What are U.S. Back of the Book stamps or U.S. Revenue Stamps

What are Back of the Book Stamps

What are U.S. Back of the Book stamps or U.S. Revenue StampsThe term Back of the Book generally refers to those stamp issues that have appeared in the back of the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. The catalog itself is released in volumes, each covering a set of stamp issuing nations. So, U.S. &back of the book& stamps would appear at the end of the United States section. These stamps also have one or more letters appearing before their catalog number. An example of a regular postage stamp issue would be U.S. 4119. An example Back of the Book stamp would be U.S. C7. The &C& is the notation for Airmail stamps.

So, why do they appear in the back of the catalog? Are they not as popular, valuable, or collectible? No. They are more seldom seen by the general public. But the reason they appear in the back is that they require special categorization. Their use differs from regular issues. And their costs are applied differently. For example, Semi-Postal stamps were and can be used for sending a regular letter to a regular U.S. destination. But they carry a special surcharge that is donated to charity. Recently we wrote a bit about a couple of semi-postal stamps — the 2001 Mongolia B27-28 Unity Against Terrorism Stamp and the U.S. B1 Breast Cancer Research Stamp (which has raised an astounding $83.9 million for breast cancer research).

One shouldn’t think of the back of the book as synonymous with bottom of the barrel. Nor should one think of all back of the book stamps as particularly rare. After all over 1 Billion of the Breast Cancer Research Semi-Postal Stamps were sold! But while all postage stamps are unique and fascinating, back of the book stamps are just a little more special. Do you have any in your stamp collection?

January is National Hobby Month

National Hobby Month

January is National Hobby MonthJanuary is National Hobby month. Isn’t it telling that we now have to have a national month of awareness to remember to treat ourselves to time spent on activities we love? If only there were a way to remind you to spend time with it regularly. Like a good little puppy bringing its ball to you, your hobby could wait patiently for your attention.

Actually, this is similar to the way our Stamps on Approval Service works. Approximately once per month, a new selection of collectible stamps arrives in your mailbox. The stamps are chosen by our expert staff and are carefully selected according to your specific areas of interest. When you have the time to do so, you can look through the stamps to see if you approve of any being added to your stamp collection. Purchase only those stamps you keep. Return the rest to us. We’ll make sure they get into the hands of another collector whose interests they might better fit.

As your interests grow and change, we adapt to fit your specific needs. As a business, of course it make sense for us to do the best job possible at sending you only those stamps of which we believe you will approve. We get many letters and email messages from collectors just like you who excitedly wait for their next selection of postage stamps to arrive in the mail. We do our very best to keep your hobby fun and exciting.

If you have not tried our stamps on approval service, do yourself a favor and try it today! Let us help you build a better stamp collection. It’s like making an appointment with your stamp collection when it fits your busy schedule. We love stamp collecting. Our job is making it more lovable to you.

Part C covers the years between 2007 - 2011. These new and updated Liberty U.S. Stamp Albums

Stamp Album Supplements

Part C covers the years between 2007 - 2011. These new and updated Liberty U.S. Stamp AlbumsDuring our youth, the end of the year signaled things like exciting new changes and vacation time. As we grow older the new year begins to mark deadlines and expiration dates. We certainly hope you find some time to relax and enjoy the finer things in life like your growing stamp collection. One thing that never really expires is your stamp album.

Say you were to purchase one of our high quality postage stamp albums that covers stamps from your country of choice issued through, say, 2013. What to do when you begin to acquire collectible stamps from 2014? You add a Stamp Album Supplement, of course. A stamp album supplement increases the life of your album by adding pages that cover another year of issued stamps.

As you know, a stamp album is much more than a binder and slots for your stamps. Depending on the album, it contains reference information, interesting facts, and depictions of the stamps you may not have yet. Yearly stamp album supplements have these same features. Because stamp collecting is such an exacting hobby, the supplements do take time to produce and become available to the public. Compiling and organizing all the information that comes with a year’s worth of postage stamp issues takes time. Therefore supplements are rarely available on the first day of a new year.

