Full Pane, $10.34.
  • 588121 Digital Color Postmark, $1.64.
  • 588124 Framed Art, $39.95.
  • 588126 T-Shirt (Med) w/FDC, $17.95.
  • 588127 T-Shirt (Large) w/FDC, $17.95.
  • 588128 T-Shirt (XL) w/FDC, $17.95.
  • 588129 T-Shirt (XXL) w/FDC, $17.95.
  • 588130 Ceremony Program, $6.95.
  • 588131 Stamped Deck Card, $0.95.
  • 588132 Stamped Deck Card w/Digital Color Postmark, $1.99.

 

Technical Specifications:

JanisJoplinStamp

  • Issue: Janis Joplin stamp
  • Item Number: 588100
  • Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
  • Format: Pane of 16 (1 design)
  • Series: Music Icons
  • Issue Date & City: August 8, 2014, San Francisco CA 94188
  • Designer: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
  • Art Director: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
  • Typographer: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA; Daniel Pelavin, New York, NY
  • Engraver: N/A
  • Modeler: Joseph Sheeran
  • Manufacturing Process: Offset
  • Printer: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
  • Printed at: Williamsville, NY
  • Press Type: Muller A76
  • Stamps per Pane: 16
  • Print Quantity: 50 million stamps
  • Paper Type: Nonphosphored Type III, Block Tag
  • Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive adhesive
  • Processed at: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
  • Colors: Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow
  • Stamp Orientation: Square
  • Image Area (w x h): 1.09 x 1.09 in./27.56 x 27.56 mm
  • Overall Size (w x h): 1.23 x 1.23 in./31.12 x 31.12 mm
  • Full Pane Size (w x h): 7.00 x 7.00 in./177.80 x 177.80 mm
  • Press Sheet Size (w x h): 21.25 x 21.25 in./539.75 x 539.75 mm
  • Plate Size: 144 stamps per revolution
  • Plate Numbers: none
  • Marginal Markings:
    • Front: © 2014 USPS • USPS Logo • Barcode (588100) • Proprietary text • Copyright date • Website Information
    • Back: Photo

First Day Postmarks:

joplin_dcp_vsc DCP: 2.85: x 1.30″

joplin_bw_vscRubber: 2.86″ x 1.40″

More Scott 2013 U.S. Catalogue Numbers

4822 (46¢) Navy Medal of Honor
4823 (46¢) Army Medal of Honor
a. Pair, #4822-4823
4824 (46¢) Hanukkah
4825 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Harry Potter
4826 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Harry Potter and Ron Weasley
4827 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger
4828 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Hermione Granger
a. Booklet pane of 4, #4825-4828, + central label
4829 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Harry Potter and Fawkes the Phoenix
4830 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Hedwig the Owl
4831 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Dobby the House Elf
4832 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Harry Potter and Buckbeak the Hippogriff
a. Booklet pane of 4, #4829-4832, + central label
4833 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Headmaster Albus Dumbledore
4834 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Professor Severus Snape
4835 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Rubeus Hagrid
4836 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Professor Minerva NcGonagall
a. Booklet pane of 4, #4833-4836, + central label
4837 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger (Hermione at left)
4838 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Luna Lovegood
4839 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Fred and George Weasley
4840 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Ginny Weasley
a. Booklet pane of 4, #4837-4840, + central label
4841 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Draco Malfoy
4842 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Harry Potter (with wand)
4843 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Lord Voldemort
4844 (46¢) Scenes from Harry Potter Movies – Bellatrix Lestrange
a. Booklet pane of 4, #4841-4844, + central label
4845 (46¢) Kwanzaa

BK307 Harry Potter booklet containing Nos. 4828a, 4832a, 4836a, 4840a, 4844a

Israel: Israel’s National Heritage – Landmarks

February 11, 2014

From Israel Post:

isr_landmarksThe bond between the People of Israel and Eretz Israel has remained strong for thousands of years. Previous generations left behind a myriad of sites that tell us how the inhabitants of Eretz Israel lived during different periods. These sites attest to the cultural and historical heritage of the Jewish people in their homeland.

