Wisconsin Federation of Stamp Clubs (WFSC)
Across the Fence Post Newsletter
1996 Selected Articles

          This page includes selected articles from the 1996 issues of Across the Fence Post.


January issue

The Evolution of Mail-Handling Systems

Part I: Thurn and Taxis, Prepaid Postage, and Canal Locals

By Vern Witt, Sheboygan Stamp Club

Vern Witt, a member of the Wisconsin Philatelic Hall of Fame, has been collecting stamps and postal history for almost 65 years. Throughout this time, he has tirelessly served in various positions of organized philately, including WFSC President for terms in 1961 and again in 1971.

Vern has exhibited many of his collections, which have garnered top awards. His current main interests are revenue stamps and postal history. He's additionally an avid coin collector and holds membership in the American Numismatic Association.

Post systems gradually evolved in most trading areas of the world more or less simultaneously, but the best documented and most interesting systems were formed in central Europe, and attention is drawn to the Apennine Peninsula.

The pre-postal carrier-messenger system in the Kingdom of Naples started in 1444 and served as an example for the House of Hapsburg under Maximilian I to establish ties with his new far-flung kingdom, which stretched from the Tyrol (Austria) to the Netherlands in 1490.

The first post contract was signed in 1505 with Postmaster Franz von Taxis, who maintained his post offices with a horse, in addition to clerks and riders. Although this system was established for the house of Hapsburg, private mail soon was added to deliveries as there was no prohibition against it and the extra fees were welcomed to help finance the system. Since neighboring countries agreed to allow passage of post riders (estafette), they soon participated in postal deliveries.

Due to the Thirty Years' War, the Swedes causing a general disruption of the Hapsburg Post system by the competing Swedish systems overran the Hanseatic and Pomeranian areas, and the post service declined in effectiveness and the area covered. After peace was signed in Westphalia in 1648, the various states of Germany each wanted sovereign post rights and further disruption ensued. All was finally resolved in 1666 when the Imperial Post regained control.

In 1786, the Taxis family was rewarded for its 300 years of service to the emperor. The reward was a coat of arms uniting the Torini and Tassis (Italian for "Thurn" and "Taxis") families and presentation of a princely state, Thurn and Taxis. The state, located in upper Swabia (now Wurttemberg), was comprised of the duchies of Friedberg-Scheer, Marchtal, Neresheim, Bauchau, and Krotoschim. So here we have a state controlling the post with the emperor's blessing.

The Taxis family moved the mail on a post-pay basis by courier, horse, coach, and occasionally by boat on rivers and canals. Sometime around 1830 railways began to be used to move the mail. Until later railroad development, however, the average daily distance traveled was about 70 miles.

In 1840, Great Britain successfully introduced the postage stamp to prepay mail (Figure 1). In 1851, Thurn and Taxis followed suit by printing eight stamps of its own. They were issued in kreuzers (four values) and silbergroschen (four values) to accommodate various monetary systems encountered en route (Figure 2).

When the canal system was introduced in Sweden, England, Mainland Europe, the Balkans, and finally, the Suez, boats carried the mail as a means of supplemental income. This is evidenced by "Donau" (Danube) stamps and ship stamps labeled "Maritime Suez," and others (Figure 3). These stamps usually are not listed in the Scott catalogs, which considers some of them as locals.

Local delivery was sporadic and mostly to businesses until the late 1700s when some cities in Europe began home delivery. •

February issue

The Evolution of Mail-Handling Systems

Part II: United States, Modes of Transporting Mail

By Vern Witt, Sheboygan Stamp Club

Part I of this feature appeared in the January issue of Across the Fence Post.

"Ordnance of New York" introduced the Colonial postal system December 10, 1672.

In 1753, Benjamin Franklin became deputy postmaster general for the 13 Colonies under the English Crown. He developed hand stamps (a first was in 1756 for New York) to speed mail processing, which had been done by laboriously writing all postal markings on mail (stampless covers).

In 1775, the Continental Congress initiated a postal service and made Benjamin Franklin the postmaster general.

Prior to 1863, local dispatch to and from government post offices was by local carriers, who used their own stamps.

Some locals lasted until about 1880 and then were outlawed. Much of this early mail was delivered by bicycle (Figure 1).

