APS’ Guyer To Head Dealers Association

dana_guyer_riverside01Dana Guyer, director of Shows & Exhibitions for the American Philatelic Society, will become the executive director of the American Stamp Dealers Association, effective March 1. Guyer confirmed the hiring to The Virtual Stamp Club.

She is shown here with a sheet of Forever Hearts stamps issued at AmeriStamp Expo 2015, her last show for the APS. (Photo courtesy Michael J. Luzzi and used by permission.)

Guyer is currently busy with preparations for APS’ AmeriStamp Expo show in Riverside, California next month (February 13-14).

She will be the second APS Shows & Exhibitions director to move up within philately. Her predecessor, Ken Martin, left that post to become Deputy Executive Director and is now Executive Director of the APS.

“We wish Dana well and hope that she and the ASDA have a very successful
future,” Martin told The VSC in e-mail.

This looks like a good move for the ASDA, because one of its primary functions is staging major stamp shows, particularly the two annually in New York City. Last fall’s show at the New York Hilton celebrated the organization’s 100th anniversary, but also proved to be a money-loser. Its executive director was fired soon after. The April 16-18 show in NYC will again be at the Hilton, but at a smaller, less expensive, venue within the hotel.

Ironically, the ASDA is staging a show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the same weekend as AmeriStamp Expo.

As for the APS, it now has a job opening.

“The job announcement should be posted on the APS website by mid next week,” Martin said. “We will publicize the opening in the e-newsletter that should go out late next week and have an ad in the March American Philatelist. Applications will be accepted until March 18.”

Glade Creek Grist Mill Priority Envelope (US 2015)

s_millprienvJanuary 30th: This was not previously announced until it popped up on the store.USPS.com website as both a first day cover and “mint” in packs of 5, 10 and 25 (under “mailing supplies.” A USPS spokesman tells The Virtual Stamp Club, “This wasn’t a typical stamp creation and dealt with different channels.” We’re trying to get more details.

Here’s a look at the 2014 stamp on which the indicia is based:

An Post Returns Santa Letter: Insufficient Address

Ireland’s postal agency An Post is apologizing for returning a 3-year-old’s letter to Santa… marked “insufficient address.”

The BBC reports that apparently “Santa Claus, Santa’s Grotto, Lapland, The North Pole” wasn’t good enough — even though An Post delivered the letter from the little girl’s eight-year-old sister.

An Post says it successfully handled 140,000 letters to Santa this year, and is very upset about this one.

It offered to send a special letter to the three-year-old, but was turned down.

USPS: No Domestic Shipping Price Hike

Buried in the second bullet point is that the USPS is asking for an increase in its international shipping services. —LdeV

[press release]

Proposed New Postal Service Shipping Prices Designed to Capitalize on Strong Package Growth
No price increase proposed for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express products
usps_pkgdelivery2WASHINGTON — In a notice filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the U.S. Postal Service seeks to keep Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail services at their current prices. It’s part of the Postal Service’s ongoing pricing strategy to capitalize on strong package growth.  Priority Mail is the Postal Service’s flagship Shipping Services product and is a convenient and fast way to send documents and packages requiring expedited transportation and handling.

Also, unlike other shipping companies, the Postal Service is not implementing new dimensional weight charges with this pricing proposal, continuing its commitment to deliver the best value for customers. For more information about this please visit https://www.usps.com/dimensionalweight/welcome.htm.

With affordable shipping options and improved tracking, the Postal Service hopes to attract new business customers and become their delivery platform of choice. In FY 2014, Postal Service Shipping and Package Services volume grew by 300 million pieces, an increase of 8.1 percent over the previous year.

Some of the key elements of the pricing proposal filed with the PRC today, which includes an overall 3.4 percent price increase, include the following:

  • No price increase in domestic Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail services and products.
  • Priority Mail International will increase 6.8 percent, and pricing to Canada will now be zoned.
  • Priority Mail Express International will increase 6.7 percent with Flat Rate pricing available.

Priority Mail International is a reliable, cost-effective way to send merchandise and documents to about 180 countries. Priority Mail Express International provides affordable and fast international delivery to about 180 countries. Shipments are insured against loss, damage, and /or missing contents up to $200 at no additional charge. Date-certain service with a money-back delivery guarantee is available to select countries.

