Purple Heart Reprint (2015)

Updated January 3rd: The Scott catalogue number for this issue is 5035.

Updated December 6th: I purchased a pane at my local post office. There is no year date. There is no year. Here’s the entire pane: purplesurprise1You can click on that for a larger view. Here’s a closeup of the individual stamp:

purpleheart2014First reported by Jay Bigalke on The American Philatelic Society’s Facebook page on November 25th:

“[A] new Purple Heart stamp variety showed up at post offices nationwide in October. Its arrival brought loads of new information to the stamp program. Here’s some of the highlights:

– Original printing by CCL Label issued last year. This new version had 200 million stamps printed by SSP using offset printing instead of gravure. The stamp has microprinting.

– New USPS policy starting with this stamp, according to USPS spokesman Mark Saunders “we won’t be conducting FDOIs for reprints.”

– This might be the last time we see the “S” for a plate number. In early October Sennett Security Products (who owns Banknote Corporation of America that prints the stamps) was purchased by CCL Label. According to the USPS “Beginning with the first issue of the new calendar year, ‘Banknote Corporation of America’ will be using the prefix ‘B.'”

This means first day cover collectors are again looking for “EKU covers” — envelopes with postmarks indicating the Earliest Known Use. Have you seen any? Is the new version in your post office yet? Report it here.

APS Holds Black Friday Sale (APS? Really?)


Black Friday Header
Do More, Learn More, Enjoy More

Black Friday through Cyber Monday Sale

Shirt and Tie

“Hopefully everyone had a chance to join with loved ones to give thanks during this holiday season.  We want to send our thanks to you for all that you do for the APS and the hobby.  While others may head out to the stores to catch a deal for Black Friday, all our deals are available in the comfort of your own home.  Just log on and look through a wide selection of stamps, books, DVDs, and many other items you’ve been wanting to add.  No long lines, no battling for parking spaces, just a few clicks and we do all the work!  So grab a piece of pie, spend a little time with your philatelic family, and grow your collection or help someone else grow theirs.  On behalf of all your friends at the APS, thank you for being a great member!” ~Scott D. English, Executive Director

BUY NOW!  APS is having a BIG sale between midnight Thursday and midnight Monday November 30. Buy online now!

   • APS Sport Shirts – size small, blue/tan/red ($18 now $10).
   APS Two-way decal ($2.75 now $1).
   Embroidered Patch – two color options ($3.50 now $1.50).
Souvenirs   APS 25-year Lapel pin ($12 now $7.50).
   APS Life-Pin ($12 now $7.50).
   Posters (2 designs – Prairie Letter Box Print and Stamp
Collector) ($7.50 now $5).
   Ties – Pacific 97 ties and APS logo ties ($19 now $10).
Dedication Covers – 8 different designs all selling at $2.50
Assorted Serviced APS Show Cachets:*
         – 1977-1997 (qty 10) – ($15 now $9.95).
         – 1998-2007 (qty 10) – ($20 now $9.95).
   Assorted Serviced APS Show First Day Covers: 1996-2007
         (qty 15) – ($30 now $19.95).
* Limited inventory available on Show Cachets; not all years are complete. Assortments will vary. While supplies last. 

Circuit Sales
Buyers e-mail Tom between midnight Thursday and midnight November 30 and we will answer you with a specific number code to be used on one future circuit purchase to waive half of the 5% buyers fee for that purchase.
Sellers e-mail Tom in the same time frame and we will answer you with a specific number code to receive 5 free blank books when you order 10 blank books of one style.

Other Gift Ideas
Check out our Specialty Shops for other gift ideas:

Promotional Items
Tie Shop
Hobby Supplies
Event Souvenirs
Digital Publications
AP Bound Volumes
DVD Shop

USPS Offers Letters FROM Santa

[press release]
Postal Service Letters FROM Santa Program
Santa’s Personalized Response to Your Child’s Letter
Great Photo Opportunity to Treasure for Years

NORTH POLE — Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus — and the Postal Service can help you prove it when Santa replies to your child’s letter, complete with a North Pole postmark.

