Think stamps are only worth the paper they’re printed on? Philatelists will tell you to think again. The tiny One-Cent Magenta stamp, now on display at the National Postal Museum, recently sold for $9.5 million. 

Of course, that sole-surviving stamp of the British Guiana penny issues is the rarest stamp in the world. Other stamps deemed collectible by the philatelic community are also worth a pretty penny. 

Take the 1918 Inverted Jenny 24-cent airmail stamp. It is one of the world’s most collectible stamps because a sheet of 100 misprinted stamps showing an upside-down biplane was accidently sold to a customer. In today’s market, an Inverted Jenny stamp could fetch close to $1 million. 

Yes, collectors are passionate about their stamps. Indeed, stamp collecting even has a month – October – designated to recognize an activity that can range from a hobby to an obsession. Two years ago to celebrate National Stamp Collecting Month, the U.S. Postal Service reissued 2.2 million Inverted Jenny souvenir stamp sheets. The souvenir stamp sheets feature six $2 stamps and sells for $12. Collectors could buy the stamps at select postal retail counters and through USPS.com, eBay.com, and by ordering via a toll free phone number. The Postal Service’s goal was to sell all 2.2 million stamp sheets in the first 60 days for $26.4 million in revenue. As of March 31, total stamp sales were about $13 million.

To generate interest in stamp collecting and engage new generations of stamp collectors, the Postmaster General requested that the Postal Service create 100 additional stamp sheets that showed the biplane upright. Seventy of these Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets were distributed to be sold in the top 50 markets along with 1.2 million Inverted Jenny stamp sheets. The remaining 30 Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets were to be randomly distributed in the first 60 days of release.

While an innovative idea, this action had the unintended consequence of creating and improperly distributing a philatelic rarity, our recent management advisory noted. The Postal Service strongly and inappropriately influenced the secondary market by creating a rarity, the report said. In 2014, at least two Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets sold for more than $50,000 each. Our report recommended the Postal Service develop a formal process for philatelic promotions. 

What reaction did you have to the issuance of the upright Jenny stamp? What types of activities do you think would enhance support of the philatelic program? 

Comments (383)