Many methods of transporting mail have been used since then, including:

Airplane motorcycle stagecoach

Balloon pigeon streetcar

Blimp pneumatic tube submarine

Bus Pony Express tin can

Dirigible rocket train

Dog sled ship truck

Horse spaceship

Some of these have been commemorated on stamps (Figures 1-8).

Mail is handled by many entities today such as the military, private motor truck, building Distribution and internal business delivery.

The United States Post Office Department is credited with developing rural delivery (RFD) and subsidized catalog delivery to promote rural reading skills. Also, rural customers could purchase stamps from their postman with use of a stock purchase request (Figure 10).

Stamp distribution machines were privately developed as a user convenience to sell stamps in public locations. Imperforate stamps were purchased and then privately perforated for firms such as:

The Attleboro Stamp Co.

The Brinkerhoff Co.

The Farwell Co.

International Vending Machine Co.

The Mailometer Co.

The Schermack Co.

U.S. Automatic Vending Co.

Many firms have attempted to get a piece of the action such as return mail, but since the post office had to surrender its dead letter files, this eventually was outlawed. Today, United Parcel Service has a large share of package mail.

Since the U.S. Postal Service was semi-privatized, the mail volume has outpaced that of the rest of the world, and the Postal Service has mechanized much of its operations to cope with this mail flow.

With the advent of private electronic mail, many people have been anticipating the disappearance of the U. S. Postal Service, but don't bet your shirt on it!

March issue



By ATFP Editor Karen Weigt

Even if you're only an occasional reader of philatelic periodicals, you've likely seen the name "Joseph R. Luft." What has made this name so familiar? It's Joe's famous home page on the World Wide Web, which has become the common denominator of philately on the Internet.

Point your Web browser to Joe's address and you have access to over 220 philatelic resources. Nick on any of the links posted on the page and you're off on a worldwide venture. Visit foreign postal administrations, philatelic societies, stamp dealers, auction houses, other stamp collectors' home pager, and even Linn’s Stamp News. Your venture isn't limited to simply viewing. At many n: these sites, you can down= load stamp images and copies of philatelic software, both shareware and commercial demonstration versions.

How does this work? First, you need a computer and a modem. Then you'll need an Internet access Provider. You can choose a provider that takes you directly to the Internet, or go through the more commonly used commercial online services such as CompuServe, America Online, Microsoft Network, and Prodigy.

Finally, you need a Web browser software program Today's best-known browser is Netscape Navigator, available at any computer software dealer. It also can be downloaded from certain Web sites. The commercial online services now integrate Web browser capabilities within their client software. CompuServe, for instance, includes the popular Spry Mosaic.

Enough tech-talk. Let's get back to the "man behind the page."

My curiosity about Joe has been brewing since 1994, when an acquaintance sent me a printout describing Joe's Web site. Since this was long before I began accessing the Web, the information was filed away for future reference. My interest piqued again after reading the April 1995 issue of The Compulatelist, newsletter of the Philatelic Computing Study Group. The lead article provided more detail about the site and revealed Joe's Wisconsin connection. Yes, http:// www.execpc.com/ ~joeluft originates from Mequon, WI!

While many philatelic periodicals tout Joe's home page, I've yet to see anything about Joe, the person. This led me to assume that Joe probably preferred to remain anonymous, and I hesitated contacting him for an interview. Last month, however, I decided to explore the situation via an e-mail message and was rewarded with a most cordial response.

About Joseph R. Luft

Stamp collector/dealer Joseph Luft is 36 years old. As a collector, he goes back to his childhood in the early 1970s. He first collected coins but soon found that there was an infinitely greater variety in stamps. For instance, he could readily acquire stamps from 50 different countries for only a few dollars.

He began selling stamps virtually as soon as he began collecting them. His first experiences were through Linn's Stomp News, where he often advertised in the classified section, selling inexpensive United States approvals. Since he was quite young at the time, he enjoyed getting a lot of mail, and corresponding with people from all around the country was a thrill.

Today, Joe specializes in selling early United States mint and used classics, and he operates his part-time, mail-order business purely as a hobby. Joe says it is a very relaxing break from his full-time occupation, and the more stamps he can sell, the more he can buy for his collection.

As a collector, Joe is basically a generalist; his collection consists of both United States and worldwide material.

Joe was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He attended Michigan Technological University, where he majored in physics with a minor in computer sciences.