The PRC will review the prices before they are proposed to become effective on April 26, 2015, to determine if prices are consistent with applicable law.

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

Hotchner: Put Fun Back In Philately

Didja hear the one about the stamp collector who…?
by John M. Hotchner

hotchnerWhen I wear a name badge showing I am a member of the Errors, Freaks and Oddities Collectors’ Club, my wife has been known to chide me with “Which one are you?” And it is undeniable that there is a perception that some, if not all stamp collectors are a bit “off”. As a group we are possessed of a demon that demands we acquire ever more little colored pieces of paper, and often the envelopes on which they have been used. In doing so, we set ourselves apart from most other people and inhabit a mostly solitary world of cancellations, catalogue values, perforation measurements, and other trivia where stamps become a passion that is barely comprehensible to family, friends, colleagues at work, and casual acquaintances. And what others do not understand, they often denigrate or, worse, assign a personality warp to those who practice the unimagined art.

Enough for that meaning of “funny.” It struck me recently as I chuckled my way through a Carol Burnett rerun, that the world is full of comedy, and yet we see little of it in our hobby. It is possible that this is because the practitioners of the hobby in a public setting are involved in serious pursuits; running clubs and societies, studying the endless questions our material raises and writing articles proposing answers, or exhibiting our stamps and covers in competition. These things can be fun, but are rarely treated as being in any sense funny.

Extend this to the questions that are a constant in letters to the editor: How many stamps per year is the right number? What is attractive and effective stamp design? Is there a good way to separate self-stick stamps from paper? What is the latest outrage in postal service policy? Monologue and even dialogue on these subjects is passionate, but distinctly unfunny.

carriers1In fact, when an opportunity comes up to address humor, such as cartoon or other representational art used as stamp designs, the overwhelming response is that this is not serious art, or a serious way to treat a serious subject!

And yet, stamp collecting is supposed to be fun, a respite from the serious matters that make up our normal day-to-day. Part of that fun is humor. We are hard-wired as human beings to enjoy a good laugh. Is there any list of qualities for a possible mate that does not include “a good sense of humor?” Certainly laughing together is an essential glue of any relationship. But I digress…

The fact is that Humorless equals Unattractive. So, is it any wonder that stamp collecting is having an increasingly hard time competing for new adherents when our image is often that of serious clinicians rather than people having fun and sharing smiles?

OK, it is a fact that we are probably dealing with a leopard that is not going to change its spots, but is there any way to increase the humor quotient in philately … to make the hobby more appealing to those who enjoy a good laugh?

I think there is. Our hobby’s public face is multifaceted. It includes our publications, our websites, our exhibits and exhibitions, and ourselves as collectors in how we present ourselves to the unwashed. In the good old days of philately when I was getting involved, there were humor-based columns in our publications, cartoons, an emphasis on the fun in philately. That is much less seen these days, replaced by what to an outsider would be as dull and useless as an insider’s understanding of the workings of the stock market to a non-investor. Make no mistake: Much of this is fascinating to the insider — the serious collector. But it does not sit well with another audience: those we want to bring into the hobby, or even many of those who are beginners and considering whether to devote more time and effort to the hobby.

Part of this problem lies with writers, and part of it lies with editors. When I began my series of cartoon contests in Linn’s many moons ago, the editor at the time was not in favor of the idea. His take was the concept would fail because “Stamp collectors have no sense of humor.” I’m glad I persisted, as 20+ years later, I think the monthly Cartoon Caption Contest has proved otherwise. Everyone has a sense of humor, but as any successful comedian will tell you, it is hard and serious work to make people laugh.

Our hobby’s websites are unfortunately tracking with our print publications. In fact they are often just our print publications. I’m not an expert here, as (showing my age) I don’t have as detailed a sense of what is going on in cyberspace as I do in the print realm. But the Internet is an increasingly important recruiting tool for appealing to younger folks, and it needs to have a humor component every bit as much as the print media does.

