One Down, One More to Go

Its whereabouts unknown since the year it was issued, the 99th of 100 inverted bi-colored 24-cent Jenny airmail stamps has come to light, safely reposing in a bank vault and part of collection in Illinois. The story was reported September 6, 2018, by James Barron in The New York Times(“An Inverted Jenny Surfaces. The Flawed Stamp Had Not Been Seen Since 1918.”)

The stamp surfaced and the story came to light when Curator Lewis Kaufman identified it from a cellphone image sent to the Philatelic Foundation in New York City. Very lightly penciled numerals on the back of the stamp confirmed Kaufman’s suspicion that it was number 49 from the discovery sheet of 100 of this error, Scott C3a, in which the blue central vignette showing the biplane had been printed upside-down with respect to the carmine rose outer frame.

The best-known American stamp error by far is also one of the most sought-after of all American issues. It has a 2018 Scott catalog value of $450,000, which soars to $850,000 in mint, never-hinged condition.

PF Executive Director Larry Lyons called the owner back and confirmed the identity of the stamp. According to Lyons, “A great-uncle apparently bought it after the sheet of 100 was broken up, and after the great-uncle died, the great-aunt left it to the man’s mother in the 1930s.

The long-awaited re-emergence of No. 49 leaves the whereabouts of only one inverted Jenny unknown, as it has been since the block of four from which it was broken was stolen from a stamp show in 1955 in Norfolk, Virginia. Its owner was Ethel Stewart McCoy, daughter of one of the co-founders of Dow Jones & Co.

The Breaking of the McCoy Block

After the theft, the block of four was separated into four single stamps to make them harder for potential buyers to recognize as stolen. In 1958, the first of these came to light as belonging to a stamp dealer from northeastern Illinois, although there was apparently not enough evidence to charge him with possession of stolen goods. Because Ethel McCoy transferred her ownership rights for the stolen block over to the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL), it took possession of the recovered stamp, and for the second stolen Jenny broken from her block that was identified in 1982.

The third of the four singles was discovered turned at Spink USA, a Manhattan auction house, in April 2016, delivered to the head of Spink’s philatelic department by Keelin O’Neill, a young man from Northern Ireland who had emailed him previously. The story he told was that had recognized the potential value of the invert among a box of stamps his grandfather had had left to him in 2001.

In Siegel Auction Galleries May 11, 2017, the third of the recovered Jenny Inverts opened in the bidding at $120,000, and quickly more than doubled. It was hammered down at $295,000, including the buyer’s premium of 18 percent.

$60,000 Reward Awaits

In 2014, the American Philatelic Research Library offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the last two purloined airmail errors, and prominent second-generation dealer and stamp hobby promoter Donald Sundman, president of Mystic Stamp Co., handsomely topped it with a reward of $50,000 for each stamp.

Now only one of these rare errors remains undiscovered: No. 66. Who will be the fortunate philatelist to find this last upside-down Jenny and claim the reward? Could it be…you? 

Global Rate Poinsettia stamp

2018 Global PoinsettiaOn July 24, the U.S. Postal Service announced that a new Global Rate Poinsettia stamp would be among the numerous holiday-related issues to be released this year, as noted in a July 25 APS blog post (Festivals and Flowers Usher in Second Quartet of 2018 US Holiday Stamps).

The USPS has announced August 27 as the nationwide date of issue for what it now terms its “Blossoming Poinsettia” stamp. As with all Global Forever stamps, this stamp will have a postage value equivalent to the price of the single-piece First-Class Mail International 1-ounce machineable letter in effect at the time of use (currently $1.15). These stamps also can be used on domestic mail.

The circular stamp features an image of a poinsettia from above, displaying the beauty of its green leaves, red bracts and yellow flowers. As much a part of December’s holiday season as evergreens and mistletoe. poinsettias are sold in the U.S. by the tens of millions each year.