Here are the steps for your child to get a letter back from Santa:

    1. santasleighHave your child write a letter to Santa and place it in an envelope addressed to: Santa Claus, North Pole.
    2. Later, when alone, open the envelope and write a personalized response.
    3. Insert the response letter into an envelope and address it to the child.
    4. Add the return address: SANTA, NORTH POLE, to the envelope.
    5. Ensure the envelope is affixed with a First-Class Mail stamp, such as a recently issued Charlie Brown Christmas stamp.
    6. Place the complete envelope into a larger envelope — preferably a Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope — with appropriate postage, and address it to:

North Pole Postmark
4141 Postmark Drive
Anchorage, AK 99530-9998

“Letters from Santa” must be received by the Anchorage, AK postmaster no later than Dec. 15. Santa’s helpers at the Postal Service, will take care of the rest.

Be sure to share the experience on social media using #LettersFromSanta.


  • cbxmas_mailboxTo save paper, write on the back of your child’s letter. If you keep them together, your child will also be able to recall what he or she wrote.
  • When responding as Santa, make the response as personal as possible by highlighting your child’s accomplishments over the past year. For example, helping around the house, receiving good grades in a particular subject at school or participating in community service activities.
  • This is a great activity for Thanksgiving that the whole family can enjoy, including parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other caregivers.

The Letters from Santa program adds to the excitement of Christmas and is ideal for interesting youngsters in letter writing, stamps and penmanship.

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

USPS’ Charlie Brown Christmas App

[press release]
Take a Picture with Charlie Brown Characters

cb_appWASHINGTON — The Postal Service invites America to share in a series of holiday-themed augmented reality (AR) experiences that bring the nation’s 160,000 blue Post Office collection boxes to life via smartphones. The invitation is part of a mailing that provides information on exciting postal products, services and key mailing dates to make this the most convenient holiday mailing season ever.

“Our Charlie Brown Christmas Forever stamps allow you to decorate your holiday mailings with Peanuts characters,” said U.S. Postal Service Consumer Advocate John Budzynski. “Thanks to our new AR app, you can take a photo with the Peanuts characters and share it on social media. Our mailing to the nation’s households is one part of our holiday advertising campaign that ranges from direct mail to television and print advertisements, to social media and digital promotion.”

The Peanuts photo opportunity debuts Nov. 23 through Nov. 25 and appears again in mid-December as part of the Postal Service’s rotating “Mailbox Miracle” experiences that runs until Dec. 28. Also, the 50th anniversary of the “Charlie Brown Christmas” TV special, from which the stamps are based, airs Mon., Nov. 30 at 9 p.m. on ABC. Prior to that, at 8 p.m., a one-hour retrospective special featuring numerous music performers airs.

Recommended holiday mail-by-dates can be found at this link.

The ‘Mailbox Miracle’ Experiences
usps_mailboxpickupDownload the Postal Service’s AR app at Google Play or iTunes App Store. Stand next to one of nearly 160,000 blue mail collection boxes between Nov. 23 and Nov. 25, and again Dec.14 through Dec. 17, to see Charlie Brown characters surround Postal Service blue collection boxes to take a photo with the Peanuts gang to save on your camera phone or share on social media. As the nation counts down to the holidays, the Postal Service will be adding new experiences every few days.

Customers accessing usps.com can find blue collection boxes near their current location by visiting this link and clicking the “Post Offices and Approved Postal Providers” icon. Scroll down to collection boxes and then enter a ZIP Code or address.

