Ganz Gets PF’s Neinken Medal

[press release
PF Awards Neinken Medal to Cheryl Ganz

sundman_ganzOn October 23rd The Philatelic Foundation awarded its Neinken Medal to Cheryl Ganz for meritorious service to philately. PF Chair Robert Rose introduced Vice Chair Donald Sundman who made the presentation [shown at right with Ganz]. Don, who as Chair of the Council of Philatelists at the National Postal Museum, worked for many years with Cheryl in successfully funding and building the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery. Don outlined Cheryl’s many achievements including her tenure as the Chief Curator of Philately for the NPM. Cheryl is currently a member of the CSAC [U.S. Postal Service’s Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee], has authored seven books, and is expert on all things philatelic related to the Hindenburg.

Accepting the award, Cheryl thanked six philatelic mentors who are no longer with us, each of whom made a lasting impression on her. These were Thomas Fuerst, Arthur Salm, Bernard Hennig, Charles Peterson, her husband Felix Ganz and W. Wilson Hulme her predecessor at the NPM. In addition Cheryl thanked Professor Richard John, who was in attendance, and whose writing has combined the study of postal and communications history.

The more than 80 attendees of the event enjoyed a fine evening of food, drink, lively conversation and philatelic camaraderie. Past recipients of the Neinken Award can be viewed on The Philatelic Foundation website at The Philatelic Foundation is the premier not-for-profit expertizing service in the United States with a 70 year history of devotion to the hobby.

[Ganz retired in early 2014 as Chief Philatelic Curator of the National Postal Museum. See the story here.]

Canada’s 2014 Christmas Stamps Feature Santas

[press release; click on pictures for larger versions]
Tradition, Santa’s magic highlight 2014 holiday stamps from Canada Post
Issue features trio of Santa stamps, painting of Virgin and Childcan_xmas_santa

Canada Post blends the playful and magical essence of the holidays with the sacred tradition of Christmas with its latest holiday stamp issue, released today.

For 2014, the ever-popular holiday issue will strike a chord with Canadians from coast to coast and bring a smile to the recipients of the millions of holiday cards sent and received each year by Canadians.

The issue features three whimsical and colourful depictions of Santa Claus, a symbol of the holidays for much of the world. Santa stamps are available for domestic, U.S. and international rates. Each stamp shows Santa performing his many important tasks.

can_xmas_relig“In each of the three figures, the kindness and generosity of Santa emerges,” says stamp designer Hélène L’Heureux. “Whether he’s answering letters, handing out gifts, or simply expressing peace and serenity, Santa is endearing, merry and timeless.”

The fourth stamp in the issue – a Permanent™ domestic stamp – features a beautiful detail that shows a classic 17th century painting of the Virgin and Child. The painting is part of the collection at Basilica Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec in Quebec City. This year’s stamp issue recognizes the parish’s 350th anniversary.

can_xmas_ussantaThe festive issue helps Canadians add a special touch to their holiday mailings. Many customers also use custom photo stamps to express themselves during the holidays and for other special occasions. Customers can use the Canada Post Picture Postage™ service at any time to create unique, cheerful and memorable stamps for their family, friends and clients. Picture Postage is available at and on Canada Post’s free mobile app.

About the stamps
All three Santa stamps (domestic, U.S. and international) measure 22 mm x 24 mm, are pressure sensitive, and are printed by Lowe-Martin using lithography in six colours. The Santa stamps were designed by Hélène L’Heureux and illustrated by Christiane Beauregard. The domestic stamps are available in can_xmas_intlsantabooklets of 12 stamps and the U.S. and international stamps each in booklets of six. A souvenir sheet of all three stamps is also available; these stamps have simulated perforations and use PVA gum. The Official First Day Cover was cancelled in Saint-Nicolas, QC.

The Virgin and Child stamp measures 26 mm x 32 mm, has simulated perforation and was printed by Lowe-Martin using lithography in seven colours. The stamp was designed by Louise Méthé from a painting by Flemish Baroque painter Abraham Janssens van Nuyssen. The Official First Day Cover was cancelled in Québec, QC. The Permanent domestic stamp is available in booklets of 12. To purchase philatelic products, please visit For the Canada Post Picture Postage service, please visit, or download the free Canada Post mobile app – available on all platforms.