After college, he moved to Milwaukee for his first job. His wife's name is Paula, and they have two children. Brian is 9 years old and in the fourth grade; Becky, 8, is a second-grader. Brian already has his own home page, which can be found at httpa/www.execpc.oom/-bluft.

Joe works full time for a Milwaukee-area software developer and holds a management position that requires many long hours on the job. This, in addition to his family, stamps, and the home page, leaves no spare time for the pursuit of any other hobbies or interests.

Joe is a member of the American Philatelic Society and the Philatelic Computing Study Group.

With Joe's computer-related background, he obviously has an interest in the use of computers as a complement to philately. Joe states, "When I learned about the World Wide Web a couple years, ago, it struck me that it would have tremendous potential for our hobby. When I first put up my page, I used all the web search engines I could find, and yet was only able to locate four or five pages with references to stamps. Now I have well over 200."

Joe predicts that in another year we could be looking at 1,000 philatelic pages on the Web. It offers an opportunity for a new level of Service and we may soon have a "Virtual Nassau Street." Furthermore, the Internet is exploding into the nation's consciousness, and philately in all its variety will be there.

Joe spends four to six hours a week maintaining his home page. This includes searching for new

Philatelic sites, checking on them, and adding them to his home page. He's also been tracking the number of accesses to his page since September 14, 1995. Over 19,000 accesses were logged during the first 120 days of tracking. Currently, nearly 200 accesses are logged daily.

All of this is done on a Gateway 2000 80386 computer with a 300MB hard drive, 4MB RAM and a 14.4 modem. For software, Joe uses Microsoft Windows with Winsock and the Netscape Web browser.

Joe says it really didn't take any expertise to create the page. All he did was to follow the simple directions of his local Internet direct access provider. That provider is: Exec-PC, Inc., 2105 So. 170th, New Berlin, WI 53151 - phone (414) 789-4200, or 1-800-EXECPC-1.

Joe decided to go through Exec-PC for Internet access basically because of cost. Although he has subscribed to various commercial online services in the past (and still has a Prodigy account), he feels that their scope is necessarily limited. And, they become very expensive when one exceeds the initial access hours provided in the standard monthly charge. With Exec-PC (as with most direct-access providers), he gets unlimited access for a flat fee of $20 per month. That fee includes 4MB of space for his Web page.

What dam this mean?

Joseph Luft has made a tremendous contribution to philately, and continues to do so. The time and effort that he devotes each week to further our hobby is noteworthy in itself. The $20 a month he pays for Internet access represents an additional savings for the majority of those who choose in enhance their philatelic interest through the Web.

The beauty of Joe's home page is that all philatelic sites on the Web can be found and accessed at one location. This allows the commercial online philatelist to quickly access a location, and thereby avoid excessive online time, which can, indeed, become expensive. For example, CompuServe charges $9.95 per month for five hours of access time, and there's a $1.95 fee for every additional hour. While out there searching on the Web, an hour can go by with astounding rapidity.

The categories of sites linked to Joe's page with just a few examples of what can be found within those categories include:

• General Philatelic Resources - Linn's Online, U.S. Stamp Programs, Philatelic Museums, etc.

• Philatelic Shows and Societies - World Philatelic Exhibition PACIFIC '97, American Philatelic Society, British North America Philatelic Society, APS World Series of Philately Shows, etc.

• Postal Authorities - U.S. Postal Service, Canada Post Corporation, Japan Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, etc.

• Country-specific Resources - German Stamp Issues, Social Culture of Afghanistan Stamps, Stamps of Austria, etc.

• Downloadable Images - rare stamps from the Smithsonian collection, modern U.S. issues, etc.

• Collectors' Stamp Pages - The Postal History Page, Mushroom Stamps, Stamp Slide Show of Chinese Tea Pots, etc.

• Commercial Offerings - dealer pricelists, etc.

• Miscellaneous - the San Diego Virtual Stamp Show, International Stamp Dealers' Network, etc.

So, the next time you're surfing the Web, stop in at the Joseph Luft home page. By the way, Joe always welcomes leads to new sites, too. If you've found one not already listed on his page, let him know about it. His e-mail address is: joeluft@execpc.com.