In 2010 the Israeli government initiated the Empowerment of National Heritage Infrastructure Project, whose goal is to rehabilitate and empower this infrastructure by investing in the preservation, restoration, development, study, publicity, advertising and marketing of historical assets and cultural treasures in order to strengthen Israel’s identity, cultural wealth and unifying strength. The Heritage Project includes hundreds of cultural assets, five of which are featured on the stamps in this series.

City of David, Jerusalem
The City of David, the first capital of the united Jewish nation, was captured from the Jebusites by King David 3,000 years ago. Located just below Mount Moriah, the City of David was the center of Ancient Jerusalem and served as the setting in which many of the events described in the Bible occurred.

The Heritage Project will present a nighttime display for the general public that will relate the incredible story of the City of David.
The stamp bears a bulla featuring the seal of Gemaryahu ben Shaphan (who is mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah) against the background of an aerial photo of the City of David.

The stamp tab features the Shiloach Inscription which describes the architectural feat of the digging of Hezekiah’s Tunnel inside of which the inscription was discovered.

Ein Keshatot, Golan
In the late 19th century, the remains of a Jewish village dating back to the time of the Mishnah and the Talmud were discovered in the southern Golan. A 5th century synagogue was uncovered in the center of the village, one of the most beautiful ever unearthed in Eretz Israel. The site, known today as Ein Keshatot, was destroyed in the 8th century by an earthquake. As part of the Heritage Project, the synagogue is being restored and the overall site is being developed. The stamp features the restored synagogue and the dais for the Holy Ark.

The stamp tab depicts the menorah engraved on the capital of one of the columns in the synagogue.

Synagogue, Peki’in
In the early 20th century, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi came to the Galilean village of Peki’in, where he met members of the Musta’arabi community, Jews who according to tradition never left Eretz Israel and continued to work the land. The Jews of Peki’in epitomized the preservation of the connection to the land of Eretz Israel. The synagogue located at the center of the village was renovated in the 19th century and two ancient stone tablets were incorporated into its walls. A menorah is engraved on one of the tablets, and a Holy Ark on the other. The Heritage Project is focused on documenting the history of the Peki’in community and on preserving the ancient synagogue.

The stamp features the Peki’in synagogue as well as the engraved menorah.
The stamp tab depicts a relief of the Holy Ark.

Detention Camp, Atlit
The restrictions imposed by British Mandate authorities on the entry of Jews into Eretz Israel forced Yishuv leaders and various immigration movements to act illegally and bring the Jewish immigrants in on dilapidated ships and under harsh conditions. The British did everything they could to capture the immigrant ships and transfer their passengers to detention camps which were constructed first in Atlit and later in Cyprus. The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites, which maintains the camp, purchased and renovated a ship similar to those that served to bring the Jewish immigrants and built an exhibit inside, reflecting the immigrants’ living conditions. The site is being developed within the framework of the Heritage Project, including the renovation of the main buildings and the design of exhibits inside them.

The stamp features a ship similar to those used to bring immigrants against the background of barracks at the Atlit detention camp. The stamp tab shows passengers disembarking from the “Umot Me’uchadot” (united nations) immigrant ship onto the shore in Nahariya.

Independence Hall, Tel-Aviv
The “two-thousand-year-old hope to be a free people in our land” was realized on May 14, 1948 with the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel. The declaration ceremony was conducted in the home of Meir Dizengoff, one of the first homes built in Ahuzat Bayit, Tel-Aviv’s first neighborhood. The building was later turned into an art museum. David Ben Gurion read the Declaration of Independence, which was signed at the bottom by members of the Provisional State Council. As part of the Heritage Project, the declaration hall was renovated and an Independence Museum is to be established there.

The stamp features the Declaration of Independence against the background of Independence Hall.
The stamp tab shows David Ben Gurion reading the Declaration of Independence as he announces the establishment of the State of Israel.

