In the February 17th issue of Linn's Stamp News Bill McAllister reported very good news on the Postal Service's attempt to promote stamps to kids. The stamp promotion is called STAMPERS and it involves the USPS targeting kids ages 8 to 12. Kids or their parents either call a toll free number or send postage prepaid cards to the Post Office who ships the kids a packet containing stamp collecting information, a stamp comic book featuring Bugs Bunny, and a packet of baseball card sized STAMPER cards, to which the kids can attach current U.S. stamps. The USPS then follows up that mailing by sending the kids a calender featuring the upcoming stamp issues for 1997.
The Post Office had hoped to send the packets to 500,000 youngsters by September 30, 1997. As of the start of February, that number is at 998,000. Rather than being overwhelmed by the response, the USPS says that all requests for the stamp collecting kits have been sent out within two days.
This is nothing but good news for the hobby. While the majority of the kids will quickly lose interest in the STAMPERS program, if just 1% of the kids keep with the hobby, then that will mean over 100,000 new collectors. And it is likely that many more kids will become "casual collectors", or collectors who do not pay attention to philatelic news, but instead just save stamps that they purchase at their Post Office window. The Post Office has done a fantastic job with this program. The end zone is right ahead, all the USPS has to do is not fumble.
The United States Postal Service recently announced that some of its Legendary Football Coaches stamps will have a red bar over the coach's name when issued in that football coach's state. The red bar, missing on all the other stamps, will be sold only at the post offices where that football coach gained its fame. For example, you would only be able to buy the red bar George Halas stamp in Illinois. The Paul Bryant stamps in Alabama, the Vince Lombardi stamps in Wisconsin, and the Pop Warner stamps in Pennsylvania. The stamps without the red bars will be placed on sale nationwide.
As I like to collect recent U.S. used I'll look at collecting all four red bar issues as a challenge, but for those collectors who do not want to pay the huge shipping fee from the Philatelic Fulfillment center, collecting these varities mint should be a headache.
In the summer of 1996 Stamps went bankrupt. John Dunn stepped in and paid off all of Stamps' debts and merged Stamps with his Mekeel's. He continued the subscriptions of all Stamps readers in the combined paper, called Mekeel's and Stamps. At the same time he acquired the monthly magazine U.S. Stamps and Postal History. Immediatly, Mekeel's subscriber base jumped from the 3000s into the 10000s. After many promotions for both his new weekly and his new monthly the subscriber base of Mekeel's and Stamps has settled at about 12,200.
Now here is the problem. It appears that this enormous assignment has been to much for John Dunn. Mekeel's and Stamps has fallen well beyond the deadline. Issues are coming out up to more than a week after they were due. To his credit John Dunn has chosen not to sacrifice quality, and each issue comes out a complete 24 pages long.
But that is not John's only problem, U.S. Stamps and Postal History has not published an issue since he took it over. It last published in spring of 1995. All subscribers who were on the subscription list in 1995 are still on the list and John promises they will remain there. To add to his problems, John runs my local stamp show, in Meriden, Connecticut. A big pre-Christmas show had been planned for December 8th, but a major Sunday snowstorm forced its cancellation. John had to reschedule it for December 29th.
No doubt John Dunn is still working through a transformation period with his stamp magazines. I think it is clear that John does not run his business to make a large profit. As I remember one person putting it, John does it as "a labor of love". Hopefully, John will be able to get his papers back on track. It would be a huge boost for the whole hobby.
The Washington Press is offering another free booklet. This one features the Legends of the West saga. Written by stamp writer Les Winick, the booklet tells how the USPS tried to recall all 250 million stamps, but ended up raffleing off 150,000 panes. The complete booklet is avaliable to anyone who sends a business sized self-addressed stamped envelope with 55 cents postage to:
Washington Press2 Vreeland Road
Florham Park, NJ 07932
In the year 1843 the island of Mayotte, one of the Comoro Islands, became a French colony. Under French control it issued its first stamps in 1892. Mayotte continued to issue stamps until 1907. After that the stamps of the nearby island of Madagascar replaced Mayotte's stamps. In 1950 those stamps were in turn replaced by stamps issued by the whole Comoros islands chain. However, in 1975 the Comoros islands voted on independance from France. Every island but one voted for independence. That single island was Mayotte. Mayotte began to use French stamps for postage.
However, the French post office has just announced that the island will issue its own stamps for the first time since 1907, 90 years. The stamps will be labeled "Republique Francaise Mayotte" and will be first issued on January 1, 1997. French stamps will still be able to be used for postage on the island until March 31, 1997.
Mayotte is a tiny island. Population 97,000 according to my World Almanac. Therefore, collectors may want to keep their eyes out for legitimate postal uses of the new stamps coming for the island. Given the many postal changes in the countries political history Mayotte may make for an interesting country to collect for anybody interested in postal history.
For years the Post Office has been saying that it will get more kids interested in collecting stamps. These promises fell short as the Post Office put out half-hearted efforts that always failed. Now it seems the USPS has streched its wallets to come out with a winner. The Post Office took out a huge four page ad in the December issue of Disney Adventures, a magazine for kids ages 7-14. The ad featured Bugs Bunny and offered freebies to kids who sent in the pre-paid post card. The kids would recieve a subscription to the Post Office's STAMPERS magazine and 15 endangered species cards. The magazine features games, stories, riddles, and articles geared to kids. The cards are post card sized and feature pictures of the animals the USPS recently honored on its Endangered Species issue. The cards also have mounts for the kids to place the stamps of the series.
The popular Disney Adventures magazine reaches hundreds of thousands, if not millions of children. It is not known how many will become stamp collectors, but there will surely by some. The Post Office is to be congradulated for its efforts in supporting stamp collecting.
1997's Scott catalogs will be the last ones where the British Empire will be seperate to the rest of the world. Much to the dismay of British collectors, Scott has announced that its 1998 catalogs will mix the British Empire with the rest of the world alphbetically, instead of giving them their own volume. The United States will remain as a seperate volume in the 1998 catalogs, due out in April. Other changes include German states being all listed before Germany, and not in alphabetical sequence. The same will occur for Italy and Italian states. This situation may be not as bad for all British Empire collectors as it seems. Instead of buying all seven volumes, those who collect early British Empire can save expense by just buying the classic volume of 1840-1940.
On November 1, the U.S. Post Office will be issuing a souvenir sheet of two 50 cent stamps. The stamps will be featuring bikers and the total cost of the sheet will be $1. In the past, when the U.S. has issued souvenir sheets such as these the price of the sheets has risen quickly. Several reasons are:
1.)The Post Office does not print as many of these so the demand is very high.
2.)The 50 cent denomination is an unusual one so the stamp is usually not purchased
3.)Souvenir sheets are popular with stamp collectors in many countries throughout the world.
4.)This stamp is a joint issue with China. Stamp collecting is huge in China so there will be a demand for this stamp.
The value of this stamp should rise quickly. In a year it may be worth about $1.25 and in five years your investment may have nearly doubled, as the stamps may be worth as much as $1.75. The stamp should be avaliable in your local post office on November 2nd.
Switerland issued a stamp showing 11,000 living people June 27th. The people were all Swiss gymnasts wearing shirts and hats of a specific color. When the gymnasts lined up, the design they formed was in a shape of one of Switzerland's postage stamps. A picture was taken from an airplane and the Swiss Post Office rushed into production a stamp featuring that photo. The design was a little fuzzy, but the stamp, issied five days later, was quite a remarkable feat.
Editor, Oliver C. Atchison
P.O. Box 31631
San Francisco, CA 94131-0631
Mekeel's Weekly and Stamps
Linn's Stamp News
The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996