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The Dead Letter Office Auction »

Before There Was Ebay, There Was the Dead Letter Office Auction – Recognizing that they might possess invisible treasures in unclaimed mail, the Dead Letter Office advertises items and held periodic auctions.  A catalogue of items for an 1875 auction postal mail boxeslisted items that had accumulated since 1869. It advertised “8,600 different articles sent through the mails, but unredeemed,” including jewelry, books, engravings, charms, corn-crushers and corn-huskers, glasses, needlework, asthmatic fumigators, toothpicks, baby clothes, rosaries, poker chips, crucifixes, and the wings of a bat.

 

Postal History Facts »

Zeppelin Meets Icebreaker -.  On July 27, the American dirigible Graf Zeppelin met the Russian icebreaker Mayguin in the frigid waters of the Arctic.  Their mail exchange at Hooker Island, in the Franz Josef group of islands creating some of the most desirable and collectible covers in aerophilately.  The Soviet Union issued four stamps for use on mail from Leningrad and Moscow carried on the polar flight of the Graf. The designs depict a polar bear watching the Graf flying over the icebreaker.

Two-Ocean Airmail – Italy’s participation in World War II created the need for an alternate route to safely connect the mail from countries in Western Europe with nations in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.  Necessity was the WW II War Bonds Postal Historymother of invention and a new long distance route developed by Pan Am – two-ocean airmail via Clippers.  Pan Am’s fledgling service was expensive, but was safer, faster, and more reliable than other delivery options available at the time. From 1939 until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Pacific Clipper’s two-ocean airmail service kept businesses and people in more than 500 countries on six continents connected.

A Century of Receiving the Mail – The US Mailbox »

The postal service has changed significantly over the last hundred years. While stamps have changed regularly and services such as airmail and computerized sorting offices have transformed the United States Postal Service into a modern and efficient organization, one aspect has remained constant throughout the last century, and it is something we all use and yet are probably taking for granted – the humble US mailbox.
Most people don’t notice them as they walk past the front of people’s homes, or know of their history when they collect their bills, quotes for courier insurance or junk mail, but the mailbox postal mailboxused by so many American households is distinctive to the United States. No other country uses a mailbox like it and it has a unique place in the history of the United States Postal Service. However, before long, this unique and iconic symbol of the United States may be disappearing from our streets altogether, so perhaps we should all take a little time to celebrate this great American symbol and its place in US history.

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January 2011 Stamp Shows »

 Always a great place to find some special postal history covers and stamps.

Jan. 2 – Dedham, MA
First Sunday Stamp & Coin Show, Holiday Inn, 55 Ariadne Rd. (exit 15A from I-95). Dealer bourse. Sun, 9:00-3:30. Free.

Jan. 7-9 – Totowa, NJ
New Jersey Stamp Dealers’ Ass’n, Traditional New Year season opener and 38th Annual Show. Bethwood Manor, 38 Lackawanna Ave., 2 blocks north of Route 46 at the Union Blvd. exit, about 2 miles east of Route 23 and a short distance west of McBride Ave.  Fri, 10-6; Sat, 10-5; Sun. 10-4. Free.

Jan. 9 – Meriden, CT
Meriden Second Sunday Stamp & Coin Show, Sheraton Four Points Hotel, 275 Research Pkwy. (Main Street exit from I-91 or Wilbur Cross Pkwy.). Dealer bourse. Sun, 9:00-3:30. Free.

Jan. 12 – New York, NY
Collectors Club Annual Meeting, 22 East 35th St.

Jan. 14-16 – Marlboro, MA
NESS Metro Boston Show, Holiday Inn, 265 Lakeside Ave. (Route 20, Exit 24 from I-495). 30 dealers, Hugh Daugherty auction. Fri, 12-6; Sat, 10-5; Sun, 10-4. Free.

Jan. 14-16 – Tucson, AZ
ARIPEX, Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church St. Exhibits, dealers, youth area, USPS. Fri & Sat, 10-6; Sun, 10-3. Free.