  • anon

    The inverted Jenny is another example of "wallpaper" that turned off collectors of postage stamps. I've been a collector for 60 years. I stopped buying new issues years ago because there are so many and don't commemorate anything. They are just WALLPAPER. The Post office would save millions of dollars if they would get out of the business of trying to print stamps that they think collectors would buy and then end up destroying them. They are turning off collectors instead of creating new ones. Thank you.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    The idea of the inverted Jenny issue, in and of itself, was a wonderful idea. Where the USPS went astray was in the creation of the 100 panes of the "uninverted" stamp and then really left the reservation with their announcement of how it would be distributed and made available. With the announcement of the 100 panes of the uninverted stamp, the USPS stated they had ALL been randomly inserted throughout the entire run of the regular issues, that they had gone to the point of masking the identity of the stamps through the use of sealed cellophane wrapped around plain cardboard to ensure no one would be able to have any advantage over another and to make this an entirely random process. Just like many other collectors, I've purchased many panes (around 70 to date) in the hopes of receiving one of the elusive right-side up panes. Unfortunately, this was a sham. After reading the excerpts from the UPS IG report in the philatelic press, I came to the sad realization that I had been duped. Granted, that while under the guise of the original explanation of this distribution I may have never had much - if any - chance of receiving one of these panes, the sad reality was that the REAL distribution made this a literal hunt for a needle in a haystack. I started to question the veracity of the distribution when all over sudden three panes were given away to randomly selected customers. I had asked myself "How was it that someone in the USPS could possibly know where to find one - let alone three - panes if they were ALL randomly distributed in completely unidentifiable packaging?" Now, we all know the truth. There was a token random distribution, but the USPS knew where a great number of these panes were at all times. Fortunately for myself, I had a way of using the stamps I had purchased in excess of what I needed for my collection. Still, this was just wrong. I find the way the USPS went about this to be very disheartening. As a life-long stamp collector, I feel abused by the very entity who produces the product I collect. It is not a pleasant feeling. Had I, or any other private citizen, conducted a scam of this magnitude we would be facing criminal prosecution for fraud (at the least) and would have been publicly denounced in the press. This is one of the largest governmental groups, and yes, I know the USPS is a quasi-governmental group. The whole affair will be quietly buried in bureaucratic red tape with investigations and reports and analyses of the investigations and reports and further reports on these reports, with the end result being that the process of getting to the bottom of it will become so mired in the bureaucracy's system that sufficient time will pass, interest will wane and little, if anything, will ever come from it. What does this mean for me? It means I've lost confidence in the USPS. It means that for me another government agency has betrayed the public trust. It means that an agency which has wailed at how they are struggling financially for so long has wasted the manpower, the brain trust and the goodwill on this failed venture when they could have been addressing more pressing issues. If the USPS wanted to increase revenue and cut costs, try putting stamps in post offices. I have noticed a trend to limit the availability of postage stamps in post offices with some which almost never have anything recently issued ever available. Let's take this a step further. Why not STAMPS ONLY? I understand the draw of computerization, but the USPS is costing itself a fortune with two systems. There are the stamps which have already been printed and delivered to the USPS. Why do they need meters? This second system requires the machinery to print the meters, which in turn, means they will need maintenance, repair, ink, paper and eventual replacement as the government constantly chases the latest technologies. Think how much could be saved if one or the other system was eliminated. If the USPS were to eliminate stamps, there would probably be an outcry from the public, and a rather significant source of revenue would be forever lost. The amount of money in collections of stamps which were purchased from the USPS and the USPOD is staggering. On the other hand, if the meters were eliminated and only stamps used, it will slow the customer service some, but the added revenue as people keep a few of the stamps they purchase, as a few more become collectors, and the fact that the images created for the stamps would continue to serve their extrinsic purposes would offset the slower lobby times. If the figures for decreased first class mail are correct, this should not be such a major problem. The other saving would come from the costs associated with the maintenance of the meter machines and the supplies necessary to feed them. Thank you for providing a forum which allows us all to vent our frustration and outrage with the way in which the inverted Jenny was handled. I look forward to following the progress of your office's inquiry into the matter. Perhaps, for once, I could be pleasantly surprised with what the outcome is.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Greg, thank you for taking the time to respond. To clarify, 70 of the 100 Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets were randomly distributed to retail Post Offices. 30 of the 100 Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets were held by the Stamp Fulfillment Services. A majority (70%) were in masked circulation. Only 30% of the stamp sheets were held in a secure location within the Stamp Fulfillment Services. As an oversight agency, the OIG closely monitors our recommendations. We hold the Postal Service accountable to take appropriate actions to address the recommendations. Open recommendations are reported to Congress twice each year in our Semi-Annual Report to Congress.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    I think it was a brilliant idea. In my opinion, those doing the complaining are probably capable of paying large sums for highly desirable material and are just pissed because they couldn't buy outright for resale. And the marketing was great. After I learned of the right side planes, I went out and purchased another 6 sheets. Just what you hoped for. I'm guessing the majority of collectors, those whose pockets are not that deep, are quite happy with the program.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion, Jack. The number of positive blog responses are as interesting to read and consider in contrast to those more critical responses.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    I initially purchased 3 sheets of the upside down airplane stamp from the Kansas City philatelic distribution center in hopes of getting one of the 100 panes. Now I know I never had a chance of getting the rare pane as they were never distributed from the KC center. I have no use for $2 stamps and feel I was taken or scammed. I have been slowly using the stamps on 1st class mail overpaying the rate by 4. I feel I should get a refund of $1.51 for every stamp I bought.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    I agree that gifts should NOT be allowed. I feel that the inverted Jenny helped the Post Office and stirred interest in stamp collecting and could be done again in the future.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Interesting viewpoint, Ken. As we’ve seen in the blog responses, collectors have varied opinions on the topic.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    The "Upright Jenny" has now reduced The US to the level of the Sand Dune Countries or the blocked issues of the German Democratic Republic. Intentionally creating errors puts a big stigma on the USPS. Not only in violation of internal rules, this lowers the respect of the worldwide philatelic community.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    The issue originally was overpriced, resulting (I think) in suppressed sales. Hiding the right-side-up panes may have increased sales (I bought more), but irritated those of us who are "completists". Having all the current issues is now virtually impossible unless you have $50.000 laying around - I don't. The curious thing is that the general public (at least those I know) seemed unaware of the panes (unless they visited a post office with a poster hanging somewhere) and even more unaware of the "error" panes. Regarding the types of activities that would enhance the philatelic program: I like the idea of reproducing old postage stamps, but assigning them values that have no relationship to rates makes them uninteresting to the public. Years ago, I worked with our local post office to visit elementary schools where presentations were made to young children about stamps, letters, and the concept of communicating with family and friends. I think that such a program would still be valuable even in the age of twitter, etc. Instead of just advertising package services, include information in your ads about new stamps. Thanks for asking.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Thank you for your comments, Lyle. We appreciate your viewpoint on the face value of the stamps. Others have advocated a collectors focus group, which is similar to your outreach suggestion to gain the interest of younger collectors.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    I agree - this issue was overpriced and the general public was unaware of this issue. Since you chose to change the value from $0.24, making it the standard rate would have gotten more of the general public to know that it existed.

