Monday, June 30, 2008

Stamp Issuers - Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua, 1886
Scott #14

The Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, is composed of several islands, with the two namesake islands being the largest. Antigua is the largest and most populated of the islands. The islands are located on the eastern portion of the Caribbean in the Lesser Antilles island archipelago.

The history of the nation is steeped in British colonialism, like many of the nations of the region. Originally the islands were settled by several migrations of aboriginal emigrants. The British began to arrive and settle the region in the 1630s and by the late 1660s, they had established a colony that would last for over 3 centuries.

In 1981, the islands became an independent nation within the British Commonwealth. The reigning British monarch (currently Elizabeth II) is the official head of Antigua and Barbuda; a prime minister takes care of the day-to-day administration of the island.

In the early days of British rule, important cash crops of tobacco and sugarcane were raised and distributed throughout the world. Sugar quickly rose to prominence and became such an important export, that sugarcane replaced most other crops.

The British brought cheap slave labor to the islands to tend and harvest the cane on the sugar plantations. Slavery was finally abolished in 1834 and many of today's residents can claim descendancy from these early slaves.

Antigua, 1903
Scott #23

Today, tourism is the main source of revenue for the islands. Antigua is a prime tourist spot as the island is surrounded by beautiful beaches. The largest source of tourism is visitors from the United States, although there are many tourists from other nations that visit the area.

The country, like many stamp issuers in the Caribbean area, release enormous varieties of stamps and souvenir sheets. These stamps are clearly intended for the tourist and collectible market, as the island is small and has a modest population of 70,000 people.

Because of the vast number of stamps issued, Antigua & Barbuda will keep you busy year after year. In addition to the multitude of stamps, souvenir sheets are very prominent, and most recent issues are sold as stamps and souvenir sheets.

Early stamps of the area are very costly. The stamps are hard to find and a collector will pay a premium for them.

Be prepared to put some money into circulation if you want to collect this country. The high catalog values for the early stamps, coupled with the large number of yearly issues in the modern era, will make this country a very difficult one to complete.



Previous 10 Stamp Issuer Topics:

Friday, June 27, 2008

10 Things You Didn't Know About 'The King', Elvis Presley

It's Fun Friday -- time for some fun for the weekend. Enjoy today's post and I'll see you back here on Monday with more philatelic news and notes.


Elvis Presley. From his humble beginnings in Tupelo, Mississippi, to his lonely, pitiful death in the bathroom of Graceland, his Memphis, Tennessee mansion, Elvis redefined music. In a career spanning about 23 years, he single-handedly transformed himself from a poor sharecropper's son to the icon of rock and roll music.

United States, 1993 (Scott #2721)
Digitally Enhanced

Along the way, Elvis racked up hit after hit. He had 149 singles hit the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and spent 1,149 weeks on the U.K. singles chart. The Recording Industry Association of America lists him with 132 gold, 70 platinum, and 33 multi-platinum certified songs. His accomplishments will probably never be surpassed. In short, he was 'The King of Rock and Roll'.

Many countries have issued postage stamps honoring Elvis -- countries as diverse as Chad, Hungary, Belgium, and Angola have issued stamps with his likeness. Fifteen years ago, the United States issued its one and only stamp honoring their native son, a 29-cent stamp depicting the a young Elvis singing in front of a microphone. Predictably, this stamp was printed and sold in enormous quantities. It is estimated that over 120 million copies were put back and never used.

How well do you know Elvis? Here are 10 facts that only the most-dedicated Elvis fan will know regarding 'The King'.

  • He was an identical twin. Elvis had an identical twin, although the twin was stillborn. The spelling for his stillborn brother's middle name, Garon, is the reason the family chose to spell Elvis' middle name as Aron. Later in life, Elvis wished to officially change his name to the biblical and traditional spelling of Aaron, and was surprised to learn that even though he spelled it Aron, it was recorded on his birth certificate as Aaron.


  • His first guitar came from a hardware store. As a young boy, Elvis wanted a bicycle (some stories claim he wanted a .22 caliber rifle) from the Tupelo Hardware Store in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA. The young Elvis ended up with a cheap hardware store guitar that started him on the path to mega-stardom.


  • As a young man, he studied to be an electrician. After graduating from high school, Elvis took a job as a truck driver for Crown Electric Company. He began taking courses to become an electrician. Fortunately for music fans, his music career took off and he was able to leave his vocational studies behind.


  • He was threatened with arrest for gyrating. After the first of several shows in Jacksonville, Florida, in August of 1956, Juvenile Court Judge Marion Gooding threatened to arrest Elvis if he didn't tone down his show. Judge Gooding had sat through the initial concert to get a first hand account of the singer's performance. Afterwards, he called Elvis in and warned him that he would only permit limited side-to-side movements.


  • He gave only five official concerts outside of the U.S. In 1957, Elvis gave a total of five concerts in three Canadian cities. Two shows each in Toronto and Ottawa in April of 1957, and one in Vancouver in August of 1957 were the only official concerts that was ever conducted outside of the U.S. or its possessions (e.g., Hawaii in 1957). In 1959, he gave an impromptu performance while on leave from the U.S. Army in Paris but it was not an official concert. He never again toured outside of the United States, although he was immensely popular world-wide, especially in Europe.


  • He took a gun to the White House. When Richard Nixon was president, Elvis met with him at the White House. Hoping to be appointed as a special agent, he had taken a World War II vintage handgun with him to give to the president. The gift was accepted by the staff, but was not presented to the president, for obvious security reasons.


  • His first TV concert was the number 1 hit of the year. In 1968, after his career had started to stagnate, he appeared in his debut TV appearance. The show, airing in December, was the highest-rated TV show of the year, and marked the start of his return. It is usually called his "Comeback Concert" as it re-invigorated his career and brought a whole new audience to his music.


  • He was buried twice. No, this fact has nothing to do with the myriad Elvis sightings that occurred after his **ahem** supposed death in August, 1977. It has to do with attempted grave robbery at his original burial site. He was initially buried next to his mother, Gladys, at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. Several young men attempted to steal his body, so both Elvis and his mother were re-interred at Graceland, his Memphis, Tennessee home, in October, 1977.


  • There are an estimated 80,000 Elvis impersonators. If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then Elvis was truly admired. A recent magazine article estimated that there were over 80,000 impersonators, or Elvis Tribute Artists, as many preferred to be called, in the world. That's just slightly up from the 80 or so that were performing when he died in 1977.


