Tara Murray Leaving APRL

Tara Murray, the chief librarian at the American Philatelic Research Library for the past seven years, is leaving for another position outside philately, but it appears the nation’s largest philatelic library will be in good hands.

Murray announced on October 24 that she had “accepted a position at Penn State as Germanic and Slavic Languages and Linguistics Librarian.” The APRL is located, with the American Philatelic Society, in Bellefonte, Pa.; Pennsylvania State University’s main campus is in nearby State College, Pa.

Murray employment before the APRL was also at Penn State, at its Population Research Institute.

“One of the best parts of the [APRL] job has been all the people in the hobby I’ve met and worked with,” she wrote on Facebook.

APS executive director Scott English praised Murray on Facebook.

“Tara has been one of the finest people I’ve worked over the years,” he posted. “I think her most amazing accomplishment will be overseeing the construction of our new library and still delivering great member service in the middle of the chaos.”

She will be succeeded by Scott Tiffney, currently a volunteer research assistant at the APRL. He began there part-time in 2011, and then became full-time there. He has a Master of Library and Information Science degree. Before coming to the APRL, he worked for the National Park Service.

“I know I’m leaving the library in good hands,” Murray said of Tiffney.

Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial (Canada 2017)

[press release]
Canada Post celebrates the legacy of the Toronto Maple Leafs by releasing fabric stamp to mark the 100th anniversary
Stamp honours team’s storied history as enduring Canadian icon

TORONTO – For the first time ever, Canada Post has adhered a miniature fabric crest to a stamp – to mark the 100th year anniversary of the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the most storied teams in the National Hockey League®. The commemorative issue also includes both a booklet of 10 new silver logo stamps and a coil of 50 puck-shaped stamps in Maple Leaf blue.

A Canadian hockey icon, the Toronto Maple Leafs is one of four teams that officially formed the National Hockey League®. It is also an Original Six™ NHL franchise that played in what some consider to be the golden era of hockey. It has more inductees in the players’ category of the Hockey Hall of Fame than any other Original Six™ team, and is among the most valuable franchises in the NHL.

“The Toronto Maple Leafs are a part of the fabric that ties this country together with some of the most passionate fans in hockey,” says Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra. “It is therefore an honour to celebrate the incredible legacy of this Original Six™ team through Canada Post’s iconic stamp program.”

The special fabric crest stamp (right), available only as a commemorative souvenir sheet, depicts the sweater worn by Maple Leafs captain Ted (Teeder) Kennedy during the 1949-50 NHL season, with the Leafs crest in fabric. Kennedy played centre for the Leafs between 1942-43 and 1956-57, captaining the team for eight years. He remains the youngest ever to suit up for the Leafs (he was 17) and the first, along with teammate Turk Broda, to win five Stanley Cup® Championships. Official First Day Covers (OFDCs) of all three stamps are available as a set. Stamps and related collectibles are currently available online at canadapost.ca/leafs100 or at post offices on October 24. The Toronto Maple Leafs issue was designed by Lionel Gadoury and Dave Hurds for Context Creative of Toronto. Canada Post is proud to be Canada’s storyteller through its national stamp program. Stamps capture and tell the stories of this country’s milestones and achievers – and its heritage. Over the years, Canada Post has issued scores of stamps commemorating Canada’s national winter sport. The first hockey-themed stamp was issued on January 23, 1956.

About the Toronto Maple Leafs 100th Anniversary stamps
The silver logo domestic-rate stamp is available in a booklet of 10 for $8.50. A 50-stamp coil of the blue puck-shaped stamp is offered with a complementary puck-shaped dispenser. A fabric patch souvenir sheet comes in a collectible folder and sells for $5. Official First Day Covers (OFDCs) of all three stamps are available as a set for $9.70.

Related products: A collectible frame (below) features all three collectible envelopes (OFDCs) – two of them bearing signatures from Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour, plus a signed photograph of No. 44 Morgan Rielly. The frame also includes a souvenir sheet featuring the $5 fabric stamp and the domestic-rate stamp depicting the silver logo. “Toronto Maple Leafs” and associated word marks and logos are trademarks of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Partnership. © 2017. All Rights Reserved.

