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Friday, June 19, 2009

Having Fun With Postage Stamp Errors

Throughout the history of postage stamp releases there have certainly been some printing errors. Some are glaring and spotted by the public immediately. Some have been more subtle and far more difficult to find. One of America’s most famous postage stamp errors that most everyone knows about is the Inverted Jenny. In that stamp, during the printing process the airplane was printed flying upside down. If you are lucky enough to own the Inverted Jenny, it certainly is a great find. In today’s stamp printing, it is far more difficult for a stamp to pass through the process without an error being caught. If you find a stamp with an error, hang on to it as it will likely we worth more than your average stamp.

The brown postage stamp above was issued by Guadeloupe. At first glance, you might not see the mistakes from the artist. This stamp was printed in 1946 and was never corrected or reissued. Can you figure out what the problem is? If you look closely, the camels in the front of the design are missing an important feature…a couple of legs!

The red colored postage stamp above looks pretty simple and serene. It was originally issued by Fiji in 1938 and then reissued with the corrected version in 1940. Can you see the problem? The original stamp features an outrigger canoe that is under full sail. Experienced sailors will attest that a boat cannot be in full sail without a crew! In the second version of the stamp, one crewmember was added to the picture.

Stamp Center has postage stamps available from all around the world. You are sure to find something special to add to your collection.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Postage Stamps – The Choices Are Endless Part I Of II

People have been collecting things most likely since the beginning of time. A quick internet search and you will find that what some people view as strange to collect; others are passionate about their favorite items. As diverse as people are, so are their collections. You can find people who collect mugs, buttons, cookie jars, toys, traffic signs, air sick bags, candy wrappers, and of course postage stamps, to name a few. Postage stamps are by far the most collected item around the world. They can show a bit of history and often times tell a story of their origin.
They are fun, easy to obtain, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on this hobby.

Unlike some collectibles, there are many choices available when it comes to stamp collecting. If you are new to stamp collecting, you might be wondering where to begin your collection. Should you pick stamps with flowers, presidents, animals, foreign releases, domestic releases, or would you like to dabble in a little bit of everything? Should I only buy cancelled stamps or would un-cancelled stamps be a better value? One of the greatest things about collecting postage stamps is that the possibilities are endless. You can buy stamps from Stamp Dealers, online, from postal authorities, or from other collectors.

Stamp collectors love to show their wonderful stamp finds. There are many stamp collectors clubs that get together to share information, buy or trade stamps, and see what other great finds their fellow collectors have found.

Please check back on Wednesday for the conclusion to this post.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lincoln Brings In Millions

Last Friday a fantastic postage stamp collection went up for auction in New York City. By far, it is touted as one of the most amazing collections of President Lincoln stamps ever to be created. In total, the collection has more than 10,000 stamps depicting President Lincoln.

Originally inherited from his father, the stamp collection began to grow in 1977 when William J. Ainsworth’s interest in philately was sparked once again. Over the next 32 years he worked to create the most definitive collection of Lincoln’s image on United States postage stamps.

The collection was broken into more than 600 lots at the auction. One of the interesting favorites was the mint 90 cent vertical block of six Lincoln stamps that were issued in 1869. The stamps feature Lincoln’s portrait in black with a red background. They are considered rare because they have never been broken apart. There was also a proof of a block of eight mint condition 90 cent stamps of Lincoln with his image accidentally printed upside down.
This proof is one of only two proofs known to be in existence. There were many other Lincoln items available at the auction. Lincoln tax stamps, private issues, test printings, etc. There was even a die impression in red sealing wax of a test design with Lincoln’s profile. It was originally purchased at a flea market for 50 cents and included as one of the rare auction items.

This amazing collection sold at auction for almost $2,000,000.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

2009 World Stamp Exhibition

First the actual Olympics and now the “Olympics of stamp collecting” is gracing the land of China. Beginning on April 10th and running through April 16, 2009, the 2009 World Stamp Exhibition is the place to be to see top philatelic issues from around the globe.

Over 110 countries and regions have brought together more than 3,200 valuable framed stamp collections to be viewed by the public. The entries will also be appraised by world class leaders of philately. More than sixty international stamp experts will review the entries and eight medals will be awarded before the end of the Exhibition. An unprecedented amount of attendees will have their chance on the bidding of rare stamps at the auction as well.

Of the 3,200 framed entries, 80 frames of world renowned stamps are on display. The British royal family has even sent their prized Penny Black which was issued in 1840. It was the first adhesive postage stamp to ever be issued in the world. Also on public display for the first time are stamps collected by the China National Post and Postage Stamp Museum.