Thank you, Joe Luft. We appreciate your service, and we're ever so proud that the forerunner of the future of philately has a Wisconsin connection. •

April issue No column this issue

May/June issue No column this issue

July/August issue No column this issue

September issue

Wisconsin in the Civil War

By Roger H. Oswald, Wisconsin Blue and Gray Society

Roger Oswald, an avid collector and exhibitor of Civil War and Confederate material, has served many terms as an officer of the Wisconsin Blue and Gray Society. He also is a member of the Manitowoc Philatelic Society, Wisconsin Postal History Society, and the Confederate Stamp Alliance, for which he is the Northern VP and national advertising manager. Roger is the WFSC's NE Region VP. He lives in Manitowoc. WI, and is a certified electronics technician and a journeyman electrician.

First Wisconsin Regiment

Wisconsin's Gov. Alexander W. Randall had entered his second term of office when Fort Sumter, located in the harbor of Charleston, SC, was fired upon on April 12, 1861. This prompted President Abraham Lincoln to issue a call for 75,000 three-month volunteers. Among those volunteers was the 1st Wisconsin Regiment, mainly militia, which was mustered into United States service on May 17, 1861. The regiment left Wisconsin on June 9, 1861, for Harrisburg, PA.

Under the command of Col. Abercrombie, the 1st Wisconsin Regiment proceeded to Hagerstown, MD, as part of the U.S. 6th Brigade, 2nd Division. On July 2, 1861, they crossed the Potomac River and entered what was then Virginia territory to take part in the skirmish of Falling Waters.

Pvt. George C. Drake, a 19-year-old from Milwaukee, was the first Wisconsin man killed in battle. A minie ball pierced him near the heart as reported by the captain of Company A, George B. Bingham, to John C. Starkweather, who was the colonel commanding the 1st Wisconsin Regiment. The unit was mustered out of service after 90 days and reorganized at Camp Scott, Milwaukee. It was mobilized again in October 1861.

The cover in Figure 1 shows a Blue Due 3 applied at Louisville, KY. It is endorsed by now Maj. George B. Bingham, of the reorganized 1st Wisconsin Regiment Volunteer Infantry.

Second Wisconsin Regiment

As the war effort was going poorly, on May 3, 1861, President Lincoln had re-quested three-year volunteer regiment companies. Wisconsin, being a loyal Union state, gave her all by forming six more regiments in three weeks - the 2nd to the 7th Regiments.

The 2nd Wisconsin Regiment Volunteer Infantry was organized under Col. S. Park

Coon at Camp Randall, Madison, and was mustered into service on June 11, 1861. This regiment left the state cm June 20, 1861, bound for Washington D.C., and then to Blackburn's Ford on the stream called Bull Run.

The first great battle of the American Civil War took place at Bull Run (or Manassas, VA, as the South calls it). Contrary to some historical reports, the 2nd Wisconsin was the only Wisconsin regiment to take part in the first battle of Bull Run.

Figure 2 bears a U.S. Scott #26 tied to a May 25, 1861, Madison, WI, double-strike black cancel. The cover carried a letter penned by Pvt. Edgar Stafford of the Fox Lake Citizens Guard, Company A, 2nd Wisconsin Regiment Volunteer Infantry. It is addressed to Miss Mary Carroll/Fox Lake/Dodge Co./Wis.

Stafford was one of 23 men killed during the first battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. Sixty-seven were wounded and 20 were taken prisoner from the 2nd Wisconsin Regiment. Prisoners were confuted at the Salisbury, North Carolina Rebel Prison Camp.

The folded letter in Figure 3 includes a Confederate examined mark, a Type 1 Paid marking of Salisbury, NC, and cancel with the wrong year date. It also shows a Union Due 3 and soldier's endorsement by Maj. von Hemnan applied at Fortress Monroe, VA. The letter was penned on April 9, 1862, by Prisoner-of- War Sgt. Frank F. Dexter, of Company A, 2nd Wisconsin Regiment, Salisbury, NC. It is addressed to Dexter's mother in Fox Lake, WI. Dexter was held captive for 10 months and then exchanged in May 1862. He died of disease on November 9, 1862, in Madison, WI

The 2nd Wisconsin along with the 6th and 7th Wisconsin, the 19th Indiana and the 24th Michigan formed the famous Iron Brigade.

