Saturday 4 May 2024

Let's Finnish This Thing!

My remaining box of big countries with big envelopes with big numbers of stamps yet to be albumized contains some that may never get done: Hungary, Poland and the ones on the Czech list. Just the volume of issues and the presence of so many CTO's makes it daunting. But during my recent levelling of my albums, it seemed to make sense to break out the Scandinavian nations. So I did. Denmark wasn't too daunting, so that envelope got emptied and the stamps albumized. Then I got that Helsinking feeling that Finland would fall next. And it did.
Going in, my first Finland page looked like this (above). I had to reposition a lot of the definitives onto a second page. I took all my Finland stamps from the envelope and organized them in a spiral stock book to check for any duplicates before albumizing them (below). Some incredibly colourful modern issues!
The homemade cover of my DFNS (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden) album shows what may be the footprints of an ardent nearly-frozen philatelist trudging the trek to a completed album, hand-lettered with some representative issues in the front of my display-front D-ring Value Village find-album:
I used a set of numbered tabs, illustrating the cover page with maps from a re-homed album.
Just a few more to go, then I'll be moving next door to Sweden!

Friday 19 April 2024

Stamp Collecting Starter Packs - the Sequel

Back on March 6, I published a post all about the Stamp Collecting Starter Packs that North Toronto Stamp Club member Lisa Tam described in the NTSC's March 2024 newsletter. Well, I'm happy to report that all four of the Starter Packs have found their way out of the free neighbourhood library just around the corner from our house!

On our neighbourhood walks, I put one pack in the library per week. (OK, one week we didn't walk due to the unseasonal weather!) And one by one, they all disappeared. I have no idea where they went or who has them, or whether the library owner just removed them and trashed them (boy, I hope not)! I have to believe they have found a good home. So, of course it was time to produce more. This time, as a sequel, I built six packs, each containing 60 stamps. About 20 topicals (space, animals, sports etc.), 10 US, 10 Canada and 20 worldwide including some CTO. The assembled pack contents on my Michaels lap/sorting tray:
Using Lisa's printed pdf backer sheet that I colour-printed and cut, I also included a sky-blue yardstick piece (since I didn't do two-sided printing) and stapled the 'Casper Crystal Clear Self-Sealing Bag' from the dollar store all together. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll place these in the library in our walks and see what happens!

Friday 12 April 2024

Levelling the Album Playing Field

Ever since I began my Long and Noble Crusade a year ago, I've been albumizing stamps. First from the Keep baggie, then from the sorted-by-country two-row box of glassines, and recently, from recent stamp-show-finds sorting, and most recently some Keep baggie British Commonwealth! I ended up with a 1.5 inch-thick file folder of album pages (below) ready for mounting in my four Traveler albums (top photo).
Some of my own pages, designed in MS Word, mounted and ready to go in albums. As my Dad used to say, you can never go wrong with 'British Colonials'!
I knew that my albums would be bursting if I added all those pages. And since I haven't come across a fifth Traveler album, it's probably best to hold the line at four albums for all those smaller country collections.So, like the breaking-out of my Germany, France, West Indies etc. into new albums, I decided to remove Switzerland, Netherlands and Scandinavia for separate albums in future. I then went through the rather laborious, though enjoyable process of removing ALL pages from ALL albums, so they could have the new pages interleaved and all four albums 'levelled' so the covers wouldn't be under pressure! I added some reinforcements to punched holes and double-checked the order of the pages. Broken-out countries (below - left) with two albums' worth of loose pages stacked at right:
Feeling empty as a drum:
The removal complete, all pages stacked at right totalling about 5.5 inches of compressed height. I toyed with various ideas of levelling: actual levelling with a level, weighing, etc. I wanted each album to start and finish cleanly, country-wise and thickness-wise. 
A variety of original Traveler pages, photocopied pages, pages from more than one album, pages I printed myself, and Canadian Wholesale Supply pages - all of varying sizes but each needing two holes punched to go into the original two-post binders. Only one of the Travelers is my original one - other three have been bought at stamp shows, and the fourth has a plastic, not cardboard binding with posts inside.
Levelling underway! Each album's about-to-be pile of pages was a compressed height of 1.5 inches. Ish.
The finished products! All punched, put on album posts, screwed in and ready to shelve:
You can see the basic cardboard albums are looking well-used. And that's the way we like them!