U.S. Winter Fun/Wreath F.D. Ceremony

Check back for updates, but here are some photos, courtesy Mark Saunders of the U.S. Postal Service (caption help by Foster Miller):

wfuncer03The snowman checks out his stamp and others. Apparently, he likes it.

wfuncer09Interim executive director of Stamp Services Cindy Tackett officiates at her first first day ceremony in that position. She stayed at the ASDA stamp show for the rest of the day, too, talking to collectors.

wfuncer07aThe audience at the first-day ceremony included several VSC members, including Foster Miller and Jay Bigalke (circled in the upper right).

wfuncer13A string trio from the Julliard School of Music played.

wfuncer33The autograph line after the ceremony. It’s too bad Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee chair Janet Klug always wears such drab clothing that she gets lost in any group photo….

wfuncer26Jay Bigalke of Linn’s uses his tablet to video the actual wreath that was the basis for the Global Wreath stamp design. In the background, over his right arm, you can see original artwork for one of the Winter Fun stamps. (information courtesy Foster Miller.)

wfuncer34From left to right, Janet Atkinson, designer of the Ice Skating Winter Fun Stamp; Michael Owens, designer of the Silver Bell Wreath Global Forever Stamp; Cindy Tackett; Gisele Valera, Vice President and Managing Director, Global Business, USPS, and “Dedicating Official” for the ceremony.

wfuncer16That’s ASDA president Mark Reasoner helping unveil the new stamps.

wfuncer17The actual unveilings of the stamp designs.

wfuncer37CSAC chair Janet Klug and Global Wreath artist Michael Owens signing autographs.

wfuncer40A closeup of Owens signing a ceremony program.

wfuncer47Owens and Valera pose with a presentation plaque featuring the stamp he designed. These are regularly given out to first day ceremony participants.

wfuncer43Atkinson poses with the blowup of the Winter Fun stamps.

wfuncer49Sally Anderson-Bruce, who took the photograph of the Silver Bells Wreath


LloydBlog: Customer Service @ Postal Service

I needed some Batman and Celebrity Chefs stamps and Winter Fun envelopes for first day covers. My own small post office didn’t have enough Batman, had sold out Chefs and hadn’t gotten the envelopes. So I went to a “premium” post office in the next town.

The two clerks at the counter had never heard of the envelopes, but while I was waiting for them to get more Batman from the back, I noticed the Snowflake envelopes hanging on two pegs to the right of the counter. On one of the pegs, under Snowflake envelopes, were packages of the Winter Fun envelopes. I took two, pointed it out to the two clerks, who replied, “Oh but WE don’t have them.”

If I’d been closer to the wall, I would have banged my head against it.

My first thought was one I’ve had many times: “Can you imagine any other large retailer where the clerks don’t know their store’s stock? Where the clerks show no embarrassment for not knowing their products? This time, however, I paused, and realized, yes, sadly. Nearly all of them.

Countless times in the past few years, I’ve gone into a supermarket or another large store, looking for a particular item, often advertised in the retailer’s flyer. After ten minutes of examining the shelves and the shelf labels, and looking behind the items that are in the place reserved for the one I want, I’ve flagged down a clerk or gone to the “courtesy” desk and asked for the item. The clerk takes me back to where I’ve been looking, glances at the shelf, and says, “We don’t have it.”

Thank you, I knew that 15 minutes ago. Do you have any in the stockroom? “No.” How do you know? I think. Or is what you know that you want to get back to doing nothing productive on company time?

One exception I’ve found is Target, where not only are their call stations to get a clerk (often a feat itself in other stores) but when the see the empty spot on the shelf, they pull out a scanner and can tell me if there are any more in the back or which Target stores nearby have what I want.

But that’s not how it works in most large stores. Many small stores, too, but the consequences of poor customer service are more immediate in small stores.

When I was looking to buy my first personal computer, I went to several local computer stores on the shopping corridor highway. At one, I stood there for 15 minutes while the clerk played a video game on a computer, never acknowledging my presence. I walked out. A few weeks later, the store was out of business.

Gloating is mine, saith the Lloyd.

Back to the Postal Service: The USPS puts out its Postal Bulletin every two weeks, which among other things, tells about upcoming new issues. At least until recently, ever clerk was supposed to read it. But some clerks tell me now that their Internet access at work has been cut off, so they can’t read the Postal Bulletin. Whether that was those specific offices or district, or universal, I don’t know. Would all clerks read it if they had Internet access? Doubtful. They didn’t when they were given printed copies.

[Let me hasten to add that there are many retail postal clerks who do read the Bulletin; some philatelic clerks even subscribed to Linn’s Stamp News.]

Bad customer service is the norm for most retailers now. It costs less to hire just barely enough workers to operate the stores. Apparently, the marketing experts feel that if the price is low enough, we’ll put up with poor service

With its recent money woes, the USPS is adopting many private-business practices… including this one..

Bruce “Batman” Wayne Collects Stamps

Score another for philately!

