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
blogThis month marks my fifth anniversary writing the monthly auction report for Linn’s Stamp News. That’s 60 columns, totaling more than 100,000 words (enough for a decent-sized novel), all about our favorite hobby. Read More ›
blogWhen this cover was listed on eBay in mid-September, it didn't take long for some knowledgeable collectors to recognize this piece of postal history for the gem that it is: an early trans-oceanic survey cover for a Pacific route that included Midway Island, which would become famous as the location of a pivotal 1942 naval battle during World War II. Read More ›
blogIn mid-September I traveled to London, England, to attend Autumn Stampex, one of two British national stamp shows sponsored by the Philatelic Traders’ Society, Great Britain’s national stamp dealers association. The show took place Sept. 16-19 at the Business Design Centre in Islington (central north London), a comfortable and attractive venue for a stamp show. Read More ›
September 28, 2015 03:30 AMAfter the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, postal workers not only saved the mail, they saved the new post office building. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses current events that relate to the stamp hobby, including the relocation of a stamp show in Sweden due to the Syrian refugee crises, and new stamps honoring Pope Francis and the British monarchy.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke talks about a record fifth win for wildlife artist Joseph Hautman in the federal duck stamp art contest, and see the painting that will appear on next year’s federal duck stamp
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz questions Bolivia’s choice for the design of a 2013 stamp honoring the country’s efforts to protect its migrants in foreign lands.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses the discovery of the upright Jenny Invert pane received in an order from Stamp Fulfillment Services in Kansas City, Mo., and also reports on the Confederate Stamp Alliance.
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.