Our exhibits and exhibitions — Competition is a good thing. It encourages our best effort, and in philately, it is responsible for much of the geometric growth of knowledge that makes philately a rich and inviting place for specialists. But there is a down side. Despite the fact that it is the exhibit being judged, it can be hard to separate the self from the exhibit; leading to a feeling of being personally judged. Combine this with the scholarship required to attain a Gold medal, and we have seen a trend toward the scientific approach to building competitive exhibits, with the result that many (including some of mine) are dull and boring. It may not be possible to fix this, but again, it is possible to bring more fun into the frames.

How? I’d like to see much more in the way of non-competitive exhibits at our shows; exhibits that are maybe not explicitly funny, but are at least FUN, and present that side of the hobby. Examples? The late Clyde Jennings’ exhibit on outhouses. The late John Briggs’ exhibit on “How to win a gold medal: craftiness in philatelic exhibiting.” The late Jo Bleakley’s “Frog and Toad Trivia.” The late Vernon Moore’s multiframe on music; and other entertaining exhibits… Are you seeing a pattern here? We need a new generation of exhibitors who are not devoted to just the search for Gold medals, but are motivated to present the fun of philately.

And the people, ah, the people. Get any two stamp collectors together talking about their hobby, their dealer experiences, other collectors, and their search for material, and there will be plenty of laughs. But put a stamp collector and a non-collector together, and the discussion will quickly default to values, the benefits of the hobby, and similar serious issues. The fun part does not sparkle in these interchanges.

And speaking of sparkling, if the public face of the hobby is its people, then we need more people like the earlier mentioned Clyde Jennings; not just for his wonderful exhibits (both Gold winners and fun exhibits), but for his wardrobe. Clyde owned a wide range of matching sport coats and slacks (and underwear!) in just about all hues of the rainbow. He always stood out in a crowd, and he always provoked and enjoyed the humorous comments on his newest garb. Just by being there, he made any philatelic event a fun place to be. And while he took his exhibiting pursuits seriously, his object was to bring joy to the faces of those with whom he came in contact. In doing so he made the hobby attractive. We need many more people so motivated.

Fun and humor are not the same thing, but they are first cousins. We need much more of both in our public face. Readers are invited to drop me a line with your ideas on how we can promote those aspects of our hobby; especially among those who are not now collectors.

Should you wish to comment on this column, 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.

Nelson Mandela (Canada, 2015)

[press release]
Canada Post celebrates hope, courage and freedom with new Nelson Mandela stamp

can_mandelaTORONTO, Jan. 27, 2015 /CNW/ – Today, Canada Post is unveiling a new stamp to commemorate the heroic life of Nelson Mandela, and celebrate the legacy of courage, determination and persistent hope he left behind. The stamp recognizes the special relationship Canada shared with Mandela, who referred to this country as his home away from home.

Amid his 27 years in prison, Mandela became a symbol of the moral fight for freedom, equality and justice in South Africa and around the world. His message strongly resonated among Canadians, who were at the forefront of the global outcry over his imprisonment and of the unrelenting demand for his release.

After his release in 1990, Canada was among the first countries Mandela visited. Four years later, as president of South Africa, he specifically drew on Canadian values, policies and practices to build his post-apartheid vision of a multi-racial democracy rooted in equality and governed by the rule of law.

In 2001, on his third visit to this country, Mandela was bestowed with honorary Canadian citizenship. He was the first living person to receive this recognition.

“Nelson Mandela, an honorary Canadian citizen, is an inspiration to everyone who values human rights. As a great champion of freedom, beloved by Canadians, he will forever be remembered as a man whose courage changed not just South Africa, but also the world,” says Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister.

“Our stamp program seeks to tell the stories of people who have had a powerful effect on our society, and Nelson Mandela’s story is among the most powerful. Canada Post is truly privileged to celebrate his life, his legacy and his struggle that inspired generations to fight for what is right,” says Deepak Chopra, President and CEO of Canada Post.

The stamp was inspired by a photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh on Mandela’s first visit to Canada in 1990, just four months after his release from prison.

The world mourned Mandela’s passing on December 5, 2013.

