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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Battle of Trafalgar

Imagine the sea water spraying your face. Imagine the cold air wildly blowing your hair while you rush about the deck of a ship, making every attempt to control it, while a man is shouting frantic but hopeless commands. Imagine the sight of fifty ships colliding in a storm of battle, explosions blowing planks of wood into the air, and men leaping to the frozen, sweet solace of the deep blue abyss. This was the destiny of the sailors fated to the Battle of Trafalgar, a momentous battle in the Napoleonic War, fought between the British and the French, aided by Spain.

The Battle of Trafalgar was a marine skirmish between the British Royal Navy and the French and Spanish allied ships on October 21, 1805. It was the major naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars and ended with the British victory over the French and Spanish. The British naval fleet was commanded under Admiral Lord Nelson, who died later in the battle and became a British naval hero; he is celebrated as such in England on the Anniversary of the battle. The battle seemed to have the French in its favor, with France and Spain having thirty-three ships, while Britain had only twenty-seven ships. Yet, despite the numbers, Britain pulled off an amazing victory over France, without losing a single ship to the battle.

Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the battle with the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar stamp, and remember those brave British sailors who fought against one of the greatest nations of all time.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Stamp Hinges vs. Stamp Mounts

If you’re new to stamp collecting, you already know that stamp collectors use different methods to affix their stamps, but you may not be away of some of the finer details. Here are highlights on the differences between a stamp hinge and a stamp mount.

Stamp Hinge
A stamp hinge is a small, gummed piece of glassine

Stamp Mount
A clear, plastic sleeve with an adhesive back

How do you use them?
A stamp hinge is used to mount stamps in an album. The hinge adheres to the back of the stamp.

A stamp mount is used for the same purpose, but the stamp is placed inside the mount and the mount is what is attached to the album.

When should I use one?
You should use a stamp hinge for stamps that are used or of low value because the hinge can stick to the backside of a stamp.

A stamp mount is a good choice for stamps of high value because the adhesive is used on the mount and not on the stamp itself. This protects the stamp from possibly being damaged by moisture.

Your lower value stamps do not require the same protection as stamps that you know are worth more, so although you may want to protect all of your stamps, don’t fret about using stamp hinges for stamps that do not carry a high value.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Forever Comes at a Cost

If you've been to the post office recently, you probably noticed that the officials of the U.S. Postal Service have issued a new kind of stamp. Not only is this possibly the most practical, beneficial, and investible stamp for snail-mailers; it is also causing the sale of postal stamps to skyrocket.

Year after year, countless numbers of people moan and groan because the postal stamps have increased in price by yet another three cents. In a matter of only thirty-two years, the price of stamps has been increased thirteen times. In the eye of the consumer, this is getting a little ridiculous. Mail is expensive enough, as it is. Why should we have to pile on spontaneous extra financial inconveniences? With the forever stamp, this is no longer an issue. The stamp, which can currently be purchased for forty-one cents, will continue to increase in price, over time; however, if one purchases the stamps when they are at the lower price, no matter when the stamps are used or what the current price of stamps is, first class mail can be sent using the forever stamp. So, in principle, the price of stamps could be raised to fifty cents, eighty cents, or even five dollars, and those with the forever stamps could still be sending their mail with the forty-one-cent stamp!

Naturally, people are catching on to this unbelievable deal and are stocking up! This is greatly increasing the profits in the stamp industry. However, one must take into consideration the possible aftermath of the forever stamps, in reference to the sellers. With the great rush to get a hold of these stamps, if everyone has a thick stack of forever stamps (which is likely, as the forever stamp costs the same amount as a regular first-class stamp that will eventually lost its value) and the purchase of updated stamps is no longer needed, logically, the postal service will fall into a spiraling decline.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Can Anybody Find Me… Freddie Mercury’s Stamp Collection?

Would you have guessed that Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, was an avid stamp collector? Could you also have guessed that his philatelic interest began when he was a young boy in India? Although, back then, he probably wouldn’t have turned around if you’d called out, “FREDDIE MERCURY!”