It was mentioned in one of the 1967 TV episodes, and confirmed recently at New York Comic Con by the comic books’ current co-editors. You can read the story here. The episode is Episode 51, second season, “A Piece of The Action,” and you can see Bruce and Dick examining stamps, starting at 2:47. One place to watch the episode is here.

The VSC radio feature on this is here.

Hotchner: Who Started You In Stamps?

Who Started You on Your Philatelic Path?
by John M. Hotchner

escortedkids2A friend reminiscing as he leaves the hobby due to serious medical issues recently wrote about his start as a stamp collector 65 years ago: “When I was eleven, my Dad left us, and we were transported from a major city to a relatively remote rural farming community, where my maternal grandparents took in my mother, younger brother and me.

“To say that going from the city to the farm was under-stimulating in many ways would be an understatement, but I had the great good fortune of seeing an ad I think from Kenmore, or H.E. Harris for a whole envelope of postage stamps from around the world.…for a dime. Off went my dime, and I waited impatiently for the stamps.

hotchner“Our tiny place had a general store, and in the store a small post office. We were P.O. Box 15. I haunted the post office daily, and the postmaster caught on. After my stamps came, I sent off other dimes and quarters (my weekly allowance) for more…and more…and, well, I guess I never quit until today.

“The postmaster introduced me to Mr. Stone, a World War II refugee from England, who had settled for some unknown reason in our town. When Mr. Stone discovered my interest in stamps, he invited me to his home. It was a marvel of strange baking smells, and he and his daughter introduced me to scones and tarts and the art of drinking ‘real’ English tea.

“He would bring out boxes of stamps, and as we sat at the dining room table, he would pick up his funny little tweezers (tongs, of course), and comment on every stamp: where it came from, the history at the time in that particular country, who the people were on the stamps, etc. And then, wonder of wonders, he would start a pile of stamps for me there on the table and if I could identify the country, the stamp was mine! I had died and gone to philatelic heaven!

“And that was how it started for me. Stamps were my window to the world, and I eventually got to see in person many of the sights that had only been on stamps for me until then. I would go on for many decades, collecting, accumulating, sorting, saving, and even writing about stamps.

“I wish I could thank Mr. Stone for what he did for me in my restricted life. But maybe he knew anyway.

“Don’t know the purpose of this little tale, but feeling nostalgic about it today, and just wanted someone else to know how I got my start in stamps.”

With the electronics of today, kids no matter how rural their location, need never be “under-stimulated”, and therein lies the problem we have in bringing new collectors to the hobby. There are simply too many alternative activities for young people to get involved in. They don’t engage with stamp collecting because there is no void to fill any more. And beyond that, if introduced to stamps, many kids find it boring because there is little immediate pay off. They find the electronics more stimulating.

Yet, some do have a brush with the hobby—usually because of a connection to another collector—and it takes hold. And there are younger collectors—just not in the numbers we used to see.

I suspect that the ways that people come to the hobby these days are more varied as at least half the collectors I meet seem to have ‘joined up’ as adults even though they had no experience with the hobby as children.

We have spoken here before about the need to pass the hobby from one generation to the next by mentoring, and my friend’s experience is a good example of that. But I believe we need to learn from other models too. And for that reason, I would like to invite the readers of U.S. Stamp News to tell me about how YOU got started in the hobby. My hope is that you will share experiences that might help us today to bring new people into the hobby.

The reason is not, as some would have us believe, solely that we need to assure there will be collectors to buy our stamps when we ‘age out’. Rather, it is that stamp collecting is a wonderful hobby with many benefits for the collector in terms of relaxation, enjoyment, learning, fulfilling the need most of us have for organization, and so much more. In other words, I view it as a kindness to a fellow human being to get them involved in the hobby. I don’t care if they choose to collect something that I collect, or sail off into the sunset with something entirely different, so long as they are bitten by the bug, and discover the wonders of the hobby.

Increasingly, I think it is people approaching retirement age that are our best cohort for recruiting. This does not mean that youth should be ignored. There are already a wide range of youth outreach programs, including some innovative efforts through the electronic media of which they are so fond. But we have done less in the realm of outreach to adults who suddenly find themselves with time on their hands once their working life has come to an end.

And there is even less outreach to young professionals who might be convinced to dabble in the hobby even before retirement as a means of reducing the stresses of career-building and family-raising.

I want to know what worked to bring you into the hobby. What were your first experiences with stamps? How and by whom were you introduced? What were your first perceptions of the hobby? What got you to stick with it? What do you see as its benefits, or drawbacks?

There is no suggested length for your thoughts. Leave your omments right here.

