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Mail missiles ;)

It was a cold day in January of 1959 when United States Postmaster General, Arthur E. Summerfield, thought he had stumbled upon a stroke of genius. Not one to dilly dally with such a mental feat, he hastily made a bold and proud statement promising tax-paying citizens that before man reached the moon, “your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to England, to India or to Australia by guided missiles.” He nearly made his prediction a reality. Just six months later, on June 9, he launched a Regulus I guided missile carrying 3,000 pieces of souvenir mail. High-ranking officials such as President Eisenhower and Supreme Court justices were among the lucky recipients.

On June 8, 1959, the U.S. Navy submarine USS Barbero launched a nuclear-capable turbojet cruise missile towards a naval base in Mayport, Florida. And after 100 miles and just over 20 minutes in the air, it would deliver its payload. Not a 4,000-pound warhead like it was designed to hold, but rather letters, performing the the United States’ first and last official missile mail delivery.

“This peacetime employment of a guided missile for the important and practical purpose of carrying mail is the first known official use of missiles by any post office department of any nation,” Summerfield claimed.

Summerfield’s missile was fired from the U.S.S. Barbero submarine 100 miles off the Atlantic coast to a naval air station near Jacksonville, FL. Navy planes guided the missile by radio control to its parachute landing in just 22 minutes. The Postmaster said this novel way of sending birthday cards, pen pal letters, and unwanted junk mail was “of historic significance to the peoples of the entire world.”

Cost-efficiency doomed Summerfield’s plan. But expenses weren’t the only criticism of the high-flying Missile Mail. The day after the launch, the Los Angeles Times observed that the real need for speed was in handling mail before and after transport: “We hopefully look forward to the time when the lines in front of post office windows are jet propelled. Or when rocket belts are issued to those who manage to take a week to deliver a letter mailed within the same city.”

Who is the controversial postage stamp inventor ?

Postage can reveal more than the history of a letter, it can reveal the history of a nation.

“Philately” is the proper term coined in 1865 by Georges Herpin for the studying of stamps and stamp collecting. He, who very well may have been the first stamp collector, from the Ancient Greek φιλο (philo), meaning “love of” and ἀτέλεια (atelīa), meaning “without tax.” Of course, because the ancient Greeks didn’t have postage stamps, there was no proper Greek word for the idea.

Georges Herpin

Before adhesive paper stamps came along, letters were hand-stamped or postmarked with ink. Postmarks were invented by Henry Bishop and were at first called “Bishop mark.” Bishop marks were first used in 1661 at the London General Post Office. They marked the day and month the letter was mailed.

350 Years of the Postmark Generic Sheet

James Chalmers was born in Arbroath, Scotland in 1782 and later worked as a bookseller and printer in Dundee. It is claimed Mr Chalmers thought of the idea of an adhesive stamp in about 1834 and passed his plans to parliament in 1839.

But it was only with the publication of a pamphlet Post Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability by Rowland Hill in 1837. In it he proposed a single rate of postage, tied to the use of adhesive stamps. The result was the penny post, introduced in 1840 alongside the world’s first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black, the credit went to Kidderminster man Rowland Hill.

Sir Rowland Hill himself designed the first stamp which cost one penny and bore the profile of Queen Victoria. Because the stamp was printed in black, the 1-cent stamp soon became known as the “Penny Black” — the world’s most popular stamp. These first stamps were imperforate, meaning that people had to cut apart the sheets of stamps. The first perforated stamps did not appear until 1854 (1857 in the United States, 1854 in Great Britain).

Rowland Hill went on to achieve great acclaim, considerable wealth and a knighthood. “It’s always the winners that write history.”

Robert Murray, who owns a stamp shop in Edinburgh, said: “Rowland Hill wasn’t very keen on the idea of adhesive postage stamps; James Chalmers was one person who strongly put forward the idea.

“It seems Rowland Hill only wanted to take the claim for it once they had become popular with the public.

Sir Rowland has since been honored over and over again by postal services throughout the world, in particular on the centenary of his death (1979), the bicentenary of his birth (1995) and the 150th anniversary of the invention of the postage stamp (1990). Among the most beautiful commemorative issues printed on those various occasions are a truly magnificent one from Portugal and others from Chile, Ghana and the United Kingdom.

James’ son, Patrick Chalmers, worked tirelessly throughout his life to have his father’s role in the invention of the adhesive postage stamp recognised. The substance of his campaign is told in the inscription on the gravestone he erected over his father’s grave in 1888: “Originator of the adhesive postal stamp, which saved the penny postage scheme of 1840 from collapse, rendering it an unqualified success, and which has been adopted throughout the postal systems of the world.”

