111 May, 2011 | Internet Hobby Supply, Inc.
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Modern stamp issues are collectible

Stand up for modern postage stamps

This blog is a simple plea to those who enjoy stamp collecting: avoid harming the hobby with the popular refrains in complaint of the modern postage stamp.

Imagine going fishing with someone who moans “Drat, another fish!” Wouldn’t be a very enjoyable fishing trip. So with stamp collectors who opine on the modern postage stamp.

To continue with my analogy, not everyone wants to catch the common fish that I enjoy angling for. They use an outrigger and troll for marlin or other big game fish. So some collectors reject modern stamps in favor of the classics, or abandon ‘adhesives’ all together and pursue postal stationery or postal history and covers. They speak with passion of their interest, not diminutive comments about what they chose not to pursue.

Lets look at a few of the popular complaints and see if we can get over them:

Number one seems to be the idea that the Post Office is trying to separate us from our hard earned money. Yes they are! And it seems they always have. Starting with the first commemorative issue from the United States Post Office, in 1894 for the Columbian Exposition.

What possible rational could there be for the $5.00 Columbus issue, Scott #245 with a current catalog value of $10,500 in Mint Never Hinged condition? The answer lies in the Post Master of the time; John Wanamaker (July 11, 1838 – December 12, 1922).

Post Master Wanamaker was the founder of the Wanamaker Department Store in Philadelphia, a retail merchant extraordinaire. He understood that the Columbian Exposition and the stamps issued for the event represented an opportunity for the Post Office to gain some revenue. The result was issuance of what are today some of the most sought after and beautiful stamps in any collection.

Thus it seems that from the beginnings of the commemorative stamp the post office has considered the program to be a source of profit for a service rendered. And yes, the practice continues today, to the pleasure of many modern collectors who still consider a postage stamp to be a bargain.

Another complaint is the number and nature of the modern postage stamp. The fact is that the Postal Service receives many more requests for stamps than it can fulfill, and thus has as many complaints about the stamps that it does not issue as it does about the stamps it does. Cannot please everyone, and sometimes I expect they feel that they please no one.

For this modern collection, I particularly enjoy the nature of the modern postage stamp subject matter. We have come a long way from the day of stamp subjects being almost exclusively the realm of dead white guy, Martha Washington, an unnamed Indian and a buffalo. I rail against modern political correctness as much and more probably than most, but love it as an integral part of the modern American fabric. Today’s postage stamp is today’s America.

Finally, there is the complaint about the minutia of the modern postage stamp, particularly the definitive issues with their micro imprinting and tagging. How can we study our classics looking for grills, or for secret marks on banknotes, and not embrace the minutia of the modern issues? Is the almost insignificant difference between the ornamentation of Scott #9 and Scott #5A really so important? Someone thinks so, as the catalog value of the #9 is only $800.00 mint compared to the $32,000 valuation of a #5A.

There are no comparable valuation disparities in modern stamps, but there is the same element of discerning investigation required of the modern era philatelist.

So it is that this wonderful hobby of ours has changed very little over the course of the past century, except to the extent that our democracy and technology have changed. This is reason enough for some to reject collecting the modern postage stamp in favor of the treasures of the past, if that is your choice.

But regardless of what we chose to collect, I hope we can all think twice before we curse ‘Drat, another postage stamp!”


For a complete listing of modern United States Postage Stamps, plus many classics too, visit iHobb.com