Monthly Archives: January 2011

Stamps More Interesting than #292 – Part 3

I have to give props to the new 2011 stamps.  There really isn’t a stamp that I don’t like this year, and quite a few that I really like, not the least of which is the new Kansas statehood stamp.

A beautiful blue sky, green hills, and golden prairie background windmills, often the symbol of Kansas, past and present.  The older weather vane style windmill in the foreground has an art deco feel and sits nicely in the almost-center of the stamp. 1861 and Kansas are elegantly featured at the top of the stamp encouraging collectors and enthusiasts to seek out the history of Kansas themselves.

This isn’t the first Kansas statehood stamp.  #1183 was released back in 1961 commemorating the Kansas centennial.  The stamp shows a sunflower, the state flower, and a pioneer family with a covered wagon. Behind the pioneers stands a stockade, presumably to denote Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the home of the United States Disciplinary Barracks.

Kansas achieved statehood on January 29, 1861. At that point, several Southern states had already seceded from the Union, and within a few short weeks, the Civil War began.

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Stamps More Interesting than #292 – Part 2

Another stamp more interesting than #292 is #961.  961 commemorates 100 years of U.S. friendship with Canada and the opening of the original Niagara Railway Suspension Bridge. The bridge was replaced by another suspension bridge, the one pictured on the stamp, around 1855 and later by the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge in 1897.

I like 961 because if it’s clean design and symmetry.  There’s a lot of information on 961 was only the 9th US stamp to picture a train, but that’s not of particular interest.  More info about trains on stamps can be found on Alphabetilately’s page Trains on US Stamps and on this stamp specifically.  What I think is really important about this stamp is the calm, natural feel of the stamp.  The Niagara river is calmly flowing between the two countries as the train makes it’s way safely across.  What better metaphor for US/Canada relations?

The balance of the stamp also reminds us that international relationships, even good, calm ones as we have with Canada, are about balance and mutual interest.  The stamp’s blue color gives a sense of hope and aspiration.  The sky and river are immediate and the heading is simple.  There is no towering skyline on either side of the river.  There is no inherent assertion of dominance by one country to another.

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Stamps More Interesting than #292 – Part 1

I keep hearing people say that Scott #292 Cattle in the Storm (aka Western Cattle in Not interesting??!!?!the Storm aka Cattle in Snowstorm) is the best and most beautifully designed US postage stamp ever issued.  Whether recent stories about these being Scottish cattle or not, I don’t think this stamp is the best or the most beautiful US postage stamp.

As such, I’m prepared to tell you about several stamps that I think out-do #292 in beauty and meaning, even if they don’t out-do it in collector’s value.

#855  – Baseball Centennial

I ran across this stamp while adding to my late 1930’s collection.  At first, it appeared to bear a Roman numeral for 10 or 5 something, but upon closer inspection under my magnifier, the scene took hold.  A young boy is at bat in a game of baseball.  Several kids stand and cheer, while in the background the church steeple, a school house, and modest dress tell us that we are in small town America.  The crossed bats, mitt, and ball accompanied by laurel establish the majesty of baseball in our American history.

If you are not a huge fan of Major League Baseball, as I am not, you may think of baseball in the same terms as this stamp presents them: kids playing baseball in their hometown, parents and other kids cheering, and perhaps even the smell of the hot dog stand up on the hill as I did, recalling Deep Meadow, the baseball park where I played Little League in Pennsylvania in the early to mid 1980’s.  Good pure Americana.

Violet isn’t my favorite color on a stamp, but it lights #855 up, and the artwork here is amazing.  Each player on the stamp is detailed and we feel at home in the dirt and grass clearing among the trees.  #855 doesn’t have the collector’s value of #292, but it certainly is more interesting, and I’d argue more beautiful.

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Puns and sensationalism

This is another crappy article with a clever title about modern day stamp collecting.  Really?  Are technology and glue really threatening the old hobby?

Sure, hobbies change – ask any photographer who used to shoot on Kodachrome.  Stamp collecting isn’t threatened as a hobby by self-sticking stamps anymore than photography is threatened by the move to digital.  Technologies change and keeping the hobby alive means noticing, documenting, and working with these changes.

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