Also, if you have had experience with one album and its supplements but now have another album, keep in mind that it’s release schedule for supplements may differ. Never hesitate to call or email our highly experienced expert staff members. With hundreds of years of combined experience, they have used most stamp albums ever created. They can assist you in creating the most enjoyable experience with your stamp album. In fact, if you’re already one of our many satisfied stamps on approval customers and you have included notes on what albums you have, our expert staff takes this into account when creating your selections. We are here to serve you–our valued stamp collecting customer. We’re all about your Approval!

Best wishes in 2017 from all of us at Jamestown Stamp Company Inc.

Modern Stamp Design Techniques

Modern Stamp Design Techniques

Modern Stamp Design TechniquesThe artistry of stamp design has certainly gone through many evolutionary changes over the last two centuries. What began with mere text and numerals became portraits and reproductions of famous paintings and photographs. Today we see a wide range of bold artwork and design elements such as holographic imagery and embossed lettering. Of course, what could and can be achieved in final designs depends upon the mass production equipment available. What used to require manual printing presses were soon able to utilize more automated machinery. Now, with the aid of computerized equipment, more minute details can be reproduced on the tiny canvas that is the final postage stamp.

With all the advances in design and production equipment, one would think that all modern postage stamp design techniques involve specialized graphic design software. However, some amazing artists choose to produce their artwork the old fashioned way–with some modern twists. And the results are truly awesome. Stuart McLachlan is one such artist.

Mr. McLachlan has mastered and made famous the art technique known as “paper-cut”. His artwork featured in Australia’s 2016 Christmas Stamp series shows the elegance of paper-cut artwork. As someone who does a little computer graphic work here and there, I thought at first glance that the designs shown above were computer generated. Yet somehow they seemed more lifelike…had more depth. As I read the article on the Australia Post Web site about Stuart McLachlan’s paper-cut Christmas Stamps, I was truly amazed at how these designs were created. See, most computer graphic designs that attempt to display depth involve shadowing behind an object. Likewise an embossed “feel” is often created with mathematically generated shadowing around areas intended to appear raised or textured. McLachlan’s work clearly doesn’t have this; yet his effect is much more realistic. (See the Australia Post site link above for larger images which show the texture in more detail)

So how does Stuart pull this off? Well, it’s not with computer software. McLachlan’s paper-cut designs are achieved with wire, water color paper, an Xacto knife, a camera, some lighting, and many hours of effort. The only parts of the process that involve software are final coloring and conversion to digital artwork for reproduction. If I had to paraphrase the technique as I now understand it, I’d say that the procedure is like photographing a diorama containing only silhouette figures and objects. The silhouette figures themselves are cut by hand. The entire process is manual, by-hand, work. And the results speak for themselves. Why does it look so real? Because it is! Each figure and object is cut by hand, hung by wire in proportional distance from the rest, and photographed as a group scene. Clearly, smarter use of old-fashioned tools mixed with a passion for beauty can result in truly amazing artwork.


Holidays on Foreign Stamps

In the recent past we’ve talked about Stamp Collecting and its relation to Global Diversity, World Geography, and even Creating Memories. Perhaps it was with these topics still in mind that I began my journey as I researched the topic of holidays on Foreign Stamps. The intention was to research holiday themes on worldwide postage stamps such as Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and go wherever the research led. But just as though I were working with an actual stamp collection, the journey had its own plans.

I got stuck on Christmas Island. No matter how diligently I tried to stick to the plan, Christmas Island kept calling me back. A stamp image here, a snippet of new information there…I just couldn’t ignore it. It was when I first began working with Jamestown Stamp Company that I learned there was such a place as Christmas Island. Now more than 16 years later, I’ve realized that my research on it and its stamps are nowhere near complete. And THIS is exactly why I find stamp collecting rewarding and fascinating.