As of 2013 the value of one penny in 1840 ranges from 32p (GBP) to 4.89 (GBP); the latter based on mean income. It would appear that the cost to an established semi-skilled man of sending a letter in 1840 can be represented by approximately 1.00 (GBP) in 2013 values (

Postage stamps quickly spread from England to the rest of the world. In 1843, they were adopted in Brazil and in the Swiss cantons of Zurich and Geneva, and in 1845 the canton of Basel issued its famous Basel Dove – the first stamp to be printed in three colors. France, Belgium and Bavaria started putting out stamps in 1849, and other countries soon followed suit.

The first stamps were imperforate: perforated stamps, which are easier to detach, were only invented in 1851. The originator of this idea was Henry Ascher – an Englishman as well.


• Patrick Chalmers, Robert Wallace MP and James Chalmers, the Scottish Postal Reformers, published by Effingham Wilson & Co, 1890

• Leah Chalmers, How the adhesive postage stamp was born, London, P S King & Son Ltd, 1939, 33pp

• William J Smith & J E Metcalfe, James Chalmers Inventor of the adhesive postage stamp, David Winter & Son Ltd, 1971, 148pp

Where to Get Stamps?

As a beginning stamp collector, the first thing you must do is gather some STAMPS! There are lots of places where you can get stamps.

Here are some good sources:

Your Mailbox

Save stamps from envelopes, packages, and postcards that come to your house. One needs to register oneself with the local post office and infact some countries also allow for international registrations. So go ahead and join them.

Local Post Office

You can purchase new (mint) stamps from your local post office.Friends, Relatives and Local Businesses

Ask friends, relatives, and local businesses to save their stamps for you.

Pen Pals

Find a pen pal, perhaps a friend or relative, so you can send each other letters with cool stamps.

Stamp Dealers

Stamp dealers are a great source of older stamps and often offer inexpensive packages containing many different stamps from all over the world. To find a stamp dealer in your area visit the online.

Local Stamp Clubs.

Join a local stamp club where you can trade with members or ask for help getting started.

Stamp Shows

Find stamps and meet other collectors at stamp shows thta happen periodically across many cities an countries.

The Kheyati online stampstore (to be launched shortly) and Kheyati Sales by Mail are excellent sources for our blog lovers to buy stamps.

What stamps to Collect?

Worldwide Collecting

Many people begin by collecting everything worldwide. The countries of the world issue a total of about 10,000 postage stamps each year! Unless you have a lot of money, space, and time, at some point trying to collect every stamp ever issued is probably unrealistic.

Country Collecting

Traditionally, collectors specialize by choosing a single country to collect, most often their home country, the country where they spent a memorable vacation, or a country whose stamps just look interesting. For a few countries obtaining every stamp issued is possible without having to spend a fortune. However for most countries, there will probably be at least a few stamps that most of us cannot afford. Thus some collectors will narrow their specialty even further, perhaps limiting themselves to stamps issued since they were born.

Topical Collecting

Another increasingly popular method of collecting is by topic. Topicals give you an opportunity to explore all types of stamps from all over the world. Most are relatively inexpensive and allow you to customize and organize your collection however you want. Think of any topic and someone probably collects it. Animals, birds, flowers, ships, space, scouts, Disney, and sports are some of the most popular topics. However, exhibits have been put together on far less common topics such as rainbows and even outhouses on stamps. Topicals are also great because you can choose what types of material to include. Most topical collectors look for special postmarks that relate to their topic. First day covers and postal stationery also offer great opportunities for topical collections.

Mint or Used

Most people come to prefer either mint stamps or used stamps. Mint stamps have never been used and look the way they did when they were sold at the post office. Used stamps have served their intended purpose of carrying the mail. There are several advantages to collecting used rather than mint stamps. Most stamps cost less used than mint, although there are exceptions. You do not have to worry about preserving the gum on use stamps and can use inexpensive stamp hinges to mount your stamps on album pages. Sometimes the cancellations on used stamps are of interest. The choice to collect mint, used, or even a mixture of the two is your decision alone.

Collecting by Type

Some individuals collect stamps based on the type of stamp, such as airmail stamps or coil stamps. This category may appeal to you if you are interested in stamps used to pay special services such as special delivery or postage due. However the majority of philatelists collect stamps of all types.