  • He can still top the charts. As recently as 2005, 3 different re-issued singles topped the U.K. charts at #1, during the same month, no less. In January of that year, Jailhouse Rock, One Night / I Got Stung, and It's Now or Never topped the U.K. pop charts during the weeks on January 9th, 16th, and the 30th.


Bonus Trivia:

  • The King attracted famous intruders to Graceland. Over 700,000 guests now visit Graceland, Elvis' mansion in Memphis, Tennessee each year, making it the second most visited home in the U.S., behind the White House. But when Elvis was alive, the public was kept outside the gates. One up-and-coming performer jumped the fence in an effort to sneak in and meet 'The King', who, coincidentally, wasn't even at home at the time. He was caught by security and escorted from the property. The intruder's name -- Bruce Springsteen.

    A more notorious visit was made by Jerry Lee Lewis, who in a drunken rage, arrived at Graceland with a gun, demanding to see Elvis. He was handcuffed and taken to jail.








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Thursday, June 26, 2008

From the Archives - Canada Wildlife Stamp - Loon



Note: This post originally appeared on Stamps of Distinction on February 6, 2008. This was the 8th post I had written, including the Welcome message! Readership was just a handful at that time, so now would be a good time to take a stroll down memory lane. It is a very brief post, but closely examine the stamp.

This stamp is one of my favorites, due to its graceful appearance. It is an engraved stamp, which really adds to the sharp distinctions between the black and white feathers of the loon.







Ever heard the expression "He's as crazy as a loon?" It derives from the wailing, haunting cry of the waterbird known as a loon, which might vaguely remind someone of an insane person's maniacal howlings.


The loon is a magnificent, duck-like bird. When mature, its markings produce a sharply delineated black-and-white plumage, with the head and neck being gray in some species. The beak of the loon is sharp and dagger-like. It grows to the size of a small goose.

Loons, which are most prevalent in the northern half of North American and Europe, rarely come out to dry land and when they do they are notoriously awkward when walking. They prefer the water where they are very adept at swimming and diving. Loons have been known to dive over 200 ft and stay submerged for more than a minute.

In 1998, Canada Post introduced the $1 (CDN) Loon stamp as part of its Canadian Wildlife definitive series. It is a large stamp and is beautiful in appearance, with wonderful coloration. It is a must-have stamp, if for no other reason than its graceful artful and simplistic design.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Terminology - Approvals

Buying stamps on approval is one way to add stamps to your collection for a modest price. There are many stamp dealers who sell stamps using this method, and a list of approvals dealers can be found in most stamp collecting magazines.

When you buy stamps on approval, a dealer will send you a number of stamps for you to review. You keep the ones you want and return the remainder. You pay only for the stamps you keep.

The benefit to the customer is that he/she previews the stamp before committing to purchase the stamp. They get to look for hinge remnants, stamp thins, or other imperfections. The customer gets to hold the stamp in their hands (figuratively, of course .... always use stamp tongs!).

The benefit for the stamp seller is that they can send excess inventory out to customers, some of whom will keep a stamp once they see how nice it is. The dealer has minimal cost invested in the sending (postage, mailing supplies, plus maybe a little set aside as liability for damaged stamps) and gets stamps under the nose of a collector.

Dealers tailor their approval mailings to customers in several ways. One, they may explicitly ask the types of stamps that the customer would like. Do they prefer new stamps, pre-1940 stamps, stamps of certain countries, etc. They also review the types of stamps that the customer purchases. If the customer repeatedly purchases stamps from 1950s France, a savvy dealer will be sure to put more of those stamps in subsequent mailings.

There are two basic ways to pay for approvals. Historically, the customer would be required to return payment plus any unwanted stamps to the seller after they had selected their stamps. Needless to say, some dealers got stung by unscrupulous collectors who failed to return the stamps or the money. Nowadays, many dealers require that the customer's credit card number is on file and they charge the customer for the stamps as they are sending them out. When the customer makes his selection and returns the unwanted stamps, the customer's card is credited with the amount returned. This keeps the dealer from losing money should the customer fail to return the stamps.

On a personal note, I think it only fair that a customer should have every intention of buying some stamps when they arrive in their mailbox, presuming that the dealer sends good, collectible stamps and not junk stamps. If you are not willing to spend money on stamps, it will waste your time and the dealers time if you can't afford the approvals that are sent to you. Most dealers will want to know what type of collector you are and what you are willing to spend and tailor their approvals for you specifically. If you are a beginner, it is probably of little benefit to you or the dealer for you to be sent exotic or rare stamps. By the same token, the advanced collector will unlikely find anything with inexpensive beginner approvals.

Approvals are a commitment. You commit to looking at the stamps and making your selections in a timely manner, usually 20-30 days. If you are a procrastinator, or are just dabbling in stamp collecting, approvals will not be your cup of tea.

For others, though, approvals are a great way to add stamps to your collection at a very fair price.



Previous Terminology Topics:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stamp Issuer Datasheet - Annam and Tonkin

This chart represents a detailed analysis of stamps issued by Annam and Tonkin, as supported by the 2009 issue of Scott's Standard Postage Stamp Catalog.









































































































































Annam and Tonkin
Basic Philatelic Information
Date of first recognized stamp issue 1888
Date of last recognized stamp issue 1888
Previous Stamp Issuer None
Subsequent Stamp Issuer (if a "dead country") Indo-China, 1892
Sold canceled-to-order (CTO) stamps? No
Regular Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = 6 Mint Used
Catalog value of first listed stamp $40.00 $32.50
Catalog value of least expensive stamp $30.00

Scott #2

$27.50

Scott #3

Catalog value of most expensive stamp

(major Scott Numbers only)

$425

(Scott #8)

$325

(Scott #8)

Estimated total catalog value of recognized issues $968 $904
Semi-Postal Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Air Post Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Special Delivery Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postage Due Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Official Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Newspaper Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Parcel Post Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postal Tax Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postal Tax Due Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None







Notes:

All stamp data is determined from analysis of the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalog, issued 2009. Other catalogs may have additional stamps, different costs, or different methodologies of labeling and identifying stamps.

All values are in U.S. Dollars.

All stamp valuations include major Scott numbered stamps, and exclude errors, variations, and stamps so rare as to be unattainable by all but the most advanced collectors.

Scott frequently uses a single catalog number for souvenir sheets or strips of stamps that were sold as a single unit. In these cases, the sheet is only counted as one unit and the component stamps are not counted individually.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Stamp Issuer - Annam and Tonkin

Annam and Tonkin
Overprint

Annam and Tonkin were two French protectorates that made up the northern two-thirds of modern day Vietnam.