Mercury was born on September 9, 1946 in Zanzibar (an island off of Africa) to a British Colonial Office cashier named Bomi Bulsara and his wife, Jer, who were Parsis from British India. Long before he was singing in front of millions of screaming fans as the lead singer of one of the most famous British rock bands of all time, Mercury was just a kid collecting stamps. His interest in stamp collecting was ignited by his father, who collected British Commonwealth stamps, and he began taking philately seriously around the age of nine. He chose each and every stamp in his collection based on design and color, and whether or not it was pleasant to the eyes. He would place them in symmetrical designs in his book and would often leave spaces blank or remove stamps to be replaced by new stamps.

By the time of Mercury’s death from AIDS on November 26, 1991, his collection had grown to be a beautiful arrangement, but was not of much value, from a professional philatelic standpoint. His father auctioned his late son’s collection, as well as his own, to raise money for the Mercury Phoenix Trust (the AIDS charity set up by Mercury’s former band mates and friend, Mary Austin), but only received about 8,000 pounds. His collection traveled far and wide and was available for public viewing up until 1999. It is now located in a vault in London, where it is no longer available to the public eye.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Rare Dolphin of the Arctic

Many people have heard of the sea mammal, commonly referred to as the “sea cow” (manatees are also sometimes referred to as such), but, in the minds of most, a depiction of an underwater cow with gills is blowing bubbles into the infinite abyss. The actual sea cow, however, less commonly known as the Cruciger Dolphin, does not moo. It also looks very little like a cow, with an exception for its black and white color. The white area forms a shape similar to an hourglass on the dolphin’s sides, hence it’s more common formal name, the Hourglass Dolphin.

The Cruciger Dolphin is native to the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters. The name Cruciger is Latin for “cross-carrier” and is given to this dolphin for the hourglass-like design on its body, which loosely resembles a Maltese cross. This particular dolphin is rarely seen and, therefore, has very low sighting statistics. By the 1960s, only three of the Cruciger Dolphins had been reported to scientists. Likewise, to this day, the Cruciger Dolphin has had only six complete and fourteen partial specimen examined.

Be one of the lucky few to see one of these creatures of the deep, and capture this rare specimen for your stamp collection. Order your Crucigere Dolphins stamp, today!

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Fantasy Impromptu of Stamps

You are sitting in your library on a rainy day, your company consisting of a dusty, old radio and a hot cup of jasmine tea. You turn the dial to your favorite classical music station. As you close your eyes and take in the magic which begins to embrace your very existence in that room, your ears are captivated and consumed by a whirlwind of notes and rhythms and harmonies and dissonances. That which hypnotizes you in all of its wonder and genius is none other than Frédéric Chopin’s breathtaking Nocturne Opus 72 no.1, and you instantly become whisked away to a romantic ballroom where the prodigy, himself, is caressing and pounding out each and every measure, with the precision of a savant, as your soul waltzes to the dark and intricate melody. Each note is significant to the whole, with every crescendo and decrescendo sending chills up your spine; you truly appreciate the great murder that is modern music. Such an experience is fairly typical for the average sophisticate with a refined taste in music. This feeling of complete and total enthrallment is most likely the reason why Chopin is considered to be one of the most talented and innovative musical geniuses in the vast history of piano.

Frédéric Chopin was born in the village of Zelazowa Wola, in Warsaw, Poland, on March 1, 1810, to a French father and a Polish mother. During the duration of his musical life, after he was recognized as a child prodigy at the age of eight, he grew in popularity as a master Polish composer of piano music during the Romantic period (1820 – 1869) and is still considered to be one of the greatest piano composers of all time. He proved to be quite the innovator, in many respects, including the invention of the ballade music form for piano and the innovation of structures, such as the nocturne, the sonata, the waltz, the impromptu, the etude, and the prelude. It was an unfortunate day when the keys of the grand piano grew silent, on October 17, 1849. Chopin died in Paris, of what some claim to have been a broken heart, resulting from an affair he’d had with the French novelist, Madame Dudevant, more commonly known as "George Sand." One must take into consideration, though, that the life of such a passionate being rarely ends in anything other than heartache and tragedy. The era of a great musical master had come to the end of its chapter, but the spirit of his passion, lived out through each note, was left to haunt the ears and souls of generations to come.