Starting Nov. 23 through Dec. 28 these exciting “Mailbox Miracle” seasonal AR app experiences and holiday mailing tips will decorate your screens with nostalgic peppermints; toy airplanes circulating Christmas trees surrounded by boxes; customizable digital mailboxes to “TAKE A PIC AND SHARE” on social media; blinking holiday lights; wrapping paper; bows; dancing elves; and much more while sharing important information. Following are just a handful of the upcoming experiences:

  • Gingerbread Box — A Gingerbread box grows from the edges of the collection box followed by peppermints, gumdrops and more decorations. The experience also allows you to order stamps.
  • Tree Burst — Doors fly open and a Christmas tree springs out of the box. A toy airplane circles the tree, decorations fly onto it and a bunch of boxes slide under it. Click tap to order free boxes.
  • Wrap it up — Wrapping paper covers the collection box and reminds you that the Postal Service delivers in select locations on Christmas Day. Click tap to schedule a pickup.
  • Holiday Countdown — About a week prior to Christmas a live countdown reminds you that there’s only a short time left to ship packages. An icon in the experience lets you schedule a pickup.
  • Yule Log — A mantle drops on the mailbox and a fire lights inside the fireplace. Then a puppy slides in front dressed in a Santa costume.

Delivering for the Holidays
cbxmas_mailboxThe Postal Service expects to deliver more than 15.5 billion cards, letters, flats, and packages during the 2015 holiday season. In addition, it is projecting that approximately 600 million packages will be delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve — an increase of 10.5 percent over last year’s volume.

In time for the holidays, the Postal Service will offer real-time delivery notifications – meaning customers who sign up for alerts at myusps.com will receive notification within a few minutes of the delivery scan for select packages.

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

Museum: NYC Through Stamp Art

[press release]
National Postal Museum To Unveil Art Exhibition
“New York City: A Portrait Through Stamp Art” on View Dec. 10–Mar. 13, 2017

npm_showboatThe Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is unveiling an exhibition of original artwork Dec. 10 titled, “New York City: A Portrait Through Stamp Art.” On display through Mar. 13, 2017, 30 pieces of original artwork will be publically displayed for the first time, celebrating the influence of New York City on American society.

The artwork is part of the Postmaster General’s Collection, which includes more than 5,000 original pieces of art commissioned by the U.S. Postmasters General for stamps issued during a 70-year period. The collection includes not only the final approved art that can be seen on many U.S. postage stamps, but also npm_mosshartconcept drawings that were submitted for consideration but never used.  The collection is owned by the U.S. Postal Service and is on long-term loan to the National Postal Museum. The exhibition provides the museum an opportunity to raise awareness of the collection.

The original works will be displayed in six thematic categories relevant to New York City’s heritage. These categories—Baseball, Broadway, City Life, Icons, Politics and Music—will showcase a variety of art styles, mediums and colors used to create some of America’s most beautiful stamps. The artwork honors important npm_grandcentralcitizens, events and iconic buildings that have defined New York City as one of the greatest cities in the world. The museum has designed a special pictorial postmark that will be available to visitors at the philatelic center inside the museum.

“Visitors will have the chance to see original artwork revealing the energy, history and impact of one of the world’s most beloved cities,” said Allen Kane, museum director. “By seeing New York City through some of its most recognizable facets—including its famous icons—visitors will reflect on their own connections to the city and appreciate the way postage stamps help share and celebrate our nation’s history, heritage and heroes.”

npm_merengueSix pieces of the artwork—one from each category—will be on display at the World Stamp Show–NY 2016. The special showing will take place May 28–June 4, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City. The World Stamp Show carries on the tradition of the once-a-decade international exhibitions from the past 100 years. Held in the United States, the shows typically occur on a year ending with “6” or “7,” honoring the anniversary of America’s first postage stamps issued in 1847. Admission is free throughout all eight days of the show.

This exhibition captures the diversity of New York City and its significant contributions to America’s cultural heritage,” said Calvin Mitchell, exhibition curator. “New York City serves as a beacon of the American way.”

npm_statueThe 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.