Jan. 16 – Latham, NY
Capital District Stamp Show, Ramada Inn, 946 New Loudon Rd. (I-87 exit 7 to Route 9). Bourse. Sun, 9-5. Free.

Jan. 18 – Northampton, MA
Third Tuesday Stamp Show, World War II Veterans Club, 50 Conz St. (I-91 exit 18 to Route 5 North). Dealer bourse, free sandwich buffet. Tues, 10:30 to 8. Free.

Jan. 19 – New York, NY
Collectors Club program: “British Occupation Provisionals of Baghdad.” 22 East 35th St.

Jan. 21-22 – York, PA
York County Stamp Show, York Fairgrounds Horticulture Hall, 334 Carlisle Ave. Exhibits, dealers, youth area, USPS. Fri, 10-6; Sat, 10-5. Free.

Jan. 21-23 – Herndon, VA
MetroExpo Washington, Hilton Washington Dulles Airport, 13869 Park Center Rd. (off VA Rt. 28, Sully Rd.). Bourse. Fri & Sat, 10-6; Sun, 9-4

Jan. 21-23 – San Diego, CA
SANDICAL, Al-Bahr Shrine Center, 5440 Kearny Mesa Rd. Exhibits, dealers, US and Mexican post offices, meetings. Fri & Sat, 10-6; Sun, 10-4. Free.

Jan. 21-23 – White Plains, NY
WESPNEX, Westchester Coin & Stamp Show, Westchester County Center, Bronx River Pkwy. at Central Ave. Stamp & coin dealers, USPS. Fri, 12-6; Sat, 10-6; Sun, 10-3. Free

Jan. 28-30 – New York, NY
MetroExpo NY, Midtown Holiday Inn, 440 W. 57th St. Dealer bourse, USPS. Retail: Fri, Noon-6; Sat, 10-6; Sun, 10-4 (dealers-only bourse, Friday 10-Noon). Free.

Jan.28-30 – Boynton Beach. FL
ASDA Winter Stamp Show, Courtyard by Marriott, 1601 No. Congress Ave. Bourse. Fri & Sat, 10-6; Sun, 10-4. Free.

Soldier’s Christmas »

Holiday seasons are always difficult for men and women in uniform, and raising money to raise their spirits is something many nation’s do. In the winter of 1941, for example, the Hungarian christmas mailgovernment issued a set of four semi-postal stamps to honor its army, with a surtax charged to support the troops. A fifth semi-postal entitled ‘Soldier’s Christmas’ was issued on December 1st. It depicts an infantryman and a Christmas leaf, and the funds it generated were earmarked to provide ‘something extra’ to the men in uniform at holiday time.

God Bless and Protect the US Mails »

As the 18th Century became the 19th, the mail was becoming increasingly secure. As a result, people were becoming more confident in entrusting US postal workers with their keepsakes and valuables. Not all mail reached its destination initially and often found itself in the Dead Letter Office. In one year, for example, 71,336 letters contained checks, postal notes, or money orders worth $2,308.046 arrived ‘dead.’ In light of the money, jewels, and other precious treasures that were handled by the DLO, that branch preferred to employ retired clergy as clerks because they felt ‘men of God’ could be trusted with items of value.
 
Woman’s Work – Working women have always been a part of the U.S. Post Office. They were, in fact, considered superior employees compared to men…at least as far as the Dead Letter Office was concerned. In the late 19th Century, postal officials felt that women had better analytical powers than men and were better able to decipher complicated and confusing addresses.

What Is The Forever Stamp? »

A forever stamp is valid for first class postage no matter what the rate. By concept, once purchased, a forever stamp is a perpetual stamp that never expires or declines in value. Although the U.S. has used non-denominated stamps in its history, they were not the same as a forever stamp. The U.S. Postal Service used lettered stamps as contingency stamps several times when postage rates increased.

uspo forever stampThe U.S. Postal Service submitted a proposal in May 2006 to the U.S. Postal Rate Commission to create a forever stamp beginning in 2007. Future forever stamps would be sold based on the first class rate at the time they are purchased.

