This page includes Shaughnessy Takes On... columns from the 2001 issues of Across the Fence Post.
The U.S. Postal Service 2001 philatelic paper chase
By Howard Shauahnessy, Lake County (IL) Philatelic Society
To open the new century, starting out with all the political name calling/shenanigans, is the appropriate Year of the Snake stamp with its paper-cutting design. Let's hope there are no hanging chads on this one.
And quickly followed by the Lovebirds, Bush and Gore.
Thank goodness for the new versions of the 1c, 2c and 4v inverted Pan-Ams. These stamps will be the only ones not having the new 34c postage rate. Of course, they are part of a "decorated pane," which will also include four diamond-shape stamps each with a face value of 80c. That explains the "pain" to your wallet.
The idea that living Americans cannot be shown on our stamps has been exploded with the Baseball's Legendary Playing Fields issue. There are thousands of fans depicted on most of those stamps. See that guy in the Yankee Stadium stands without his shirt? Well, that's me just behind him. No, maybe not. I need a more powerful magnifying glass to confirm.
Sadly, Snoopy, the Peanuts beagle stamp is merely a label. If it was meant to be a tribute to his creator, Charles Schulz, this World War I aviator should have shot it down in flames. Amish quilts - don't laugh. These antique quilts go for as much as a bad copy of the Inverted Jenny, thousands of dollars. You'll be able to buy four miniatures for $1.36. Those Amish recycled their worn-out clothing into these quilts. Nary a zipper to be had; just watch out for straight pins.
At last a way to rid your home of the Insects & Spiders stamps comes when the set of four Carnivorous Plants is issued. Sure hope they are self-adhesives - wouldn't want one of them to bite my tongue!
The Great Plains Prairie sheet is as labeled - great. But c'mon, a bison smaller than a prairie dog? As they are cheek-by-jowl in the sheet the difference jumps out. Yes, I know, prairie dogs do jump out and in their burrows. Only missing mammals are tourists, lots of them!
More greats are in the sheet of American Illustrators. Some have been previously honored on stamps but all suffer from the tiny images of their works. I find it ironic that the Norman Rockwell stamp will be 34c. When it was originally printed on a Saturday Evening Post cover, that price was a nickel.
Could of, should of been a semipostal ... the Diabetes Awareness issue. The ice was broken with the Breast Cancer Awareness stamp and most collectors wouldn't complain if one semi-postal were issued each year to help end a deadly disease. So many diseases, so few semipostals. Attention, USPS printers: Be careful how you print the Islamic festival issue. If printed backwards, easy to do looking at the design, the word "Eid" becomes "Die."
To be continued ....
February issue No column this issue
By Howard Shaughnessv,Lake Couri,y (IL) Philatelic Society
…by noting the 100th anniversary of the passing of Queen Victoria of England at age 81. It was during her term back in 1840 that the first postage stamp was created with her image. At the time Rowland Hill created the Penny Black, he went to see Her Majesty and hailed her. Her reply, "What do you mean coming in here hailing me, can't you see I'm reigning?"
Listening in on last fall's conversation between the postmaster general and the post-master of Interior, SD. population 67:
"Hello, may I speak to the postmaster?" "Postmaster, here and speaking. Would you make it short; I have a customer who wants to buy a stamp."
"Well, this is the PMG in Washington, D.C., you know the place where all the stamps originate. I'm happy to inform you that on February 21. that's in the year 2001, your office is going to have the first-day of issue sales not far just one issue, but for three stamps and a postal card. What do you think of that?"
"Are you crazy? I'm not only the postmaster. I also clean up the place, direct lost tourists, sell sodas, maps and other sundries, and you expect me to sell a bunch of stamps on one day!"
"I thought you'd be tickled pink in having the first-day of issue stamps in Interior. Say, just where is your town located?"
"Sir, we're so small we aren’t even listed in the Rand McNally. Say, what kind of stamps are you thinking about issuing?"
"We'll have one far the bison ..." "Bison? What's that? We've got buffalos and prairie dogs and ..." "Bison. That's the correct name for your buffalos. In addition, we're doing a Deco Eagle
"Deco Eagle? No Indian chief by that name around these parts."
"No, deco is an artistic style, popular back in the 1930s. Then we'll have another for George ..."
"Bush? Heck, he hasn't been elected yet. Do you folks know something we don't?" "George WASHINGTON, the first president. He's been on a lot of our stamps as you know. Finally, we're doing a postal card of the Badlands, the national park just down the road from you."
"The Badlands. Heck, you should issue all these stamps out of the Wall Drug Store in Wall. They could handle it. They own most of the town."
"Wall Drug. Oh yes, there's a billboard advertising it just outside the beltway. Say, you might have a good thought there. Let me get back to you."
Speaking of the U.S. Postal Service, their recent postal bulletin describing the current domestic rates runs to 324 pages - "Amazing rates, how sweet it is ..." And those internationals, groups one to five, and that's just for letters. Show me a postal clerk who knows all the rates by heart and I'll show you a mainframe computer.
See that tiny window of opportunity in the years 2002 to 2010 where the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee selects semipostals? Well, those semis are charitable organizations with their pedals to the metal being selected for this honor. Forget about campaign finance reform, this is the biggie.
Larry King (yeah, the CNN TV talk show host, columnist, etc.) is joining the CSAC along with Liz Torres. She is not a stamp collector, nor a recognized name; however, she is, according to her agent, "a woman, a Hispanic and an actress who will bring a different dimension to the committee." I think she's going to help Larry King look in the files for extinguished Americans who wore suspenders or sombreros.
