By Michael Baadke
The most popular show on television in the United States right now is the ABC quiz program, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? New episodes are broadcast three nights a week and all three episodes consistently lead all other shows in the television ratings.
Each night, 10 contestants vie for a chance in the hot seat, where program host Regis Philbin asks general knowledge questions of increasing difficulty. Each question has four possible answers, only one of which is correct.
Contestants have three options for help that they can use one time each: phoning a friend for advice, polling the studio audience, and asking for two of the three wrong answers to be eliminated. Philbin often verifies the contestant's response by asking, "Is that your final answer?"
As contestants accurately answer questions, they win an ever-increasing amount of prize money. Answering 15 questions correctly wins the grand prize of $1 million.
On Jan. 29, the night before Super Bowl XXXIV, contestants participated in a special episode where all the questions were about football.
Chances are there won't be a stamp collector's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? aired anytime soon, but collectors do learn a lot of general information from their hobby, making them excellent candidates for answering quiz-show questions.
Philately, the study of stamps, teaches collectors about everything from history and geography to animals and plants. Stamp collectors learn that the zloty is the currency of Poland and that Mauritius is a small island in the southern Indian Ocean, far off the eastern coast of Africa. Collectors know more about the rulers of various countries around the world, past and present, than the vast majority of noncollectors.
The Refresher Course column this week is a specialized quiz designed just for stamp collectors. The questions are based on facts that have appeared previously in Refresher Course columns or in other Linn's Stamp News articles.
We're not offering any prize money, but we think you'll enjoy testing your knowledge of stamp collecting basics with the 15 questions here. If you get stuck on a question feel free to phone a friend for advice, but you can also look for the answers in the box at the end of this column.
As Regis Philbin often says, "Are you ready? Let's play!"
Question 1: Which of the following is not intended for storing stamps?
A. stock book
B. stamp album
C. glassine envelope
Question 2: Which of the following is not a method of stamp printing?
Question 3: With the exception of United States presidents, how long must an individual have been deceased before appearing on a U.S. stamp?
A. One year
B. 10 years
C. 25 years
D. 50 years
Question 4: To a stamp collector, what does the word cinderella describe?
A. A stamp with no gum
B. A label that looks like a stamp
C. A heavily canceled stamp
D. A stamp with a bent corner
Question 5: Which of these four abbreviations used to describe stamp grading represents the best grade?
Question 6: Who has final approval on the subjects that appear on United States stamps?
A. The Supreme Court
B. U.S. attorney general
C. U.S. postmaster general
D. Senate majority leader
Question 7: What is the best way to store a stamp album?
A. On its side
B. Standing upright
C. Standing upside down
D. Open in the middle
Question 8 (see Figure 1): What is the country name that appears on the postage stamps of Iceland?
Question 9 (see Figure 2): What is the postage value of the nondenominated first-class H-rate Hat stamp issued by the United States in 1998?
Question 10: What characteristic do topical or thematic stamp collectors most frequently look for when selecting stamps?
A. country of issue
B. date of issue
C. design subject
Question 11 (see Figure 3): Which monarch appears on the Penny Black the world's first adhesive postage stamp?
A. Queen Isabella
B. Queen Victoria
C. Queen Elizabeth II
D. Queen Amidala
Question 12: What is the main characteristic of an invert?
A. the lettering is printed backwards
B. the colors are wrong
C. one color is missing
D. part of the printing is upside down
Question 13: Which of the following is most likely to be the sender of Official mail?
A. football referees
B. military personnel stationed in a combat zone
C. federal government agencies
D. sweepstakes officials
Question 14: In the stamp hobby, what does the abbreviation CTO stand for?
A. collecting test overprints
B. canceled too obviously
D. collecting topicals only
Question 15 (see Figure 4): What is the longest-running definitive stamp series of all time?
A. Norway's Posthorn series
B. Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II ("Machin") series
C. The United States Liberty series
D. Italy's Italia series
So, how do you think you did? By completing this quiz you've shown a terrific interest in the stamp hobby, and even if you got a few of the questions wrong, your interest certainly qualifies you as a philatelist. The answers to the questions (and some brief explanations) are in the box below. Thanks for playing.
1: D. A terrarium holds dirt, plants or small animals. It's not a good place to store your stamps.
2: D. The word "basting" has three different meanings, none of which is a stamp-printing method.
3: B. The United States Postal Service says nonpresidents must be dead 10 years before being so honored.
4: B. A label that looks like a stamp is a "cinderella."
5: D. "XF" means "extra-fine," which is better than "VF" (very fine), "F-VF" (fine-very fine) and "F" (fine).
6: C. Stamp subjects are selected by the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, but the PMG has final say.
7: B. Standing an album upright reduces the amount of stress put on the stamps, the pages and the binder.
8: B. The Icelandic name for "Iceland" is "Island."
9: D. The H-rate Hat stamp pays the 33¢ first-class postage rate that went into effect at the beginning of 1999.
10: C. Topical collectors create collections of stamps that show related subjects like sports or birds.
11: B. Britain's Queen Victoria was on the throne in 1840 when the Penny Black was issued in London.
12: D. An invert is an error with at least one part of the design inverted (upside down) in relation to the rest.
13: C. Government officials send Official mail.
14: C. Canceled-to-order stamps are unused postage stamps that are postmarked and sold to collectors.
15: A. Norway's Posthorn definitive stamp series began in 1872 and continues still today.