Sunday, October 27, 2002
A few months back, around the time that the cost of a first-class postage stamp went up to 37 cents, I was cleaning out my desk drawers and found a collection of old, unused stamps now well out of date. Being in an organized mood that day, I made a list and took it down to the post office so that I could buy enough supplementary postage to actually USE these stamps. After doing a little research I realized that some of these stamps had been hanging around well past their sell-by date. To wit:
1. One G stamp, dating back to 1995 (!) and worth 32 cents. (For those of you not familiar with US postage, the Postal Service inaugurated a series of stamps with letters instead of monetary value which were used when postal rates were changed. In this way, the stamps could be designed and printed early in the process, often before the Post Office knew what the new rate was going to be.)
This site has some interesting info about the lettered stamps, including their dates of issue. After dithering around for awhile, the postal service finally decided to match the picture on the stamp to the letter - in other words, the E stamp showed Earth, the F stamp a Flower, the G stamp Old Glory and so on. Unfortunately they stopped this system after the H stamp. Too bad we'll never get to see a Yak or a Zebra on our stamps.
2. Some leftover Chinese New Year stamps from the Year of the Rabbit (1999), bought by me because I was born in that year (1963, if you must know). These were worth 33 cents. I love the Asian zodiac system, possibly because the Rabbit is described as being "the luckiest of all 12 signs."
Apparently many countries got into the idea of issuing Chinese New Year stamps; here is a page of the many Year of the Rabbit stamps that were issued. Some of them are really beautiful. I love the different graphic design approaches.
3. A 32-cent stamp from the "Celebrate the Century" series - the Monopoly stamp from the 1930's stamp series. This stamp series was a great idea. To celebrate the end of the century, the Postal Service asked people to vote on the standout people/achievements/books/movies/ideas/etc. of each decade. The 1930's stamps included Superman, the Golden Gate bridge, the WPA, Snow White and many more. These stamps came out in, I think, 1998 and were promptly rendered useless by a rate increase at the beginning of 1999 (that would be the H stamp). Way to go, guys!
I got a lovely glow thinking of all the money I was saving by using up my old stamps. I had quite a few left over, so this exercise turned out to be worth while financially, not to mention the esoteric stamp knowledge I've picked up by surfing around the Web to research these things. The moral is, go through your desk drawers early and often... you never know what you will find or where it will lead you. (Nowhere much, in this case, but at least it gave me something to post about.)