The story of how these two protectorates came under French control begins in the late 1800s. Both China and France desired control of that part of Asia for trade purposes. After mistreatment of French nationals in the area and for other reasons, France took it upon itself to claim colonial oversight of the regions. Following the Sino-France war in the mid 1880s, France achieved its military victory and installed Annam and Tonkin as protectorates. Together with Laos, Cambodia, and Cochin China, these ares ultimately became known as French Indochina.

Only one set of stamps was issued for Annam and Tonkin. The stamps are overprinted with "A & T" or "A - T" as an abbreviation for Annam and Tonkin. The stamps were issued in 1888. By 1892, stamps of French Indochina were used throughout the region. The stamp issue of 1888 was the only issue for the two protectorates.

A total of 6 stamps were issued (as recognized by Scott's Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, 2009 edition). The stamps were handstamped with the overprint, so there are a lot of stamp variations in existence.

The first 3 stamps issued are affordable for almost anyone, as the stamps catalog roughly $35 apiece in mint condition and about $30 apiece in used condition.

The second 3 stamps are a completely different story, as these stamps are where most of the cost of the country is associated. The stamps average almost $300 for mint condition and $275 for used.

Good luck if you decide to collect this country. While the total cost of $1000 for either mint or used is not prohibitive, the stamps are not common, and thus may command an even greater premium when they are found.



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Friday, June 20, 2008

9 Things You Didn't Know About Benjamin Franklin

It's Fun Friday -- time for some fun for the weekend. Enjoy today's post and I'll see you back here on Monday with more philatelic news and notes.


United States, 1938
Scott #803

In 1938, the United States issued a set of definitive postage stamps featuring images of the nation's first 29 presidents. This issue has affectionately become known as the Prexies issue. In addition to the 29 presidents featured on the stamps, fractional postage stamps were issued with images of non-presidents, such as Benjamin Franklin and Martha Washington, and the White House.

For those not familiar with fractional postage, some types of U.S. mail required a partial cent, even though there was no coinage for half cents in use in the United States at the time. Thus, a person could buy 2 half-cent stamps for a cent, and use them as additional postage for some classes of mail. Also, the half-cent stamp was used to round the 1-1/2 and 4-1/2 cent purchases up to the nearest whole cent. However, throughout its existence, the half-cent stamp was never used, by itself, in order to mail a letter as the minimum postage was never less than 1 cent.

The first stamp (in denomination order) is the half-cent Benjamin Franklin issue. As the United State's first Postmaster, he was chosen to appear on the first fractional value stamp.

Many people know that Ben Franklin supported having the turkey as the national emblem for the United States, as opposed to the majestic Bald Eagle, and know that he invented the lightning rod, but do you know these facts?

  • He never once sought public office. Benjamin Franklin was well-known and could have certainly achieved public office, but he never once ran for a political office.


  • He is related to the famous Folger's Coffee family. Ben's maternal grandfather (his mother's father), Peter Folger, was the ancestor to the founder of Folger's coffee, one of the best-known brands of coffee in the world.


  • He produced the first catalog in the U.S. Franklin issued a list of science and technical books that were available from a Philadelphia-based lending library. He is believe to have produced the first catalog and also the first return policy. He was inducted into the Direct Marketer's Association Hall of Fame for these honors.


  • He is in the American Mensa Hall of Fame. Because he was such a great thinker and innovative mind, he would have fit right in with today's society for the intelligent, Mensa. Franklin is an inductee into the American Mensa Hall of Fame.


  • He coined electrical terms still used today. The terms positive and negative, which signify the electric charge, which is another word he defined. He also gave us the word battery.


  • He invented bifocal glasses. Frustrated with having to switch between two pairs of glasses to correct his vision, Franklin cut two sets of lenses in half and mounted them together, creating the world's first bifocals.


  • He invented a musical instrument. Franklin invented the glass harmonica, also known as an armonica, which works on the same principle as rubbing one's dampened fingertips over the top of a goblet in order to produce a sound. Mozart and Beethoven even composed music for the armonica.


  • He invented prototypical "swimmies". Franklin was an adept swimmer and wanted to help others to swim. He invented crude flotation devices out of wood in order to help teach others to swim.


  • He spent half of his life in "retirement". With his self-made wealth, he was able to retire from working at the age of 42, halfway through his 84 years of life. Retirement for him was only the cessation of occupational work, though, as most of his statesmanship and political successes came in the second half of his life.



Stamp image courtesy of Bob at http://rdhinstl.info/prexies/.






Previous Fun Friday Posts


Thursday, June 19, 2008

From the Archives - An Uncommon Moth



Note: This post originally appeared on Stamps of Distinction on February 3, 2008. This was the 5th post I had written, including the Welcome message! Readership was just a handful at that time, so now would be a good time to take a stroll down memory lane.

The souvenir sheet of this uncommon moth is beautifully designed and executed. The shape only adds to the fanciful layout.







Mention the word butterfly and most people will think of beautiful creatures that flutter around during the spring and summer. However, mention the word moth and most people will conjure up images of dull-looking, night-time insects that flit around light bulbs and do damage to crops. While they are distinct types of insects, they are in the same order, Lepidoptera.

The Salt and Pepper Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides) blurs the distinction between butterflies and moths; it has many characteristics more common to a butterfly than a moth. The insect is colorful, active during the day, and is not believed to harm crops. Its colors are orange and black spots on its fore wings. The rear wings are more typical moth coloration of a dull creamy white, with tinges of black around the edges.

The Pitcairn Islands, made famous as the final stop for the mutineers of the British ship Bounty, released two colorful stamps of the Salt and Pepper Moth in 2007. A die-cut miniature sheet comprised of the two stamps in the outline of the moth was issued at the same time. The stamps are available from August 2007 for a period of 2 years. Both the individual stamps and the miniature sheet can be purchased from http://www.stamps.gov.pn/.

Update: It seems that the Pitcairn Postal authority requires a minimum order of $50 (New Zealand) for credit card purchases. If there is enough demand, I might try to put together a group order for anyone wanting them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Website Spotlight - MyPhilately

MyPhilately
http://www.myphilately.com

Many stamp collecting websites stay "local" with most of their readers being from the same country. Not so with MyPhilately, an Australian website where the greatest growth has been from global users. So says Dan Brown, co-director and public face for the growing site:

We are located in Australia, [and] to be honest I was expecting 90% of the members to come from Australia but it has turned out to be the complete opposite. Only 10% of our members are from Australia.

Even though his personal specialty is Australian philately, he admits to broadening his horizons due to all the contacts he is making. And making them, he is.

