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Philately Will Get You Nowhere
July 27, 2009 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Even as Snail Mail fades away, people still collect Stamps. Some are valuable. Others are just **stupid**. (You could say the "inverted jenny" is both.)
**this link is the reason for the post
posted by wendell (50 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Man, the internet will snark about ANYTHING.

The real challenge: find something that no one would snark about on the internet.
posted by GuyZero at 2:04 PM on July 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Snail Mail is fading away?
posted by DU at 2:08 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, some of these aren't really that stupid either. Harling is a construction technique, apparently. Used, among other places, in Fife. Boxers in the lighter weight classes actually look pretty much like that. The skateboarding horse is a toy. And... well, actually the "50 years from the revolution" stamp is pretty gay but they had to do something to distract the people from realizing that communism had still not been reached yet. And the Utah centennial stamp actually is stupid. The rest are just not that pretty, but not outright stupid.


The real challenge: find something that no one would snark about on the internet.


Hint: It's not this FPP.
posted by Authorized User at 2:12 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


**Awesome**!
posted by m0nm0n at 2:12 PM on July 27, 2009


famousstamps.org Founder A: I think the layout of each page on our site should feature a magnified version of the relevant stamp so the reader can see each stamp's interesting details.

famousstamps.org Founder B: Nonsense! Why should the images be any larger than an actual stamp? We'll just use small images, but repeat them several times. We'll also put the images on the far right and left sides of the screen, where they won't distract from our eloquent prose. This will also allow us to load up the center of the page with several horizontal banner ads interspersed with the text.

famousstamps.org Founder A: Can't argue with that logic!
posted by brain_drain at 2:14 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like Futura.
posted by rlk at 2:14 PM on July 27, 2009


I just ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store the other day. He told me he has started collecting Third Reich postage stamps, and has been scoring some good deals on ebay lately.

It had never occurred to me that there was trade in Nazi stamps. I am surprised that there are enough remaining to be traded. My friend said he got a sheet of mint Afrika Corps stamps, which is all the more surprising.
posted by Xoebe at 2:16 PM on July 27, 2009


Yeah, I liked a lot of the stupid stamps, but didn't find them especially stupid. I like "plan for better cities" a lot; why don't they make stamps like that anymore?
posted by roll truck roll at 2:17 PM on July 27, 2009


Stupid, stupid blogs.
posted by blucevalo at 2:18 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The stamps aren't stupid, but the lame snarky comments sure are.
posted by rocket88 at 2:21 PM on July 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


the BITCH PLEEZE of stamp blogging
posted by milkrate at 2:25 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a set up and then they mail in the comments.

Sheesh!
posted by mazola at 2:26 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think you stamped your authority on that pun, mazola.
posted by djgh at 2:32 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


2nding rocket88; stupid tumble blog with a stupid title and stupid comments still has pretty amazing stamps.
You are not in junior high anymore, where gay = stupid. Grow the fuck up.
posted by kolophon at 2:33 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Remember in Brewster's Millions when Richard Pryor bought the upisde-down plane misprint stamp? And then he mailed it so he wouldn't have it as an asset?

That was awesome.
posted by jeremy b at 2:36 PM on July 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


We're clearly approaching Peak Snark if it has become economical to mine thin, unrewarding seams like stupid stamps. But the famous stamps are very interesting.
posted by WPW at 2:41 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I keep asking my girlfriend to do an inverted jenny with me, but she keeps saying no. I think I might have to get her drunk first.
posted by hifiparasol at 2:43 PM on July 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Images of mathematicians on stamps, including: Fermat's last theorem, Escher, Pythagoras' Theorem, Bertrand Russell, and more.
posted by mjg123 at 2:43 PM on July 27, 2009


That Russian stamp, with the two guys kissing? I assume it means something like "Soviets' heroic weapons" (?I really don't know?), in reference to the soldier. But is the man on the left supposed to be a peasant, welcoming him as his savior? I'm confused by a stamp.
posted by Sova at 2:44 PM on July 27, 2009


Even as Snail Mail fades away

Except that it isn't. With the exception of first class mail, which can often be replaced by email to better effect and which consequently has decreased in volume to the tune of twenty percent over the last decade, snail mail volume is generally increasing, not decreasing. There was a sharp drop this year, but that had more to do with the economic downturn than the popularity of mail.

The intertubes are great for lotsa things. They are kind of crap at sending parcels, which do not digitize into ones and zeroes like one can do to a sentence. The Post Office isn't going anywhere.
posted by mightygodking at 2:46 PM on July 27, 2009


You are not in junior high anymore, where gay = stupid. Grow the fuck up.