NHL, the NHL Shield, and the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. NHL and NHL team marks are the property of the NHL and its teams. © NHL 2017. All Rights Reserved.

USPS Requests Penny Rate Hike

Note that this is a request, not an edict. These rate changes still require approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission, although that has usually not been a problem in recent years. —The Virtual Stamp Club

[press release]
U.S. Postal Service Announces New Prices for 2018
Penny Increase for the Forever Stamp

WASHINGTON — The United States Postal Service filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) today of price changes to take effect Jan. 21, 2018. The new prices, if approved, include a one cent increase in the price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp from 49 cents to 50 cents.

Postcard stamps and metered letters would also have a one cent increase. Today’s filing does not include any price change for single-piece letters being mailed to international destinations or for additional ounces for letters.

The proposed prices would raise Mailing Services product prices approximately 1.9 percent, and most Shipping Services products will average a 3.9 percent price increase. While Mailing Services price increases are limited based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Shipping Services prices are adjusted strategically, according to market conditions and the need to maintain affordable services for customers.

The proposed Mailing Services price changes include:

Product

Current

Proposed

Letters (1 oz.)

49 cents

50 cents

Letters additional ounces

21 cents

21 cents

Letters (metered)

46 cents

47 cents

Outbound International Letters (1 oz.)

$1.15

$1.15

Domestic Postcards

34 cents

35 cents

The new Shipping Services product prices would increase Priority Mail 3.9 percent and Priority Mail Retail an average of 0.8 percent. As in the past, the Postal Service will not include any surcharges for fuel, residential delivery, or regular Saturday delivery.

The proposed domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate Retail price changes are:

Product

Current

Proposed

Small Flat Rate Box

$7.15

$7.20

Medium Flat Rate Box

$13.60

$13.65

Large Flat Rate Box

$18.85

$18.90

APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box

$17.35

$17.40

Regular Flat Rate Envelope

$6.65

$6.70

Legal Flat Rate Envelope

$6.95

$7.00

Padded Flat Rate Envelope

$7.20

$7.25

The PRC will review the prices before they are scheduled to take effect on Jan. 21, 2018. The complete Postal Service price filings with the new prices for all products can be found on the PRC site under the Daily Listings section at https://www.prc.gov/dockets/daily. For the Mailing Services filing see Oct. 6, 2017, Docket No. R2018-1. For the Shipping Services filing see Oct. 6, 2017, Docket No. CP2018-8.

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

U.S. Museum Shows Flower Stamp Art

[press release]
National Postal Museum to Open Art Exhibition Celebrating Beautiful Blooms on Stamps
Original Stamp Artwork from the Postmaster General’s Collection

“Beautiful Blooms: Flowering Plants on Stamps,” opening Oct. 20 at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, celebrates the variety of flowering plants commemorated on U.S. postage stamps during the past 50 years. The exhibition, on view through July 14, 2019, explores the symbiotic relationship between flowering plants, bees, birds and butterflies.

The exhibition showcases 33 botanical artworks from the renowned Postmaster General’s Collection, on long-term loan to the National Postal Museum from the U.S. Postal Service. Created in partnership with Smithsonian Gardens, “Beautiful Blooms” invites visitors to observe and appreciate not only the compelling artwork, but also the creative process behind stamp design. By juxtaposing concept art and final art, and by linking larger-scale art with images on actual stamps, visitors will be able to see beyond the stamps to their meaning and messaging.

Featured botanical artwork, which includes 29 framed pieces and four pieces of digital art displayed interactively, are organized into seven themes: Flowering Trees; The Rose: Queen of Flowers; Birds in the Garden; Pollination; Botanical Congress; The Seasonal Garden and Beautification of America.

[Shown on the left: concept art for the 1998 Giving & Sharing stamp. “Mary GrandPre, the artist of this concept design, later became the award winning illustrator of the Harry Potter book series. Although the pollination symbolism of this design was reflected in the final design of the stamp, This art work was not accepted as the approved stamp design.”]

A garden-themed atrium display complements the exhibition gallery with garden furniture and live plants from Smithsonian Gardens as well as a large-scale mural triptych featuring lush garden imagery from the Smithsonian Institution’s collection of hand-painted glass lantern slides. The overall experience will transport visitors into a relaxed but vibrant garden setting.