About the stamp
The Nelson Mandela Permanent stamp, featuring a photo by Yousuf Karsh, is available in booklets of 10 and measures 32 mm x 32 mm. An Official First Day Cover and souvenir sheet with an international rate stamp are also available. The stamp, souvenir sheet and Official First Day Cover are designed by Ian Drolet with photos by Yousuf Karsh, Jürgen Schadeberg and Stephane de Sakutin, and printed by Canadian Bank Note. The Official First Day Cover measures 191 mm x 113 mm and is cancelled in Ottawa, Ontario. Many thanks to the Nelson Mandela Foundation for its cooperation and assistance in the creation of this stamp issue.

The stamp will be available for purchase on January 30. To purchase philatelic products, please visit canadapost.ca/shop.

Alice In Wonderland (UK, 2015)

[press release]

Alice in Wonderland
10 Stamps – Issue date: 6th January 2015
uk_alice_strip1Reason and inspiration
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s classic book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Royal Mail commissioned illustrator Grahame Baker-Smith, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal and author of FArTHER, to illustrate ten key scenes from the book. Art-directed by Godfrey Design, Baker- Smith offers a fresh, lively interpretation of unforgettable characters such as the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat and Alice herself, making the story come to life with new vivacity. The unusual vertical se-tenant format not only suits the topsy-turvy story but also adds philatelic interest.

2nd Class The White Rabbit
2nd Class Down the Rabbit Hole
1st Class Drink Me
1st Class The White Rabbit’s House
81p The Cheshire-Cat
81p A Mad Tea-Party
£1.28 The Queen of Hearts
£1.28 The Game of Croquet
£1.47 Alice’s Evidence
£1.47 A Pack of Cards

Technical Details
Stamps: 2 x 2nd, 2 x 1st, 2 x 81p, 2 x £1.28, 2 x £1.47
Products: FDC, Presentation Pack, Stampcards, Retail Book, Medal Cover, Frames, Pins
Design: Godfrey Design
Illustrations: Grahame Baker-Smith
Printer: International Security Printers
Stamp size 35mm x 35mm
Sheet Size: 60 per sheet, 10 sheets or 5 sheets of ST pairs?
Print process: Lithogrpahy
Acknowledgements: Stamp designs © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2015


Presentation Pack
uk_alice_packThe presentation pack, designed by Godfrey Design and written by Professor Hugh Haughton, tells the story of the genesis and publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. From the “golden afternoon” in July 1862, when Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll – told an outlandish tale to the young Alice Liddell and her sisters, through illustrator John Tenniel’s role, to the myriad editions over the past century and a half, the pack offers real insight into the story behind this classic children’s tale. Beautifully illustrated, it includes a photograph of Alice Liddell taken by Dodgson himself as well as reproductions of pages from his first hand-written manuscript. Price: £9.95 Code: AP396

First Day Cover
uk_alice_fdcThe First Day Cover, designed by Godfrey Design, features a striking illustration of the White Rabbit by Grahame Baker-Smith. The Tallents House handstamp features an illustration of the Mad Hatter’s hat drawn by John Tenniel for the original edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The alternate location is Oxford, where Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson lived and worked. Price: £11.78 (overseas £9.82) Code: AF388

Stamp cards
The 10 Special Stamps image are reproduced at postcard size
Price: £4.50, Code: AQ215

Retail Stamp Book
uk_alice_retailThe Alice in Wonderland Retail Stamp book contains the two 1st Class stamps from this beautiful Special stamp issue, alongside 4 of the Machin 1st Class red stamps. Price: £3.72 Code: UB380

The Tallents House handstamp features an illustration of the Mad Hatter’s hat drawn by John Tenniel for the original edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

An alternative First Day of Issue pictorial and non-pictorial OXFORD postmark will also be available for this issue. OXFORD was chosen as this is where Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson lived and worked

uk_alice_cancelsTALLENTS HOUSE Pictorial FD1501-TH
OXFORD Pictorial FD1501-PL
OXFORD Non-pictorial FD1501-NP

Pin Badges (set of 5)
Price: £5.95 each,
Set of 5 Alice in Wonderland Pin Badges using the images of the stamps. The pin badges will be 30x30mm with a butterfly tie tack reverse. Each pin badge will be supplied on a backing card designed in the colours and style of the stamp issue and in clear hook and hang packaging. Not suitable for children under 3 years old due to choking hazard and sharp edges.
NB157: The White Rabbit (2nd Class)
NB158: Drink Me (1st Class)
NB159: A Mad Tea-Party (81p)
NB160: The Cheshire-Cat (81p)
NB161: The Game of Croquet (£1.28)

Panorama Pops Book – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 
by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith. Additional details not yet available.