    Aug 28, 2015
  • anon

    Have collected stamps for 60 years and find these "lottery program" efforts ill conceived. As previously suggested, these are not real rarities but contrivances promoted to separate collectors from their money. If you want to promote the hobby and, hence sell more stamps to collectors, produce stamps with a high caliber art and perceive engraved features.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    I bought 100s of the Jenny invert panes online from the Postal Service, but it now seems that there was NO chance of getting an upright pane. I feel cheated.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Paul, the Postal Service is currently determining what to do with the remaining Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets held in inventory at the Stamp Fulfillment Services. The Postal Service has a targeted implementation date of August 31, 2015.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    Years ago we had Farleys follies and this is just another abuse of the printing process. It is unfathomable that she would have the stamps printed and then split up and stuck in a bunch of sheets printed correctly. This is tantamount to outright fraud. One has to wonder how many other stamps are printed with errors and kept by employees and officials to gain a substantial increase in the price and sell them through dealers. How many first day covers were made with the errors? Reissue the errors and have a great number of them back dated to eliminate the financial advantage that some collectors and dealers have gained.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    The extremely rare upright then inverted Jenny created by USPS should be corrected like the Legends of the West error was corrected. Why the top 50 markets? That excluded many outlets. I have an almost complete collection of United States stamps issued as intended and have no hope of ever getting one of the rarities that you created. You should print a significant number of additional upright then inverted Jennys and make them available by lottery.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Thanks for your suggestion, Zeb. The lottery solution proves to be a popular idea among collectors.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    This issue was and is nothing but a rip-off to collectors. I am a stamp dealer and have heard nothing but complaints from my customers about this issue. Please, USPS, recognize that the pool of collectors is continuing to grow smaller by the year and that young people are not taking up philately. Issue quality engraved stamps that strongly correlate to important people/events in U. S. history if you wish to keep the current collectors for new U. S. issues. I hear frequent complaints about the "label" appearance and poor print quality for most new U. S. stamps.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Like many others, I am incensed that USPS takes advantage of collectors by making fake rarities. I like the Jenny stamps, but it is wrong to take advantage of collectors by making a few rare stamps that few to no collectors will ever have the opportunity to obtain. If anything, USPS should realize that collectors are your best allies! We buy stamps that will go unused to build a collection of treasures we love and value. USPS could take example from other countries and their philatelic services. For example, Canada. I can purchase a quarter pack of singles of every issue, including self adhesives, on a standing order. I don't have to buy 4 of every issue to get one stamp! In addition, they don't issue so many new stamps per year that it becomes a burden to younger collectors on limited budgets. If you hope to attract new collectors, you need to consider that they have many other options for hobbies. While I am responding to this report, I would like to add that I think it is unconscionable that you only issued the perforated version of the Circus souvenir sheet with the annual book. We should not have to buy a product we neither want or need just to get a stamp issue. This is taking advantage of people you should be catering to! Stop the nonsense. Think like a collector. As it is, I am on the verge of just saying no more US collection! It isn't worth the playing the game you are playing. Hoping that you will fix this inappropriate approach to philately, Don

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Don, thanks for your comments as a stamp collector. While our audit did not include benchmarking, you have brought up some interesting concepts in the international philatelic community. We will consider your comments for a potential follow-on audit or review.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    I think the intentional creation of a rarity is a terrible idea. It is almost a spit in the face of all the collectors who buy new issues. The execution of the idea, notwithstanding the wisdom of the idea, seems to have violated the postal service's own rules. The ones responsible should be held accountable.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Ron, thanks for taking the time to express your opinion. A complete opposite viewpoint of the response above yours. The only thing clear about the situation is its complexity.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    I agree that the intentional creation of a rarity is a terrible idea (imperforate press sheets are a good example of this)

    Aug 28, 2015
  • anon

    I think that it was a great idea; just the type of innovative thinking that the USPS needs. Do it again!