MyPhilately is a fast-growing social networking site dedicated to all things philatelic. Social networks are sites where users log in, join groups, and establish interests with other users. Popular sites like MySpace and Facebook are examples of social networking sites.

Social networking is ideal for philatelists, and MyPhilately offers a rich set of features to help make networking a reality. For example, you can log in, join a group of Scandinavian collectors, meet someone who also collects postcards, and before long you can establish a friendship with the user. Social networks help to connect your likes and dislikes with others.

The idea for MyPhilately was birthed about 2 years ago. After an 8-month period of extensive software development and a small user base to help work out the bugs, MyPhilately went live in August 2007. The goal for MyPhilately.com was and is "to improve communication for stamp collectors using the internet," says Dan.

To accomplish the goal, here are some of the things users can do on MyPhilately:
  • Build a network of philatelic friends. Once you start building your network, it makes it very easy to gain and share information.

  • Create stamp groups which relate to specific themes or collecting areas. Each group is given a domain name (ex. www.myphilately.com/canada) which allows users to easily spread the location to their friends outside of philately.

  • Share images by uploading them directly to MyPhilately, add information such as catalog value and descriptions, and then share them with your friends and groups.

  • Set up blogs, discussions, polls and philatelic events, which can be used to inform your friends and stamp groups.

  • Share your skill set with your friends and have the ability to ask specific friends questions relating to their skills. For example, if you have a MyPhilately friend who is highly skilled in postmark recognition, they may be able to help you identify that pesky postmark that you are having trouble with.

  • Give authors a "MyPhilately Award" whenever they have helped you. Thus contributors gain a bit of notoriety and a good reputation for their help.

  • Chat with other members on Live Chat. You also have the ability to set up private rooms where you can chat with your friends privately.

  • Bookmark your favorite websites and share them with your network. Members can then rate the websites and add comments.


All in all, MyPhilately is a great site that is deserving of this Website Spotlight. It is definitely a site worth visiting, but if you do, be sure to take the time to explore its features. There are so many things to do that a "visit once in a while" attitude will keep you from using it to its full potential.

You can visit MyPhilately at www.myphilately.com.



Would you like to nominate a website for a Stamps of Distinction Website Spotlight? If so, read and follow the instructions on this link.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stamp Issuer Datasheet - Anjouan

This chart represents a detailed analysis of stamps issued by Anjouan, as supported by the 2009 issue of Scott's Standard Postage Stamp Catalog.









































































































































Anjouan
Basic Philatelic Information
Date of first recognized stamp issue 1892
Date of last recognized stamp issue 1912
Previous Stamp Issuer None
Subsequent Stamp Issuer (if a "dead country") Madagascar, Comoros Islands
Sold canceled-to-order (CTO) stamps? No
Regular Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = 30 Mint Used
Catalog value of first listed stamp $1.25 $1.25
Catalog value of least expensive stamp $0.90

Scott #20

$0.90

Scott #20

Catalog value of most expensive stamp

(major Scott Numbers only)

$105

(Scott #15)

$100

(Scott #15)

Estimated total catalog value of recognized issues $465.50 $391.65
Semi-Postal Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Air Post Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Special Delivery Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postage Due Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Official Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Newspaper Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Parcel Post Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postal Tax Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postal Tax Due Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None







Notes:

All stamp data is determined from analysis of the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalog, issued 2009. Other catalogs may have additional stamps, different costs, or different methodologies of labeling and identifying stamps.

All values are in U.S. Dollars.

All stamp valuations include major Scott numbered stamps, and exclude errors, variations, and stamps so rare as to be unattainable by all but the most advanced collectors.

Scott frequently uses a single catalog number for souvenir sheets or strips of stamps that were sold as a single unit. In these cases, the sheet is only counted as one unit and the component stamps are not counted individually.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Stamp Issuer - Anjouan

Anjouan, 1892 (Scott #1)
Digitally Enhanced

Anjouan is the French name for the island known as Ndzuwani. The small island is located in the Indian Ocean and has been associated with the Union of Comoros islands, although it has experienced several changes of government and juntas recently. This is of little impact to the philatelist, as stamps were only issued for Anjouan for a short period of time, and it is now considered a "dead country".

In the 1500s, the Sultanate of Ndzuwani was established on the island. French help was requested in the 1800s to help protect the sultanate from rivalries, and this ultimately led to French protection in 1886. In 1912 the Anjouan and the other Comoros Islands were annexed by France and administered by the French colonial governor of Madagascar. After World War II, Anjouan and the Comoros Islands became French overseas territories. Finally, in 1975, Anjouan sought its independence from France and joined the Union of the Comoros (islands).

In the last 10 years or so, Anjouan has seceded from Comoros control, experienced government overthrow, and have recently rejoined the Comoros Islands under threat of military action. All in all, the last decade has been tumultuous for the island and its people.

From a philatelic standpoint, we are only concerned with early years of Anjouan's status as a French colony.

The first stamps with the name of the island were the very common French Navigation and Commerce stamps which were issued for use in French colonies. The name of the stamp colony was printed in the blank tablet as "Sultanat d'Anjouan". These stamps were issued between 1892 and 1907.

In 1912, surcharged variations of some of these stamps were issued. The surcharges are for either 5 or 10 centimes, and are boldly overprinted on the stamp.

In 1914, stamps of Madagascar began being used for Anjouan, so no more stamps were issued for the country.

A total of 30 stamps were issued for the country, all of them being the Navigation and Commerce series.

The stamps of this country are attainable by most. The complete issue in mint, never hinged condition, catalogs for $465 (US). The same stamps in used condition catalogs for $392.

Good luck on collecting these 30 stamps!




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Friday, June 13, 2008

The World's Smelliest Postage Stamps

It's Fun Friday -- time for some fun for the weekend. Enjoy today's post and I'll see you back here on Monday with more philatelic news and notes.


There have been many attempts to improve the revenue-generating power of the postage stamp. Some countries will do almost anything to sell postage stamps, especially to hoarders or collectors, who in turn will never use them. This represents a nearly 100% profit for the postal administration.

In the last 35 years, there has been a growing number of scented stamps being issued. From the first smelly stamp through to the most current olfactory offering, the use of scented stamps are a novelty that are becoming more and more prevalent.

Here, then, is a list of some of the more notorious scented postage stamps available for collectors. Every stamp is valid postage in the country it was issued.


  • Bhutan's Rose-Scented Stamps.

