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From First to Worst
The Stamp Collecting Report, I’m Lloyd de Vries.
When a country issues a stamp, it often designates a specific date as the, quote, “First
Day of Issue” — that is, the date the stamp went on sale — and sometimes chooses a
particular city — usually related to the subject — as the first-day locale. That city may
host a ceremony or an event related to the stamp subject, and the city name appears in
the special postmark for these First Days.
It’s a popular collecting specialty in the U-S, less so in other countries.
Here, collectors and even non-collectors often attend these first-day events, and the
Postal Service sells lots of extra stamps with these postmarks that will never have to
carry mail. These sales produce mostly profit.
But two recent items make me wonder if everyone at the Postal Service understands this.
A 44-cent stamp depicting a quill pen and inkwell is being issued three days AFTER a major
stamp show at which a ceremony for similar stamps is already scheduled. It’s an attractive
stamp, but it won’t have a ceremony or special city…discouraging sales.
A four-dollar 95-cent Priority Mail stamp shows a bridge in West Virginia. There was a
ceremony in Beckley — but the postmark reads Washington. Local citizens are upset, and the
stamp souvenirs the local post office was peddling — all postmarked Washington — didn’t
sell very well.
It costs a few pennies to print a stamp. That's almost 5 dollars profit thrown away.
An e-mail circulating within the Postal Service indicates that some there DO realize the
But c’mon, postal people. You say you need money. With very little cost or effort, you
could have made some money off collectors here. You missed the boat.
I'm Lloyd de Vries of The Virtual Stamp Club. For more on stamps and stamp collecting,
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