Souviner or Miniature Sheet

souvenir sheet or miniature sheet is a small group of postage stamps still attached to the sheet on which they were printed. They may be either regular issues that just happen to be printed in small groups (typical of many early stamps), or special issues often commemorating some event, such as a national anniversary, philatelic exhibition, or government program. The number of stamps ranges from one to about 25; larger sheets of stamps are simply called “sheets” with no qualifier.

Both the stamps and the entire sheet are valid for mailing, although they are almost always sold above face value and kept in mint collection by collectors; a handful of usages may be found as philatelic covers.

Other Traits

Some collectors prefer to collect stamps of a certain shape or color. Be creative! If you see colorful stamps coming in the mail that interest you, collect them! One individual may choose to collect only yellow stamps, another stamps issued on their birthday, and aa third may be building a collection with cancels numbered one to one million. The important thing about stamp collecting is not the value of your collection or how many other people collect the same thing, but rather personal enjoyment.

First steps in becoming a philatelist

Any philatelist (the official name for stamp researchers and collectors) will tell you this: build your collection around a focus that interests you, whether it’s cars or birds or your family’s country of origin. This way stamps become a vehicle for learning about a broader subject in all its nuances.

For starters – One could have a pile of stamps, and you start arranging them by country, Stamp collecting is very much an aesthetic hobby.

What you’ll pay

You get what you pay for when it comes to rare stamps. While there’s no firm rule on pricing, collectors buying at auctions should expect to pay 40% to 50% of the catalogue price, said Joseph Cottriall, who works as a stamp valuer for Warwick & Warwick in the UK, and a consultant to Sotheby’s in the US. The catalogue price is the amount listed in industry-respected publications by the likes of Stanley Gibbons in London, Scott in the US, Michel for the German-speaking world and Yvert et Tellier in France.

When deciding how much you’re willing to spend, first determine how rare the stamp is. Some of the world’s most coveted examples are the result of printing errors (like the British television stamp without the queen’s head), but others may have become scarce due to political or historic circumstances. Sometimes, the piece of mail a stamp is fastened to — perhaps a letter displaying traces of war history — can raise the price by a few hundred dollars.

The most prized stamp Cottriall has ever encountered is the inverted Jenny, an American stamp from 1918 depicting a blue old-fashioned biplane surrounded by a red vintage border. It looks like your average classic stamp until you realise the plane, or Jenny, was printed upside down. One hundred examples slipped through the printers, each worth at least $100,000 today, depending on condition.

“I looked at it under a magnifying glass and was like, ‘Wow, this is the value of a house!’” Cottriall recalled.

Quality is paramount. Generally, a mint stamp (one straight from the post office) will cost more than a used stamp. Mint stamps should be in mint condition, meaning no tears, folds or colour damage as well as an intact “stamp hinge” (the paper coating that guards the adhesive on the back). Even a stamp worth a few dollars could fetch a couple hundred if it’s the best example of a specific design on the market.

Stamps should be kept in high-quality albums or stock books. These generally range from about $75 to $150. “Hingeless” albums are considered the safest because they contain individual plastic sleeves that don’t require sticking stamps to pages, which can damage a stamp’s back. Albums should be stored in a cool place, away from areas that can get cold and damp or hot and humid.

What to look for

Older stamps are generally more valuable than modern stamps, Savastano said. Most modern “special” and “commemorative” sets released by countries for publicity and economic reasons have little value since so many are printed.

“In England, practically anything that’s been issued in the past 45 years immediately drops to 60% of face value,” he said.

Value can also change dramatically over the course of a decade or two, depending upon politics and collector interest. Take China for example. In the 1960s, few people wanted to buy stamps from a communist country. But today, a sheet of stamps from 1962 called Stage Art of Mei Lanfang is worth around $15,000.

China, Hong Kong, Japan and India are all in high demand at the moment, reflecting the growing trend of collecting in Asia. Western European stamps, on the other hand, are dropping in value. That’s because collectors who have been buying such countries as Switzerland, Germany and Italy for the past 60 years are now selling and flooding the market. However, classic stamps from these countries can still be valuable. Stamps from the UK, Commonwealth countries and the US tend to retain value since so many people continue to collect from these nations.

Where to buy it

While finding a rare stamp at a car boot sale or an antique shop might fit the idealistic story of a lucky find, the majority of known rare stamps have already been snapped up.

You’re better off going to a reputable dealer or auctioneer who can certify a stamp’s authenticity. The dealer Stanley Gibbons is considered an international authority, and specialist auction houses include Warwick & Warwick, Spink, Corinphila and David Feldman. In theory, auction houses are cheaper since dealers add markups that can double the price. But auctions are driven by bidders, and bidding wars can inflate prices substantially higher and create a lot of variance in the final sale.