    The tiny nation of Bhutan, located between India and China, is a economically underdeveloped nation. Surprisingly, the country's lack of money does not translate into misery, though, as they are time and again judged to be among the happiest people in the world by unbiased sources, such as the United Nations. The people of Bhutan are very content, and its a safe bet that the nation's postal system only adds to their happiness by the fun variety of stamps that they offer.

    In 1973, Bhutan's postal authorities released the world's first-ever scented stamps. The 6-stamp series depicted beautiful roses and each stamp was perfumed to smell like a rose. During the production of the stamps, the underlying paper had been scented with rose essence, leading to the stamps smelling like the depicted roses.

    Since Bhutan's aromatic stamp, numerous other countries have issued flower-scented stamps. In fact, of all of the stamps issued with scents, flowers-scented stamps are the predominant type.



  • India's Jasmine-Scented Stamp.

    India has recently issued jasmine-scented stamps to remind postal patrons of the flowering plants wonderful smell.

    Jasmine plants vary in size and form; most species are vine-like and climb other plants or posts, producing flowers that are small and delicate in appearance. Besides their natural use as a garden and landscaping plant, jasmine tea is widely used in many cultures as a ameliorative for coughs and colds. The essence of jasmine is also used as a basis for perfumes and ointments.



  • India's Sandalwood-Scented Stamp.

    Along the same lines as flower-scented stamps are wood-scented stamps. Sandalwood, a type of tree that produces wood that is easily worked, is also one of the most fragrant woods. And India has graced our noses with a stamp containing that scent.

    Sandalwood is used for religious rituals in Hinduism, a wide-spread religion in India. Adherents also use sandalwood incense when offering incense to the Buddha.



  • Brazil's Burnt-Wood-Scented Stamps.

    While other stamps may use sweet smells in an effort to sell stamps, Brazil's first scented stamp was used to bring awareness to the damages of forest fires.

    In 1999, Brazil issued a set of 4 stamps smelling of burnt wood. The stamps feature an anteater, a flower, leaf, and a burnt tree trunk, each of which indicates what is at risk when a forest burns. The odor was meant to make people keenly aware of the dangers of careless fires and their impact on the environment. The stamp set was part of Brazil's forest fire prevention efforts.

    This stamp shows an indigenous anteater that would be at risk in the event of a forest fire.



  • Brazil's Coffee-Scented Stamp.

    The Brazilian postal authorities certainly redeemed themselves from the burnt wood smells of their previous scented stamp issue when they released one honoring coffee. The stamp was scented with the aroma of coffee.

    Coffee is one of Brazil's largest exports and Brazil accounts for much of the world's supply of coffee beans. The coffee industry is a huge industry for the country. As a way to celebrate this industry, this special stamp was issued so that all can smell the fragrance of Brazil's gift to caffeine junkies everywhere.




  • Switzerland's Chocolate Stamp.

    The end-product of a different bean was honored by the Swiss -- chocolate. Swiss chocolate is world famous for its smoothness and richness of flavor.

    The climate of Switzerland does not allow the growing of cacao beans, the source of cocoa. Thus all of the cocoa that is used in Swiss chocolate is imported from various countries of more tropical climate. But that hasn't stopped the Swiss from enjoying the product that they make; the Swiss are estimated to be the number one consumer of chocolate in the world.

    This stamp, which came in a foil-wrapped booklet, much like a chocolate bar, really makes you want to lick it. But don't bother. It only smells like chocolate; it tastes like plain old stamp glue.



  • China's Sweet-and-Sour-Pork-Scented Stamp.

    Yes, you read it correctly; China issued a stamp with the aroma of sweet and sour pork on it. They issued the stamp in celebration of 2007 as the Year of the Pig.

    Chinese cuisine has become extremely popular in many parts of the world. While sweet-and-sour pork is certainly not the most fanciful meal that China has to offer, it is probably one of the more widely recognized.

    Sweet and sour pork is made by deep-frying small morsels of breaded pork. When the meat is done, it may then be mixed with stir-fried vegetables. The morsels are served with, or coated with, a sauce composed of sweet elements, such as sugar or pineapple, combined with a tangy element, such as mild vinegar.

    There were unconfirmed reports that the glue on the back of the stamp would taste a bit like sweet and sour pork, but I cannot substantiate this as fact.



There you have it, just a few of the growing number of smelly postage stamps.






Previous Fun Friday Posts


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Was Your 13th Birthday Present This Monumental?

On this day (June 12) in 1942, a young girl in Amsterdam turned 13 years old. For her first birthday as a teenager, she asked for and received a small book which was meant to hold autographs. The girl had noticed the red and white plaid book in a nearby shop window a few days earlier. She intended to use the book as a diary.

The girl's name was Anne Frank.

Born in post-World War I Germany, Anne Frank was born to a middle class Jewish family. The country, being wracked by oppressive reparations for the costs of the Great War, which had ended 10 years earlier, was imploding. By the time Anne was about 4 years old, Adolf Hitler assumed the leadership of the country. Around that same time, anti-Semitism was on the rise in Germany, and Jews, German citizens or otherwise, were feeling the pressure of discrimination.

"I, nor anyone else, will care for the outpouring of a thirteen year old schoolgirl."
The Frank family, along with upwards of 300,000 Jews, began leaving Germany as a way to escape the persecution. The Franks ended up in Amsterdam in 1934, where Otto Frank, Anne's father, had established a small business. All seemed to bode well for the Franks, as little Anne began Montessori school where she showed great promise as a reader and writer.

In May 1940, German expansion led to the invasion of The Netherlands, and Jews were once again targeted by the Nazi Party. Within a few years, Anne's sister, Margot, received a notice to report to a work camp, which meant almost certain death. The family decided to go into hiding and risk their lives, rather than letting young Margot go to the camp.

The little autograph book/diary that Anne had received less than a month before going into hiding, became a mirror into the soul of the teenager. As the world around her was increasingly crumbling, she began to pour out her heart and soul in her diary. She also used several other notebooks and individual pieces of paper when the book was filled.

The entries in her diary record the thoughts of the girl. She records the growing tensions in their hideout, and even despises her mother, although later she chastises herself for having such thoughts. She records her first kiss, from a 16-year-old boy whose family was in the hideout with them, but then squelches any possible romance. All in all, she records the ups and downs of budding womanhood, under the most adverse of situations.

On August 4, 1944, after 760 days of concealment, the German Security Police raided the hideout and arrested the Franks, and the four others that were staying with them. Left behind in the raid were Anne's papers and notebooks.