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Thanks, Marvin. Again, it’s interesting to read public opinion both for and against the Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    The error in creating and marketing the inverted Jenny stamp was the corruption of the original design by re-valuing the stamp to a non-usable rate just to wring money from the collectors. For this reason, I bought one cover but refuse to but the entire sheet. The error was compounded by the deliberate creation of 100 'upright' panes which will end up in the hands of a privileged few, never be used for a postal purpose, and by their scarcity assume an artificial value that benefits those privileged few. When the Postal Service came out with the Pan American invert reprints in 2001, they appended 4 'labels' denominated at 80 cents each, also a non-regular rate for any manner of ordinary mail, just to wring more money out of the collecting public, also. When I actually used one of those 80-cent 'labels' to frank a large envelope, the Post Office did not even recognize it as a stamp and returned the item for postage, because the design was so uninspired and so inane. Also, as a matter of feedback unrelated to the inverted Jenny, I stopped buying the year-end "Yearbooks" after 2009 (I had been getting these every year back into the 1970's) because the Postal Service was unrepentant and unresponsive to my complaints about selling damaged product in the included stamp packets. In those situation in which the stamps were produced without a separable backing sheet to facilitate separation of single stamps, they repeatedly clipped the die-cut 'perfs' by straight-cutting to separate the stamps in the pane. The continuation of this practice demonstrates an arrogance and contempt for collectors that is turning many of us off.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    George, thanks for letting us know about the quality concerns you have experienced with stamp purchases. We will be archiving all comments for potential future audits or reviews.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    Any product produced and promoted by USPS should be fairly available to a reasonable number of collectors, with advance notice of the item promoted. The inverted Jenny sheet rarity sharply violates my sense of fairness. The use of a lottery to make a philatelic item hopelessly out of my reach diminishes my enjoyment of my hobby.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    I RETIRED FROM THE POST OFFICE & HAVE COLLECTED STAMPS FOR OVER 70 YEARS. WHEN THIS UPRIGHT PANE THING STARTED I SAID IT WAS A VERY VERY BAD DEAL. OFFICIALS THING THEY CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT & RULED ONLY APPLY TO OTHERS. GIVING 3 PANES AWAY TO COLLECTORS WAS ANOTHER BAD DEAL. AGAINST EVERYTHING THAT WE WHERE TOLD TO START WITH. HOW WERE THOSE PEOPLE PICKED? THOSE PEOPLE THAT STARTED THIS DEAL NEED TO BE BROUGHT UP ON CHARGES AND REMOVED FROM OFFICE. MAKE SURE THINGS LIKE THIS NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Thanks for your comments, Carl. The 3 customers were selected randomly based on criteria disclosed in the report. The methodology is disclosed in our report (see page 4, second paragraph).

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    My comments will go against the prevailing sentiment, but I think that the upright Jenny was actually a good idea in concept... but was utterly mismanaged. Knowing now, after the fact, that the sheets were NOT distributed randomly as originally reported, thus my virtually having no chance to find one, makes me regret my purchases. Yes, I might have purchased a few sheets out of interest, and yes I can always use them for postage, but I would not have purchased as many as I did. Furthermore, the holding back of a large swath of upright sheets, combined with the (rigged?) random giveaway to favored customers just makes me livid. That was unconscionable.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Dan, others have also commented in favor of the idea. It’s been interesting to read the opinions both for and against the concept.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    Got USPS tons of publicity. It's over and done with, so quit obsessing about the methodology. If the IG doesn't like the way the deal went down, change the law (and put some teeth in it) and GET OVER IT. It's a RARE day that the consumer gets a little unexpected benefit, so cut out all the hand-wringing and concentrate on reining in the FLOOD of new issues and varieties that drives long-time collectors away by the thousands. Any "investigation" at this late date is a huge waste of time and money and umm, brainpower, none of which are in ample supply at Headquarters.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    While it was a shameless ploy to drive up stamp sales, It did create huge interest in the collecting community. With us old stamp collectors dying off at an alarming rate, I guess we have to take the bad with the good! I would be much more concerned with the USPS honoring drug users and dealers, and those who committed suicide by drugs and alcohol. And don't get me started on Wilt Chamberlain. We all know what he was famous for, besides basketball. Are these the people who we want representing our country on our mail?