Hattie Caraway, the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate and the third subject in the Distinguished Americans series; sets up an interesting question: namely, in future years, will Hillary Clinton as the first woman to be both a first lady and an elected senator have postal paper for her? I suggest that since Bill will get his as a departed prexie, their issue be tete-beche. (I don't know the French term for posterior to posterior.) •
April issue No column this issue
By Howard Shaughnessy Lake County (IL) Philatelic Society
At a Milwaukee post office, a woman complained to the clerk that a Pony Express rider could get a letter from Milwaukee to St. Louis in two days, and now it takes three. "I'd like to know why," she scoffed. The clerk thought a moment and then suggested, "The horses are a lot older now?"
Something else that is getting old rather quickly is constant rate increase, which brings a continual stream of new postal paper. We barely get acquainted with the new 34s when the powers that be are looking to put such increases on a fast (or is it half-fast?) track bypassing the Postal Rate Commission - all because the Postal Service's red ink is now in the several-billion-dollar neighborhood. I didn't realize it was USPS.com.
Getcha programs here. You can't tell an airmail stamp without one. Case in point, the new 80-cent Mt. McKinley stamp that has no indicia indicating airmail. The Scott folks, however, intend to list it as such in their catalogs because "issues that meet a specific international airmail rate and contain an airplane silhouette" (there is one next to the "SO" on the McKinley stamp) "will be treated by Scott as an airmail stamp." Gosh, at the pace our first-class rates are raising, 80-cent may be our next regular rate. So, let's start applying plane silhouettes to all our stamps. By the way, when our president sees this stamp, he'll want to drill for oil in it.
I shed a tear at the news that Helio Courvoisier closed its doors at the end of April. As I collect some of the 70 countries this Swiss printer published over the years, many of their creations are in my albums. They were a class act; some say the Rolls Royce of stamp printers. The reason for calling it quits was simple: too much competition in the international market. I read that as labels masquerading as stamps.
I have mixed emotions about the U.S.-Sweden joint issue honoring Alfred Nobel and the centennial of his Nobel Prizes. Young Alfred's father was a successful manufacturer of land mines and war material. Alfred continued this tradition by working with nitroglycerine, then inventing dynamite, both of which were much in demand by nations engaging in war.
After he had made millions selling these destructive forces, Alfred thought about his legacy ... would I wish to be remembered as the guy who blew us to kingdom come or can I redeem myself by setting aside some of my fortune to reward achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and, oh yes, world peace. Alfred might just have been the first spin-doctor as most folks recall the high-minded prizes and not the war material.
One of the American Philatelic Society affiliates is the Lighthouse Stamp Society (No. 221) for those who collect lighthouses on stamps. The Web site is: www.lighthousestampsociety.org. This begs the question: If I want to join, do I have to do light housekeeping?
.July/August issue No column this issue
September issue No column this issue
By Howard Shaughnessy, Lake County (IL) Philatelic Society
Good-bye, Jesse. The North Carolina Republican has announced his retirement from the Senate. While he didn't give the U.S. Postal Service as a reason for retiring, it certainly raised his blood pressure over the years. What with stamps issued for Malcolm X, W.E.B. DuBois, Tennessee Williams, and Frida Kahlo, it was just too much for ol' Jesse.
Why did he not raise a furor over a stamp issued in August for a red-haired Hollywood and TV legend? Yep, Lucille Ball registered as a Communist back in 1936 at the insistence of her grandfather. You can look in the Freedom of Information files where the FBI has 142 pages on Ms. Ball.
I was curious to see how Linn's would handle the news regarding the alleged bid-rigging conspiracy by seven well-known auction houses, most of which are major advertisers in its publication. It took two weeks after the story broke on the Internet but it was front-page news in Linn's August 13 issue. The alleged violations of the Sherman Act and state laws involving restraint of trade in California, New York and Maryland brought by the attorneys general of these states was given the full treatment. I thought the dealers' responses summed up the story:
"I'm told by my attorneys that I shouldn't comment right now." " No comment. Good-bye." "This is vastly out of all proportion." Others were unavailable for comment as they were out of the country or otherwise occupied. One dealer's half-page ad in the same issue headlined, "Put the future of your collection in good hands," while another notes in his ad that appears in the American Philatelist that he is "probably the world's most traveled stamp dealer." If found guilty, these folks won't be doing much traveling in the future.
The King has left the building. Larry King, that is. Appointed to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee back in January of this year, the CNN talk-show host never showed at a meeting. I figure he expected the rest of the group to show up on his TV show.
Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong, pedaling for the USPS cycling team and winner of his third Tour de France, has been asked to have his team deliver the mail back home. Certainly they will do a faster and better job. Trouble is that it will put a slug of snails out of work, but we could export them to France. What is the overseas postal rate for "S" cargo?
I would have thought that members of the American Philatelic Society's board of directors would have come up with MATCHing funds to purchase the old match factory that they are going to make over into the society's new headquarters. The factory, which dates back to the 19th century, sold for $370,000. To bring it into the 21st century will cost up to $8 million. Need to sell a lot of stamps and recruit a whole bunch of new members to pay off that loan.
In a related story, the society is contemplating raising its dues and members are raising their voices in opposition to both the match factory and dues increase. Who does the APS think it is, the Postal Service?
November issue No column this issue
December issue No column this issue
Latest update: June 14, 2005