Brought before the Gestapo, the individuals were sent to a punishment camp for hard labor. About one month later, the group was transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp and a few months after that, the women in the family were moved to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Upon arrival at Bergen-Belsen, the 15-year-old Anne began her descent into a hopeless nightmare. Shaved bald to prevent lice infestation, and emaciated, young Anne seems to have lost the will to live. A couple of childhood friends who were also at the camp reported that she had come to believe that both her parents were dead. Overcrowded and unsanitary conditions led to virulent outbreak of typhus in March of 1945. It was during this time that Anne lost her life, probably just a day after her older sister had also died.

Just a scant six weeks later, the prison camp was liberated by British soldiers.

Of all of the family members, only Anne's father, Otto Frank, survived to see the end of Hitler's rule. He returned to Amsterdam, where he was able to obtain the diary that Anne had left behind. One of the caretakers of the hideout had preserved the papers for when Anne returned.

After going through the diary and changing some names and editing out a few purely personal details, Otto Frank authorized the publication of his daughter's diary. Sales were moderate at first, but amidst the stunning backdrop of what had transpired in Germany, the young girl's story skyrocketed in popularity. Since that time, Anne Frank's diary has been widely received and has been translated into many languages. It is required reading in many schools, and has been the subject of movies and plays.


Based on an early entry in the diary, the prospect of writing her thoughts down on paper was somewhat strange and novel to young Anne. Who could possible care what a 13-year-old had to say, she ponders:

For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later I, nor anyone else, will care for the outpouring of a thirteen year old schoolgirl.


Nothing could be farther from the truth. The words written in the girl's simple handwriting would open the eyes of millions of people to the sad realities of racial hatred.

And it all started with a 13-year-old girl's birthday present.



Anne Frank Stamps

Germany, 1979 (Scott #1293)

Anne Frank has been honored on several stamp issues. One is Germany's 1979 issue showing a school picture of Anne. Denominated at 60 Deutsch Marks, the stamp has a very inexpensive catalog value of 70 cents (US) for mint, never hinged, and 20 cents for used.

Other countries have also honored the legacy and memory of Anne Frank. The Netherlands, her home away from home, as well as Israel, origination of her Jewish ancestry, have honored the young author.

There has been a move underway to honor Anne Frank on an commemorative United States postage stamp, however, U.S. Postal Service rules dictate that stamps should have Americans or American-related themes on them.

With a cruel twist of fate, Anne technically died without citizenship anywhere, since Nazi Germany had stripped the citizenship of German Jews. Even though post-war tribunals annulled the Nazi laws removing citizenship and retroactively restored them, Anne did not live to see the day, so it remains a curious legal question, although almost everyone would honor her as a German citizen. Some have even wanted Anne to be made an honorary U.S. citizen (like Winston Churchill, Mother Theresa, and a small number of other people). If it ever occurs, it will help bring her one stamp closer to a U.S. commemorative stamp.




Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Europa Stamps

Belgium, 1956 (Scott #497)
"Rebuilding Europe"

If you have collected stamps for any period of time you have likely come across Europa stamps. The word Europa is the name "Europe" in Latin.

In 1951, the countries of France, Italy, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg signed the Treaty of Paris which ultimately led to the creation of the European Community, itself a forerunner of today's European Union.

Those six member nations of the European Community issued a set of stamps in 1956 showing the word "Europa" framed by construction scaffolding, entitled "Rebuilding Europe". The 13 stamps issued by the 6 member nations first issue of Europa stamps.

In 1958, the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administration (with the acronym of CEPT from the French spelling of the name) was formed. Starting in 1960, its members began issuing Europa stamps. In fact, at this point the phrase "Europa/CEPT" is often used to refer to the stamps issued during this time. The addition of CEPT countries caused the number of of countries issuing stamps to jump to 20 from 8 the prior year.

The number of countries associated with Europa stamps has steadily increased, although some countries will skip years. Currently there are over 50 countries issuing Europa stamps.

Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2008
"Letter Writing" Theme

Prior to 1974, with just a few exceptions, all of the Europa stamps had the same design, with simple variations in language, colors, denominations, and country names. Starting that year, Europa stamps were independently designed by each postal administration, but they shared a common theme. Declaring a common theme has been the practice ever since; this year's theme is "Letter Writing".

Most Europa stamps are affordable, with just a small premium added to their denominated value, with a few notable exceptions. The 3-stamp set of Luxembourg, issued in 1956, is expensive, and so is the 1960 Liechtenstein issue. These stamps catalog for hundreds of dollars and are the key stamps in the series.

Europa stamps are fun to collect and a complete collection of them is attainable by most intermediate collectors.

Related Trivia: The grouping of the countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg is designated as Benelux from their first letters of their country names.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stamp Issuer Datasheet - Anguilla

This chart represents a detailed analysis of stamps issued by Anguilla, as supported by the 2009 issue of Scott's Standard Postage Stamp Catalog.









































































































































Anguilla
Basic Philatelic Information
Date of first recognized stamp issue 1967
Date of last recognized stamp issue Active
Previous Stamp Issuer St. Kitts-Nevis-Anquilla
Subsequent Stamp Issuer (if a "dead country") N/A
Sold canceled-to-order (CTO) stamps? Yes
Regular Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = 1161 Mint Used
Catalog value of first listed stamp $45.00 $32.50
Catalog value of least expensive stamp $0.20

(many)

$0.20

(many)

Catalog value of most expensive stamp

(major Scott Numbers only)

$3750

(Scott #13)

$1350

(Scott #13)

Estimated total catalog value of recognized issues $18,000+ $6,200+
Semi-Postal Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Air Post Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Special Delivery Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postage Due Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Official Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Newspaper Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Parcel Post Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postal Tax Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postal Tax Due Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None







Notes:

All stamp data is determined from analysis of the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalog, issued 2009. Other catalogs may have additional stamps, different costs, or different methodologies of labeling and identifying stamps.

All values are in U.S. Dollars.

All stamp valuations include major Scott numbered stamps, and exclude errors, variations, and stamps so rare as to be unattainable by all but the most advanced collectors.

Scott frequently uses a single catalog number for souvenir sheets or strips of stamps that were sold as a single unit. In these cases, the sheet is only counted as one unit and the component stamps are not counted individually.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Stamp Issuer - Anguilla

Anguilla, 1967 (Scott #13)
Overprinted St. Christopher-
Nevis-Anguilla stamp

Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory located in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. It is overseen by a governor appointed by the British monarch, who is mainly involved with foreign affairs. A local legislative body oversees domestic affairs.

Anguilla is a tiny nation, comprised of 102 square kilometers (slightly under 40 square miles). The country is made up of the main island, as well as several smaller, uninhabited islands.

