ATA VP Dawn Hamman Interviewed for USA Philatelic

ATA VP Dawn HammanThe summer edition of the U.S. Postal Service’s catalog, USA Philatelic, includes an interview with Dawn Hamman. Hamman is vice-president of the American Topical Association and an avid collector, writer and exhibitor. The interview highlights the power of topical collecting to reach broad new audiences with creative, flexible approaches to collecting. She goes on to discuss how the “thrill of the chase” makes collecting a riveting hobby for collectors old and new.

Also featured in the article is the combined StampShow and National Topical Stamp Show co-hosted by the American Philatelic Society and the American Topical Association. The U.S. Postal Service will issue the new Mythical Dragons forever stamps at the show, making for a natural show theme of “Here Be Dragons.” Both organizations are working to make this year’s show an experience for collectors of all ages and interests. The July edition of The American Philatelist will feature several articles related to the show theme and a comprehensive guide to the event. A mobile app is also available.

The USA Philatelic interview highlights the U.S. Postal Service’s interest and dedication to supporting stamp collectors and their widely varied interests. The central booth at StampShow/NTSS will be home to the USPS during the four day event and will offer a virtual reality experience sure to please even the most discerning technophiles.

For information regarding StampShow/NTSS, visit the official show page at: www.stamps.org/STAMPSHOW-SS

More information regarding the American Topical Associationis available on their website: www.americantopicalassn.org/home.shtml.

USA Philatelic is available free at most U.S. Post Offices and can be requested, free of charge, from USPS.com.

Frozen Treats Stamps With That Sweet Smell of Summer

The first scratch-and-sniff U.S. postage stamps will be released later this summer, according to a news release today from the U.S. Postal Service. 

The first-class forever stamps will add “the sweet scent of summer to letters of love, friendship, party invitations and other mailings” the USPS said in its release.

A first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony, free and open to the public, will take place on June 20 at 6 p.m. local time the Thinkery Children’s Museum in Austin, Texas.

Frozen Treats StampsThe stamps feature illustrations of frosty, colorful, icy pops on a stick. Today, Americans love cool, refreshing ice pops on a hot summer day. The tasty, sweet confections come in a variety of shapes and flavors.

Ice pops are made by large manufacturers, home cooks and artisanal shops. In recent years, frozen treats containing fresh fruit such as kiwi, watermelon, blueberries, oranges and strawberries have become more common. In addition, flavors such as chocolate, root beer and cola are also popular. Some frozen treats even have two sticks, making them perfect for sharing.

There are 10 designs – each showing two different treats – that will be sold in booklets of 20. The artwork showcases is from Margaret Berg, of Santa Monica, California, who depicted the whimsical illustrations in watercolors. The words “Forever” and “USA” appear along the bottom of each stamp.

Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, Virginia, designed the stamps with Leslie Badani of Alexandria, Virginia.

A Postal Service spokesman declined to say if the 10 stamps would have the same or a variety of aromas, noting that information will be released when the stamps are issued. He also noted that the technology used for the stamps will also be explained at that time.

The Frozen Treats stamps represent the third time in a year that new U.S. stamps have featured innovative technology. One June 14, 2017, the USPS issued eight Have a Ball stamps. It was the first time the U.S. issued touch-and-feel stamps in which the stamps had the feel of the sports ball shown. Six days later, on June 20, the USPS issued the Solar Eclipse stamp in which an image of the Moon was hidden behind dark, thermochromic ink until it was warmed, such as by the heat of a thumb’s touch.

The U.S. is a bit behind the world in scratch-and-sniff technology on postage stamps. Bhutan issued the world’s first such stamps in 1973 with stamps that smell like roses, according to an article published May 1, 2015 in Linn’s Stamp News.

The American Topical Association lists 114 stamps on its check list of scented stamps. Roses remain a popular scent on the list along with such fragrances as chocolate, vanilla and coffee, according to the article in Linn’s. Other scents you can find on stamps include honey, cinnamon, pine, apple, lemon, sweet-and-sour pork and fire (burnt wood).

 

Soakable Stamps Return As Postage Rates Fall!!!

The U.S. Postal Service announced today it will return to producing only soakable stamps by next year and it expects postage rates to drop 10 percent!!! Haha! April Fools!

I don’t suppose we caught too many of you with that one. How about the return of the penny postcard? Maybe stamps that are mini-drones and will fly special delivery letters to their destinations? Hey, we tried.

How about this: With the multitude of castles, knights and heraldry on stamps, we wondered if perhaps the best known symbol of April Fool’s – the jester – is found on our commemoratives.

Like fools, we rushed into our hunt and started scanning page after page of our favorite catalog. You can call us foolish, but we found a few. (If you like the idea of jesters or fools on stamps, don’t forget this year’s American Philatelic Society StampShow in Columbus, Ohio will be co-hosted by the American Topical Association, the go-to society for ALL collecting themes.)

