By Janet Klug
As Halloween approaches, we become more aware of spooky things.
A plethora of monster films are playing on television and at movie theaters. Bookshops pull out the scariest novels and display them so they jump at you as you walk in the door.
To escape the horror, you turn to your stamp albums for some nice, peaceful, safe recreation.
But beware: Your stamp albums are haunted.
Suddenly you hear a sound, something like a soft metallic clatter. You look around and then you slowly look down. Ah, it is nothing more than your stamp tongs sliding off your desk and onto the floor.
You chuckle at yourself, but then the phone rings and you jump. It is merely one of those annoying political calls asking for your vote. You are surprised you are so jumpy.
You go back to your collection and grab your album for Romania. It falls open effortlessly to a page containing a Romanian souvenir sheet (Scott 4638, Figure 1) showing author Bram Stoker and three different images of Dracula.
A chill runs up your spine and you start hearing spooky music.
You slam the Romanian album shut and grab the Great Britain album. How spooky can that be?
You begin to sort an accumulation of high denomination Castle stamps issued between 1988 and 1995. It is easy to tell the stamps issued in 1988 because they have an engraved portrait of Queen Elizabeth in the upper right or left corner, depending on the denomination.
The 1988 £1 stamp (Scott 1230) is shown at the top of Figure 2.
The stamps issued between 1992 and 1995 have a silhouette of the queen in the same corners, but the silhouette changes eerily from gold to metallic green depending on how the stamp is turned. This kind of ink also can be found on some recent U.S. currency.
The 1992 £1 Carrickfergus Castle stamp with the metallic silhouette of the queen (Scott 1445) is shown at the bottom of Figure 2.
Just then you start looking more carefully at the £2 stamp that depicts Edinburgh Castle (Scott 1447, Figure 3). You find it disconcerting that the queen's head seems to change from gold to green and back again without apparent reason. The castle itself has taken on a brooding quality. You start to think it is haunted, and that spooky music begins playing again.
Suddenly your album pages are flipping on their own. When the pages stop you look down at the stamps and there is Dracula again, with red eyes and teeth bared, ready to strike from a 1997 26-penny British stamp (Scott 1754, Figure 4). What's worse is that he has his monstrous friends with him: Frankenstein on the 31p stamp, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the 37p, and the really scary, saliva-dripping Hound of the Baskervilles on the 43p stamp.
You put the Great Britain album back on the shelf. You hear something rattling. It's an album on the shelf below. There is a whoosh, then the album flies off the shelf, across the room and onto your desk, scattering hinges, mounts and a magnifying glass. Your tongs once again land on the floor with a clang.
The pages of the album slowly turn. You stand and stare as you see your favorite 19th century United States stamps go by. The page-turning picks up speed, as if possessed by a spirit, and then stops suddenly. You cautiously approach the album and look down. You momentarily lose your breath as you gaze upon the strip of five U.S. 44¢ Movie Monsters stamps (Scott 3172a, Figure 5): the Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Wolf Man.
A flat piece of plastic moves across the stamps and eerie images of bats, masks and wolf heads begin appearing on the stamps, secret images placed on the stamps during production that require a special decoder to see them.
When the stamps first came out you thought this was a great idea. Now you are not so sure.
Your hands are beginning to shake a little. You start to reach for the album when suddenly the Wolf Man stamp begins to speak to you.
"Fellow stamp collector," Wolfie says before breaking into a howl, "my friends and I are tired of celebrating National Stamp Collecting Month stuck in albums."
Frankenstein begins to nod his head.
"We have a request of you," the Wolf Man continues. "We want to go to a stamp show. You will take us there."
You go off to find your keys.
When you return to your stamp room, the five monsters have become life size. Frankenstein's head nearly touches the ceiling, Dracula is drooling, the Phantom is playing air organ, the Mummy's wraps are unraveling all over the stamp room floor, and Wolfie is howling.
You join him with a scream, and you hear a buzzing in your head. Suddenly you are sitting straight up in bed yelling with the alarm clock buzzing the morning to a start as it does every weekday.
Before you start your breakfast, you check your stamp room to see if everything is as it should be.
You pull the U.S. album off the shelf and flip to the page containing the strip of five Movie Monster stamps and find a note stuck in that page that says, "BOO!"
August 01, 2015 07:37 PMIt didn’t take long for the doom-and-gloomers to weigh in with their prognostications following the July 24 announcement from the American Philatelic Society that it hired former political aide Scott English to be the next executive director of the nation’s largest stamp club. Read More ›
July 30, 2015 08:04 PMIn the Editor’s Insights columns in the July 20 Linn’s Stamp News monthly and the Aug. 10 weekly Linn’s, I mentioned Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board without giving too much detail. Linn’s goal is to engage its audience both in print and online and to grow this audience. The role of the newly formed Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board is to assist us achieving these goals by keeping us focused on the needs of our audience and helping us adapt to today’s market. Read More ›
July 30, 2015 09:01 AMAs in previous years, Rarities Week, the series of sales conducted June 22-26 by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York, included several name sales as well as an assortment of notable items from around the world. The week kicked off with something of a do-over: a sizable assortment of better United States stamps and covers that had appeared in four previous sales, but whose winning bidder then failed to pay for them. Read More ›
July 23, 2015 04:35 PMThe Tieton, Wash., post office is a simple 1935 cement block building with a slat wood facade. Townsfolk in the agricultural community of 1,200 in central Washington believe the post office could become a landmark, if only the United States Postal Service would allow them to cover the front with a stamp-like mosaic. Read More ›
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz discusses the largest souvenir card produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The card is one of three issued to honor the centenary of San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke discusses Canada’s recently recalled $1.20 Dinosaur Provincial Park stamps featuring inaccurately described Hoodoo rock formations.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the discovery of another pane of the intentionally created upright variety of the $2 Jenny Invert stamp.
Chad Snee discusses the recent sale of the glass locket containing the famed 1918 Jenny Invert airmail error stamp.
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.