Commemorate one of the greatest musical prodigies of the nineteenth century with the 25th Piano Contest Musical Score stamp, featuring none other than Frédéric Chopin. It is certain to stand out in the harmony of your stamp collection.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thrills and Chills: Animals of the Ice Age

Have you ever walked outside, it was over one-hundred degrees, and you prayed for some sort of cool breeze to brush against your skin? Even the neighbor’s cat on your lawn seemed to have a miserable face about it, and cats can’t even make faces (to the best of your knowledge). Now, picture your somewhat muggy outside covered completely in snow, and that cool breeze you desperately longed for turning out to be a blistering, negative-twelve-degree gust. Ponder the idea of your neighbor’s pesky little cat being the size of the average tiger, with two gigantic, razor sharp teeth. This was what one could expect on an average day during a period of our Earth scientists call the Ice Age.

There have been many ice ages in the history of Earth, with the earliest one estimated to have occurred 2.7 – 2.3 billion years ago and the most recent one ending 10,000 years ago. In this time frame, many beasts have roamed the Earth, equipped with thick fur coats and vicious temperaments, geared towards surviving each day of their rugged lives.

When the ice ages ended, most of the mammals that journeyed the earth died out, leaving nothing but bones, fossils, and a few preserved frozen bodies to prove their existence. With this evidence, scientists and artists crafted images of wooly mammoths, cave bears, hairy rhinos, giant deer, and of course, ferocious saber-toothed tigers to brighten the imagination of modern-day people. With the Ice Age Animals collection, you can travel to that time of blistering cold and danger, but be careful; the neighbor’s cat might be little more of a threat to your birds.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

The Year of the Monkey

The Chinese Zodiac is not only a significantly important tradition of the Chinese culture, but it is also a popular belief, and even a trend, in many countries, all over the world. Most people know of it simply through their local Chinese food restaurant’s place mat, or maybe even through a brief reference in a kung fu movie. Not many truly know the significance behind the actual meaning of the cute little animals depicted on the oriental calendars, such as the monkey portrayed on our authentic Year of the Monkey stamp from 1980.

The Chinese Zodiac is separated into twelve parts, each having its own unique animal with unique characteristics and symbolisms. These animals include the year of the ox, rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar. People who are born in the year of the monkey, in Zodiac tradition, are commonly known for being very astute when dealing with planning some sort of plot, especially in cases of mischievous planning. Supposedly, one who is born in this particular time frame is keen on his or her surroundings and is born with the innate ability to make quick and clever decisions when needed to do so.

Whether or not your birthday falls in the year of the monkey, this genuine, mint-condition Chinese stamp is an ingeniously clever addition to any collection.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Famous Stamp Collectors: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt –or more popularly known as “F.D.R.”— was a leader, in many respects. Being the thirty-second president of the United States of America, he led the country through the struggle of the Great Depression, the tragedy of World War II, and provided as a role model for those suffering from infantile paralysis (polio). It’s no surprise that a man who ran the country with such vigor and dedication would pursue his personal hobbies with the same spirit. Ever since he was eight years old, F.D.R. had a passion for stamp collecting that traveled with him his entire life, giving him renowned status in the world of philately.
Roosevelt’s parents were involved in the business of shipping and trading with countries all over the world. Naturally, this exposed the boy to countless varieties of stamps. This is, essentially, what sparked his interest in collecting, which included any and every type of stamp he came across. He was known for constantly bothering his relatives to send him all sorts of stamps, from all over the world.