Stamp fairs such as Stampex and travelling world stamp exhibitions are great places to meet dealers and scout out stock.

While the internet has enabled collectors to pursue their hobby ever more fervently, buying online is risky. It’s tougher to discern fakes and defects, or to spot the fine details of colour and pattern that separate a common stamp from its celebrated sister. Still, many people buy on sites like eBay, and it could play to a buyer’s advantage if the seller doesn’t know bogus from big money.

“There is no substitute for experience,” Cottriall said. “Collect a country or period you are interested in; learn about the people, culture and stamps issued; and you could become an expert.”

Stamp Glossary

Airmail Stamp    Stamp issued specifically to prepay postage for mail carried by air.

Approvals            Look before buying” opportunity where stamps are sent to a collector for examination. Approvals offer the collector a wide range of material to choose from and must be bought or returned to the dealer within a specified time

Block     Stamp collecting terminology for four or more attached stamps forming a square or rectangle.

Booklet Panes   Small, specifically-printed sheets of stamps sold in a booklet format.

Cachet  Illustration or description on an envelope denoting the commemorative purpose for which it was mailed.

Cancellation       Stamp collecting term for any mark applied to a stamp to prevent its reuse.

Centering            The position of the design on a stamp. On perfectly centered stamps, the design is exactly in the middle.

Coil Stamp     Stamp produced in a roll for use in vending machines. Usually identified by a pair of straight edges on opposite sides.

Commemorative Stamp Stamp issued specifically to honor a person, place or event; usually on sale for only a short period of time.

Commemorative Sheet A small sheet of stamps bearing a commemorative inscription.

Cover    An envelope, postcard or any other wrapper used to mail correspondence.

Cut Square          The cut corner of a postal stationery item (envelope or postcard) bearing the imprinted stamp with ample margins.

Definitive            Stamp issued for ordinary postal use that remains on sale for an extended period of time.

Denomination   The monetary value printed on a stamp.

Die         The stamp design is engraved on this small flat piece of soft steel used to print the stamp.

Duck Stamp        Issued annually since 1934, these U.S. duck hunting permits help finance the federal waterfowl program.

Embossed Envelope       An envelope bearing a postage stamp with raised surface designs printed on the envelope itself.

Errors    Stamp collecting terminology for highly-collectible stamps because of something incorrect in their design or manufacture.

First Day Cover  Envelope or card postmarked on the affixed stamp’s first day of use.

First Flight Cover              Envelope or card carried on the inaugural mail flight between two points.

Grill        Series of small dots embossed on a stamp allowing ink from the postmark to sink in, thus preventing cleaning and reuse of the stamp.

Gum      Stamp collecting terminology for the coating of glue on the back of an unused stamp.

Hinges  Small gummed, glassine strips used to affix stamps to album pages.

Imperforate Stamp         Stamp collecting terminology for a stamp bearing straight edges on all four sides.

Invert    Stamp with one part of its design upside down in relation to the rest of the stamp.

Mint      Stamps in original unused condition, never canceled.

Mint Sheet         An entire sheet of stamps in original unused condition.

Official Stamp    Stamp valid solely for government agency use.

Overprint            Any printing added to a stamp after the original printing was completed.

Pair        Two unseparated stamps joined either vertically or horizontally.

Perforations       Holes punched between stamps on a sheet to facilitate separation.

Perforation Gauge           Stamp collecting terminology for a device that measures the number ofperforations on a stamp per two centimeters.

Philately               Technical name for stamp collecting.

Pictorial                Stamp that features a view such as a landscape or seascape, rather than a portrait, coat of arms or other symbolic design.

Plate Block          Four or more attached stamps still fastened to the margin on which the number of the printing plate is inscribed.

Postal Stationery              Envelopes, cards or other covers bearing imprinted or impressed stamps.

Postmark             Marking on a postal item recording the date and/or origin of its transit through the mail system.

Precancel            Stamp collecting terminology for a stamp canceled by the post office before it is sold.

Revenue Stamp Any stamp that indicates payment of a tax or fee.

Rouletting           The use of slits or cuts between stamps to facilitate separation.

Self-Adhesive    A stamp with a pressure-sensitive adhesive that does not require moistening to affix the stamp to paper.

Selvage Stamp collecting terminology for unprinted paper around panes of stamps, sometimes called the margin.

Semi-Postal        Stamp from which all or part of the sales receipts go to charity or other causes.

Se-Tenant           Term describing adjoining stamps that differ from each other in design, denomination or some other aspect.

