APS Interview: A Youthful Perspective on Philately

At the First Day Ceremony for the Mister Rogers forever stamp, APS Editor Martin Miller had the opportunity to talk with Jessica Manack. Jessica, in attendance with her husband and their children, offered a modern perspective on Mister Rogers, stamps and collecting.

Listen to that interview here:

After the event, Jessica explored the APS website (www.stamps.org) and became one of the newest members of the APS. She has become a vocal proponent for both the hobby and the society.

People You Meet at a Stamp Show

by Scott English
Executive Director

In 2016, I asked a question at a stamp show I never thought I’d ask, “Excuse me, are you Hillbilly Jim?” For those of you who don’t know, Hillbilly Jim, born James Morris, was a wrestler popular in the World Wrestling Federation, now the WWE, in the 1980’s.  I’m reminded of the meeting as we head into the biggest weekend of the year for professional wrestling− Wrestlemania Weekend and the induction of Hillbilly Jim into the Hall of Fame.

Hulk HoganI have been a professional wrestling fan since I was 10 years old. In my childhood, wrestling became something of a national phenomenon as the World Wrestling Federation, now known as the WWE, rose to prominence. It all started on January 24, 1983 when Hulk Hogan won the World Heavyweight title from the Iron Sheik and the MTV crossover of “Rock-n-Wrestling” made wrestling cool for teenagers like me.

Being a wrestling fan and a stamp collector share one similarity, no one understands you if they aren’t a part of it. So, it is a bit surprising when the two worlds collided for me at World Stamp Show – NY 2016.  Every ten years in the U.S., the philatelic community comes together to invite collectors and exhibitors from around the world. In May 2016, this show took place at the Javits Center in New York City for ten days.

During the show setup, the APS booth was not far from a booth operated by Champion Stamp Company, the only stamp store in all of New York City. Since the show was local, Champion purchased a large booth, so they could bring sizeable inventory. There were several large guys helping move material in and make sure no one thought about taking anything, including Morris.

In 1984, Jim Morris started appearing in the audience of WWF matches. At 6’7” and 320 pounds, he was hard to miss, but to make sure you didn’t he wore denim overalls and had a huge beard. Eventually, the popular Hogan took “Big Jim” under his wing and the world met Hillbilly Jim. He was a nice country boy, supposedly from Mud Lick, KY and was wildly popular with fans because he was a giant guy with a big smile and a great personality. Due to his popularity, the WWF added family members, like Uncle Elmer and Cousin Junior to join him in the ring, accompanied by Hillbilly Jim’s theme song, Don’t Go Messin’ with a Country Boy.  Morris retired from the WWE in 1992 with occasional appearances, but he never enjoyed the same visibility he did in the 1980s.

To his credit, Hillbilly Jim did not run into some of the out-of-ring issues, like drugs, alcohol, or jail. Instead, he made appearances and greeted fans with the same warmth that he was known for in the ring. This was true even when a grown man comes up to him at a stamp booth in the Javits Center in New York. When I walked over to say hello, Jim cracked a smile and we talked wrestling, stamps, politics, and life for 30 minutes or so. When we got finished, he stood up and said, “Let’s get a picture my man” and rounded up a volunteer. Morris doesn’t frequent stamp shows, but usually provides muscle and security at coin shows around the country. He will do stamp shows if it’s a big deal. You can hear Morris every Saturday on Outlaw Country on Sirius XM Channel 60 doing Hillbilly Jim’s Moonshine Matinee.

This Friday, Morris will add Hall of Famer to his biography and I can’t think of a nicer guy. He probably won’t mention he’s been to a stamp show during his speech, but hopefully we’ll see him again soon!

Dragons Will Invade American Philatelic Society’s StampShow

You may want to consider packing some heavy armor, shields, crossbows, magic potions or anything else that might tame or slay a dragon if you plan on visiting Columbus, Ohio this August.

The U.S. Postal Service will issue four new Dragons stamps during StampShow, scheduled for August 9 to 12 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

StampShow – sponsored by the American Philatelic Society – is the nation’s largest annual philatelic show and promises to be more exciting than ever. This is first time the show will be co-sponsored with the American Topical Association, the group that helps collect stamps by topics, such as heraldry, legends and dragons.

The show will offer philatelic activities, exhibits and experiences, making it an event for collectors and non-collectors of all ages. There will be hundreds of exhibits, stamp rarities on display, specialty societies on hand, presentations, youth and beginners’ activities and dozens of dealer booths. The U.S. Postal Service plans to be at the show with an extraordinary booth.

Something sure to make the show more enjoyable will be the society’s new mobile app for the show, scheduled for release May 1.

StampShow, which moves among locations annually, will serve as the 132nd convention of the society, which has about 29,000 members worldwide.

The four new U.S. stamps will be issued in panes of 16.

“The high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures … have roamed our imaginations for millennia,” the Postal Service said in a news release.

The stamps feature digital illustrations created by artist Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps.

The designs show:

A green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle.

A purple dragon with orange wings and sharp black armor on its back snaking around a white castle that evokes Camelot.

A black dragon with green wings and green armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea.

A wingless orange dragon, inspired by creatures from Asian art, architecture and ancient religion and lore, weaving its way around a pagoda.