In 1921, Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio, after visiting a Boy Scout camp. One of the major things that got him through his trying time of hardship, pain, and suffering was his intent focus on his stamp collection. In 1928, the same year he was elected Governor of New York, he also became a life member of the American Philatelic Society. The news of his hobby really hit the public four years later, when he became President of the United States of America. His influence in the world of philately brought it new levels of popularity and began to set trends among the people of the American nation.
Roosevelt used his stamps to gain knowledge of the world during the time of World War II, as he traveled the globe. Not a place did he go where his infamous trunk of stamps did not follow, devoutly studied and observed by him, each day. His stamps were his companions for the remainder of his life. On April 12, 1945, Roosevelt approved the design for a new commemorative stamp titled “Toward United Nations.” Later that day, while posing for a portrait, he died, suffering from a massive cerebral hemorrhage. It is said, though, that the President did not leave the earth before spending an hour solemnly taking pleasure in the enduring comfort of his stamps.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Magical World of Witchcraft and Philately

Harry Potter has been a smash hit in just about any and every field of marketing. The series of books by J.K. Rowling has swept children of all backgrounds into a magical world of witchcraft and wizardry. The movies have enchanted both the children who crave their wizard friends, and the parents who are "dragged" along to see them, as well. Kids can take the magic home with them in just about any form, be it toys, posters, DVDs, or even video games. Now the magic can enter your stamp collection with classic scenes of Harry Potter’s heroic journey at the magical school of Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in 1997, and since then the seven book series has received tremendous popularity and has become a commercial giant worldwide. Almost every child had either read the books or seen the movies, and fell in love with the notion of a magical world that could bring to life their wildest dreams and was separate from the world they live in. The tragic story of Harry Potter has filled children and adults alike with hope for triumph over their own adversities, and will surely last in the heart of everyone who encounters Harry Potter.

This eight-stamp collection includes eight images from the story and the movies. These images include the Hogwarts Express, Hagrid, Hedwig, the evil Dementors, Buckbeak, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the Midnight Bus, all of which will bring back feelings of magic and wonderment when gazed upon until the end of time. Make Harry and his friends part of your collection today, and you’ll see that magic really does exist.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Canadian Stamps – A Portrait of Paradise

Picture, if you will, a place with vibrant green trees, clear, blue skies, fresh, pure air, crisp, clean lakes and waterfalls, and people with nothing other than cheery dispositions to offer. No, this isn’t Hawaii or the Mediterranean islands; I’m referring to the paradise that is Canada.

This land is one of the most beautiful in the world. It’s hard to walk the streets of British Columbia without a smile on one’s face and a spring in one’s step. Often, pictures of this gorgeous country, in many of its aspects, are depicted on its stamps. On them, one can find illustrations or photographs of the vast array of wildlife in the area, depictions of Canada’s ancient Native American culture, portraits of the breathtaking waterside scenery, or pictures of majestic mountains. Also, very frequently depcted on the stamps are portraits of the Queen of England, who is also the Queen of Canada.

When Canadians began using stamps in 1851, they were bought and sold with British money, costing anywhere from half a penny to twelve pence. In 1859, when Canada changed to dollars and cents, the stamp prices changed, accordingly. These days, the really old Canadian stamps are worth quite a bit more.

If you’re a collector who’s interested in stamps that can take you to beautiful, wholesome places that can’t help but make one feel good, Canadian stamps are a great place to start.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Paul is Dead – Hidden Clues in the Abbey Road Stamp

Almost any Beatles fan, be it the most devout adorer or one who simply enjoys singing along to "Come Together," has heard of the conspiracy that Paul McCartney, the lead singer, bassist, and most-loved pretty boy of The Beatles, is dead. The rumors began on October 12, 1969 when someone named "Tom" called into a radio station and announced that Paul was dead and requested that "Revolution 9" be played backwards. Upon doing this, the radio host claims to have heard the phrase "Turn me on, dead man."

According to legend, Paul, after having gotten into an argument, left the recording studio while the band was recording the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album on November 9, 1966, and, allegedly, ended up getting into a fatal car crash. In turn, he is said to have been replaced by William Shears Campbell, a sing- and look-alike. However, no actual proof that could back up this story has ever been found.