The art director for this stamp was William J. Gicker. Greg Breeding designed the stamp with an existing photograph by Betsy Pettet.

1964 Poinsettia StampPoinsettias first blossomed on US postage 54 years ago, with a 5-cent green, carmine and black Christmas stamp in 1964 (Scott 1256). Since then, they have been showcased on a Season’s Greetings stamp in 1985 (Scott 2166), and on a host of Forever-rate (46-cent) booklet stamps released October 10-11, 2013 (Scott 4815-16, 4821).

Customers have 120 days to obtain first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail by affixing the stamps to envelopes they choose, addressing the envelopes to themselves or others and placing them in larger stamped envelopes addressed to:

FDOI – Global Poinsettia Stamp
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for postmarks up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers are charged 5 cents each. All orders must be postmarked by December 26, 2018.

PMG Brennan to Dedicate New Sparkling Santa Stamps

USPS Holiday Stamps 2018A se-tenant issue of four “Sparkling Holidays” Forever-rate stamps depicting classic images of Santa Claus painted by famed commercial artist Haddon Sundblom was announced and featured June 26 on the APS Blog (“US Postal Service to issue Iconic Santa Stamps“). These four stamps will be issued October 11 in an 11:15 a.m. dedication ceremony by U.S. Postmaster General and CEO Megan Brennan at The Inn at Christmas Place, 119 Christmas Tree Lane, in Pigeon Ford, TN  37868.

One of Sundblom’s iconic close-ups of Santa’s face appears on each of the four stamps, details from larger paintings created by the artist and originally used in Coca-Cola Co. ads from the 1940s through the early 1960s. Sundblom is the man credited with refining the modern image of Santa Claus. A previously unannounced matching souvenir sheet includes a semi-jumbo stamp as part of a wider scene of one of Sundblom’s paintings chosen for the stamp booklet. In it, Santa is depicted standing by a fireplace holding a book that lists good boys and girls, reading a note among the three Christmas stockings hanging there.

A quatrefoil design element surrounded by a metallic gold background encloses the scene. The use of gold metallic ink, the flow of the type, and the organic shape of the border are intended to harken back to the graphic style of the first half of the 20th century. Art director Greg Breeding designed the souvenir sheet and the stamps.

Holiday Souvenir SheetSparkling Holidays Stamps, sold in books of 20, and the single-stamp- Sparkling Holidays souvenir sheet will be available for pre-order online starting Sept. 14 at The Postal Store at usps.com. The souvenir sheet will only be sold through usps.com or by calling 1-800-STAMP24.

Going from Better to Great

This month, I celebrated my third anniversary as Executive Director of the American Philatelic Society with thousands of fellow members at StampShow/National Topical Stamp Show in Columbus, OH. It’s amazing how time flies, but I want to thank all of our members for the warm welcome in this stamp family.

When I interviewed for the position of Executive Director, I told the search committee and the Board that it would take five years to transform the organization from where it was to where we wanted it to go. Unlike the private sector, we have not had the luxury of radical transformations or experimenting with ideas and failing. So the plan to change had to be deliberate and thoughtful. By and large, the members and the Board support this approach and have provided great energy and talent to move the needle.

Over the past three years, the APS team has focused on delivering services effectively and efficiently to strengthen the organization’s finances, reduce debt, and unite the hobby. We are now financially strong, and we have to use this opportunity to invest in growing our membership and delivering information to stamp collectors of all ages. Things have gotten better, but we are aiming for great.

To accomplish this ambitious goal, I am pleased to announce we have formed a Senior Leadership Team to focus on the areas where we need to improve outcomes.  With our new leadership team, we will work to make the APS more relevant in the modern age and recruit new members 24/7 and 365 days a year.

Meet the Team

Rick Banks
Rick Banks

Rick Banks, Chief Administrative Officer: Rick joined the APS in 2004 as Controller and Director of Internal Operations. He has previously worked for Arthur Andersen & Co., Piper Aircraft, and Vice President of Finance with Bellefonte Lime Company. Banks graduated from Penn State University in 1976 with a Business Administration degree.

