When was the last time you went to your local post office and asked the clerk behind the counter to use stamps on a parcel you had to mail?
Perhaps you wished to avoid holding up the line behind you, so you just let the clerk affix a postage validation imprint (PVI) label. And then you silently lamented the attractive piece of postal history that might have been.
Well, I’ve been there too.
But I then reminded myself that the post office is there to provide services to all its customers, including stamp collectors.
So I began cultivating friendships with the clerks who had no problems with helping a collector decorate his mailings with attractive stamps.
I educated them (politely, of course) on the finer points of affixing stamps so the stamps would stand a better chance of surviving their trip without damage.
The clerks learned that the placement of a postmark matters to the collector who will receive the parcel and then remove the stamps from it for his collection. Better still, the clerks came to trust me, which meant they would let me arrange the stamps and postmark them myself.
Fostering these connections takes time. Be patient. And if you just can’t make a favorable connection, move on to another clerk. Odds are, you will find at least one who is sympathetic to a collector’s needs.
Of course, obtaining stamps via mail from other collectors is not difficult. Even in the Internet age, most stamp collectors (including yours truly) still use stamps on their mail.
The same cannot be said of sellers of items other than stamps. But why should that stop you from obtaining a collectible cover to add to your collection?
In addition to stamps, I collect books. Had I not found my vocation in stamp collecting, I likely would have been a bookseller.
These days, I buy most of my books online, primarily through auctions and from bookseller websites, such as abebooks.com.
A few weeks back, I purchased a large book from a fellow in Connecticut.
During the course of our communication, I asked him to have the clerk at his post office use stamps to mail the parcel.
The top from that parcel, which I carefully cut down to make it easier to display and store, is shown on page 4.
Postage and insurance for $400 (indicated by the docketing at top right) came to $14.06. Of that total, $7.81 was paid with a nice array of stamps: a $5 Waves of Color (Scott 4719), a $2 Waves of Color (4718), four 20¢ George Washington (4504), and a single 1¢ Tiffany Lamp (3749A). A $6.25 PVI took care of the balance.
Had I not asked the seller to use stamps, I would have received a parcel bearing nothing more than a single PVI paying all the postage. It would have looked just like the thousands of other packages that crisscross the mailstream each day: dull and colorless.
The take-home lesson is simple: if you want to use or receive stamps on your mail, you have to ask. And don’t forget to do so with a smile and good cheer.
New dealer column
We are pleased to announce a new column in this issue: Stamp Dealer Vignettes.
This column is written by stamp dealers and will run occasionally, perhaps every other month or so.
The first installment, which may be found on page 24, is by Jim Dempsey of A&D Stamps and Coins in Walnut Creek, Calif.
Dempsey, who is 82, has been a very visible face at stamp shows across the country for decades.
He and his wife Sue ply the nation’s highways to bring their massive stock of worldwide stamps to appreciative collectors.
As he vividly explains in this inaugural column, a new, larger van was recently purchased to accommodate his wares. n
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.