First Wisconsin Cavalry

The 1st Wisconsin Cavalry was originally organized at Ripon, WI, and commanded by Col. Edward Daniels. Due to cold weather, it moved to Camp Harvey, Kenosha. The 1st Wisconsin Cavalry was mustered into United States service on March 10, 1862. The unit left Wisconsin for St. Louis, MO, and was quartered at Benton Barracks. On April 28, 1862, having been furnished with horses and equipment, it embarked on a boat to Cape Girardeau, MO.

The Camp Harvey, Kenosha, Wisconsin, patriotic cover shown in Figure 4 bears a U.S. Scott #65 tied to a single-ring black St. Louis, MO, cancel dated March 2, 1862. 1st Sgt. Joseph H. Saunders, Company H, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry was writing home to his wife in Edgerton, WI. Saunders was a victim of disease. He died on October 6, 1862, at Cape Girardeau, MO.

The Wisconsin tally

Wisconsin furnished 91,327 men to the Civil War. They were divided into 53 infantry regiments, four cavalry regiments, Company G of Berdan's Sharpshooters, one heavy artillery and 13 light artillery batteries. Total casualties were 12,301 with 3,802 killed outright and 8,499 who met their death from other causes, mainly disease. Wisconsin's war expense totaled $11,704,932.

Wisconsin men fought bravely in nearly every important battle in the American Civil War from April 12, 1861 to April 9, 1865. •

For information about the Wisconsin Blue and Gray Society, write to: WBGS, 2514 Sheridan Pl., Manitowoc, W/ 54220

October issue

Allover Calendar-Picture Covers

By Frank Garniss, Belle City Stamp Club

[Editor's note: This article is the result of an item 1 read in all earl y 1996 issue of the Belle City Stamp Club Newsletter (Racine). Frank Garniss was looking for old 1995 picture calendars. He also welcomed receipt of a new 1996 calendars for use in conjunction with his FDC collection. Since I couldn't imagine the connection between picture calendars and FDC.s, l asked Frank what this was all about. His response was most interesting.

The covers shown here are examples of the most beautiful FDC collection I've ever seen. Unfortunately, the black and white reproduction doesn't Y do them justice.

Frank has been collecting stamps for 43 years and is the third generation in his family to do .so. He the current president of the Belle City Stamp Club.]

Even though 1 was impressed with my grandmother's first-day covers back in 1953, it wasn't until 1977 that I began to actively collect FDCs with cachets produced by commercial artists. I really wanted to make my own cachets, but lacked artistic talent.

The light came on in 1989 while 1 was looking through some picture calendars. I could create my own allover cachets using the artwork on calendars. Since this could be very expensive, I decided to ask my fellow stamp collectors and friends at work for their used or duplicate calendars.

Pictures from the calendars are filed according to topic awaiting a related United States stamp issue. When this happens, the fun begins. I have a clear template with the geometry of an unfolded envelope. Using masking tape, I fasten the template to the picture I want to cut to shape. The cut picture next is folded to form an envelope. A stuffer card is inserted into the formed envelope, which is then glued for the end product.

I then affix the new stamp and a peelable self-addressed label. The new cover is sent within an outer envelope addressed to the appropriate first-day city. All this is made possible with the U.S. Postal Service 30-day grace period.

Creating FDCs this way provides a unique and colorful collection. It has also enabled me to meet many collectors and friends who have enhanced my hobby through their calendar donations.

November issue


By Robert E Sparks, Oshkosh and Outagamie Philatelic Societies

Bob Sparks, of Neenah, WI, has been collecting stamps since 1934. He has served as an officer of the Oshkosh Philatelic Society and is the recent recipient of Outagamie Philatelic Society's Spark Plug Award. Bob also holds membership in the American Philatelic Society and the Precacel Stamp Society. Although he has had a variety of jobs throughout his employment career, he retired while working as a security guard at Bergstrom Paper Co.

Great Britain's Elizabeth II definitive stamps first appeared in 1952, when Elizabeth ascended to the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI. The design of the initial stamps, known as the Wilding series, was based on a portrait showing a three-quarter-face view of the queen as depicted in Figure 1.

