Monthly Archives: February 2019

  1. India

    Despite a substantial increase in the last several years, the stamps of India and States are still undervalued and under appreciated. As the economy of India has grown and as the Indian diaspora has become more financially successful in the many countries to which Indians have moved, the stamps of India and States have grown tremendously in popularity. But despite the ebb and flow of short term popularity, there is one component that will contribute to increasing prices for these stamps and that is their intrinsic scarcity. There are three hot countries now-China, Russia and India. The reasons for the vastly improved popularity of these countries is

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  2. Change

    Image result for living person on stamp usMost people are not very comfortable with change and certainly this feeling increases with age. So it is not surprising that the fact that the post office began featuring living people on postage stamps has been received suspiciously by the organized philatelic community. It's always a good idea when reflecting on a change to speculate what it would be like if the situation had always been what the change would take us to. Supppose the United States Post Office never had it's self imposed "ten years dead" rule? And also suppose that the new issues of the United States had continued to be responsible and used living persons

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  3. Is Anything Alright, Sir?

    Image result for duck and coverThis is the punch line to a rather sad joke. A waiter is waiting on a group of sour customers. Everything is a problem, nothing is good enough. At the conclusion of the meal the waiter, instead of asking if everything is alright, asks if anything is alright. We live in angry times or at least in times where it is acceptable to show just how angry you are. Political discourse is based on the principle of who can express the most hostility towards the other side. Some political commentators and politicians would have you believe that there has never been a worse time in America. But, really, are things worse today than they were in the 1950's? I remember Air Raid drills in elementary

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  4. Grading Evolution

    Image result for philatelic gradeOur hobby is just 170 years old, a mere babe by the standards of hobbies such as numismatics. But already the grading standards and the quality grades that collectors desire has undergone a profound metamorphosis, one which current generations of collectors have been spared. For the first collectors, any copy of a stamp from perfect to severely damaged would do and the earliest stamp price lists never mention quality because it didn't matter. One sees an entire genre of philatelic articles beginning about 1870 on soaking and how that is the preferred way of removing stamps from envelopes. This was the quality conscious successor to the earliest removal

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  5. Philatelic Vacations, 1930

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  6. Snow

    Image result for snowThe weather forecast in Philadelphia is for over 6" of snow beginning tonight and lasting through tomorrow morning. My first philatelic memory is suffused with snow. I was in the third grade and had just received my first stamp album from Santa for Christmas. It was a Harris Statesman Deluxe album and it came with a packet of a thousand different worldwide stamps, a pair of tongs, and a pack of Dennison hinges. For Christmas that year I had also gotten a small rocket launcher set so the stamp collection got opened and then laid on a shelf. We had a rule in our house when I was little that we weren't allowed out sledding

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  7. Finland

    Image result for Finland PhilatelyThe classic stamps of Finland are unlike any of the other stamps of Europe. The first issues are very simple in design and have a crudeness that is only matched by the Cotton Reels of British Guiana or Indian Native States. The second issues are stamps picturing the Finnish Coat of Arms and have the most interesting roulettes of any philatelic issues ever. Roulettes are cuts in the paper to facilitate stamp separating and are used instead of perforations. The technology never caught on because it was hard to keep the cutting knives sharp and the rouletting process made it difficult to separate the stamps without tearing them. The Finnish roultettes are among the most striking

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  8. Check Letters

    There were several concerns that were raised against issuing postage stamps when Rowland Hill advanced the idea in the late 1830's. Most of the objections were of the "not invented here" variety which is part of a normal human resistance to change. But three major objections -counterfeiting, reuse of postage stamps and accountancy issues- were solved or ameliorated with one simple innovation-check letters.

    Check letters are simple a way of indicating where in the sheet a stamp was printed. Beginning at the top of the sheet all of the first horizontal row of stamps was given

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  9. Stamp Survival

    Image result for 19th century printingThe problem of what quantities exist of different classic stamps has been one of the great difficulties of philatelic research. Before the days of the Internet nearly all classic stamps that were sold were not illustrated so it was impossible for any census taker to know if he had counted a given specimen before. Counts of stamps such as United States 5c and 10c 1847 tend to be little more than guesses. We know that approximately 3.8 million 5c and 900,000 10c stamps were sold over the postal counters (that is delivered to post offices and not returned as unsold). But how many have survived the ensuing 160 years and still exist in collectors hands? Such numbers are important for anyone pondering stamp

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