Surcharge            Stamp collecting term for overprint altering or establishing a stamp’s face value.

Tab         Illustrated or descriptive label attached to a stamp.

Tongs    Stamp collecting term for metal tweezers used for safe and easy handling of stamps.

Topicals                A group of stamps with the same theme, such as space travel or Disney cartoons.

Unused A stamp with no cancellation or other sign of use.

Used     A stamp that has been canceled.

Watermark         Stamp collecting term for design or pattern in paper formed during the manufacturing process, valuable as a security precaution against forgery.

Watermark Detector      A method of safely determining the existence of a watermark by placing a stamp in a tray filled with special fluid.

How do you start your first collection

How do you start your first collection, develop and improve an existing collection, or add a new collection?

There are a multitude of ways to collect stamps, have fun and grow a collection that is just right for you. Whether it is the thrill of the hunt, thoughts of exotic locales, or learning something new, stamp collecting can be an adventure filled with wonderful memories.
Stamp collecting is a major hobby among many people worldwide. Stamp collecting helps instruct the collector in geography, biography, history, culture and art. One of the aspects of stamps that collectors find most fascinating is their ability to reveal much about the history and culture of other places.
Stamps are miniature gateways to the world. It can be started easily enough, and can grow to a wonderful collection over time. Stamp collecting is a hobby that is simple enough to get started by children or adults alike, and can be continued for decades. If you are new to stamp collecting, follow this blog to get started and discover some useful tips and resources.

Starting a Stamp Collection

As with any hobby, there are some supplies you’ll need to get started with a stamp collection. While it may go without saying, a stamp album is essential. Since it is imperative to preserve the stamps as much as possible, a pair of tweezers will be needed for handling, and will prevent fingerprints, sweat or grease from getting on the stamp. Remember, the condition of the stamp has a large impact on its value. A magnifying glass is also very useful for inspecting fine details. Make sure to keep the stamps and stamp albums away from moisture, warm areas, and light. Depending on your preference, the collection can be arranged according to a theme, such as country, time period, or subject. Older collectors might even pass on their collection to children or grandchildren. As the collection grows larger, it becomes more and more important to properly catalog the stamps so that you know exactly what you have.

Finding and Collecting Stamps

An easy way to start collecting stamps is to simply ask people you know to pass on stamps from mail that they have received. If a friend is going on vacation, ask them to send you a postcard or purchase a few stamps for you. Elderly people may also have old pieces of mail with out of print stamps. These stamps can make an especially interesting addition to a collection. As the collection grows, you may become more interested in purchasing stamps to complete a theme. Try hunting at garage sales, at stamp collector events, at online specialty stores or through stamp dealers. Serious stamp collectors end up investing enormously in rare, vintage and unused stamps over time. There are plenty of online forums and communities for stamp collectors to compare and discuss their findings. These types of message boards are also extremely useful sources for new stamp collectors to find answers about stamps that they currently have or are seeking.

If you have decided to collect according to a country, topic, or any other area of stamp collecting that you want to concentrate on, you may want to keep in touch with others who are collecting the same way. There are numerous specialized stamp clubs locally or nationwide. Many of these clubs can be found through web searches using the terms “stamps” and your collecting topic.

a variety of philately bulletins and pamphlets

Often when a club has members around the country, the only way for them to keep in touch with each other is through a magazine, newsletter, or bulletin. You may want to subscribe to a philatelic magazine that covers your interests. There are stamp journals which let you know what is going on in the field in general, and keep you up to date on new discoveries. There are stamp journals which are devoted to studying and describing stamps and covers.
Whatever area of collecting you wish to collect in, there is an enormous amount of information available to help you enjoy your hobby. The best place to start is a local stamp club. You’ve probably already made that first step, now you can try and decide which kinds of stamps or envelopes you’d like to collect and which materials you’ll need to help you. Good luck, and remember—enjoy yourself, because the main reason for collecting stamps is for the fun of it!

Philately Origin

The TIMES, the most well known English newspaper published on October 6th, 1842 a funny advert concerned with stamp collecting:

‘A young lady, being desirous of covering her dressing room with cancelled postage stamps, has been so far encouraged in her wish by private friends as to have succeeded in collecting 16.000; these, however being insufficient, she will greatly obliged if any good natural persons who may have these (otherwise useless) little articles at their disposal would assist in her whimsical project.’

That is how it started: Stamps and papers. Some time later stamp collecting became a serious hobby and from the sixties of the 19th century on more and more specialist literature like catalogues, stamp papers and stamp albums were produced.

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