Hong Kong’s 2016 Stamp Program

From Hongkong Post:

16 January 2016
1. Year of the Monkey

The “Year of the Monkey” issue is the fifth of the fourth Lunar New Year special stamp series of Hongkong Post. The four stamps depict the playful character of the Monkey and the vibrancy of the New Year through different art forms, including coloured glass, embroidery, silverware and Beijing opera mask paper-cut. One of the two stamp sheetlets is printed on silk, capturing the festive spirit of the Lunar New Year.

16 January 2016
1a. Gold and Silver Stamp Sheetlet on Lunar New Year Animals – Ram/Monkey

As the Lunar New Year arrives, the Ram and the Monkey have paired up to join the celebration. This stamp sheetlet presents the Ram in silver foil and the Monkey in 22K gold-plate, making it a precious collectible.

22 February 2016
2. Centenary of Hong Kong Girl Guides

Since its establishment in 1916, the Hong Kong Girl Guides Association has been committed to empowering local girls and young women to become responsible global citizens. This set of four stamps, incorporating the four interest badges (Service, Character, Fitness and Skill) in the background design, commemorates the centenary of the founding of the Association. The stamps also illustrate the history of the Association by featuring the Girl Guides’ uniforms from different periods. The perforation of the souvenir sheet, which depicts the emblem of the Association, is unique in design.

31 March 2016
3. Public Architecture in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is endowed with some outstanding public architecture. This stamp set introduces six award-winning local public architecture, namely, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, Victoria Park Swimming Pool Complex, Sai Kung Waterfront Park, Ping Shan Tin Shui Wai Leisure and Cultural Building, Hong Kong Wetland Park and Electrical and Mechanical Services Department Headquarters. The stamps highlight the key function of each facility with special ink. The set of postage prepaid picture cards has 3-D visual effect.

14 April 2016
4. Centenary of Hong Kong St. John Ambulance Brigade

Established in 1916, Hong Kong St. John Ambulance Brigade provides free first aid and nursing services to the public. This set of four stamps features the Brigade’s ambulance, first aid service, free dental care for the handicapped and youth services. These stamps not only enhance public understanding of the Brigade, but also pay tribute to members of the Brigade for their contribution to the community.

10 May 2016
5. World Heritage in China Series No. 5: The Grand Canal

This fifth stamp sheetlet of the World Heritage in China features the Grand Canal. The Canal, a magnificent example of hydraulic and water transportation engineering works, had 31 sections that connected northern China and southern China. As one of the oldest canals in the world, the Grand Canal facilitated economic and cultural development along its course. The design of the stamp sheetlet echoes the spectacular scenery along the ancient Grand Canal.

8 June 2016
6. Toys of Hong Kong 1940s – 1960s

Toys are children’s best playmates. Different generations have their own favourites. The stamps in this issue feature classic Hong Kong toys in the 1940s – 1960s. With a lacquered-gloss effect, these stamps will evoke many feelings and memories.

6 July 2016
7. 57th International Mathematical Olympiad 2016

The International Mathematical Olympiad is a competition for high school students worldwide. The event, held annually in different countries and regions, provides an opportunity for youngsters under the age of 20 gifted in mathematics to show their mathematical prowess and nurtures the interest of students in mathematics. Hong Kong will host the 57th International Mathematical Olympiad from July 6 to 16, 2016. To mark this event, Hongkong Post will issue a stamp sheetlet. The stamp sheetlet features Ceva’s Theorem and contains a circular stamp depicting a geometric problem that was formulated by Hong Kong and adopted in the 2010 Olympiad.

5 August 2016
8. Games of the XXXI Olympiad Rio 2016

The Games of the XXXI Olympiad will be held from 5 to 21 August 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This set of four stamps celebrates this quadrennial sports event. The silhouettes of the sportsmen portray eight games of the Olympiad: six in which the Hong Kong, China Delegation has won or participated, plus the two newly introduced sports of rugby and golf. The dynamic design and the special printing effect of the stamps convey the competitive spirit of the athletes. This stamp set will be issued on the opening day of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.