“Our goal is for visitors to enjoy, appreciate and witness the beauty associated with this incredible collection of artwork,” said Elliot Gruber, director of the museum. “Every stamp tells a story, and this exhibition tells the story of the design process and creativity resulting from the beauty of flowering plants on stamps.”

The exhibition explores the diversity of artwork used in the U.S. stamp production process, including both developmental and final art designed by illustrators using a variety of media, such as oils, pastels and digital design software. The display of stamp art in various phases of development will enable visitors of all ages to understand the role developmental artwork plays in the production of postage stamps.

“Botanical stamp art, particularly flowering plant stamp art, represents some of the most attractive artwork in the Postmaster General’s Collection,” said Calvin Mitchell, exhibition curator. “This exhibition, displayed in a garden setting, offers the general public a rare view of the stunning art work that results in the beautiful stamps appreciated by people around the world.”

About the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum
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.

Zais May Resign As APS President

Mitchell “Mick” Zais is warning that he may have to resign as president of the American Philatelic Society: He has been nominated by President Trump to be Deputy Secretary of Education.

“If confirmed, I will have to resign from all boards and organizations with which I have a leadership position,” he said in an e-mail that included the White House press release announcing his nomination.

That press release, by the way, did not mention the APS.

Confirmation for such sub-cabinet positions usually happens.

According to the APS Bylaws, in the event of the resignation of the President, the Board of Directors will choose a replacement from among the current members of the Board.The Board must call a meeting within 10 days of the vacancy to fill the position.

Zais served as the elected State Superintendent of Education in South Carolina. “During his term in office, the department’s budget was reduced while on-time high school graduation rates increased every year to an all-time high,” the White House said. The West Point graduate also served 10 years as president of Newbury College in South Carolina.

The retired general was elected to the APS presidency for a three-year term in the spring of 2016, and took office in August 2016.

We will update this story as we learn of new developments.

The Virtual Stamp Club interviewed Zais about his first six months as president last January. The VSC radio feature is here (script and audio file).

Alzheimer’s semi-postal (U.S. 2017)

Updated November 2nd:
[press release]
U.S. Postal Service Previews Alzheimer’s Semipostal Fundraising Stamp Image
Dedication to take place Nov. 30

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service has previewed the image of the Alzheimer’s Semipostal fundraising stamp.

It also announced the stamp will be dedicated at 10 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 30 at Johns Hopkins Asthma & Allergy Center Atrium, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, 5501 Hopkins Bayview Circle, Baltimore, MD 21224.

Available nationwide Nov. 30, the Alzheimer’s Semipostal stamp will be sold for 60 cents. The price includes the first-class single-piece postage rate in effect at the time of purchase plus an amount to fund Alzheimer’s research. By law, revenue from sales of the Alzheimer’s Semipostal stamp — minus the postage paid and the reimbursement of reasonable costs incurred by the Postal Service — will be distributed to the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The event is free and open to the public. RSVP is required to attend the ceremony. Please RSVP at usps.com/alzheimers. Followers of the U.S. Postal Service’s Facebook page can view the first-day-of-issue ceremony live at facebook.com/USPS. Customers may pre-order the stamps at usps.com/shop in early November for delivery shortly after the Nov. 30 issuance. Please share the news on social media using the hashtag #AlzheimersStamp.

Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Megan J. Brennan will dedicate the stamp. In attendance will be Kathy Siggins of Mount Airy, MD, who followed the discretionary semipostal program criteria for submitting the stamp suggestion. Siggins’ husband succumbed to the disease in 1999.

The artwork is an illustration that first appeared on the 2008 42-cent Alzheimer’s Awareness stamp (shown on the right). It shows an older woman in profile with a caring hand on her shoulder with the suggestion of sunlight behind her and clouds in front of and below her. On the 2008 stamp, she was facing left; the artwork for this stamp shows her facing right to help differentiate between the two stamps. Stamp artist Matt Mahurin of Topanga Canyon, CA, worked under the direction of art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, MD.

