Cub Scouts

When my son was in the cub scouts they had to visit the local police station to earn a badge.

The information officer gave them a tour, which included the line-up room where witnesses and victims picked out criminal suspects. He explained to the scouts that the person doing the picking could not be seen by the suspects.

Most of the scouts seemed to be confused by this concept. The information officer asked the scouts if they would like to stand in the line up so they could see what he just explained.

Excitedly, they all said yes.

Then he asked the nearest dad if he would lead them in, while the officer stepped to the microphone and talked to the kids on the other side of the one-way glass window.

With a chuckle the officer said, “This is the most popular photo op of the tour. Get out your phones dads.”

The dad who lead the scouts into the line-up room declined the offer because his battery was low. But he stood by the scouts, ready to lead them back out of the room.

His decision made for an interesting photo.

‘Undercover sting operation finally nabs Girl Scout cookie thieves!”

Stamp of the Week

This week we feature the Priority Express Mail Stamp Grand Central Terminal, New York. It is part of the American Land Marks Series launched in 2008. It was designed by Derry Noyes and Phil Jordan. The print run of 3,000,000 stamps was done with the photogravure process. The printer was Avery Dennison. These stamps were printed at the company’s Security Printing Division plant in Clinton S.C. These issues have the highest face value of any U.S. Postal Service stamp.

The rate of $19.95 entitles the parcel or document to be send via the EMS system. This is an international postal Express Mail Service, offered by postal operators of the Universal Postal Union. It is an expedited delivery system with faster delivery times then regular mail service and is delivered seven days a week.

The U.S. Postal Service Joined the EMS system in 1999, which covers 180 countries and territories.

A sender can enjoy this same expiated delivery in domestic service by purchasing the Priority Mail Stamp for the rate of $5.60. The Arlington Green Bridge issue, pictured below, is an example of the domestic service stamp in the American Landmarks Series.

From 1885 to 1971 the U.S. Postal service issue special delivery stamps, a similar service to the Priority Mail Stamp. Why this service was discounted until 2008 I have yet to find out. I will continue to research that question.

On a personal note, purchasing a sheet of these stamps gets a few comments from my wife when she goes over the credit card statement. She is the family banker. However, I am grateful that she tolerates my collecting obsession.

(Thanks for supporting your man baby!)

As always, happy collecting!

Stamp of the Week – Addendum #5 Fantasy Stamps

Taking a break from office work, I found myself looking at my stock books full of stamps – again. As I moved the big magnifying glass from one stamp to another, my mind went into ‘what if’ mode.

For a few minutes I was in charge of the stamp designing department of the United States Post Office. I imagined that the post master general instructed me to design new, innovative stamps. Sales were down and collectors were clamoring for a fresh approach to issues that were looking tired and unimaginative. She told me not to consider the cost of producing them or the practicality in using them. “The post office needs to sell more stamps, period!” she exclaimed.

I also imagined she hired me in at 250K a year.

Agreeing, I quickly worked on devising a plan to save the postal service! Innovation was key, novelty a necessity, and enthralling the philatelic aficionado was the order of the day. I had to boldly go where no stamp designer had gone before.

I fancied myself to be the Gerald McGrew of the philatelic world (He is the little boy in the Dr. Seuss book McGrew Zoo. Gerald visits his local zoo and is underwhelmed with the selection of animals. He imagines he owns the place and then proceeds to fill it with his notions of exotic animals.)

Before I could finish my PB & J on white bread, I had racked up more groundbreaking designs than any print plate scribe in philatelic history.

Here are some of the stamps I designed as I sat in my palatial office at 1050 Connecticut Avenue, North Western Washington, DC.

A multi-colored issue commemorating errors. The run would be broken up into four separate, smaller runs. Each smaller run would have one particular error: color shift, inperf, perforation shift, and a missing color. The finishing touch would be just one sheet of four panes that has a major design error.

A stamp that can be folded along the perforations into a three dimensional object. When folded it shows a complete image. The first on would be of Manhattan. Each side of the box would have a view from each point on the compass. The top of the ‘box’ would show a view from above.

Then issue a Christmas commemorative that folded up into a three dimensional ornament for the Christmas tree. The hooks would be perforated into the margin of the pane.

A round sheet of stamps. The stamps would be perforated in concentric rings, getting smaller in diameter until a disk shaped stamp was left in the center. Each ring would consist of several arch shaped stamps that would fit on a letter size envelope.

I would issue a second to commemorate Earth Day. The slightly flattened view of the Earth would be looking down from above the North Pole. Each country would be a stamp. The pane would be twice the size of a normal pane of perforated stamps.

An M.C. Escher tessellation commemorative issue. Each stamp in the pane is one shape in the tessellation. It would be neat, and fairly expensive, for the four panes in the full press sheet to create a complete scene. The wood cut Day and Night would work well for this.