So let’s get to our jesters. The jester – the king of fools – was the one character in a royal court that could get away with clowning around about the monarchy and its ways. But he’s not a real clown, so we disregarded clown stamps. Medieval court jesters wore bright, gaudy clothing – the color of the leggings are often different – and often wears a signature three-point Fool’s Hat with a bell on each point. He also carries a mock scepter called a bauble, which was adorned by a carved head or the inflated bladder of an animal (yuck, no foolin’).

Spani - Jester
Spain, Scott 3009

We start with a couple of real-life jesters, the first from Spain. A masterpiece painting by Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) – Portrait of Sebastián de Morra (1645) – appears on a 1999 stamp (Scott 3009) from Spain. De Morra was a court dwarf and jester in the court of Philip IV of Spain. The painting is in the Prado in Madrid.

Poland Jester Stamp
Poland, Scott 1607

Let’s stick to masterpieces, where we turn to a Polish stamp issued in 1968. The stamp features the 1862 painting known in short as Stańczyk, or The Jester, by Jan Matejko (1838-1893). Stańczyk (c. 1480-1560) was a popular figure who was jester to three kings. The painting shows the jester at a ball where he has just learned that the Russian army has captured Smolensk. Matejko created at least one other painting of him and there is a monument of the jester sitting on a bench in Niepołomice‎. The stamp (Scott 1607) is part of a set of eight stamps featuring Polish artworks.

Belgium Jester Stamp
Belgium, Scott B658

In 1959, Belgium issued a semipostal (a charity stamp) featuring a jester and cats (B658). The stamp raised money to fight tuberculosis. (Yes, we noticed the single-pointed hat; he’s a true fool to be misdressed.)

We may be foolhardy but we think Germany is king of jester stamps.

Germany, Scott B463

In 1970, Germany released a set of four marionettes semipostal stamps with one of them (B463) depicting a jester puppet.

Next comes the 1977 issue (Scott 1230) showing Scenes from the Till Eulenspiegel Folk Tales (c. 1350). Four scenes are shown with the jester-like Till in all four. In 2011, Germany commemorated the 500th anniversary of the first printing of the Till tales with another stamp, this one showing a jester in the center of the diamond-shaped stamp (Scott 2633) surrounded by other iconic items from the stories.

Germany, Scott 2633
Germany, Scott 1230
Germany, Scott 1544

Germany in 1988 issued a stamp (Scott 1544) honoring the 150th anniversary of the Mainz Carnival. The character does look a bit more like a clown than a jester, but we’ll accept him because of his Fool’s Hat.

 

Germany, Scott 2070

In 2000, the 175th anniversary of the Dusseldorf Carnival, is honored with a jester doing a cartwheel (Scott 2070).

Great Britain may have been home to several foolish monarchs over the centuries, but we really couldn’t find any pure jester stamps from the Brits.

Britain has, however, honored the jester-like figure of a puppet – Punch, from Punch and Judy fame – on a few occasions.

Great Britain, Scott 1306

The famous puppet and his cast of characters date back to 16th-century Italian commedia dell’arte, where it eventually moved and morphed. The figure who later became Mr. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England on May 9, 1662, traditionally reckoned as his birthday in the U.K. His outfitted like a jester, though his hat has but a single point with a tassel that flops over the front.

Great Britain booklet cover, 1991
Great Britain booklet cover, 1991

In 1990, Mr. Punch is one of eight stamps (Scott 1306) in the Smiles set, which also includes the Queen of Hearts and Stan Laurel. In 1991-92, an image of Punch showed up on the covers of a couple of booklets marking the 150th anniversary of Punch magazine. Mr. Punch is featured along with five other puppet characters on Punch & Judy set of 2001. Punch is listed as Scott 1987. The stamps came in various formats, including a presentation pack.

Great Britain, Scott 1985-1990

Thanks for playing along with our fool’s game. Next time we’ll tell you all about…

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

ATA 2017 Distinguished
Topical Philatelist Selected

[April 17, 2017 ATA Press Release]

For her wide-ranging contributions to philately, Vera Felts has been selected to receive the American Topical Association’s highest award at the National Topical Stamp Show awards banquet June 24 in Milwaukee.

As ATA executive director since 2009, Felts has brought innovation and a positive attitude to the office and many of the organization’s programs. She spearheaded the highly successful ambassador program which has resulted in hundreds of new members, and managed the transition to a new topical checklist database, which has made ATA’s signature checklists better than ever.

For the past 18 years she has served as registration chair and managed the show cachets for the St. Louis Stamp Expo.  She edited the APS gold award-winning newsletter of the Southern Illinois Stamp Club for 15 years, and co-founded its SIRPEX local show.

A life member of APS, she served eight years as coordinator of its newsletter exchange. At the Science Center in Carbondale, Illinois, in 1999 she founded a long-running youth stamp group.

Felts is revered throughout philately for her devotion to helping people advance and enjoy topical collecting.

The Distinguished Topical Philatelist (DTP) award has been presented each year since 1952, by the ATA, the largest affiliate of the American Philatelic Society.  Don Smith served as chair of the selection committee.  The scrolls signed by all of ATA’s 119 DTPs can be viewed at http://americantopicalassn.org/awardsdtp.