There are 24 special Peony stamps issued from various nations to commemorate the Luoyang Peony Festival. China has released 60 commemorative envelopes especially designed for the Exhibition.

The World Stamp Exhibition travels to a new location each year. Expect to see the 2010 World Stamp Exhibition in South Africa.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Stamps Worth Millions Taken Away

Jim Ford, a stamp collector from Scotland, is mourning the loss of his precious stamp collection. The collection was originally started by his grandfather when he was a boy. The first stamps obtained were from letters from family members and friends who were scattered around the world. After his grandfather’s death, his uncle inherited the extensive stamp collection. Being confined to a wheelchair because of Multiple Sclerosis afforded him quite a bit of time to add to the already large collection of stamps from around the globe.

Ford, who collected stamps as a child, eventually inherited the collection. After an accident in 2001 left him disabled, he put his focus on expanding his collection. The collection feathered many valuable postage stamps. According to Mr. Ford, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC wanted to display the 36 “Washington Pinks” that were in his collection because they covered the Civil War years. The stamps were on correspondence between a soldier in battle and his fiancée. The Smithsonian had tentatively valued these particular stamps at around £18 million.

After a gas leak at Ford's home, the collection was packed up and put outside on the porch for a few hours during the cleanup. Council workers were arranged to pick up the old damaged furniture from the back of the home, but took the postage stamps instead. The stamps are now lost forever, despite his calls to have his collection returned.

Included in the mistaken stamp pickup were 840 Penny Blacks which are estimated to be valued between £1900 and £5000 each, the 36 Washington Pinks and dozens of Penny Blues. According to Ford, there was also a strip of three very rare stamps which were valued at £155,000. The good news is that he still has 11,000 stamps left in his collection, but none as valuable as the ones that were taken that terrible day.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Prince Rainier’s Stamp Collection Part II Of II

Continuing from Wednesday…

Prince Rainier III is quoted as saying that stamps are “The best ambassador of a country.” Prince Rainier continued to add stamps and covers to the Royal collection throughout his years of reign. Each stamp in the collection is in chronological order and specifically classified. There are three main time periods that Prince Rainier’s collection maintains.
Les Precurseurs, otherwise known as the “Forerunners”, contains stamps that date back to 1641. This section also contains French and Sardinian postmarks used in Monaco and Menton. Those postmarks were issued prior to 1885 when Monaco began issuing their own postage stamps.

“Les Modernes”, otherwise known as the “Modern” section, dates back to 1921 and up through current day issues. Prince Rainier III and Prince Louis II postage stamps are stored in this set as well as many other commemorative stamps.

“Les Classiques”, otherwise known as the “Classics” feature issues issues of Monegasque stamps from 1885 to 1921 covering the reigns of Charles III and Albert I.

Many of the postage stamps that are in Prince Rainier’s collection can also be found at The Museum of Coins and Stamps in Monaco. The Prince founded the museum to allow the public to become more acquainted with philately. According to the Monaco’s official website, “The Rare Stamp Room is the high point of the Museum where priceless items are on display, including a « strip of 5 Charles III 5 franc stamps » and an envelope sent from Menton on 12th April 1851 with one of the first issues of the Sardinian stamp that was then used in the Principality.

Prince Rainier died on April 6, 2005. Stamp Center has the Prince Rainier III souvenir sheet as well as other beautiful postage stamps issued from Monaco in stock and ready to ship to you.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Year 2000 Postage Stamp

It hardly seems possible that only nine short years ago it was the New Millennium. Predictions were that computers would stop working, water would stop running, ATM’s would crash so cash had to be kept on hand, and we would all have to resort to using candles because surely electricity services would be interrupted. Isn’t it great that none of those things actually happened in the United States?

One nice thing that did happen was the issuance of the Year 2000 postage stamp by the United States Postal Service. This chubby little naked baby postage stamp is one that would be a fantastic addition to any collection. Baby New Year sports a lovely black chapeau, is ringing in the New Year with a cow bell, and is blowing a horn with all his might.
The interesting thing about this particular stamp is that this Baby New Year first appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1937, almost forty years prior. The gold circle that appears behind the baby is a design element of the original magazine cover. The “2000” and the solid bar framing the image are unique to the stamp.

Please stop by Stamp Center and check out our many New Year postage stamps.

A special Happy New Year to all of my fellow stamp collectors!

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

1856 British Guiana One Cent Black on Magenta Stamp

The one cent “Black on Magenta” stamp from 1856 is certainly one of the most rare and most expensive stamps of all time. It was from the British colony of Guiana (now known as Guyana).