Though he loves his alma mater, Rick is an unapologetic fan of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and makes an annual sojourn to Tuscaloosa with his three sons. Over these past three years, Rick’s leadership has been critical to getting us to the strong financial position we have today.

Ken Martin
Ken Martin

Ken Martin, Chief Membership Officer: Since 1980, when Ken joined the APS, he’s been one of its most loyal members. He joined the APS staff in 1995 in the Sales Division and has held numerous positions including Executive Director and most recently, Chief Operating Officer. Ken is also active in the Centre County community including leadership positions with the American Red Cross, State College Rotary, Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Historic Bellefonte, Inc.

Within our hobby’s grassroots, everyone knows Ken. He skipped his own college graduation to help set up for AMERIPEX in 1986 and staff the Junior Philatelists of America table for all 11 days! There is no better choice to lead our recruiting efforts than someone who has that kind of passion for the hobby and the APS.

Martin Kent Miller
Martin Kent Miller

Martin Kent Miller, Chief Content Officer: Miller joined the APS staff in 2017 as Editor of The American Philatelist and Philatelic Literature Review. His role grew in 2018 as he took over the modernization effort to overhaul the APS website. At StampShow/National Topical Stamp Show 2018 in Columbus, Martin did a demonstration of the new site for APS members and is working on implementation to be launched by Labor Day.

As Chief Content Officer, Martin will lead the APS efforts to expand philatelic writing and information beyond the monthly journal to digital writing, video and other online content. He’s been a member of the APS since 2008, but a collector since he was a young boy.

Strategic Plan

In Columbus, we did mid-point review of the 2016 Strategic Plan for the APS and APRL Boards and the members present at the show. Progress has been strong in some areas, needs improvement in others, and some items should be eliminated. Our primary focus in the 2016 plan was to eliminate debt, improve operational efficiencies and deliver information in new ways.

Progress

In the three years, we’ve taken a debt of effectively $5.6 million and have brought it to $3.9 million as of this month – this includes making accelerated payments of more than $900,000 over the past 15 months.

We retired one of five bank mortgages for the APRL in 2017 with the sale of Position 76 of the Inverted Jenny. In Columbus, we raised enough money to retire the $600,000 we borrowed in 2016 to pay for unexpected costs from zoning requirements during the construction of the new library.

Our cash operating surplus has more than tripled in three years from $175,000 at the beginning of 2015 to $630,000 today.

The APS team shifted our education focus to provide more courses for adult and member collectors, exceeding our goals for “On the Road” courses and the annual Summer Seminar.

We built real philatelic partnerships with our national affiliates through joint shows with the American Topical Association in 2018 and now 2019 in Omaha, as well as another first ahead in 2020 when the APS, ATA, and the American First Day Cover Society will hold a joint national show in Hartford, CT.

Still to Come

We proposed overhauling the APS website, creating a virtual library of philatelic journals and literature, and pushing more content across the digital platforms. We did not have the talent to get these projects done on time. Thankfully, when Martin Miller joined the staff, he took over the project earlier this year and is working to get it back on track. We are very close to completion on the site and plan to roll it out in September. There will be more elements to the site as time progresses, so keep tabs on our blog to get the latest.

Online Education has been a goal since our 2004 strategic plan and remains one today. This is most in-demand service from APS members and stamp collectors. This is going to require some investment of time, people, and applications. We are blessed with a large number of philatelic experts on any topic and we should be bringing them together with fellow collectors. As part of our website overhaul, we will be putting together a plan to make this happen.

Membership continues to decline. The Strategic Plan promised to strengthen the grassroots by getting APS Chapters more linked and having them serve as active recruiters, as well as working harder to identify prospective members elsewhere and recruit actively. This is a data-driven project and requires a broad knowledge of the philatelic community and Ken Martin is uniquely-talented to get this project moving and successful.