Machin design

The Wilding series was phased out because the Royal Mail (Britain's postal system) wanted a simpler design depicting a profile of the queen's head, similar to the 1840 Queen Victoria Penny Black and Two penny Blue. Several artists, including Arnold Machin, tried their hands at preparing designs for the second Elizabeth II series based on photographs by Lord Snowdon. Machin did the coinage head without a tiara, as the tiara head was considered too ornate. Thus, a diadem head was used showing Elizabeth's ruffled blouse-top, a clear neck with a pearl necklace, and a pearl earring.

The stamp in Figure 2 is Great Britain's Scott #1295. It shows Queen Victoria's profile as it appears on the Penny Black with the final Machin design of Queen Elizabeth II in the foreground.

Color and sizes

Upon Machin’s completion of a plaster cast blackened to generate the correct highlights, proofs were made in various colors. Although most issues were produced with a solid-color background (Figure 3), some have a graduated-color background (Figure 4), and the shilling/pence issues measuring 17'½ x 21½ mm are bicolored. The original Machin series included four higher value stamps measuring 27 x 31 mm (Figure 5).

When Great Britain switched to decimal-denominated postage in 1970, new values were produced from 1/2-penny to 1 pound. In 1977, the four highest values were enlarged to 27 x 38 mm (Figure 6) and all the pound values became bicolored stamps.

The Machin challenge

Several printers produced these definitives in the form of sheet stamps, booklets and coils, and printing methods vary from photogravure, lithography and typography. Numerous types of papers were used, resulting in a variety of phosphor bands of various widths. Figure 7 shows an example of a phosphor band (enhanced for illustration purposes).

Booklet stamps have been issued with one value or mixed-value items in one or more panes, and the Royal Mail added another variety by issuing a booklet sold at discount.

The purpose was to allow Christmas greetings to be mailed at a lower cost, and the letter "D" or a star is printed on the gum side of the stamps from these booklets.

A change in the shape and position of the numerals on various values is another difference to look for. Numerals may be thick or thin and are Scott listed as type I and type II. They are found positioned either close to the drapery or wide to the left of the drapery, and fractions sometimes appear more vertically aligned.


Perforations also differ. The predecimal and photo-gravure decimal size 17'/: x 21'l: mm sheet and booklet stamps perf 15 x 14, while the four larger sized 27 x 31 mm engraved issues are perf 12. The 1977 size 27 x 38 mm issues perf 14 x 15. Furthermore, some 1980-86 redrawn Machins include lithographed issues that perf 13'I: x 14 as well as 15 x 14. This becomes an identification challenge.

The discovery of a counterfeit 24p first-class value gave rise for the need of greater security. Figure 8 shows the solution, an elliptical (syncopated) perforation, which is equal to three regular perforations. Each of the three major Machin stamp printers - Harrison, Questa and Walsall - has a slightly more or less oval ellipse that requires at least a joined pair to see the difference.

Some Machin booklet stamps have a straight edge on the left or right, and coil stamps are perforated on all sides.


The first Machin stamps were produced with a standard gum arabic, but this caused the stamps to curl. Gum arabic, therefore, was phased out as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) gum came into use. Since PVA gum lacked body, dextrin was added to act as a stiffener.

Gum arabic is shiny and white to light cream colored, PVA gum is usually matt (though sometimes slightly shiny) and mottled when compared with gum arabic. Some PVA gums include a greenish blue additive, making them look like dextrin gum.


The basic papers used to produce the Machin issues are coated. The original coated paper was an off-white or creamy color that does not react to ultraviolet light. It was used for the early decimal issues.

Fluorescent-coated paper was used to print the two-color l Op value of 1971. It is much whiter than the original paper, which comes from an optical brightening agent (OBA).

OBA-free fluorescent non-phosphoresced paper was introduced in 1993 as an added security feature for all definitive stamps. It is similar in composition to fluorescent-coated paper but appears less white and, under ultraviolet, has very little fluorescence.

Experimental printings with phosphor-coated paper began in 1969, which resulted in a phosphor band variety for some predecimal issues. For instance, phosphor bands are normally overprinted only on non-phasphorized papers, but some 5d values of 1972 were printed in error with two added bands.

Further experimentation with phosphor papers became the standard with the decimal issues. Thus, the 10p red issue of 1970 appears on both phosphor and non-phosphoresced paper, and some of the surplus paper was used for the large 50p value issued in 1973. An improved variety of phosphor-coated paper with two bands was first used for the 4 1/2p of 1974, and then for the 1976 issue of the 8 ½p without extra bands.