Apparently back then I was like the first discoverers of the little island in the Indian Ocean and unable to scale its steep shoreline to learn more. Christmas Island wasn’t even named until nearly 30 years after its discovery on Christmas Day and remained unsettled for approximately 200 years more. But like the curious stamp collector, explorers, scientists, and miners could not ignore the call of the 12 mile island to the north and west of Australia.

Christmas Island is no less philatelically fascinating. Today, Christmas Island’s population of just over 2,000 people use stamps issued by the Australian Postal Corporation. But it has used postage stamps issued by the Strait Settlements, the British Military, and under its own authority as well. Perusing Christmas Island stamp art issued since it came under the control of Australia in 1958 is like taking a tour of the island via its flora, fauna, geographic features, and of course its people. And how can you have an island named after Christmas and not have an abundance of holiday themes? If you love the holidays, enjoy philatelic discovery, and have even just a shred of historical curiosity, then Christmas Island may be worth looking into. Happy Holidays. And Happy Collecting from all of us at Jamestown Stamp Company Inc.

(images from the Philatelic Team at the Australian Post)

Making Time for Your Collection

Making Time for Your Collection

Making Time for Your Collection

If there is a time of year when time is in short supply, it’s during the month of December. Mail holidays, school closures, crowded stores, inclement weather, and end of the year deadlines all work against any prospects of having some quiet time with your stamp collection. But you can make time if you pencil yourself into your hectic December schedule.

A close friend once told me that the key to making time is to make memories. In this way you can give yourself a much needed break during the here and now but also when you fondly recall those peaceful moments in the future. Give yourself some mental room by starting small. And if it takes too long to drag your entire collection out of hiding, try learning more about the stamps in your collection with philatelic literature or references. This will help against becoming frustrated by interruptions.

Even if you have to only allow yourself 20 minutes per day, it will be well worth the effort. Let the stress and deadlines wait for you for a change. Likely when you return to the hustle and bustle, you’ll be a bit more refreshed and perhaps even a bit more prepared to handle it all. Whatever you do, give yourself and your stamp collection the time you both deserve. A hobby can’t be rewarding if you don’t engage in it.

Collecting Stamps and Memories for the Holidays

Collecting Stamps and Memories for the Holidays

Collecting Stamps and Memories for the Holidays
“Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories.” – Walter Benjamin

The Holidays! Many will play host to family and friends this holiday season. And many of the invited will be children. Above the cacophony of video game consoles and mobile devices, you might hear the distant sounds of memory of calmer, quieter times. That’s when the background noise consisted of things like water boiling on the stove, toy train tracks being driven upon, and perhaps even the faint ringing of holiday music. One might think that spending some quality time with one’s stamp collection would have to wait until some time early next year. But make no mistake. Collecting Stamps can be a family hobby and even become a tradition.

Here are some thoughts to consider if you plan to bring your collection out before children this holiday season:

Don’t be afraid to work with your collection in front of others.

– Eventually curious minds will want to know what you’re so interested in. And a curious mind is one that can be shaped, molded, and filled with quality thoughts and ideas.

Don’t be afraid to answer questions.

– Often children don’t appear to be listening when they are actually absorbing detail. At the very least, they may recall in years to come that fascinating hobby by which they saw you being quietly entertained.

Don’t be afraid to teach respect for collectibles.

– How many things were you fascinated by as a child that you were told not to touch?

Don’t allow yourself to become frustrated.

– Not every child will grow to appreciate collecting the same things you do. But they will very likely develop an appreciation and respect for meaningful hobbies if you nurture those things.

Draw parallels between video games and stamp collecting.

– Ask if they have to collect anything in their favorite games. Things like artifacts, weaponry, gems, and characters are collected to progress in many popular modern video games.

Above all, enjoy the time together however brief.

– If you find yourself recalling your time together fondly, likely they will do the same!

Thankful for Our Approval Customers

Build a better stamp collection with Stamps On Approvals from Jamestown Stamp CompanyAfter a long weekend to reflect, we at Jamestown Stamp Company agree that we are incredibly thankful for our Approval Customers. With hundreds of years of combined experience, our staff is committed to helping each collector build a better stamp collection. It’s what we do; and we’ve loved doing it since 1939.