The Challenge Ahead

At the mid-point of the 2016 strategic plan, I believe we’ve accomplished the critical elements of that roadmap, in particular amassing an energized member base and financial resources to move aggressively to address these critical challenges. I requested the Board create a committee to work with this team to develop a new five-year strategic plan to make a serious investment, not in our survival, but our growth. APS President Bob Zeigler and APRL President Ken Grant have enthusiastically endorsed this request and assembled a joint committee to work with us on a plan.

Joint Strategic Planning Committee:

From the APS Board: Bob Zeigler (President), Cheryl Ganz (Vice President), Bruce Marsden (Treasurer), Rich Drews and Mark Schwartz (Directors-at-Large)

From the APRL Board: Ken Grant (President), Patricia Stilwell-Walker (Vice President), and Ken Nilsestuen (Treasurer)

Previous strategic plans have produced reports that sit on shelves, so thanks to the APS and APRL Boards and the great team we have in Bellefonte for supporting the vision and working to make it happen.

The Committee work is underway and will report back to the APS Board at AmeriStamp 2019 in February with a plan to move ahead. I will continue to update members as things develop, but if you ever want to share your thoughts on this or other subjects, please contact me at scott@stamps.org or 814-933-3814.

APS 2018 Web Award Winners

The American Philatelic Society is pleased to announce the winners in this year’s Chapter and Affiliates Web Awards recognizing website excellence.  A total of nine groups participated in this competition, which was open to all APS chapter clubs, all clubs or federations that run stamp shows, and their qualified affiliates.

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the Internet to commerce and communication in 21st-century America. From ages 9 to 90, more of us turn to websites and other web connections for ideas and information, knowledge, advice and learning at every level than any other resource. Whether we’re trying to reach complete beginners or advanced specialists, the presence of the stamp hobby on the worldwide web is a potent voice for our pastime, and a bright path of a long and creative future.

Each of this year’s websites in the APS competition was evaluated according to a variety of categories, which assessed their overall content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality and interactivity. The judges for the 2018 Web Awards were Terry Dempsey of Grayson, Georgia; Charles “Chip” Gliedman of Ridgefield, Connecticut; and Jessica Rodriguex of San Jose, California.

Special mention must be made of two of this year’s Gold Award medalists. It’s a “three-peat” for the Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections, which marks its third straight year as a Gold Award recipient, while the American Topical Association is a seven-time Gold Award winner, having been ranked in the top class ever since the awards were first bestowed in 2012.

All entrants received a certificate and distinctive electronic award badge to post on their site signifying their award level and competition year.

Gold

American Topical Association (www.americantopicalassn.org)

Collectors Club of Chicago (www.collectorsclubchicago.org)

Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections (www.esperstamps.org)

Empire State Postal History Society (www.esphs.us)

Philatelic Society of Lancaster County (www.lcps-stamps.org)

Rhodesian Study Circle (www.rhodesianstudycircle.org.uk)

U.S. Philatelic Classics Society (www.uspcs.org)

 

Vermeil

COMPEX Show Committee (www.compexstampshow.org)

San Jose Stamp Club (www.sanjosesc.com)

Congratulations to one and all!

By no means are these awards intended just to celebrate long-active well-established websites like these. The idea behind these awards is to encourage more stamp clubs, specialty organizations and affiliates to try their hand at creating websites of their own, to serve current members better and to reach out to new members as well.

The detailed scoring sheets used by the expert judges, who have considerable Internet experience themselves, are intended to showcase the strengths and to suggest areas for potential improvement in new websites, helping its sponsoring organization make progress in serving the hobby. Entry is free.

The 2019 American Philatelic Society Web Competition is eager for more entries, including submissions from first-time webmasters eager to get feedback on their Internet presence. The competition will be held in the Spring, with details available at www.stamps.org/Club-Benefits.