Examples of all-over phosphor errors can be found, caused by a faulty blade in the production equipment, which left a thin film of phosphor ink to transfer to the stamp.

A short-lived experiment was made with preprinted phosphor paper, whereby a separate cylinder was used to distribute phosphor onto fluorescent -coated paper, - visible at the edges of the sheets. The color cylinder was then used to print the stamps. The result is a dull matt appearance, as the phosphor ink prevented a clean imprint of the stamp image. Only three values (1p, 2p and 10p were produced on the preprinted phosphor paper used in 1979.

In 1983, printings were detected appearing on a new advanced coated paper. This paper gave a brighter ultraviolet reaction than phosphor-coated paper and had a greenish hue under the light. Advanced coated paper began to be adopted more widely by March

1983. A lithographic version of the paper was first used by Waddington for printing the 16p Scottish regional issue of 1983.

Other papers used for Machin issues include an OBA-free phosphoresced type, Coated Papers paper produced by Coated Papers Ltd. and used for lithographic printing, and Henry and Leigh Slater paper, also a phosphoresced paper for lithographic printing and first used in 1988. In addition to these primary Machin issue paper types, a few others are worthy of mention. They include papers privately produced by individual printing firms, uncoated paper, silicone-coated paper, and varnished paper.

These are the challenges of collecting the Machin definitives: perforations, gum types, printing methods, use of phosphors and paper varieties. In addition, most of these factors will cause color variations.

Fly specks, cracked plates, scratches, etc., can be collected too, as well as covers showing the use of Machin stamps (Figure 10).

I am enjoying the fun of collecting the definitives of this continuing set. •


The Connoisseur Catalogue of Machin and Decimal Definitives, 10th Edition (edited by James Skinner), Connoisseur Publications, 1995.

December issue

Stamps the U.S. Postal Service Doesn't Want You to Collect

The New MDI-produced Vending Machine Booklets

By Gregg Greenwald, Central Wisconsin Stamp Club

Because of the significance of the subject matter, this feature replaces Gregg's usual "U.S. Varieties Clearinghouse" column. Our many thanks to Gregg for this special effort in keeping us apprised of yet another modern U. S. collecting specialty - this one posing a special challenge for those who enjoy the thrill of the hunt!

Since February 1996, contractor Minnesota Diversified Industries of St. Paul, MN, has been producing a very interesting product for use in U.S. Postal Service vending machines. While this product is generally available across the country, collectors are required to scramble to assemble just a representative collection. The Philatelic Fulfillment Service Center in Kansas City refuses to offer these items for sale, and some supervisors have instructed their philatelic clerks that they are not, under any conditions, to sell these items to collectors.

I am talking about the new vending booklets that contain either specially cut self-adhesive stamps or ordinary pane-stock stamps in quantities of 15 or 30 stamps per booklet. The stamps are placed in a distinct dark blue and white cardboard cover with a die-cut hole, which allows one to see the enclosed stamp issue (Figure 1).

As shown in the accompanying table, the booklets have been produced with many different stamp issues in many different forms. The table lists the existing major items confirmed to date. I have heard of more that may be out there, but have not seen them yet. Since none of the booklets have ever been officially announced, learning about what is available is a matter of whatever happens to show up in local vending machines.


The reason the booklets are produced in the first place is not clear. However, when noting the booklets' face values of $4.80 and $9.60, and that they are only supposed to be sold through vending machines, it would appear they are intended for the convenience of the consumer. These values lend them-selves to a $5 or $10 bill with a minimum of change. The old $6.40 booklets did not work well in vending machines that could only give back Susan B. Anthony dollars in change.


Albuquerque, NM, was chosen as the test sight for these new booklets using the 32c Pink Rose issue. The $4.80 booklet included one pane of 15 stamps; the $9.60 booklet included one pane of 14 and one pane of 16. These booklets were unique because they were shrink-wrapped in a clear plastic film. A problem, however, developed with these booklets because they clogged the vending machines and would not dispense properly. The booklets were taken out of the machines, the shrink-wrap was peeled off, and they were placed back in the machines for sale. Because of this, few shrink-wrapped booklets were saved and they are extremely difficult to find today.