The land is very poor and only marginally arable. Fishing has been a major source of food (and income) for the country. Salt ponds are also prevalent, and salt has been an major export of the island.

The island gets most of its revenue today from the tourism industry. The island is a tropical paradise that is becoming a destination hot-spot for vacationers. Its beautiful scenery makes it the ideal location for travelers.

Anguilla was first settled by Amerindians of South America, probably in the 1300s, although records are notoriously scarce. English settlers started arriving at the island from nearby St. Christopher Island (also known as St. Kitts Island) in the mid 1600s. Europeans and African slaves from other Caribbean islands also settled on Anguilla around that time.

Great Britain administered the island until the early 19th century when it was made a British dependency along with the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. The Anguillans tried several times to secede from this union with St. Kitts and Nevis, in 1967 and 1969, but these attempts were unsuccessful. However, a few years after the last rebellion, Great Britain permitted the country to become an independent colony. This event was formalized in 1980.


Anguilla, 1967 (Scott #15)
Overprinted St. Christopher-
Nevis-Anguilla stamp

From a philatelic standpoint, Anguillan stamps were first issued in 1967. Prior to that St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla stamps were used collectively. The first stamp set is actually based on overprinted stamps of St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla. They are very rare and command a very high premium. Examples are shown nearby.

The Anguillan postal authorities seem to be moderate in the number of stamp sets issued. The nation issues about 5 or 6 issues per year, with a major definitive issue appearing every 5 years or so. While the stamps are a revenue-generator for the country, Anguilla does not seem to be flooding the market with stamp issues.

Stamp themes for the island nation include typical Caribbean island topics such as beautiful fish, tropical seashells, and butterflies and birds of the nation. In the past, Anguilla has also offered annual Easter and Christmas stamps, as well as stamps detailing historical dates, such as Anguilla Day (May 30).

Few collectors can expect to complete a Anguillan stamp collection, as the first series alone, the key set to the entire country, catalogs for over $15,000 (US) in mint condition. However, a few of the stamps from the first set, plus almost all of the rest of the country, can be attained, as they catalog around $3,000 in mint condition for all.

Good luck collecting this beautiful island nation.




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Friday, June 6, 2008

8 Of The World's Most Unusual Postage Stamps

It's Fun Friday -- time for some fun for the weekend. Enjoy today's post and I'll see you back here on Monday with more philatelic news and notes.


If you were to ask the general public, most people would state that postage stamps are probably the most mundane item that could be collected. To many people, stamps are nothing but tiny rectangles of paper with pictures of flags or dead presidents on them.

In today's post, I will attempt to abolish the mundane classification by showcasing what I think are 8 of the most unusual stamps that exist. Every single one of them is valid as postage in their country of issue.

There are many other unusual stamps that I plan on discussing in future posts. So think of this as part 1 of an ongoing series.



  1. The Rock Dust Stamp.

    Gibraltar put their country's famous landmark on their stamps both figuratively and literally in 2002. The Rock of Gilbraltar, one of the most recognized natural landmarks in the world appeared on a 4-stamp set in 2002. The top layer of the stamp is embellished with finely pulverized pieces of geologic rock from the famous landmark. You can get a piece of the rock, in more ways than one, with this stamp.



  2. The Meteorite Dust Stamp.

    Speaking of rocks on stamps, in 2006, Austria Post issued a stamp with an other-worldly rock; this stamp contained 0.03 grams of meteorite dust. The dust came from a 19 kilogram stony meteorite found in Morocco in 2004. The meteorite is composed of olivine, a mineral chemically defined as magnesium iron silicate. The gemstone known as peridot is an example of gem-quality olivine.

    The meteorite was crushed into a very fine dust, which was then hand-affixed to the stamp using a special adhesive. The stamp issue, called Mail From a Different World, sold for 3.75 EU (about $5.80 US, today).



  3. The Cork Stamp.

    Near the opposite end of hardness would be Portugal's Cork Stamp. Issued in November 2007, this unique stamp is printed on very thinly sliced cork (0.35 mm). Printed on the cork substrate is a stylized image of a cork tree sitting atop a hill. The stamp has a denomination of 1 Euro.

    The stamp brings attention to Portugal's cork industry, which provides well over 30% of the world's market for cork. Some of it's non-philatelic uses are as stoppers for bottles, fishing floats, gaskets, and bulletin boards.



  4. The Wooden Stamp.

    Another stamp that was built using the product of trees is this beautiful Swiss 5-Franc postage stamp. The stamp, issued on September 7, 2004, is made from 120-year-old fir trees from Swiss forests. Like the cork stamp above, due to the nature of the underlying component's growth characteristics, every single stamp is naturally unique.



  5. The Embroidered Stamp.

    The Swiss have stayed busy trying to create unique stamps. Swiss Post issued the worlds first embroidered stamp on June 21, 2000. Even though the stamps were created by automated embroidery machinery, the stamps were time-consuming to create, especially when compared to typical paper stamps.

    The stamps were issued to call attention to the world-famous embroidery created in St. Gallen, a canton of Switzerland. Originating in the 15th century as a center for textiles, St. Gallen became the de facto home of embroidery after creating the first automated embroidery machines early in the 19th century.



  6. The Football (Soccer) Stamp.

    The world's first stamp made of soccer ball material was issued by Austria Post in March, 2008. The stamp celebrates the UEFA Euro soccer tournament, to take place in June 2008. The tournament is the largest sporting event ever held in Austria.

    It took many attempts to get the stamp developed and perfected enough to withstand the rigors of postal duty. Not only were special printing methods needed for the plastic material, but the adhesive was also submitted for many trials to see if it would hold up.



  7. Moving Image Stamps.

    Several countries have used lenticular technology to put changing images on their stamps. This technology uses a plastic prismatic lens atop a specially-formatted image to make it appear to change. Austria managed to put 48 images onto the stamp, which results in an approximately 3-second "movie" appearing when stamp is viewed from different angles.

    This previous post contains more detailed information on the technology and the representative moving image contained on the stamp.



  8. The CD-ROM Stamp.

    Bhutan, a tiny nation located at the east end of the Himalayas, is well-known in philatelic circles for producing unusual stamps. Some of their stamps include scratch-and-sniff flower stamps, lenticular stamps, stamps made of diverse materials such as silk and steel, and phonographic stamps. The sell of stamps is a key source of revenue for this small nation.

    This year, Bhutan has introduced postage stamps that are also CD-ROMs.