In 1856, Guiana was in urgent need of an additional supply of stamps. They were normally produced in England, but they could not wait until the new stamps arrived. Desperate, the postmaster asked the publishers of the Official Gazette to print stamps for an emergency issuance.

The stamps were printed in 1 cent and 4 cent denominations. The 4 cent stamps were used for mailing letters and the 1 cent stamps were used for mailing newspapers. They were crude in nature. Their shape was an odd looking rectangle with clipped corners. The stamps depicted a sailing ship with the name “British Guiana”. There was an inscription that said "Damus Petimus que Vicissim" ("We Give and We Seek in Return"). The stamps were printed on poor quality paper in black ink on magenta paper. Post office officials were afraid of counterfeits so employees had to initial each stamp before it could be released for sale.

The stamps were not on the market for very long, which is likely one of the reasons that it is currently so valuable. There is only one known stamp left in the world. The stamp is so valuable, that the last time it was sold was in 1980. That single stamp sold for over $935,000. The stamp currently resides in a bank vault.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Inverted Jenny, A Rare Find Part II of II

In continuation from Monday’s post.

W. T. Robey was the lucky collector who happened to find the, not yet discovered 100 panes, of the inverted Jenny stamps. He quickly made his purchase, on his lunch hour, from his local Washington, DC post office. Robey then contacted both journalists and stamp dealers to let them know of his precious find. Soon after his purchase, he sold all 100 stamps for $15,000 to a dealer named Eugene Klein. Klein immediately sold the lot to H. R. Green for $20,000.

Soon the sheet of 100 would be split into block of 8 and several blocks of 4. The remaining stamps would be cut into singles. Once the mistake was made public, stamps collectors worldwide tried to get their hands on these rare stamps.

H. R. Green placed one of these rare stamps in a locket for his wife. This locket was up for auction in May, 2002 from Siegel Auction Galleries Rarity Sale. The locket did not sell that day, but was sold later for an undisclosed amount of money.

In October 2005, four stamps were anonymously purchased for $2,970,000. Later, financier Bill Gross was revealed to be the purchaser. In 2007, a Wall Street investor forked out $825,000 for a mint never hinged stamp. He reports that he lost out on a previous auction when the winner obtained the stamp for $977,000.

Like other valuable stamps, there have been counterfeits produced, and sometimes even used. The inverted Jenny is likely the most famous stamp making error in American history. It is one of the most sought after stamps in all philately. People have asked the question over the years as to why the postal clerk sold the stamps to Robey in the first place. The fact is, it was 1918, and most people had not ever seen an airplane at that point to even know that it was actually upside down.

It would be fun to know where all of these rare stamps have landed, but it would be even more fun to actually own one of these stamps!

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The Inverted Jenny, A Rare Find Part I of II

If you ever happen upon one, hang on to it for dear life, you are already rich! This stamp is one of the rarest and most desired stamps in United States history.

It was produced on May 15, 1918. The stamps controversial value at the time was a whopping 24 cents. The price of using the stamp was enormous compared to the going rate of 3 cents for a first class stamp. In the 1910’s, the USPS had been experimenting with flying mail from New York, Washington, DC and Philadelphia. This stamp was produced just for this “air service”.

Two million of the patriotic “Curtiss Jenny” stamps were produced in red, white a blue. The stamp depicts the JN-4 airplane (courtesy of the US Army Air Corp.) that was used to shuttle the mail from place to place. Production was fast and furious. Engraving began on May 4th and stamp printing on May 10th. These stamps were printed in sheets of 100, unlike previous stamps that were printed in 400 and then cut into 100 panes. The stamps had to be fed through the printing press two times because of the colors. The inverted Jenny was accidentally printed with the airplane upside down.

Although several misprint sheets were discovered and immediately destroyed, one soon to be valuable sheet of 100, slipped through the cracks. To date, only one sheet of 100 has ever been discovered. It is quite possible that other sheets were circulated and then caught by inspectors at other postal facilities once the mistake had been made public.

Please check back on Wednesday for the conclusion to this post.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

St. Helena - 1934 Centenary Issue

Saint Helena is located in the South Atlantic, near the island, Tristan de Cunha. Saint Helena is best known for being the place of exile of Napoleon Bonaparte from 1815 through 1821.

Unlike Tristan de Cunha (see post from last Friday and Monday), St Helena welcomes and encourages visitors to their beautiful island. There are approximately 4,000 residents of the island. There currently is no airport, so arrival is difficult and can only be obtained via fishing boat or ship. They do have a port-of-call, unlike their neighboring island. There are several hotels and restaurants for visitors to enjoy.