Soon after the experiment in Albuquerque started, vending machine clerks began receiving stocks of the booklets. These booklets were not shrink-wrapped, but did contain stamps other than the 32c Pink Rose. The self-adhesive Love Cherub, as well as the water-activated Utah Statehood and Fulbright Scholarships were some of the first to appear. Unfortunately, though, they were distributed only regionally in accordance with the stamp issue. For example, the Utah Statehood booklet was only available in a couple of Western states. This distribution policy continues as the Iowa and Tennessee Statehood booklets are available only in Iowa and Tennessee, respectively.

Configurations and varieties

The Pink Rose, Love Cherub. Flag Over Porch, and Midnight Angel booklets are made up with two distinct approaches. Their panes are cut from web stock made for the $6.40 over-the-counter panes of 20 in configurations that are unique. They cannot be duplicated from their over-the-counter brethren because the panes from the vending books have stamps below the "Time to Reorder" label, whereas the over-the-counter panes of 20 have the label in the lower-right corner.

Depending upon from where in the web stock the pane was cut, the label can be found in four different positions:

• 1 I (front left)

• 12 (front right)

• 13 (inside left)

• 14 (inside right)

Figure 2 shows the location of these various label positions on a typical 15-stamp web-stock pane.

The latest pane configurations do not contain a label but have had either the upper-left or lower-right stamp peeled off of the pane before being placed in the booklets.

Panes of 15 with the "Time to Reorder" label have received Scott catalog recognition as Pink Rose #2492b, Flag Over Porch #2920f, and Love Cherub #3030b.

Pane-stock booklets are made from ordinary post office panes, with one or two blocks of 15 stamps torn from the pane, folded up accordion-style and spot-glued into the booklet.

Other varieties include those already known with respect to the individual stamp issues. Consequently, a listing of varieties for the current MDI-produced vending booklets would include:

• "Time to Reorder" label position • with/without bull's-eye on label • removed stamp position

• With/without shrink-wrap (Pink Rose only) • smooth/mottled tagging

• Upright/upside-down backing paper

• Cover text/no text/"Item No."/"Item #" • regular/crisscross vending machine item • normal/inverted positions (pane-stock booklets only) with/without plate numbers (pane-stock booklets only)

Since most of these varieties are found only on the web-stock products, it's fortunate far collectors seeking completion that those plate numbers are stripped off during production so the panes can be folded.


Acquiring the different booklets and varieties can be difficult. Only one or two dealers carry a good stock, and none carry a complete stock. I have contacts with a handful of collectors around the country and we trade our extras accumulated in the process of trying to get the many varieties through vending machine purchases on a hit-and-miss basis. Obviously, it is impossible to determine whether the machine will dispense such varieties as tagging, backing paper orientation, label positions 13 and 14, etc.

I do know of a few philatelic clerks who are permitted to sell these booklets. One such clerk is Renate Fearonce of Tucson, AZ. She has a good stock and knows what collectors are looking for. Write to her and ask what she currently has on hand. Don't be afraid to tell her that you are _just starting out. Once you know what she has, simply list the items that you want (try to be as specific as possible as Renate cannot read minds!), total the cost and make your check payable to "Postmaster" for the appropriate amount. Correspondence should be sent to: Renate Fearonce, Philatelic Center, 1501 So. Cherrybell Strav, Tucson, AZ 85726-9998.


This article merely scratches the surface of collecting MDI-produced vending book-lets. More information can be found in various issues of Linn's Stamp News since March 18 of this year. If you are a member of the Bureau Issues Association, be sure to get the next release of the Folded Booklet Checklist. I have seen a working version and it is packed with information. In the meantime, I recommend dealer Kim Cuniberti's (Contemporary Coils) illustrated BOOK LIST #2 for $3 (refunded on first order) plus a 324 SASE. I can also provide information to anyone who has an interest in this topic.

One final note: These are very new collectibles and should be saved as they are purchased with the shrink-wrap or white tab intact. The future may dictate something else. Until that time, it may be best to leave them in their original state. By gently compressing the top and bottom of the booklet, the sides will billow and allow an inside peek at which variety you have in hand.

Please direct comments/questions to me at the address shown above. If a response is requested, please include a SASE. •

Latest update: June 12, 2005

URL:   http://www.WFSCstamps.org/wfsc_atfp_articles_1996.shtml