The Semipostal Authorization Act, Pub. L. 106–253, grants the U.S. Postal Service discretionary authority to issue and sell semipostal fundraising stamps to advance such causes as it considers to be ‘‘in the national public interest and appropriate.’’ Under the program, the Postal Service intends to issue five semipostal fundraising stamps over a 10-year period, with each stamp to be sold for no more than two years. The Alzheimer’s Semipostal stamp is the first and will be followed by a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) semipostal stamp to be issued in 2019. The next three discretionary semipostal stamps have not yet been determined.

Under the Act, the Postal Service will consider proposals for future semipostals until May 20, 2023. The Federal Register notice outlining this program can be found at the following url: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-04-20/pdf/2016-09081.pdf.

Proposals will only be considered if they meet all submission requirements and selection criteria. They may be submitted by mail to the following address:

Office of Stamp Services
Attn: Semipostal Discretionary Program
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW., Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260–3501

Suggestions may also be submitted in a single Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file sent by email to semipostal@usps.gov. Indicate in the Subject Line: Semipostal Discretionary Program.
There are currently two semipostal stamps available for sale that has been mandated by Congress. These are the Breast Cancer Research Semipostal which has raised more than $86.1 million and the Save Vanishing Species Semipostal which has raised more than $4.3 million as of September 2017. Visit this link for additional information.

All postage stamps are available for purchase at Post Offices, online at usps.com, and by toll-free phone order at 1-800 STAMP-24.

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

Updated October 11th with information from the Postal Bulletin:
However, there is still no design, no date and no first-day city.

The U.S. Postal Service® will issue the Alzheimer’s semipostal stamp (Nondenominated, First-Class Mail® priced at 60 cents) in one design, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps (Item 564200). A November release date is anticipated for the stamp; more information will be announced as it becomes available. The Alzheimer’s semipostal stamp will appear in a future edition of the Postal Bulletin and must not be sold before the official first-day-of-issue.

Availability to Post Offices: Item 564200, Alzheimer’s Semipostal (Nondenominated, First-Class Mail priced at 60 cents) PSA Pane of 20 Stamps: Stamp Fulfillment Services (SFS) will  an automatic push distribution to Post Offices™ of a quantity to cover approximately 30 days of sales.

Sales Policy
As has been the case with current and previous semipostal stamp issues, all Post Offices must maintain a sufficient inventory level of this item until the stamp is officially withdrawn from sale. The stamp is well supported by a variety of organizations and individuals who expect that the stamp will be available at all Post Offices. If supplies run low, Post Offices must reorder additional quantities using normal ordering procedures.

Technical Specifications:

Issue: Alzheimer’s Semipostal Stamp
Item Number: 564200
Denomination & Type of Issue: Nondenominated, First-Class Mail (60 cents)
Format: Pane of 20 (1 design)
Series: N/A
Issue Date & City: TBD
Designer: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Art Director: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Typographer: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Artist: Matt Mahurin
Modeler: Sandra Lane/Michelle Finn
Manufacturing Process: Offset, Microprint
Printer: Banknote Corporation of America
Printed at: Browns Summit, NC
Press Type: Alprinta 74
Stamps per Pane: 20
Print Quantity: 500,000,000 stamps
Paper Type: Phosphor Tagged Paper. Overall
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive
Processed at: Banknote Corporation of America, Browns Summit NC
Colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, PMS 614/Beige, PMS 451/Brown
Stamp Orientation: Vertical
Image Area (w x h): 1.085 x 1.42 in./27.56 x 36.07 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 1.225 x 1.56 in./31.12 x 39.62 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 7.12 x 7.24 in./180.85 x 183.90 mm
Press Sheets Size (w x h): N/A
Plate Size: 120 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: “B” followed by six (6) single digits
Marginal Markings:
Front: Plate numbers in four corners of pane
Back: © 2016 USPS • USPS logo • Plate position diagram • Barcode (564200) in upper right and lower left corners of pane • Promotional text

Initial Post on October 3rd:

The U.S. will issue a semi-postal (charity) stamp in November to help fund the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. No date or location was given, nor was the stamp design revealed.

This will be the first of five semi-postal stamps to be issued over the next ten years, with each stamp to be on sale for no more than two years. However, it should be pointed out that the first U.S. semi-postal, for Breast Cancer Awareness (Sc. B1), was also supposed to be on sale for only a limited amount of time, but legislation in Congress has kept it on sale since it was first issued in 1998.