Stamp Art
Set in a black box frame, these beautifully illustrated Alice in Wonderland Stamps make a great addition to the wall. Handmade for Royal Mail in the UK. Dimensions: 33x18cm Price: £5.00 Code: NZ051

An exquisite 150th anniversary edition of Lewis Carroll’s classic story, created in association with Royal Mail. Alice’s adventures are bought to life in this special three-dimensional cut-paper book, presented in a charming slipcase. The book unfolds to reveal 10 of the most famous moments in the classic story, from Alice falling down the Rabbit hole, to the Mad-Hatters tea party. The beautiful illustrations by Kate Greenaway Medal winner Grahame Baker-Smith were specially commissioned by Royal Mail for a set of commemorative stamps and this innovative version of the classic tale makes an irresistible gift.

Stamp Art
Set in a black box frame, these beautifully illustrated Alice in Wonderland Stamps make a great addition to the wall. Handmade for Royal Mail in the UK. Dimensions: 33x18cm Price: £25.00
Additional Frame – Alice in Wonderland Print and Stamp Price: £45 (TBC)

Medal Cover – Issue Date 5th March 2015
Price £TBC, Code TBC
, Visual not yet available – this is for information only.
The Alice in Wonderland medal cover is issued on 5 March 2015, in time for World Book Day, includes the Alice in Wonderland special stamps and a specially designed Royal Mint medal. The insert features key characters from the story as portrayed by notable illustrators over the past 150 years, all set within a beautifully conceived paper cut-out illustrations by Rebecca Sutherland. The medal cover has been designed by Interabang and written by Lewis Carroll expert Selwyn Goodacre.

Black History at National Postal Museum

[press release]
National Postal Museum Announces New Exhibition Opening
Exhibition Devoted Entirely to African American History

“Freedom Just Around the Corner: Black America from Civil War to Civil Rights,” opening Feb. 12 at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, is the museum’s first exhibition devoted entirely to African American history. Marking 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery throughout the United States, the exhibition chronicles the African American experience through the perspective of stamps and mail.

The exhibition includes letters carried by enslaved Americans, mail sent by and to leaders of the civil rights movement and original artwork for numerous stamps issued by the United States Postal Service. More than 100 items from the museum’s collection are on display, augmented by outstanding pieces on loan from other institutions and private collections.

“The exhibition is powerful and presents a distinctive perspective to the history that unfolded during this important period of time,” said Allen Kane, director of the museum. “Our hope is that visitors will learn more about this historic period, connect emotionally to the stories and objects we are presenting and continue to have meaningful conversations beyond the museum visit.”

Before the introduction of home mail delivery, slaves often carried letters to and from the post office. Slave-carried mail was usually identified by a notation—called an endorsement—that also served as a travel pass. These mail messengers could be an important source of news if they overheard discussions during their travels. Slaves sometimes carried letters directly to the recipient, bypassing the postal system entirely. This was often the case when the letter was accompanied by a parcel, since post offices did not handle domestic package mail until 1913.

The exhibition, in part, presents examples of slave-carried mail, including one carried by a slave named Susan, dated April 17, 1850, with the message, “I send to you my negro girl Susan aged 16 all rite and a first rate girl big limbs and muscles please sell her and remit…”

Susan was probably unaware that the letter she carried to the Eastville, Va., post office contained arrangements for her to be sold to a slave dealer in Richmond.

mlkartMartin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was commemorated in the Postal Service’s Celebrate the Century stamp series issued at the end of the 20th century. Original artwork for the stamp, by Keith Birdsong, reflects a trace of brightness on the horizon to represent hope, while King wears the March’s official badge, in one of many stunning paintings on display from the Postal Service’s Black Heritage stamp series. Most of the artwork is exhibited for the very first time.

sidebysidebh“‘Freedom’ provides a unique take on African American history, exploring the subject through stamps and mail,” said Daniel Piazza, exhibit curator. “We hope this approach inspires new audiences to visit the National Postal Museum and William H. Gross Stamp Gallery.”