Tourism is very important to island residents and is heavily based around the past imprisonment of Napoleon. Island residents believe that they have the best museum of Napoleon in the entire world. There are two national parks with rare flora, several of which can only be found on St. Helena. Mostly, the economy is suffering and St. Helena is largely supported by England.

St. Helena has produced its own postage stamps for years. Stamp sales are one of the main sources of income for the island. From the Post Office and Philatelic Bureau Bureau, “Stamp Advisory Committee meets regularly to ensure that issues of stamps incorporate designs of an historical, geographical, economical, constitutional or thematic nature which is of the interest to the stamp collector.” To purchase a set of 10 rare and amazing 1943 Centenary Issue stamps from St. Helena, or other stamps from St. Helena, visit www.stampcenter.com for more information.

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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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Friday, September 28, 2007

The Most Valuable Stamp in the World

Ever want to know what the most valuable stamp in the world is? Well, it is the “Treskilling” Yellow. If this stamp was a steak and its value was based on how much it costs per pound, as of 2004 the Treskilling Yellow would have cost you about 35 billion dollars per pound!

The Treskilling Yellow is a stamp that was one of Sweden’s first stamps. It was printed in 1855 as part of a set of a five stamp series that depicted the Swedish coat of arms. These stamps had values from 3 to 24 skillings (a denomination of Swedish money similar to the British shilling). What is unusual about this stamp is that most other 3-skilling stamps of this age were blue-green in color. The 8-skilling stamp was the one that was yellowish orange.

No one is sure what happened, but people suspect that the 8-skilling printing plate either was broken or got damaged and the 3-skilling plate was used in its place, resulting in 3-skilling stamps that were yellowish-orange instead of blue-green. No one knows how many of these “mistake” color stamps were printed. In fact no one even noticed the 3-sikilling stamps had a strange color. In 1858 the stamp design was changed and plates retired.

It was not until 1886 that a stamp collector going through his grandmother’s attic found one and sold it to a dealer for 7 Kronor (which is like the British coin called the Crown). In1894 another collector bought it for almost 1,000 times that amount because by that time, although people had looked for more, no others were ever found and this was the only surviving stamp of its kind.

The last time the stamp was sold, if it went up for sale today, it would probably fetch $2.5 million dollars!! Talk about a good investment!


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Stamp Champions: Famous Costly Stamps - Part II

In addition to those we talked about in the last blog, there are other famous stamps that are rare and wonderful. Some of these are:

1855 Treskilling Banco Yellow – Probably the most famous of all stamps. This one was a printing mistake. The stamp was first noticed by a 14-year old kid who was looking at his grandfather’s stamp collection. There is only one known to exist, making it the rarest stamp in the world!

1856 British Guiana One Cent Black on Magenta – Like the Treskilling Yellow, this stamp from the British colony of Guiana is extremely rare. There were so few stamps in Guiana at that time that they were hand-initiated by the post-office employee. The stamp itself is unusual in that it is a rectangle with clipped corners. One of these stamps sold 25 years ago for $935,000!

1867 Z-Grills – These stamps are from the US and have a picture of Benjamin Franklin the first US postmaster on an ornately imprinted “grill” of what looks like “Z’s”. The pattern was to stop people from counterfeiting the stamps, like the fancy filigree printing found on US paper currency. Only two of these stamps are known.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Stamp Champions: Famous Costly Stamps - Part I

Just like Hollywood and the movies, the stamp world has its set of superstars. These are stamps that are super rare, those that have interesting stories associated with them, and those that bring the highest price when auctioned off. Below we list some of the most famous of the famous.

The 1840 One Penny Black – This is the real first stamp ever issued. Although they are not super rare, they hold a place in history and so they command a high price. Fifteen years ago one sold for $2.4 million dollars.

The 1847 Post Office Mauritius – This is a rare stamp from a British Colony on the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Because it is flawed as well, it is very valuable. The flaw is that, Instead of putting the words "post paid" on the stamp, the person who designed it used the word "post office". Only 200 of these stamps were printed and only a few dozen are known to exist. A cover that had two of these stamps on it sold for $3.8 million dollars about 10 years ago.

1851 Hawaiian Missionaries – Missionaries on the Island of Hawaii used stamps to pay postage. The most valuable are 2-cent stamps and only 16 are known to be in existence. If you have one, you could probably sell it for $200,000 to $800,000. The 5-cent and 13-cent stamps from the same time period can fetch a good amount as well.