6 September 2016
9. A Tribute to Teachers

10 September is designated as Teacher’s Day in Hong Kong. It aims to foster respect and cultivate trust and affection between teachers and students. The four stamps carry chalk drawings on a blackboard, all expressing students’ gratitude towards their teachers.

13 October 2016
10. Hong Kong Hiking Trails Series No. 1: Lantau Trail

This first issue of the Hong Kong Hiking Trails series features 12 stamps on the Lantau Trail. The 70-kilometre trail, with its 12 sections passing through the Lantau Country Park, has fantastic scenery particularly of sunrise and cloudscape.

12 November 2016
11. The 150thAnniversary of the Birth of Dr. SUN Yat-sen

2016 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Dr. SUN Yat-sen, who received education and developed his revolutionary ideas in Hong Kong. This set of stamps, with four oil paintings of Dr. Sun, follows his footsteps in Hong Kong in different periods, giving us a better understanding of the life and achievements of this prominent figure.

6 December 2016
12. Hong Kong Museums Collection – Pencil Drawings by Mr. KONG Kai-ming

Mr. KONG Kai-ming is a native Hong Kong artist and educator widely acclaimed for his dedication and accomplishments. This new issue in the Hong Kong Museums Collection series contains seven pencil drawings of local streetscape by Mr. Kong during the 1980s and 1990s. Intaglio printing is applied to highlight the fine details of the original artwork.

Canada’s 2016 Stamp Program

Canada Post has announced stamps for the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek.” Details are being released slowly: Get the latest here.

[press release]
Canada Post’s 2016 stamp program: exploring the Canadian cultural, historical, and natural landscape
Updated March 13th

OTTAWA, Nov. 18, 2015 /CNW/ – From historic achievements and milestone moments in Canada’s political movement to wild creatures from the past and present, the subjects Canada Post has announced for its 2016 stamp program are unique threads in the nation’s fabric. A couple of special releases are still under wraps and will be announced closer to their launch date.

can_fashionqueenStrong Women: A new definitive stamp honouring Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be issued, a fitting tribute to the longest reigning monarch in history. [Issued January 11th; details here.] A special commemorative stamp will also mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Canada and its role in the fight for equality. [Issued March 8th; details here.]

Strong Men: This year’s Black History Month stamp will pay homage to the brave men of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, which celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2016. [Issued February 1st; details here] Some tough and talented Canadian puck-handlers get the nod in the fourth set in a five-year series leading up to the 100th anniversary of the National Hockey League.

can_yrmonkeyHappy Holidays: The popular Lunar New Year stamp series continues with the eighth release in the 12-year series – this time, with the Monkey taking the reins from the Ram. [Issued January 11th and February 1st; details here.] The year closes out, as always, with the highly anticipated religious and secular Christmas stamps, the former featuring Master of the Castello Nativity’s Virgin and Child and the latter, images from Rolf Harder Christmas cards.

hyd_coilFlora and Fauna: Canada’s wildlife takes centre stage in two upcoming issues, as the showy hydrangea thrills fans of the Flower series [Issued March 1st; details here.] and new talent shines with the launch of a series on Official Birds. This time around, the cast features the Atlantic puffin (NL), the rock ptarmigan (NT), the sharp-tailed grouse (SK), the common raven (YT) and the great horned owl (AB).

Scary Stuff: The final offering in the Haunted Canada series comes to a (dead) end with frightful scenes from Nunavut’s Nahanni region and Prince Edward Island’s Holland Cove. Dino-philes will delight as the second wave of Dinos of Canada comes crashing in with Cypretherium coarctatum (SK), Acrotholous (AB), Atrociraptor marshalli (AB), Bathygnathus borealis (PEI) and the Comox Valley elasmosaur (BC).