Selected pieces in the exhibition will include interpretation presented through audio recordings of curators, conservators and guest speakers, adding significance to individual objects. A special website and catalog will augment the exhibition as well, providing additional access to the rich content presented.

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

Additional illustrations
daviscoverDavis, Deupree and Company cover and letter, October 13, 1860
Richmond, Virginia was the center of the domestic slave trade on the eve of the Civil War. Despite the large volume of mail that must have been sent by slave dealers, just a few examples survive today.

uncletomUncle Tom’s Cabin illustrated anti-slavery cover, March 28, 1853
Less than a year after its publication in the United States, Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold more than one million copies in Great Britain. Although modern critics point out the book’s use of racially stereotyped characters, in its day it was regarded as a powerful piece of anti-slavery propaganda. Scenes from the novel decorate the reverse of this British anti-slavery cover published by James Valentine of Dundee, Scotland.

The scenes, clockwise from top flap: Uncle Tom is sold away from Aunt Chloe and his children because of his owner’s bankruptcy. The overseers Sambo and Quimbo flog Uncle Tom. Simon Legree whips Uncle Tom. Uncle Tom reads his Bible atop cotton bales on a Mississippi River steamboat. Pursued by slave catchers, Eliza escapes north with her five year old son Harry. Emmeline is sold away from her grieving mother, Susan.

exslavesoldiersRunaway slaves volunteering for Union army illustrated cover, c. 1861
Early in the Civil War, Union General Benjamin Butler decreed that escaped slaves who reached his station at Fort Monroe would be considered “contraband” and not returned to their owners. Although the idea of black troops is caricatured by these envelopes, nearly 200,000 black men served in the Union forces.

medalWilliam H. Carney Medal of Honor, 1900
William Harvey Carney, born a slave in Virginia in 1840, volunteered for the celebrated, all-black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Shot twice while rescuing the American flag during an attack on Battery Wagner near Charleston, South Carolina, he later received the Medal of Honor. After the war, he worked as a letter carrier in the New Bedford, Massachusetts post office for more than thirty years.
Loan from Carl J. Cruz

freedmensFreedmen’s Bureau cover, c. 1865-1872
Private charity could only partially meet former slaves’ needs, which ranged from food and clothing to employment and education. Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1865 with Major General Oliver O. Howard as its commissioner. A Medal of Honor recipient, he later served as president of Howard University. His signature indicated that no postage was due.

kkkcancel‘Skull and Crossbones’ KKK postal cancel, Union Mills, Pennsylvania, c. 1870
The skull and crossbones was one of the earliest symbols adopted by the Klan.
Loan from Stampvestors LLC through Columbian Stamp Company

segrfdbagSegregated Rural Free Delivery saddlebag, c. 1896
Palmyra, Virginia became a Rural Free Delivery post office on October 22, 1896, one of the first in the nation to deliver mail to farm families. This mailbag with separate compartments for “white” and “colored” mail was not required by federal policy but was procured by the carrier to satisfy either his own preferences or those of his customers.

mlkart33c Martin Luther King Jr. approved stamp art by Keith Birdsong, c. 1999

Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech was commemorated in the Postal Service’s Celebrate the Century stamp series issued at the end of the twentieth century. A trace of brightness on the horizon represents hope, while King wears the March’s official badge.
Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster General’s Collection

37c Marian Anderson approved stamp art by Albert Slark, c. 2005
Canadian-born artist Albert Slark created this full-color oil portrait of Marian Anderson from a circa 1934 black-and-white photograph. Easily one of the most beautiful designs in the Black Heritage series, it won numerous awards and was exhibited at the Society of Illustrators 48th Annual Exhibition in New York City.

sidebysidebh22c Duke Ellington approved stamp art by Jim Sharpe, c. 1986
Performing Arts Series
The most prolific jazz composer ever, Edward ‘Duke’ Ellington and his orchestra toured the U.S. for nearly fifty years and also popularized the genre in Europe.

