Old Stamp News


New York Times Magazine Shows Topical Stamps
In its February 16th issue, the New York Times Magazine, one of the most popular sections of the New York Times, featured an article about the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation, or the IGPC. This company manages the stamp issuing program for over 70 second and third world nations. The article does not take a clear position, but the tone seems to frown at the issuance of stamps just to "balance the bugets." The article makes the point that the stamps issued are of no particular interest to that nation's people, instead designed soley for resale to American philatelists. While the article was fairly brief, it does many large, color photos. Among them are: a John Lennon stamp from Nicaragua, a Marilyn Monroe commemorative from Liberia, a Toy Story stamp from Uganda, and a stamp from Grenada picturing Ronald Regan on horesback.
But, the article may be largely inaccurate, unusual for a paper such as the New York Times. Consider these sentences: "When the United States Postal Service commemorated Elvis Presley in 1989, it sold out all 500 millio stamps, only 150 million of which were used on letters. So the Postal Service took in about $145 million while delivering just $43.5 million of service." Time does fly, but not as quickly as author Jack Mingo would have us believe, as the USPS issued the Elvis stamps in 1993. In addition, the Post Office made only $36 million on unused stamps, a far cry from the more than $100 million Mr. Mingo claims.
The article was interesting, but due to its negative tone, it shouldn't do much as for promoting the hobby.

USPS Stamp Promotion Program a Sucess

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.

I may have spoken too soon. After putting this up, I recieved word that the USPS had run out of both STAMPER cards and the stamp comic book shortly after sending off their one millionth package. However, the USPS promises that it will continue to send free items to these kids for the rest of the year.

Regional football stamps to differ

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.

Has John Dunn Gone Too Far?

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.

Recent issues of Mekeel's & Stamps carry very good news. U.S. Stamp News is heading towards the printers, and work is beginning on the second issue.

New Free Booklet

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 Press
2 Vreeland Road
Florham Park, NJ 07932

90 Years Later- Mayotte To Issue Stamps Again

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.

USPS Tries Huge Promotion to Start Kids Collecting Stamps

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.


Scott to Stop Seperating British Empire From Rest of World

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.

USPS announces 1997 stamp schedule

On October 30, 1996 the United States Postal Service unveiled their lineup of stamps for 1997. Among the stamps to be issued in 1997 include the first ever triangle stamps issued by the USPS. The triangle stamps are issued for Pacific '97 and show a stagecoach and a ship in a single-colored dark red. The USPS will also issue a Bugs Bunny stamp and two souvenir sheets honoring the first stamps issued by the Post Office in 1847.

INVESTMENT TIP

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.


SWISS STAMP MAKES GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS

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.

Free Sample of Trains-On-Stamps Newsletter

A free sample copy of THE DISPATCHER is avaliable to anyone who sends a 32 cent stamp for postage. THE DISPATCHER is the newsletter of the Casey Jones Railroad unit of the ATA and features articles about train stamps and listings of new issues from around the world. Send your name and your 32 stamp to:

Editor, Oliver C. Atchison
P.O. Box 31631
San Francisco, CA 94131-0631

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REFERENCES

Mekeel's Weekly and Stamps
Linn's Stamp News
The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996

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