Eye Candy: Spectacular images continue to grace the offerings in two ongoing stamp series. The fourth installation of Canadian Photography will take a loving look through the lenses of Michel Campeau, Lutz Dille, Angela Grauerholz, Byron Harmon, Alexander Henderson, Humphrey Lloyd Hime and Yousuf Karsh. [Issue April 13th] Some of Canada’s most treasured landscapes will appear in the latest issue on UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Old Town Lunenburg (NS), SGang Gwaay (BC), the Rideau Canal (ON), the Landscape of Grand Pré (NS) and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (AB).

A Stamp that Soars: The stylized bird featured on this year’s annual Canada Post Community Foundation Stamp symbolizes hope for the youth who benefit from the programs supported, in part, by the proceeds earned from this semi-postal fundraising stamp.

“Our 2016 issues highlight historic moments, fantastic stories, and unique places,” says Deepak Chopra, President and CEO of Canada Post. “They take us all around the country and invite us back in time. They help make our stories come alive and, in so doing, help to define what being Canadian is all about.”

Canada Post’s Stamp Advisory Committee recommends the themes and designs for the annual stamp program. The committee is composed of individuals from across Canada who have diverse skills and subject-matter expertise, represent both English- and French-speaking populations, and reflect the country’s multicultural make-up. Canada Post’s Board of Directors review the committee’s recommendations to establish the final selections for each year.

Israel’s 2016 Stamp Program

subject to alteration; first posted 11-November 2015

Ephraim KishonEphraim_Kishon_6 (shown on right)
Pioneering Women: Zelda and Nehama Pohatchevsky
Four Seasons – Winter
Joint issue with Greece – Ports

Memorial Day 2016
Four Seasons – Spring
Israeli Achievements – Printing
“Knesset Building, Jerusalem – 50 Years”
Markets in Israel
Joint issue with Spain “The Bridge of Strings, Jerusalem”

rio“The 2016 Olympic Games, Rio”
WWI in Israel – Centennial (second part of a four year series)
Four Seasons – summer
Dogs serving humanity

Festivals 2016 – professions from Yom Kippur hymn
Four seasons – autumn
Joint issue with Bulgaria – migrating birds
Tribute to Israelis Wounded in War and Acts of Terrorism

Tourism in Jerusalem
King Solomon’s Ships
Coraciiformes (birds)
World Heritage Sites: caves

Hotchner: Get Uncomfortable

Trying Something New — The Benefits of Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone
by John M. Hotchner

hotchnerStamp collecting is for most of us something that has grown to be distinctly within our comfort zone. That after all is its purpose, right? A refuge from the daily grind — A haven from the base of Maslow’s pyramid/hierarchy of needs, worrying about such things as breathing, food, water, employment security, the family, health, getting the roof fixed, etc.

And yet, comfort can be our enemy in the sense that sometimes, comfortable activities morph into dullness if they lack an element of challenge; and once you have filled 75% of the spaces in your album, and can’t afford much of what you are missing, the challenge tends to slip away.

At its most elemental, the answer to this is to simply start working on a new interest. A U.S. collector might delve into the Washington-Franklin series of 1908-1922, which has always seemed especially interesting with its multiple watermarks, perforations, die types, printing formats, etc. Or, another collector could venture into a specialized collection of space-related stamps: the errors and varieties, uses on cover, covers commemorating various events in the evolution of the space program, and more.

But there is another path. What I’d like to propose is that you consider stretching yourself — trying something that is perhaps counter-intuitive, something you recognize is a bit out of your comfort zone. In doing so, you can not only banish the dullness, but you can discover and exercise new skills that have lain dormant just waiting to be discovered. Mainly, as I will describe, this means going out into the multi-faceted world of philately and getting involved! Yes, it can be risky to do this. Not every one will agree with your opinions and ideas. Not everyone will take to the essential you, and you may trip over an occasional person you wish you had never met.