Jury announced for London 2015

[press release]
Jury announced for London 2015

london2015The Jury has been announced for London 2015 EUROPHILEX, the international stamp exhibition being held at the Business Design Centre in London on 13 to 16 May.

The Honorary President is José Ramon Moreno, with President, Francis Kiddle,
Vice Presidents, Jussi Tuori and Dr Wolf Hess, and Senior Consultants, Dr Alan Huggins and Bernard Jimenez. The Secretary to the Jury is Jonas Hällström.

The judging team comprises Mehmet Akan, Boncho Bonev, Bruno Crevato-Selvaggi, Robert Dedecker, Premyslaw Drzewieckl, Christine Earle, Jonas Hällström, Chris Harman, Dr Wolf Hess, Francis Kiddle, Mordecai Kremener, Dr Pal Lippai, José Ramon Moreno, Per Friis Mortensen, Robin Pizer, Sherif Samra, Jesus Sitja, Joao Soeiro, Michael Smith, Ivar Sundsboe, Brian Trotter, Jussi Tuori, Wolfgang Weigel, Richard West, Robert Wightman, Fredrik Ydell.

The apprentice jurors are Thomas Hoepfner, Jukka Makinen, Ari Muhonen, James Podger, with Bruno Crevato-Selvaggi as an observer.

The Expert Team comprises Chris Harman, Dr Alan Huggins and Lars Peter Svendsen.

The exhibition will include over 370 entries covering all the major classes in international philately.

This will be the 15th international stamp exhibition staged in London, the first being 125 years ago in May 1890.

For full information go to www.london2015.net

Stealth U.S. Rate Hike Request

This rate change request was approved February 24th. See the update here.

usps_mailboxpickupIn order to get a rate increase of three cents all at once, the USPS promised not to raise the cost to mail a letter for three years. Strictly speaking, it has adhered to that agreement, while at the same seeking a hike in rates. How?

The basic cost to mail a letter will remain 49 cents, but if it weighs more than an ounce, the USPS would like to collect 22 cents per additional ounce, a penny more than at present. Letters to anywhere outside the U.S., even Canada, will cost 5 cents more. And postcards will cost a penny more to mail.

All of these are requests, subject to regulatory approval. If approved, they would go into effect April 26th.

The USPS also warns that it may raise its various package-shipping services, such as Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express (overnight delivery, formerly Express Mail) and Parcel Post. These do not require regulatory approval and, since they are in competition with private services, are not capped by the rate of inflation.

One more quibble: As it often does, the USPS reminds us it does not receive tax dollars for operating expenses. However, it does get tax dollars for the “free franking” (free postage) afford the White House and Members of Congress, and it is also not subject to state and local taxes.

The USPS press release is below:

[press release]
Forever Stamp Prices Unchanged
Postal Service Committed to Growth; Action Taken to Increase Needed Revenue

WASHINGTON — The United States Postal Service today filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) of a price increase for Mailing Services products based upon the Consumer Price Index (CPI) cap authority. The filing, if approved, would keep Forever Stamps at their current price of 49 cents.

The First-Class Mail prices for these products are:

  • Letters (1 oz.) remains at 49 cents
  • Letters additional ounces, from 21 cents to 22 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations, from $1.15 to $1.20
  • Postcards, from 34 cents to 35 cents

Today’s action is the latest in a series of steps the Postal Service has taken as part of a comprehensive approach to achieve financial stability. By growing volume, revenue and contribution, the Postal Service will continue to meet America’s mailing and shipping needs well into the future. While improving efficiency in streamlining its network and seeking legislative changes, the Postal Service must address an outdated business model.

Some of the key elements of the proposal include the following:

  • Maintains single-piece stamp prices at 49 cents
  • Addresses PRC concerns about underwater products
  • Simplifies Special Services to reduce redundancy and improve customer ease of use

The filing does not affect Postal Service Shipping products and services and are proposed to become effective on April 26, 2015.

The PRC will review the prices before they are proposed to become effective on April 26, 2015, to determine if prices are consistent with applicable law.

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