While I fully agree with this statement, I thought the "gay" comment was about the fact that the stamp in question had (what at least appears to be) two men kissing. Which is, in fact, gay.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:50 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


And the Utah centennial stamp actually is stupid.

Umm, why was it stupid to make a stamp based on a celebration that actually took place? ("Every county and town in Utah had special events scheduled to celebrate the centennial during the entire year of 1947.") Should the post office have made a political statement ("let's wait at least three years") or what did I miss here?
posted by effbot at 2:51 PM on July 27, 2009


I'm lucky? enough to live near the post-office that is a philately center. It used to have a separate counter for collectors in the 1980s, or so Reptile tells me. I have a postcrossing account, which is totally awesome for stamps-are-pretty; I try to get interesting US stamps to send out instead of the standard int'l rate one.

But the best ever was the stamp from Singapore. It was a beautiful, native, wild taxi.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:01 PM on July 27, 2009


Metafilter: Which is, in fact, gay.
posted by blucevalo at 3:06 PM on July 27, 2009


But the best ever was the stamp from Singapore. It was a beautiful, native, wild taxi.

That was the one that took away my old man.
posted by GuyZero at 3:09 PM on July 27, 2009


Inverted Jenny...

Man, that sounds like a kinky sexual position.

And now I must figure out a way to get that phrase used as such into some future conversation.
posted by quin at 3:12 PM on July 27, 2009


wildcrdj Which is, in fact, gay.
To the likely reader culture, who only passionately mouth-kiss people in a sexual context, yes. For some other cultures a mouth-kiss implies close and strong emotional connection without necessarily implying sexual emotion. A handshake--probably your usual method of greeting a stranger--will imply entirely other things to other cultures. Cross-cultural interpretation of body language is interesting to think about.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:12 PM on July 27, 2009


Valuable, ha! Valuable if you want to buy them, but trying to sell them is another matter. My uncle collected stamps for decades, buying and organizing them into quite a collection. When he died, no one had any interest in the collection so my father went to some dealers to try to sell it. In the end, he couldn't even get the face value of the stamps, i.e. five cents for a five cent stamp. So like any other type of collecting, if you enjoy the mere act of collection, go for it. If you think you are ever going to make money doing it, I think I have a stamp or two laying around to sell you.
posted by digsrus at 3:17 PM on July 27, 2009


I like Futura.

I had a'63 Ford Falcon Futura for several years. It was a pretty lousy car. A couple of years later, they used the same chassis and power train for the original Mustang.

I certainly hope snail mail is not going the way of the Falcon. When I buy something online, I always appreciate it when the vendor will ship by USPS. Some of them seem to have exclusive contracts with UPS, which pleases me not at all.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:18 PM on July 27, 2009


It used to have a separate counter for collectors in the 1980s.

The big, main, Art Deco, downtown Minneapolis 55401 post office still (I think) has a "Stamp Shoppe". My last visit was 2-3 years ago. You could get any issue from the last few years, until they ran out of stock. Only open M-F during the day, I seem to remember them closing for lunch breaks sometimes, too.

wiki, lileks
posted by gimonca at 3:27 PM on July 27, 2009


When I was a kid I had a friend who collected stamps. He had some marked as "Magyar Posta" and they really looked horrible. They just looked fake and my friend was convinced they were. I knew no better, so I thought the same. It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I found out that Magyar Posta is the postal authority for Hungary.
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:28 PM on July 27, 2009


Stamps look like a relatively easy way for a government to make money. Print off a bunch of little pieces of pretty paper each promising to carry a letter, but sell them to collectors who will never use them. Then print another batch series, and another series, and another series...

The Polish Post Office, for example, has web pages in English so it can sell directly to foreigners who can never use the stamps (unless they visit Poland and mail something home, of course). It's clunky, though -- there's a printable order form -- so they probably sell way fewer stamps than they could if they accepted credit cards and had proper online ordering.
posted by pracowity at 3:29 PM on July 27, 2009


I've got boxes of Nazi era stamps, I doubt they are worth much...

I have a collection that is about to enter a third generation, my dad, me, and next my son... Last appraisal I did on it was about 20 years ago... at about $10,000, (that's only the US stamps, I've never had time to determine the value of the thousands and thousands of foreign stamps...

It's a fun hobby on a cold winter night with a glass of wine...
posted by HuronBob at 3:37 PM on July 27, 2009


I have an Orange Free State stamp, from the short-lived Boer republic. It's quite unusual. I have no idea if it's valuable; I like it and I'm keeping it.
posted by WPW at 3:42 PM on July 27, 2009


I just wanted to say I love this post's title.
posted by unregistered_animagus at 3:43 PM on July 27, 2009


It had never occurred to me that there was trade in Nazi stamps. I am surprised that there are enough remaining to be traded.