    There are two CD-ROMs in the series. The first is titled "Bhutan: 100 Years of Monarchy" and celebrates the history of the nation and its rulers. The second CD-ROM is called "Bhutan: In Harmony with Nature" and highlights their environmental efforts.

    The CD-ROM stamps come in a protective envelope that can be affixed to the letter being mailed, so that the CD-ROM can be safely delivered to the recipient.









Previous Fun Friday Posts


Thursday, June 5, 2008

From the Archives: Duncan Edwards, Football Superstar



Note: This post originally appeared on Stamps of Distinction on February 21, 2008. Readership at that time was very small in comparison to today, so it was very likely missed by most readers.

For football (soccer) fans everywhere who may have missed this earlier post, I repeat this entry on the tragic death of what might have been one of the greatest players of all time.






On February 21, 1958, fifty years ago, the world lost what would have probably been one of the greatest football (soccer) players ever. In a life cut short by tragedy, Duncan Edwards, had only started to begin to fulfill his potential as one of the premiere players of his time.

Duncan Edwards was born on Oct 1, 1936 in the town of Dudley, in England. He excelled at football, even at a young age, when he picked up the notice of a Manchester United scout. It was only a few years later, at the age of 16 1/2 that he became the youngest player to play in the top division. On his 17th birthday, October 1953, he was signed by Manchester United.

By early 1958, he had made 175 league appearances and was fast becoming a well-known legend to sports fans of that day. His game play was remarkable as he helped England in the 1958 World Cup qualifying campaign.

On February 6, 1958, tragedy struck the sports world. On that snowy day, after a refueling stop in Munich, the plane carrying the team made a third attempt to take off. Unable to completely lift off the ground, the plane crashed, killing 7 players and 14 other passengers. Agains all odds, Duncan Edwards survived the initial crash.

Rushed to the hospital with broken legs, ribs, and damaged kidneys, the doctors initially thought that Edwards would recover, but that his football playing days were over. Sadly, after 15 days of valiant fighting, the injuries to his kidneys proved to be more deadly than thought, and Duncan Edwards died.

Many sports historians believe that if the crash had not occurred, Duncan Edwards would have gone on to a tremendous career and worldwide fame as one of the best football players ever.

Great Britain issued a 5-stamp series in 1996 called Football Legends. Duncan Edwards is immortalized on one of the stamps in the series, as seen here. The entire series is very affordable, with a cost of about $5 (USD) on most auction sites.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Is This the World's First Infertility Postage Stamp?

Portugal, 2008
Is this the world's first
infertility-themed stamp?

In March, 2008, Portugal's postal authority CTT Correios de Portugal, S.A. may have made postal history when it issued the stamp shown on the left. It is thought that this stamp was the first ever stamp specifically issued to raise awareness of the struggles of infertility. In a March, 2008, article in Linn's Stamp News, the de-facto industry standard for philatelic news, suggests that this is, in fact, the first stamp on this topic.

Infertility is the inability of a couple to conceive a child or, if conceived, the inability to successfully carry the child to delivery. The condition is usually associated with strong emotions such as angst, grief, anger, a sense of incompleteness, and depression. The emotional impact to the affected individual or couple can be devastating.

For years, there were only three primary options available to infertile couples. One was to try home-remedies and "quack" cures, which had successes rates attributable to simple luck. Another was to accept their childlessness, which many did reluctantly. The last, and in my opinion, most noble option, was adoption.

As doctors searched for additional options for this debilitating illness, a new technique, called in vitro fertilization, or IVF, was successfully pioneered by British doctors, Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards. On July 25, 1978, their technique led to the birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first baby to have been conceived outside of her mother's body.

Louise's parents had tried for a number of years to conceive a child, but with physically blocked Fallopian tubes, Louise's mother was unable to conceive through natural methods. By removing her eggs, fertilizing them outside of the body, and then implanting them, Louise's mother was finally able to become pregnant and bear a child.

This event became a watershed event in the efforts to find a cure for infertility. It meant that couples who had previously been unable to conceive due to physical impairments stood a much-greater chance of conception. While in the best case, it offers about a 50% success rate in younger women, such a percentage is a marked improvement over the miniscule success rates without IVF. It offered a ray of hope and led to more attempts in finding a cure for the illness.

Unfortunately, the high cost of in vitro fertilization has kept the procedure out of reach of many infertile couples. But each year advances are made and many procedures have come down in cost.

The stamp issued by Portugal is beautifully designed and conveys the hopes of infertile couples with its imagery. The stamp shows a stylized silhouette image of a man and woman embracing a child. The image of the child is almost ghost-like in appearance, symbolizing the hope for the child, yet at the same time highlighting the fragility of conception for infertile couples.

The stamp is denominated as 0.30 Euro (approx $0.47 USD). It is currently available for purchase from Portugal's postal authority.


As an interesting side note, Louise Brown, the first in vitro baby will turn 30 years old on July 25, 2008. She currently works for Great Britain's Royal Mail postal authority. I wonder if she collects stamps?


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Stamp Issuer Datasheet - Angra

This chart represents a detailed analysis of stamps issued by Angra, as supported by the 2009 issue of Scott's Standard Postage Stamp Catalog.









































































































































Angra
Basic Philatelic Information
Date of first recognized stamp issue 1892
Date of last recognized stamp issue 1905
Previous Stamp Issuer Portugal
Subsequent Stamp Issuer (if a "dead country") Azores 1906-1931; Portugal 1931-
Sold canceled-to-order (CTO) stamps? No
Regular Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = 34 Mint Used
Catalog value of first listed stamp $5.00 $2.75
Catalog value of least expensive stamp $0.75

(4 stamps)

$0.50

(3 stamps)

Catalog value of most expensive stamp

(major Scott Numbers only)

$60.00

(Scott #11-13)

$45.00

(Scott #11-13)

Estimated total catalog value of recognized issues $395 $270
Semi-Postal Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Air Post Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Special Delivery Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postage Due Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Official Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Newspaper Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Parcel Post Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postal Tax Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None
Postal Tax Due Stamps
Number of Stamps in Catalog = None







Notes:

All stamp data is determined from analysis of the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalog, issued 2009. Other catalogs may have additional stamps, different costs, or different methodologies of labeling and identifying stamps.

All values are in U.S. Dollars.

All stamp valuations include major Scott numbered stamps, and exclude errors, variations, and stamps so rare as to be unattainable by all but the most advanced collectors.

Scott frequently uses a single catalog number for souvenir sheets or strips of stamps that were sold as a single unit. In these cases, the sheet is only counted as one unit and the component stamps are not counted individually.