US Stamps

Wilkinsburg Stamp Club’s souvenir sheets bring a dose of fun to the hobby

Sep 7, 2017, 9 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes — By John M. Hotchner

Lou Yagle has an honored place in United States philatelic history as the creator of the clever, well-respected and widely collected Upper Slobbovia spoof souvenir sheets.

Their purpose has been to help finance the Wilkinsburg Stamp Club’s annual stamp show, Wilkpex, held each April near Pittsburgh, Pa.

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Since the first souvenir sheet in 1961, the eagerly awaited color souvenirs have become a tradition and have attracted a nationwide following, bringing a much needed dose of fun to what can be a quiet, serious, and even self-absorbing hobby.

Yagle himself, titled the Grand Slob, designed and produced the sheets from 1961 until his passing in 1997. He was honored on the 2011 sheet commemorating the 50th anniversary of the project. As shown nearby, it reproduces the hilarious 1961 first sheet.

On its website, the club explains the origins of these sheets: “This all started when the Government, in 1960, issued such an abundance of commemoratives that it caused humorous comments from the tongs of collectors and the pens of Philatelic Publications. We thought we should join the fun and issue a sheet of stamps of the uncommemorated events of 1960, expecting to sell them at our exhibit to help defray expenses.”

Coincidentally, I recently obtained what appears to be printer’s waste from that 1961 sheet. I didn’t know such material existed.

The most recent sheet, issued for Wilkpex 2017, plays off the several series of U.S. stamps that feature cars and trucks, and the Star Trek set of four stamps issued in 2016 (Scott 5132-5135).

One of the nice things about the Wilkinsburg sheets is that the great majority of them are still available at the reasonable price of 75¢ (two for $1.25) plus a stamped, addressed envelope, from the Wilkinsburg Stamp Club. Only 1961, 1965 and 1966 are sold out. A few (1962, 1967 and 1970) are $2.50 each, and the 1996 sheet sells for $1.25.

An order form can be found at the club’s website. You also may request sheets by writing to the Wilkinsburg Stamp Club, c/o Gene Bujdos, Dept. W, Box 5649, Pittsburgh, PA 15207.