Sunday 10 March 2024

Finally...Cigar Box Time!

At last October's Kingston stamp show I came home with some good buys including a cigar box that I bought from the Kingston Stamp Club consignment table. A quick peek revealed two things: it was quite full, and it had some GOOD stuff inside.
I decided that it would be the denouement of all the baggies and stock pages I had to go through. OK, I have a stock sheet of British Commonwealth and a stock sheet of French colonies to go through still. (I'm angry at the latter because I spent some time last month straightening out in my mind the French colonies: Afrique Occidentale Francaise, Affars and Issas and many, many more, and then that rogue stock sheet found its way to the top of the pile.) So that stock sheet is now officially delayed...

Most of the winter's stamps went to get soaked, sorted, and various dispositions like traders and donations.  The cigar box's turn had finally come! Before the sort began:
I did an initial sort, removing what I didn't want to keep. Then it was time to sort the British Commonwealth, a lot of South Africa, South-West Africa, Mauritius and more that I would be keeping for my collection! Lots of Denmark, Norway and some unusual US. 

I often use a Michaels lap desk for sorting. It has an edge around it and is high enough to reduce neck strain. Before (above) and after (below) - from top left: RSA/SWA, US, Denmark, Norway, everything else and at bottom right British Commonwealth new and B.C. older:

Not to mention the cigar box itself - a real work of art and surprisingly difficult to open. That's probably what kept it safe and sealed all these years until I purchased it for the princely sum of five bucks. I'm not going to count the stamps, nor estimate the number this 'stogie stow' contained. It was a ton o' fun! Thanks to the collector that squirrelled these away and put them on the consignment table!

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Stamp Collecting Starter Packs

I'm really enjoying my membership in the North Toronto Stamp Club. And I don't even live in Toronto, north or south! In the March, 2024 NTSC newsletter, this article by Lisa Tam (below) caught my eye. We have several free sidewalk libraries in our neighbourhood, and these stamp collecting starter packs seem to be a good alternative to James Patterson and Dr. Seuss. I got in touch with author Lisa Tam and printed off four of the starter pack backing cards. I also put together four packs' worth of topicals and Canadian stamps for eventual placement in those little wooden repositories.

The finished product (below). I printed Lisa's backing card on paper instead of cardstock. I cut some orange card-stock, and used the clear self-sealing backs to form a four-layered sandwich which I stapled twice at the top. I think this makes a bright-coloured, inviting package:

On yesterday's neighbourhood walk, I 'seeded' the first neighbourhood library. I'll be interested to go on our next walk and see if it's found a new home! 

UPDATE: All four starter packs were taken from the free sidewalk library closest to our house over the past month. I put out about one per week, and the weather didn't allow us to walk for one of those weeks!

Thanks to Lisa for this great idea, and to Jean Wang for not only including in the NTSC newsletter which she edits, but also helping me get the in touch with Lisa for the downloadable pdf to print!

Sunday 25 February 2024

Silk on the Web!

If there is one stand-out Stampers on Youtube that never disappoints, it's Silk on the Web. I included him high on my list in this post last April, and he has not disappointed since!

He posts regularly, which is not easy. He has fun. Also not easy for those stodgy stampers out there. His videos are always interesting, varied, regular and enjoyable.

Recently, he offered some trades, and who doesn't love a good trade? In yesterday's video, he opened some of those he's received, including mine that I mailed on January 23 to St. Paul in an interior envelope made from Eric's album pages
No names or addresses other than his are mentioned. Seemingly happy with my modest trade (some traders are sending albums, mint stamps and series, but I'm sure he would even appreciate and enjoy anything!) including the cover and the postcard, one that my Dad picked up in New York City over 50 years ago! Glad to see someone enjoyed seeing it all these years later and many miles from here.
As the video says, people are giving up VAN life but not STAMP life. (I've often thought of adopting the van life. Stamp collecting could easily be done on the road, unlike say, blacksmithing or Coke machine refurbishment. But with my luck, parked in my plywood-lined van beside some Instagram-worthy mountain lake or wherever, a phantom breeze would probably blow through and all the stamps would suddenly be scattered to the four social media-friendly winds.) So I'll be staying put and indulging in the stamp life!