Description of the Stamp Sheet
All five stamps are issued in a special sheet, designed to emphasize the connection and the link between the different historical periods. The colored stripe running along the stamp tabs and the upper selvage of the sheet represents the timeline. The continuity of the Jewish presence in Eretz Israel is reflected in the faces of its residents and in artifacts from those times…

The top Margin of the stamp sheet depicts a signet ring from the First Temple Period featuring a warrior holding a bow and an ancient Hebrew inscription “Lachagav” (belongs to a man named Chagav), Beit Achikam in the City of David, the mosaic found in the ancient synagogue in Tiberias, the Aleppo Codex, a 19th century illustration of a Jew praying at the Western Wall*, young people carrying agricultural tools in the Jezreel Valley in the 1930’s, the Israeli flag and a crowd celebrating the announcement of the UN Partition Plan on November 29, 1947.

With Thanks
City of David Archive – Ancient Jerusalem, Zeev Radovan; Photos by: Zev Radovan and the Israel Antiquities Authority, Albatross Aerial Perspectives, the Israel Antiquities Authority, Yehoshua Dray and Ilana Gonen, Shem Barel, Neta Rosenblat, the Government Press Office, the Palmach Photo Treasury, the National Heritage Department in the Prime Minister’s Office, KKL-JNF archive, Yad Ben-Zvi.

* Jean-Léon Gérôme, Israel Museum, Jerusalem Collection, gift of Gerard Levy, Paris, in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of his sons Daniel- Joseph and Alexander-Judah, 1981. Photo: © Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Eli Posner.

“Discover important landmarks in Israel’s history with Israel’s National Heritage stamp series. These stamps are issued in a powerful special sheet representing sites of different periods in the history of Eretz Israel and the Jewish people.” — Mrs. Yael Koskas, International Marketing Manager, Israel Post

Israel: Makhtesh – Ancient Erosion Craters in Israel

February 11, 2014

From Israel Post:

isr_cratersThe dynamic earth has formed almost unique geological landforms in the Negev desert. Initially, a layered sequence of hard limestone and dolomite rocks was deposited over softer sandstone sediments. The sequence was folded into asymmetric folds, producing four parallel, northeast – southwest, topographical ridges. An erosion surface removed the hard limestone and dolomite rocks of the fold’s crest, exposing the underlying friable sandstone, which was eroded, forming a deep transverse valley. The creeks drain into the Dead Sea – Arava valley, through a single outlet, incised into the southeastern flank. The closed valleys are surrounded by steep cliffs, 200–400 m high. This type of breached valley or erosion crater is known as a “makhtesh”. A makhtesh is a “geological window” through which the ancient strata are revealed.

A makhtesh contains a variety of different colored rocks, and diverse “fauna and flora”. The area of each makhtesh has been declared a nature reserve, providing an ideal location for recreation and leisure with trails for hiking, cycling and jeep tours.

Makhtesh Ramon
Makhtesh Ramon, located near Mitzpe Ramon, is the largest crater, up to 40 km long, 9 km wide, and 500 m deep. It has been designated as a national geological park. The sandstone, multi- coloured clays and gypsum rocks were mined in the early days of the State of Israel, forming the basis of the ceramics industry in Israel. To add to the diversity of the geology, dark basalt volcanic rocks are exposed and eroded into hexagonal columns. The sedimentary rocks have been intruded by rare magmatic rocks with an unusual suite of metallic minerals.

Makhtesh Gadol
Makhtesh Gadol (the large crater), located near Yerucham, isthesecondlargestcrater,5kmby 10 km, and is drained by “Nahal Hatira”. The erosionhasexposedapetrifiedforest. Thevaried and colourful sand provides an opportunity to develop artistic skills by filling bottles with different sands. The white quartz sands are quarried for the glass industry.

Makhtesh Katan
Makhtesh Katan (the small crater), located near Dimona, is the most perfect of the Negev craters and is 5 km by 7 km. It is surrounded by steep limestone cliffs, and drained by Nahal Hatzera. To the east are rehabilitated rich phosphate rock quarries.

Josef Charrach, Geologist
President of the Gems, Minerals & Jewelry, Study Unit of the ATA
Member of the Royal Philatelic Society of London

Description of the Stamps
The Makhtesh Katan stamp design was inspired by photos from the collection of Josef Charrach.

“Unique geological landforms named a Makhtesh, are the topic of three attractive decorated stamp sheets. These Makhtesh – Ancient Erosion Craters are particular to Israel and create stunning backgrounds for hiking, cycling and recreation.” — Mrs. Yael Koskas, International Marketing Manager, Israel Post