By Rick Miller
Once a stamp collector decides what postage stamps he will collect, he has to decide on the format he would like to collect.
A mint Lithuanian 1.35-litas Jonas Zemaitis stamp (Scott 884) is shown in Figure 1. This stamp has not been used for postage and is post office fresh.
A used stamp will bear evidence of serving the purpose for which it was created, such as the strike of a postmark. If you don't want to choose one over the other, you can always collect stamps both unused and postal used.
Some collectors prefer their used stamps lightly canceled, because most of the stamp design is then free to be viewed and admired, but there are other options. Other collectors like fancy cancels, machine slogan cancellations or bull's-eye cancels (also called socked-on-the-nose cancels).
Figure 2 shows a Canadian 3¢ Queen Victoria stamp (Scott 37) bearing a quarter moon and star fancy cancel.
Figure 3 shows a British 19-penny Queen Elizabeth II Machin Head stamp (Scott MH106) with part of a machine cancellation that depicts a ballerina doll.
An Austrian 10-kreuzer Franz Josef stamp (Scott 55) bearing a Dec. 4, 1891, Trieste bull's-eye cancel is shown in Figure 4. A bull's-eye cancel normally shows the complete date and place of the cancel.
Some collectors of U.S. stamps enjoy collecting mint plate number blocks, used plate number singles, mint strips of plate number coil stamps or used plate number coil singles. A used United States $1 Seaplane coil stamp (Scott 2468) bearing plate number 3 is shown in Figure 5.
Used stamps can be collected off paper by soaking them off in water, or on piece with a portion of the original envelope or wrapper. Stamps are usually collected on piece to preserve elements of the postmark or cancellation.
Figure 6 shows a French Morocco 10-centime+5c Red Cross semipostal stamp (Scott B9) on piece, preserving the Sept. 14, 1914, Oudjda, Morocco, circular datestamp.
Many recent U.S. new issues and some foreign new issues are printed on paper that will not soak off their paper in water. These stamps are being collected by trimming the envelope paper neatly around the die cuts.
A U.S. 42¢ Abraham Lincoln Rail Splitter stamp (Scott 4380) on neatly trimmed paper is shown in Figure 7.
As more stamps are being issued with multiple se-tenant designs in a single pane, often with attractive designs in the selvage, collecting full mint panes has become popular.
A mint pane of 20 U.S. 37¢ John Wayne stamps (Scott 3876) is shown in Figure 8.
In the early part of the 20th century, some U.S. issues were sold as uncut press sheets to producers of vending and affixing machines for the production of stamp coils, but later also to collectors. Since 1994, many U.S. issues have been sold as uncut press sheets.
Some collectors keep the press sheets intact, but others save the position pieces that can only come from the full press sheet.
A cross gutter block of four from the 37¢ Lewis and Clark Expedition Bicentennial press sheet (Scott 3854) is shown in Figure 9.
In addition to sheet format, many stamps are also issued in booklets. Some collectors save entire booklets, while others save booklet panes.
Stamps can also be collected on cover. This collecting method is known as postal history. Postal history can also include studies of postal rates, routes and equipment involved in delivering the mail.
A registered cover mailed Jan. 19, 1993 from Haverfordwest, Wales, to Brawdy, Wales, is shown in Figure 10.
Saving this cover intact preserves the postmarks and registration markings. The intact stamped cover is much more interesting than the stamps it bears would be off cover.
blogIn this column in the Aug. 24 issue of Linn’s, I referred to the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., as a “gift to stamp collectors.” The BNAPS library and the APRL are two of many libraries available to stamp collectors, and some philatelic libraries are available online. Read More ›
blogIt’s often been said that one of the salutary benefits of collecting stamps is the friendships made along one’s philatelic journey. If I were asked to place a value on the bonds thus forged with collectors in locales near and far, I would be rich beyond measure. A few of these hobby friends I have never met in person. Read More ›
blogToday, Nov. 11, 2015, is Veterans Day. Over the years, a number of United States stamps honoring those who have served in our nation’s armed forces have been issued. Read More ›
blogMy previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke reports on a new Charlie Brown computer-vended postage stamp that is sold only through post office self-service kiosks.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Great Britain’s final stamp issue for 2015, a Star Wars prestige booklet, and reveals what is included in its stamp program for 2016.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses a registered 1967 cover from Qatar that recently sold for almost $1,200 and the latest discovery of an Upright Jenny Invert pane.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman announces that Linn’s has been named official daily publisher of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and provides an update on the reorganization of the Scott catalogs.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.