Long before images on a computer screen were used to teach students how to write a check or complete a business form, they practiced using mock-ups of the real thing. This was especially so in the nation’s business schools.
The training included preparing letters and checks. Simulated stamps were created for the students to use to prepare the practice letters, for paying bills requiring revenue stamps and, as noted, for writing checks. Several examples of these stamps are shown in Figure 1.
Philatelic scholar James N. Drummond gathered information on this subject and published a 2007 book, College and School Stamps: A catalog and study of the primarily nineteenth century practice stamps used by colleges and schools all over the world, with a focus on institutions in the United States.
As you can see from the illustration, these stamps often resemble genuine U.S. stamps. If you can find them, they are a nice addition to a U.S. collection.
One result of publishing detailed information about any collectible is that the area under study becomes more popular, and as collectors seek the material, prices go up. I have just experienced a practical demonstration of this rule, as the Merchants Bank check in Figure 2 was marked at nearly twice the Drummond catalog value of $50 for the Battleship revenue look-alike on check. The same stamp is valued at only $5 for an off-check example.
The Battleship revenues date from 1898. They were created by the U.S. government to represent taxes paid on documents and proprietary articles as a primary means of funding the Spanish-American War.
The simulated versions are known with denominations of “1” and “2,” the former in blue and violet and the latter in blue, violet and purple. All are rouletted gauge 14½.
According to Drummond, they were the “work horse” of the business college industry and are found on a significant number of different schools’ checks.
A genuine check from the era with a Battleship revenue usage is shown in Figure 3.
A philatelic line was clearly the most popular theme for the February cartoon caption contest. In honor of the Olympics, the contest featured the downhill skier on the 1988 22¢ Olympic Winter Games stamp shown in Figure 4.
Mirroring what happened all too often at the Sochi Olympics, Charles Sullivan of Boynton Beach, Fla., represents this group with, “I hope I don’t become an invert.”
Another theme that got multiple entries was commentary on first-class rates and the recent 3¢ increase to 49¢. A clever example is, “Stamp prices go uphill faster than I go downhill,” sent by Marvin Anderl of North Chesterfield, Va.
Politics is the basis of the nonphilatelic line winner, which is shown in Figure 4. It plays off the fact that the presidential election season is now just over the horizon, with the opening bell being the contest for Iowa’s delegates at the nominating conventions. It was submitted by Edgar Dunlap II of Gainesville, Ga.
On the philatelic side of the contest, Bennett Bardfeld of Vineland, N.J., wins with this reference to the international $1.15 airmail rate: “Comrade — can you spare 93¢? Or I’ll never get to Sochi.”
Both winners will receive the book Linn’s Stamp Identifier published by Amos Hobby Publishing, or a 13-week subscription to Linn’s (a new subscription or an extension). The book has a retail value of $12.99.
Here are a few of the runners-up:
“Sochi? I thought we were going out for sushi!” by Steve Kotler of San Francisco, Calif.
“Congress has gone downhill before me and smoothed the way,” was sent by Willi Kuehl of Eastsound, Wash.
“I’m in Sochi, Putin on the Ritz!” by Bennett Bardfeld of Vineland, N.J.
“Groundhog admiring his shadow ahead … over, around or through?” from Jo-An Watson of Kalamazoo, Mich.
“Maybe they’ll hire me to deliver Express Mail,” sent by May Aginsky of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Thanks and a tip of the hat to all who entered. The next cartoon caption contest will be announced in the April 14 Linn’s.
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 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.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Marty Frankevicz reports on the suspension of Canada Post’s cluster box conversion plan after the election of a new prime minister.
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.