Silk kindly sent a trade back, arriving here on March 1. Included were two mint booklets, the one shown depicting a Stranraer amphibian! Awesome.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Michael's Stamps - Free!

And by that title, I don't mean rubber stamps you can buy at Michaels craft stores! No, this is an intriguing effort by fellow retiree and musician Michael Lynn of Wellington, OH. Again, trying to spread stamp collecting in new ways, and who doesn't like Free?
After reading the article from StampEd, I emailed Michael and he will gladly accept donations of duplicates. I sent Michael some topical packs of 50 stamps each.  Michael emailed, "I just received your stamps and they will be super useful. I have been struggling trying to help with topical requests and this will make it much better."

Michael has sent out nearly 300 free kits. When I have duplicates, this will be where they go in the next little while! 

StampEd - I LikEd It!

Imagine my surprise when I found something online that actually promoted stamp collecting in a non-stodgy, non-boring, engaging manner! It's the debut issue of StampEd e-zine, I soon DiscoverEd, and it's aimed at the digital generation! (The Ed thing is part of the e-zine design theme.) 

It's a new outreach by the American Philatelic Society, and contains only a very soft sell for new members, which is nice to see. In fact, several articles and pieces in the magazine promote new ways to engage potential collectors, which is also nice to see. 

I snapped some screenshots of parts I liked, not only to share with whoever the heck is reading this blog, but mainly for my own reference! Their target demographic is not 50-60 year-old men, it's actually the 20-50 year-old crowd, especially women.

Canada's own - StampCat!
Mystic does indeed make neat stamp catalogues, but this Free! offer is only available in the U.S. 

Monday 19 February 2024

Michael Deas Paints Stamps

A recent CBS Sunday Morning report on New Orleans realist painter Michael Deas revealed his involvement in paintings used on U.S. Postal Service stamp issues: Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, James Dean, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Ann Porter, Stephen Vincent Benet, Thorton Wilder, Thomas Wolfe, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, Tennessee Williams, presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, and in autumn 2023 Ruth Bader Ginsburg and nine more. His paintings are often commissioned up to three years in advance of the release date.

In the early 1990's, Deas was also commissioned to paint Columbia Pictures illuminated logo that I've seen many times as the movie starts! He's also painted TIME magazine covers.

The master at work in his studio:

Wednesday 7 February 2024

When Worlds Collide

The words of model railroading and philately collided today. I grabbed an envelope mailed in the UK from the mailbox, realizing it was a complimentary copy of the bimonthly Roundhouse, the periodical of the NMRA British Region. I appreciated publisher Peter Bowen soliciting the article, patiently checking in with me in October/22, March/23 and May/23. I finally got on track and sent the article electronically in June/23. The article and photos reproduced nicely, and I was pleased to have my article on my home layout next to Tom Klimoski's Georgia Northeastern! But back to the stamps... 
Two different worlds also collided on the franked cover, with three stamps of two monarchs. The three stamps - 10 pence turquoise-green and 3 pound purple showing Her Late Majesty The Queen and 2 pound 20 dark green Jennings design showing King Charles III - each have an attached 2D code, implemented in February, 2022 as an attempt to reduce stamp counterfeiting. These stamps mark the transition between monarchs as well as the transition to coded stamps that render previous definitives unusable. The codes also allow the Royal Mail to track mail through its system, and are separated from the effigy by a fake perforation!
Now, I only have to figure out what the above label was doing on the front, underneath the mailing label!

Thursday 18 January 2024

U.S. Stamps on Jeopardy!

U.S. Stamps looked like an interesting category last night, January 17. The first question was about the Tiffany lamp (top photo). Juveria Zaheer, from Ontario, guessed Brontosaurus, as did I. We both got it right!

I guessed 'What is Mariachi?' at the last minute. Correct!
What else could it be...'What is the 'Stang?' Correct again!
What is Christmas? Well, it just passed us!