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.
Poinsettias 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.
A 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.
Sparkling 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.
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, 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, 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.
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.
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-933-3814.
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.
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.
With an American Legion band playing “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” the U.S. Postal Service dedicated the World War I Forever stamp on July 26. The theme of the stamp ─ Turning the Tide ─ commemorates the centennial of America’s involvement in the Great War.
A crowd of 150 took part in the dedication ceremony in the large auditorium of the National World War I Museum and Monument, which overlooks downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The Fort Riley (Kansas) Doughboy Honor Guard presented the colors before the singing of the National Anthem.
Lora Vogt, Curator of Education at the museum, was the Master of Ceremonies. One of her comments hit home with stamp collectors in the audience: she likes self-adhesive stamps(as do those at many organizations that conduct mass mailings), and she thanked the USPS for issuing them.
The principal speaker at the ceremony was USPS Executive Vice President and General Counsel Thomas J. Marshall. Other speakers included Dr. Matthew Naylor, President of the National World War I Museum; Quartermaster General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Quartermaster General Debra Anderson National Postal Museum Curator Lynn Heidelbaugh; and Dr. Richard Faulkner, Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Joining these people onstage for the stamp unveiling was Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.
All who attended received a handsome program with a first day cancel on the outer envelope, along with a stamp pin to wear. As the American Legion Band’s wind ensemble concluded with “Kansas City”, people went into the lobby for autographs.
The Kansas City post office set up separate tables for stamp sales and first day pictorial postmarks. No. 6¾ envelopes with color first day cancels were on sale as well, created at the nearby Philatelic Fulfillment Center, the so-called “Kansas City Caves.” While no commercial stamp dealers could sell cacheted envelopes, the Gladstone (Missouri) Stamp Club had a table promoting its August 24-25 show.
The WWI stamp dedication was a well-executed event on everyone’s part. It was a pleasure to attend.
Feature Image: The 1st Infantry Division’s Commanding General’s Color Guard in WWI doughboy uniforms presented the colors before the dedication. (Image courtesy Capt. Ed Alvarado, 19th Public Affairs Detachment.)