Since then, however, slaves to these rumors have been searching high and low through the music of The Beatles, hoping to find any sort of hidden message or hint that the supposedly dead Paul could be, in fact, lost to the world. For instance, "A Day in the Life," a song actually from the Sgt. Pepper’s album, is believed to be all about the death of Paul. One of the most major clues in the case of Paul is the cover of the Abbey Road album, which is riddled with hidden meaning. The cover depicts the four members of the band, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, walking in a line across the crosswalk outside of Abbey Road Recording Studio. John, dressed in an all-white suit leads the line, representing God. Ringo follows in a black suit and white collar, symbolizing a preacher. Next is Paul, wearing a regular suit, but, if one looks closely, it can be seen that he is bare-footed. This is the truly odd part. In England, it is customary to bury the dead without shoes. Paul is the only one of the band members in the picture not wearing shoes. Lastly, following Paul is George, dressed in very casual clothing, symbolizing a gravedigger. No one can be certain that any of this really means that the British rock legend is, in fact, deceased, but it does leave the mind a great deal to wonder.

The Abbey Road album cover is included in the Beatles Commemorative set of six stamps, depicting six different Beatles album covers, including With the Beatles, HELP!, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Let It Be. This legendary collection can be purchased here.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Inverted Jenny

There are so many rare stamps in the world. These gems can acquire their value for any number of reasons, be it a limited edition release or an oldie from the antique love letters of one’s grandparents, tucked away in the attic. As with almost anything, including and especially stamps, rarity can often be found in mess-ups. When an edition is flawed or, for whatever reason, must be taken off the market, the value shoots up immensely. Possibly one of the most famous goof-ups in the history of American philately was the Inverted Jenny stamp.

Typical stamps for first-class mail in the 1910s were 3 cents each. Around this time, the United States Post Office was experimenting with a sort of air-mail, and, upon approval, decided to instate a regular service on May 15, 1918, flying between Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. In turn, they decided to issue a new stamp, specifically for this service. These stamps were worth 24 cents a piece.

In quite a rush, the patriotically-colored red and blue stamps were designed on May 5, depicting a Curtiss Jenny, the biplane which was used to deliver the mail. Only five days later, on May 10, the stamps were being engraved and cut in sheets of 100 and were fed through the printing press twice (because of the two separate colors). This method of printing twice, however, had a history of causing invert errors in stamps of 1869 and 1901. By the laws of nature, of course, the Jenny was no exception to this unfortunate mistake. Three sheets were caught and destroyed during production, and only one other sheet was thought to get away, but many stamp collectors from all over believe that there may be more out there and are constantly on the hunt.

Today, one of these once 24-cent stamps is estimated to be worth US $300,000! If you can manage to get your hands on one of the one-hundred thought to be left circulating the globe, you’ll have captured the Holy Grail of many collectors’ desires.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

A Whole New World of Stamps

When Walt Disney created the characters who would make up his delightful fantasies, he created princes and princesses, evil witches and villains, genies, fairies, talking animals, and so many more fun friends that would accompany us through our childhoods and forever hold a warm place in our hearts, even as adults.

Disney’s first cartoon character, Mickey Mouse, was created and made his debut in his first audio cartoon, Steamboat Willie, in 1928. Ever since, Disney has been creating more and more characters to fill our imaginations with tales from mystical deserts, tall towers, and underwater kingdoms, each with his or her own message to spread to children and adults, alike. The 1941 animated feature film, Dumbo, showed us how to make our shortcomings into wings and soar. In 1953, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell whisked us away to Neverland and showed us that we never really have to grow up. In 1992, Aladdin rubbed a magic lamp and taught us about wishes, lies, and love. These classics have always taught us the most valuable of lessons that we will carry with us until we’re watching the same old favorites with our children and our grandchildren.

Revert back to the timeless magic of your childhood days with this gorgeous Disney Magic Set of 20 postage stamps. This commemorative package includes Mickey, Dumbo, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, and Aladdin and the Genie. These whimsical stamps are certain to sprinkle a little pixie dust on anyone’s collection!

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