While we appreciate each and every one of our valued customers, it is the approvals customer who gets us out of bed each morning. We also value each other as it’s impossible not to build solid relationships working alongside one another for so many years. 3 feet of snow and buried in the driveway? We catch a ride with a co-worker. Why? There are stamp collections to be built!

We take each customer’s requests as if they were our own. In a way, it’s almost as if we were collecting stamps right with you. Each of your requests starts a search for the most appropriate selections of stamps we can find that fit your needs. And each time you approve of one of our selections, we seek out more stamps that are of a similar theme, time period, or series. It’s an exciting job. We strive to get better at it every day.

And when your needs and interests change, we adapt to fit your preferences. It’s just as exciting of a time for us as it is for you. Stamp Collecting is a journey with many paths leading to years of enjoyment. Though we may serve as guides, we also become your traveling companion, learning yet a new facet of an amazing hobby. For that, we are very thankful to you!

Geography and Stamp Collecting

Geography and Stamp Collecting

Geography and Stamp CollectingIt’s National Geography Awareness Week. Geography is one of the first topics we learn about as school children. And it is when we begin to discover that the World we live in is a much larger place than we were previous aware. In school, we learn of distant cultures perhaps with special bias toward differences as an educational tactic. But upon postage stamps we see first the similarities.

While some topics may always remain a bit too taboo for art to adorn a nation’s postage, we see common points of interest like children, national movements toward social change, great leaders, and holiday themes. Of course, we also see diversity in the art of postage stamps. But it is those topics with which we can identify from which we really begin to learn. For example, look in any mushroom topical stamp selection and you’ll likely see species that you’ve never seen before that are indigenous to the stamp’s issuing country. Why do they only survive in location they do? These are the types of questions that begin to entertain and educate the mind. Geography is just one of the many obvious topics one can learn through the World’s most fascinating hobby — Stamp Collecting.

How Postage Stamps are Made

How Postage Stamps are Made

How Postage Stamps are Made
The process of how postage stamps are made has come along way since the mid 1800’s.  Today, over 50 million stamps can be printed and readied for distribution in a single day.  Technological advances have made the production of postage stamps faster, cheaper, and safer from potential forgery.

While some designs and elements of a given stamp issue still call for engraving work to be done, the bulk of design work is completed via computer software in the hands of skilled artists.  Original stamp artwork is transferred to software via a scanner.  The digital reproductions are then finely tuned to accommodate dimensional and procedural requirements specific to postage stamps.  From here, the digital design is transferred to 4 printing plates, one per CYMK (Cyan,Yellow, Magenta, and Black) color to be used for a given stamp issue.  The plates contain rows of the same design so that entire sheets can be printed at once.  Inspectors closely monitor each stage to ensure quality and accuracy.

The plates are loaded into the stamping, or printing press where the 4 main colors in the CYMK set will be blended and layered into as many final colors as needed.  A special ink is also applied during printing as an additional step to prevent forgery and also to more accurately discover defects during inspection points.  Prior to 2005, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing handled the bulk of the stamp printing work.  Since then, all U.S. postage stamps have been printed by carefully selected private printing facilities.  Only a handful of printing companies are authorized by the U.S. Government to produce postage stamps today.

While the government is not against stamp collecting in any way, every effort is made to prevent errors from being released to the public.  But machines require moving parts.  And moving parts, well…move. Therefore adjustments are constantly being made to nudge centering, color saturation, and finally cutting.  The huge now printed rolls are cut down to size depending on the type of stamp being produced.  Perforations and cut lines are also added at this time.  Any sheets not up to standards are destroyed.  Those that pass are finally cut into their final sizes and packaged for distribution.  Up to 40 billion stamps are produced by the U.S. per year using this highly advanced stamp producing process.

Learn even more about how the stamps in your collection came to be by viewing these short videos:

Stamp Production – The National Postal Museum
The Modern Postage Stamp – The Universal Postal Union
Printing Postage Stamps – The National Postal Museum