More than 6 billion “forever” stamps have been sold since they were introduced last year. The USPS sold $267.7 million worth of them in March, up from $207.9 million in February and $115.3 million in January.

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Celebrating Baseball’s Theme Song »

Anyone who’s attended a baseball game and stood up for the ubiquitous 7th inning stretch has probably sung along to one of the most popular baseball songs of all time. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” has been part of baseball history for decades and a stamp celebrating the 100th anniversary of the tuneful ditty will be issued as part of the USPS 2008 commemorative series.
 
The 2008 commemorative stamp series “celebrates our greatest creative minds, our groundbreaking heroes, and the places, institutions and values that have made us who we are,” says Postmaster General John Potter in a USPS press release. “We’re proud to be able to highlight noteworthy parts of our shared American history on stamps that people will use every day to connect with family and friends.
 
According to baseball lore, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was created on a New York City train in the summer of 1908. Passenger Jack Norworth, an actor, singer and songwriter who had never attended a major-league ball game, is credited with writing the words after seeing a sign about an upcoming game at the Polo Grounds.
 
The graphic of the 2008 baseball stamp is based on a circa-1880 trading card. The rare card is in the personal collection of art director Richard Sheaff of Scottsdale, AZ. The original artwork is a baseball scene and contains advertising copy for a product made by a Michigan company. The USPS issue features the same scene, but replaces the ad copy with “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the stamp denomination, notes from the music, and the words “United States of America.

End of Commemorative Stamps? »

An independent federal agency, the USPS gives new meaning to the phrase ‘full service.’ delivery. With its army of men and women in uniform, the USPS is the only delivery service in America with the will and the way to visit every address in the nation. (And that’s regardless of snow, rain, sleet, and other carrier-us postal serviceunfriendly conditions including dogs!)
 
The Postal Service works hard to earn its annual revenue of $75 billion, delivering nearly half the world’s mail. Much of the credit for that work and that revenue goes to USPS postage stamps. BUT…with the online stamps readily available, are USPS stamps becoming the Edsel of the postage world?
 
Nearly 10 years ago, on March 21, 1998, technology site C/Net announced, “The Postal Service cemented its place in the Internet age today with the unveiling of the first electronic stamps.” The launch of the stamps represented the first new form of postage approved in 78 years. (In 1920, the Postal Service approved postage meters, still commonly used by businesses.)
 
Many people said e-stamps would be the death knell for traditional stamps and the end of beautifully designed commemorative and definitive issues…not to mention the end of nearly 200 years of U.S. postal stamp collecting. But a decade later, stamps are as strong as ever. The 2008 Commemorative Postage series is as eagerly anticipated as any before it.
 
Yes, the traditional stamp is alive and well and being purchased by the millions. And I don’t think that e-stamps will replace traditional stamps any more than I think that email will replace good old forms of communication like handwritten letters and cards. Cold technologically produced stamps will never replace warm, tangible bits of art. (Although I am in favor of the move from lick-and-stick stamps to self-adhesive!)
 
And here’s another thought. Interest in stamps has never been greater and the Internet fuels that interest with thousands of websites that provide information, auctions, and opportunities to purchase stamps.
 
In the long run, the medium that some thought threatened the creation of postage stamps may, in fact, be the reason they thrive.

Postmaster Melvin Bundy »

In 1939, the post office at Cooperstown (home of the Baseball Hall of Fame) was swamped with requests from young baseball fans eager to collect a first day cover and the year’s newly issued baseball stamp. Unfortunately, the requests for the special issue frequently arrived without the required self-addressed envelope plus three cents for the stamp.
 
Local postmaster Melvin Bundy honored thousands of those requests out of his own pocket, and US baseball stamp collecting was born, thanks to what were affectionately known as “small boy orders.”

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