“We’re very excited to bring these beautiful stamps to the 132nd annual APS convention,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Mary-Anne Penner. “This is one of the premier stamp shows in America and serves as an excellent platform to showcase these special stamps.”

“We’re thrilled to have USPS unveil these great stamps with us in Columbus,” said Scott English, APS executive director. “There will be something for the whole family highlighting this cool theme. No experience necessary, so we hope you will join us!”

The U.S., not home to many dragons of lore, has not issued many stamps with dragons; maybe just a couple from Lunar New Year series. The 2000 Lunar New Year stamp (Scott 3370) features a paper-cut styled dragon to mark the Year of the Dragon. The 2012 Lunar New Year stamp (Scott 4623) features a colorful dragon head of the type used in parades and celebrations. Many European and Asian countries have included dragons on stamp. They include Austria, Cambodia, China, Great Britain (including this year’s Game of Thrones set), Japan, Jersey and the Philippines.

More information about StampShow and the APS can be found online at https://stamps.org/STAMPSHOW-SS.

More information from the U.S. Postal Service can be found online at: https://aps.buzz/2GaraS0

Get Ready for a Beautiful Day in Our Neighborhood

BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania – Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is coming to our neighborhood.

It’s sure to be a beautiful day when the neighborhood from the groundbreaking children’s television show will be the theme for an afternoon of children’s activities. The special day will include a very special guest – Mr. McFeely, who was the postman on the PBS show that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The American Philatelic Society and WPSU-TV, State College public television invite you to join us at the American Philatelic Center, 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte to celebrate Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and a new stamp issued in his honor. Activities for the whole family will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 24, 2018.

The event occurs the day after the new Mister Rogers forever postage stamp will be formally released in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Fred Rogers produced and filmed the show about his neighborhood. The show ran for more than 30 years on PBS.

Mister Rogers PhotoMr. McFeely – the postman from the Speedy Delivery Service portrayed by David Newell – will be in character. He will arrive aboard the Penn State trolley and invite everyone inside, where at 2:15 p.m. he will dedicate the new Mister Rogers stamp to become part of the American Philatelic Center’s collection. He will then visit with children and sign autographs.

Other planned activities include an opportunity for children younger than 12 to color a design on an envelope, address it to someone special, affix a stamp to the envelope and mail it (limited to one per child). The APS, through its historic Headsville Post Office, will have Mister Rogers stamps available for purchase.

WPSU will bring its cutout trolley, reminiscent of the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Trolley, which is a nice backdrop for photos. Also, Daniel Tiger, star of an animated Mister Rogers spinoff show, will be present via a life-size cutout (more photo ops!). These are set pieces that WPSU uses in live broadcasts.

WPSU will hand out Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Activity Booklets to children 8 and younger along with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood coloring sheets.

In addition to decorating and mailing an envelope, the APS Education Department will offer other stamp collecting activities, including an opportunity for children to create their own free stamp albums.

Children of all ages will be able to reminisce as we share video clips of Mister Rogers Neighborhood during the event.

Tours of the American Philatelic Center will be available.

Deborah Kris Farmer offered the following on the PBS web pages dedicated to Mr. Rogers (www.pbs.org/parents/rogers/the-timeless-teachings-of-mister-rogers-neighborhood):

“Fred Rogers was always addressing two audiences. First, he offered children lessons about friendship, emotions, and growing up. And he also offered parents simple strategies for helping their children grow and thrive: how to talk to kids, how to listen, and how to use song, story, and make-believe to communicate important ideas.

“Fred Rogers’ techniques were grounded in his study of child development, said Angela Santomero, the creator of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. “There was a reason behind everything he did. It was all very child centered.”

Public broadcasting station WPSU Penn State is a collection of innovative writers, storytellers, teachers, producers, designers and technicians — using 21st-century tools and media to bring information, education, and entertainment to viewers, listeners, and larger communities throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. WPSU engages communities in the heart of Pennsylvania with educational and commercial-free programs that reach across generations to inform, intrigue and inspire.

Illinois Bicentennial Stamp Ceremony

by Steven J. Bahnsen

The U.S. Postal Service had a splendid ceremony for the Illinois Statehood forever stamp on March 5. Everything seemed to go right at the event held in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in downtown Springfield, Illinois.

In 1818, Illinois gained statehood. This stamp features a multicolored outline of the state with sun beams within the map rising from the bottom to the top. The stamp was issued in panes of 20.

More than 125 people attended the first-day ceremony, which started with dozens of students from the Glenwood High School chorus in Chatham, Illinois singing The Star-Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful.

The Postal Service had a roomy sales area staffed with friendly clerks in uniform. Other nearby clerks affixed postmarks onto covers with the new stamp. Museum volunteers handed out programs with a cancelled stamp on the outer envelope.

The master of ceremonies was John Reger of WICS-TV. Welcome and greetings were extended by Alan Lowe, executive director of the library and Randy Dunn, co-chairman of the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.

A group of volunteer firefighters presented the colors prior to the National Anthem and Invocation.

The stamp was dedicated by Jacqueline Strako, acting chief customer and marketing officer from the U.S. Postal Service.

Illinois Deputy Governor Leslie Munger gave a talk that preceded a video from Governor Bruce Rauner, who was in Chicago that day.

Springfield Mayor James Langfelder spoke, followed by Illinois State Historian Sam Wheeler, who had the closing remarks.