The Alzheimer’s semi-postal will be the sixth issued by the United States, and the first since 2014, when a modified-design version of the first was released. U.S. semipostal stamps are good for first class mail, but currently sell for 60 cents. The additional 11 cents goes to a designated charity.

The U.S. issued an Alzheimer’s Awareness stamp in 2008 as part of its social consciousness program. (Shown above.) However, it was not a semipostal.

Here is the USPS press release:

WASHINGTON — The Semipostal Authorization Act, Pub. L. 106–253, grants the U.S. Postal Service discretionary authority to issue and sell semipostal stamps to advance such causes as it considers to be ‘‘in the national public interest and appropriate.’’ The U.S. Postal Service announced today that in November it will issue the first of five semipostal stamps.

Under the semipostal discretionary program, the Postal Service will issue five stamps over a 10-year period, with each stamp to be sold for no more than two years.

The first stamp issued will be an Alzheimer’s Semipostal Stamp, followed by a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Semipostal Stamp in 2019. The next three discretionary semipostal stamps have not yet been determined.

The Alzheimer’s Semipostal Stamp will be issued during National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Net proceeds will be distributed to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Details on issuance date and location will be provided at a later date.

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than two million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; today, that number has soared to nearly 5.4 million.

Semipostal stamps, currently sold for 60-cents, are First-Class Mail (FCM) postage stamps that are issued and sold by the Postal Service at a price above the FCM single-piece one-ounce stamp rate (FCM rate) to raise funds for designated causes.

The difference between the FCM rate in effect at the time of purchase and the 60 cent purchase price, minus an amount to offset costs incurred by the Postal Service, if any, is contributed to the specific cause by law.

Under the Semipostal Authorization Act, the Postal Service will consider proposals for future semipostals until seven years after May 20, 2016. The Federal Register notice outlining this program can be found at the following url: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-04-20/pdf/2016-09081.pdf.

Proposals will only be considered if they meet all submission requirements and selection criteria. They may be submitted by mail to the following address:

Office of Stamp Services
Attn: Semipostal Discretionary Program
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW., Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260–3501

Suggestions may also be submitted in a single Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file sent by email to semipostal@usps.gov. Indicate in the Subject Line: Semipostal Discretionary Program.

All postage stamps are available for purchase at Post Offices, online at usps.com, and by toll-free phone order at 1-800 STAMP-24.

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

U.S. Scott Catalogue Number Update (October 2017)

5233 (49¢) Flowers from the Garden coil stamp – Red Camellias and Yellow Forsythia in Yellow Pitcher, serpentine die cut 10¾ vert.
5234 (49¢) Flowers from the Garden coil stamp – White Peonies and Pink Tree Peonies in Clear Vase, serpentine die cut 10¾ vert.
5235 (49¢) Flowers from the Garden coil stamp – Blue Hydrangea in Blue Pot, serpentine die cut 10¾ vert.
5236 (49¢) Flowers from the Garden coil stamp – Assorted Flowers in White Vase, serpentine die cut 10¾ vert.
a. Strip of 4, #5233-5236

5237 (49¢) Flowers from the Garden booklet stamp – Red Camellias and Yellow Forsythia in Yellow Pitcher, serpentine die cut 11 on 2 or 3 sides
5238 (49¢) Flowers from the Garden booklet stamp – Assorted Flowers in White Vase, serpentine die cut 11 on 2 or 3 sides
5239 (49¢) Flowers from the Garden booklet stamp – White Peonies and Pink Tree Peonies in Clear Vase, serpentine die cut 11 on 2 or 3 sides
5240 (49¢) Flowers from the Garden booklet stamp – Blue Hydrangea in Blue Pot, serpentine die cut 11 on 2 or 3 sides
a. Block of 4, #5237-5240
b. Booklet pane of 20, 5 each #5237-5240

5241 (49¢) Father Ted Hesburgh, serpentine die cut 11
5242 (49¢) Father Ted Hesburgh coil stamp, serpentine die cut 9½ horiz.

UX647 (34¢) Azulillo postal card
UY54 (34¢+34¢) Azulillo paid reply postal card