But the upside is that you will be challenged, and you will find new ways of enjoying your hobby and gaining from it. What am I talking about? Here is a short list:

  1. Join a local stamp club and enjoy the sharing of information about stamps and hobby resources with others; who, if they don’t collect precisely what you do, at least understand the challenges of finding new material, using a catalog and finding the right blank pages for your album. This also offers the chance of connecting with others who might become trading partners, and putting together group visits to nearby stamp shows, which most collectors find enjoyable once they have been introduced to the show scene.
  2. Serve. One step up from simply joining a club is to be active as a committee worker, chair, or even as an officer of the club. It is a truism that 5% of the club’s members do the work for all the rest to enjoy the benefits of the club. And the result is that there are never enough willing workers, and anyone who will help is welcomed with open arms. If you have never done anything like this before, not a problem. The jobs are manageable in scope, and allow for learning on the job; often from others who have had the job before. And this is one of those areas where you can exercise talents you didn’t know you had in a relatively low stress atmosphere.
  3. Club By Mail. If you would prefer to do your stamp clubbing by mail and Internet rather than in person, join a national society. We have listed the ones that cover U.S. subjects on page 18 of this issue, but you can find many more that cover virtually every facet of worldwide stamp and cover collecting by going to the American Philatelic Society’s website: www.stamps.org ? and finding the listing of affiliates. Incidentally, every stamp collector should be a Member of America’s Stamp Club, the APS. The benefits in collecting resources are huge, and the monthly magazine will inform and expand your horizons. National clubs also need willing workers and officers. Once you have become familiar with what the club’s services are, you too can be part of the activities.
  4. Be A Writer. Be it in a national publication like USSN or a society quarterly, or your stamp club’s newsletter, articles (be they short or long) about your special interests, your favorite finds, puzzles you are trying to solve, and lessons you have learned, are eagerly sought by editors. You don’t need to be a professional writer. Philatelic periodicals are low stress. Editors are oriented to help new writers put across their message(s), and are happy to work with you. And it is a wonderful way to connect with others who share your interests and have both material and information that will contribute to your enjoyment of the hobby.
  5. Be A Talker. If you are comfortable with public speaking, and you belong to a garden club, a church group, have kids in a school that welcomes parent participation, are a member of a professional group (doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, etc.), you can be an ambassador for our hobby by showing stamps that relate to their interests, with some points on the joys of the hobby from your experience.
  6. Do A Display. Public speaking may not be your thing, but you can still be an ambassador by putting a few pages from your album(s), or specially prepared pages, up in your local library, school, post office, law firm, or doctor’s office. The stamps you use can relate to the reason the office exists, or can match up with a current event, such as space exploration, elections, national garden month, or cancer awareness. The subjects are limitless. One page of your display can be used to tell viewers how to get involved with the hobby: when and where your local club meets, how to find the American Philatelic Society on the Internet, the dates and location of stamp shows in your area, etc.
  7. Try Exhibiting. This is not for everyone as there is no other stage in philately where you actually invite others to evaluate the work you have done; which is to create a philatelic story illustrated by stamps and/or covers. Because of the judging aspect it is often difficult to get people to realize that the hardest part is getting started. Once you have decided that exhibiting is something you can and would like to do, there are lots of resources, starting with the website of the target=”new”>American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors? Many of AAPE’s members like to work with newcomers to help them do their first exhibit, and seeing your efforts in an exhibit frame is a payoff that will give you a great deal of pleasure. And, if you prefer, you can opt for your exhibits to be non-competitive, so that you don’t even need to worry about the judging.

The point of all of this is that there are a great many ways to make the hobby more interesting. Some may involve moving out of your comfort zone, but the rewards can be immense in discovering new aspects of the hobby, new talents in yourself, and often, deep friendships with people with whom you have common interests. And in many of these activities you will also be helping to bring new stamp collectors into the fold; helping to assure the future of the hobby we all love.

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.