Photos from Batman F.D. Ceremony

batceremony01dunaier_batmanFans gathered at New York Comic Con at the DC Entertainment booth at the USPS Launch of the Batman Stamp at New York’s Comic Con, on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Dario Cantatore/Invision for U.S. Postal Service/AP Images) If you look carefully at the photo, you can spot Virtual Stamp Club member and inveterate Mets fan Gary Dunaier (detail on the left).


batceremony07Above, Greg Breeding, Jim Cochrane, Jim Lee and Dan DiDio

batceremony05DC Entertainment Co-Publisher and legendary comic book artist Jim Lee.

batceremony06 Batman joined DCE Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, USPS Stamp Sheet designer Greg Breeding, and U.S. Postal Service’s CIO Jim Cochrane for the unveiling.

batceremony04 The quintessential image from this ceremony.

All photographs by Dario Cantatore/Invision for U.S. Postal Service/AP Images. used by permission of the USPS.

Sundman Sells Inverted Jenny PB

[press release]
Sundman Sells “Inverted Jenny” Plate Block For U.S. Record Price

Inverted Jenny plate block(Camden, New York) — The plate block of 1918 “Inverted Jenny” 24-cent airmail stamps (Scott #C3a), obtained in 2005 by Donald J. Sundman in a historic swap with Wall Street bond trader William Gross, now has been sold by Sundman for more than $4.8 million.

“At the request of the purchaser, the exact price is not being disclosed; only that it was north of $4.8 million. This Inverted Jenny plate block sale is a record price for any U.S. philatelic item and the second highest price in the world ever paid for any philatelic item,” said Sundman, President of Mystic Stamp Company in Camden, New York.

Sundman had not been planning to sell the block, but instead intended to display it at World Stamp Show-NY2016 in New York City next May. He previously exhibited the Inverted Jenny plate block to long lines of viewers at the Washington (D.C.) 2006 World Philatelic Exhibition and at the 2007 American Philatelic Society convention in Portland, Oregon. However, he recently received an unsolicited offer he couldn’t refuse.

“It was the oddest transaction I’ve seen in stamps.  Someone called me in late September and said he represents some people overseas who want to buy my Jenny block.  He told me they are not collectors, just wealthy people who want to buy things,” said Sundman.

“He revealed they had purchased a copy of the Magna Carta, and had a list of other rare items they wanted to buy, including a copy of the Declaration of Independence. It’s odd that non-collectors are spending millions on some of the greatest treasures. I’ve never seen anything like this in my 40 years in the hobby,” Sundman added.

Sundman obtained the Inverted Jenny plate block in November 2005 in a trade with Gross who had purchased it only a few weeks earlier for a then-world record $2,970,000 at a public auction conducted by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries. In exchange for the block, Sundman traded his one-cent 1868 Z-Grill (Scott #85a) stamp that he acquired for $935,000 at a 1998 Siegel auction.

The historic swap was valued at the time at a combined total of $6 million and was arranged on behalf of Gross by Charles Shreve.

Sundman recently announced a reward on behalf of the American Philatelic Research Library of up to $100,000 to locate the two still-missing Inverted Jenny stamps from a block of four stolen nearly 60 years ago. The block was owned at the time of the 1955 theft by Ethel B. McCoy of New York City who later donated to the APRL two subsequently-recovered stamps and the legal rights to the other two.

Canada: Quebec Conference Envelope

[Canada Post press release]
Canada Post celebrates the Québec Conference 150th anniversary with commemorative envelope

can_quebconf1 OTTAWA, Oct.10, 2014 /CNW/ – Today, Canada Post is issuing a commemorative envelope to celebrate the monumental achievement of the Québec Conference delegates. Along with the Charlottetown Conference envelope issued this past September, it continues the story of the first steps in the foundation of our country through archival photographs, art and documents. The envelope showcases a photograph of the conference delegates present at the Québec Conference.

“On October 10, we celebrate the 1864 Québec Conference, reliving a key moment in the creation of Canada,” says Jim Phillips, Director of Stamp Services at Canada Post.

In the fall of 1864, delegates met twice with the ambitious goal of uniting the British North American colonies. The second conference, held in Québec, resolved many of the complex challenges raised during lively discussions in Charlottetown.
From October 10, Québec Conference delegates debated and eventually approved 72 principles that still largely define Canada today. The creation of these Québec Resolutions was guided by a determined Sir John A. Macdonald, who later drafted the British North America Act during the final round of debate in London, England, in 1866-67.

About the commemorative envelope
can_quebconf2The Québec Conference commemorative envelope was designed by Isabelle Toussaint, and 8,000 envelopes were printed by Lowe-Martin Group. The envelope measures 170 mm by 115 mm. Images are from the House of Commons Collection, Archives of Ontario and Archives de la Ville de Québec: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. The envelope will be cancelled in Quebec. To purchase philatelic products, please visit [An view of the envelope before assembly is on the right.]