A stamp drawn for you while you wait at the post office. You can call ahead and pick it up. The only pre-printed feature would be an ornate frame around the area to draw the image in. This would give it a traditional look that would help sell it too and older age group, fifty five years old and up, that uses stamps more often then the younger generations.

Well, there you have it, my five minute day dream about being the head stamp designer.

Happy Collecting !

Stamp of the Week

This week we feature the Air Post Special Delivery Stamp issue of 1934. The purpose of this issue was to combine the prepayment of air mail and special delivery service into one stamp. It had the same priority of a special delivery service, but was transported by airplane.

The special delivery charge entitled the purchaser to have their letter sent to its destination immediately after being dropped off at the post office. It did not have to wait until a ‘full packet’ was ready to be shipped to the post office handling its destination address.

This issue was a flat plate printing. 9,215,750 of the dark blue color scheme were printed. The inperferate version made it’s appearance in 1935. A second run of 72,517,850 stamps was done in 1936. The color scheme was changed to carmine and blue along with the great seal being slightly smaller than in the original printing.

This is the only instance were the U.S. Post Office has combined these two services.

U.S. special delivery services were discontinued in 1997. Air mail stamps, though not the method of transportation, were discontinued in 2012.

Deep collecting on this issue includes four known variations in the marginal markings. Also, several freaks and errors have been identified as well. I placed a bid on eBay for a fold over.

Presently, I am trying to find out who designed this issue. If anyone has any information on that, please share it.

The photo of these stamps was taken on a faux marble surface, similar to the marble counter of the post office in my home city of Yonkers where I bought many of my first stamps. It was built years before these stamps were issued.

Happy Collecting!

Eggplant Rollup

This past week I was filled with chefly energy and wound up cooking way more food then we could eat. It was piling up in the refrigerator. All the square plastic containers, with their red tops, made it look like a sea container port in there.

One dish I had a lot of was Ratatouille. I also had a large eggplant that did not get used.

Put the two together and you get Eggplant Roll-ups!

First thing I did was peel the eggplant, slice it thin the long way, and cook it on the charcoal grill. Brush with with olive oil and season lightly.

To make the filling I add ricotta cheese and a small amount of shredded Jarlsberg to the ratatouille; enough to hold it together. Season the mix with salt and pepper. Smoked Guda or Feta would be interesting too.

Each slice got a layer of the filling and rolled up.

When they went in the roasting pan I put several tablespoons of my home made tomato sauce under each one. Then I covered each one with a generous amount of the same. I sprinkled each with shredded mozzarella and baked at 365 until the cheese melted and they were hot inside. I did not cover them when they were baking.

If you want to cut down on the oven time you can heat the mix up in the microwave until it is warm.

The finished dish moments before I eat it!

Enjoy and don’t forget to say grace.

Stamp of the Week

This week we feature the Graf Zepplin Issue of 1930. The three stamps of this issue were printed by the Bureau of Printing and Engraving using a flat plate printing method. The United States Post Office produced a set of three airmail postage stamps that commemorated the Graf Zeppelin, the first European-Pan-American round-trip flight in May of 1930. All three stamps were first issued in Washington D.C. on April 19, 1930, one month before the historic transatlantic first flight was made. The stamps were also placed on sale at other selected post offices on April 21, 1930.

The sixty-five cent denomination applied to a postcard making the transatlantic trip. The one dollar and thirty cent denomination applied to a letter making that same trip and the two dollar and sixty cent denomination was for a letter to make a round-trip on the zeppelin.

A total of 1,000,000 of each stamp denomination was printed, but only 227,260 stamps in all were actually sold, or 7% of the total amount printed. The Zeppelin stamps were withdrawn from sale on June 30, 1930, and the remaining stocks were destroyed by the Post Office. (Why the Post Master General sold these for an unusually short time, and destroyed the unsold stamps, I have found no answer to.)

This short window of opportunity to purchase and selected locations had made this a valuable issue. Also, the $4.55 price tag to purchase all three was not affordable to most collectors in the depths of the Great Depression.

These factors, combined with the destruction of the unsold stamps, had outraged most stamp collectors. An avalanche of complaint letters to the United States Postal Service ensued.

This issue today is considered the rarest of all U.S. Airmail stamps.

Happy Collecting!

Many thanks to Wikipedia, Mystic Stamps and the Scott Catalog for some of the information used in this post.

Stamp of the Week Addendum #4 – Help!

Writing these Stamp of the Week posts has motivated me to increase my philatelic knowledge. But until I have the deep reservoir needed to be considered a wise old man of stamps, I have to relay on the expertise of others.

If you have a minute can you help me out? Here is my situation.

As you can see, some of Jefferson’s image appears on the back side of the stamp.

What caused this to happen? Could this be considered a freak or an oddity?

I have searched for other examples of this but have found none.

If you have any knowledge on this topic please email me or post a comment.

As always, Happy Collecting !