It's my understanding that postal service between the US and Germany was not interrupted during the war, and that mail passed through Ireland, ostensibly neutral. I have a bunch of thank you letters addressed to my German grandfather, for sending blocks of butter to relatives during the war.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:52 PM on July 27, 2009


Stamps look like a relatively easy way for a government to make money.

And occasionally they find other ways to do so: CIA stamp caper.

[my uncle was the one who filed the FOIA request, which is why I can remember an obscure story from 1987]
posted by wildcrdj at 4:22 PM on July 27, 2009


The stupid stamps blog less funny if you have a basic level of knowledge.

For example, the comment on Copernicus is only funny if you don't know who he was, at least to the point of associating him with the heliocentric model.

The comment on "plan for better cities" is only funny if you are unfamiliar with the convention of representing geographic regions in two dimensions as if viewed from above, or something known as "a map."
posted by justkevin at 4:29 PM on July 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hmmm ... there's not much there, considering all the examples I've seen.

Hey, maybe there's a snail-mail address on the site somewhere, I've got this bagfull of Czech commemoratives I needa lose ...
posted by Twang at 5:56 PM on July 27, 2009


justkevin, I like your technological achievement, but would like to suggest an improvement wherein the structures represented in said "map" are shown in a reduced scale from the real things, so as to reduce the "map's" footprint.

Or bigger envelopes.
posted by qvantamon at 7:00 PM on July 27, 2009


I've got a bunch of Soviet and east block stuff - the Subversive Commie Stamp Brigade - but I must say I was surprised when I first ran into the Russian soldiers kissing stamps (there's more than one if I remember correctly). I enjoy the history and art - cheap way to get bits of history.....
posted by pdxjmorris at 7:22 PM on July 27, 2009


It's surprising how many of those "stupid" stamps I have. Many people don't know that you can buy [and use] unused US postage on eBay for (sometimes) below face value and then use it just like regular old postage, only cool looking and paper, not plastic.
posted by jessamyn at 8:51 PM on July 27, 2009


the BITCH PLEEZE of stamp blogging

I'm surprised to say it, but that SNL skit (I hadn't seen it) was so much funnier than the stamp blog.
posted by dammitjim at 10:18 PM on July 27, 2009


Umm, why was it stupid to make a stamp based on a celebration that actually took place? ("Every county and town in Utah had special events scheduled to celebrate the centennial during the entire year of 1947.") Should the post office have made a political statement ("let's wait at least three years") or what did I miss here?

Did you even RTFA?

From the link:
So, the most interesting thing they could find to put on a stamp about Utah statehood happened before it became a state. Clearly, Utah peaked early

And no, it wasn't that stupid, it was just stupid in constract to the less stupid ones
posted by Authorized User at 12:41 AM on July 28, 2009


Did you even read the FA I linked to? Obviously, for the people Utah in 1947, the arrival of the first settlers in 1847 was the defining event - and led up to Utah being established as a territory a few years later. They spent the entire year celebrating that event. And the stamp is reflecting that fact - the event wasn't something the post office invented on its own. So in what way is the stamp stupid? Is a 1947 newpaper article about the celebrations also automatically stupid and snark-worthy?
posted by effbot at 1:05 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oops. Sorry. I assumed the person writing the original blog post was correct about the centennial stamp being in celebration of the statehood of Utah, instead of the centennial of those people deciding this is the place. My bad. So in that case not only is the stamp not stupid but the person writing the article is.

(In defense of my indefensible historical ignorance: I am not from America.
posted by Authorized User at 6:28 AM on July 28, 2009


My hobby is gay. What of it? I learned a lot of geography and history as kid working on my collection. And no, a collector almost never gets the money out of it that he put into it. That's why it's a hobby and not an investment or a business.
posted by jdfan at 11:14 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why did the US post office GET RID OF THE FRIGGING STAMP VENDING MACHINES? NOW YOU HAVE TO STAND IN LINE TO BUY A FRIGGING STAMP!
posted by telstar at 1:53 AM on July 29, 2009


There are lots of stamp vending machines around... ?

Anyway, the USPS should just let third parties sell stamps like in Canada. I mean, why can't 7-11 sell stamps?
posted by GuyZero at 10:46 AM on July 29, 2009


Lots of places sell stamps in the US, usually with a small surcharge. I remember when I lived in Seattle a long time ago you could get them out of the SeaFirst ATMs. In rural areas, you can just leave money in your mailbox and a note for the mailman and they'll leave stamps in your mailbox.
posted by jessamyn at 10:57 AM on July 29, 2009


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