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Deliberately creating a philatelic rarity is fraud, pure and simple. And holding back a few of the rarity for a privileged few is aggravated fraud. As a collector I'm willing to forgo all rarities rather than be granted an artificial rarity. If the USPS wants to encourage new collectors it should produce soakable stamps and let the newbies start the way the rest of us did — going through discarded envelopes for new stamps to add to a fledgling collection.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    Thanks, Elaine… another strong opinion for the Postal Service to produce soakable stamps.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    Issue a couple million upright Jenny panes, printed exactly as the first ones, just like you did with the Dag Hammarskjold stamp. Also, no more intentional rarties.

    Aug 27, 2015
  • anon

    It seemed to me the Post Office was conducting a lottery. The only way to correct this is to print more right side up Jennys.

    Aug 26, 2015
  • anon

    To this day, I remain soured by the USPS' election to intentionally create a rarity. As a collector who works his USA stamp collection almost daily, I might be best characterized as a fervent collector who is quite proud of the completeness of his modern stamp collection. I enjoy collecting the minor varieties that are both intentionally and unintentionally produced. However, the maneuver by the USPS to purposefully create a rarity that will never reach most collectors smacks of short term profit seeking whilst ostracizing long term collectors. I recognize collectors should not be a dominant force within the USPS' decision making processes; however, given the minimal costs for stamp production that lands within a collection, USPS definitely prospers and should have a long-term interest in developing collectors. Methodologies which encourage the entry of new collectors into the field should be explored (with many non-researched concepts extolled within this blog's comments). The creation and distribution plan for the upright Jenny discourages current collectors from continuing modern stamp collecting pursuits, and remains an unlikely path to foster future collectors.

    Aug 26, 2015
  • anon

    Tom, thank you for taking the time to express your opinions. Other collectors have suggested their involvement in the process. Perhaps a collectors focus group or task force would be beneficial. It’s great that so many have shared their viewpoints. Hopefully, something positive will materialize from the situation.

    Sep 03, 2015
  • anon

    I anticipated that you would "create" some "inadvertants", so I initially ordered a number from the Fullfillment center. After that I bought a LOT from my local small post office, knowing they needed sales to stay alive. I was VERY upset to find that they had NO chance of getting any. Are you actively trying to kill our local post offices???? This seems like clear proof of that objective. Roy

    Aug 25, 2015
  • anon

    I agree 100% with the comments made by Ralph McBride. Until 2014 I faithfully purchased every US postage stamp issued, beginning in the 1970's. I am no longer doing this, and I have not and will not purchase the silly stamps, the overpriced print sheets and the products that are more appropriate to Department 56 than the United State Postal Service. At a time when dissatisfaction with the USPS seems to be at an all time high, I think a fundamental re-examination of the Service's role is needed. I suggest that the role is prompt and efficient delivery of the mail, and the production of postage stamps should be subservient to those goals. Turning stamp production into a profit center was not part of the original purpose of the Post Office, and it should not be part of the Postal Service.

    Aug 24, 2015
  • anon

    I think the USPS should print enough of these rarities so that all collectors would have the ability to own one. Way back when Farley made the National Parks issue for President Roosevelt, Roosevelt did the right thing and made enough for everybody. The fish and game dept. did the same thing when they release a very limited supply of the Federal duck stamp in 2005 , that single stamp is now selling for around $2000 with a face value of $15. This only serves to discourage collecting of postage stamps. How do these rarities generate revenue for the Post Office. they only benefit the dealers.

    Aug 24, 2015
  • anon

    Thank you so much for this blog and for listening to stamp collectors' concerns. I hope the OIG will recommend the USPS do away with spray-on cancellations. They are difficult to read and the illustrations are very blurry. Surely the USPS can offer clear, crisp, legible cancellations. This issue is important to stamp collectors who collect their stamps on cover, and to postal historians. It's also important in promoting the professionalism and modern look of the USPS. Thank you.

    Aug 23, 2015
  • anon

    Rob, we appreciate you taking the time to share your opinions. The comments from this blog will be retained for future consideration of audits or reviews.

    Aug 26, 2015
  • anon

    This was a bad and illegal idea and then it was poorly implemented. Collectors were repeatedly misled as to the distribution so that any attempt to get a copy was worse that even pure luck would have dictated. Lies followed deceptions which followed falsehoods etc. The gratuitous gifting of 3 copies, after a very high market value had been established, was an outrageous and illegal gift of public funds. People should lose their jobs over the gifting issue as well as the lies about the distribution. I have no hope that that will actually happen.

    Aug 23, 2015
  • anon

    I am a German philatelist and I collect US-stamps since some 50 years. I also collect stamps from various other countries around the globe. The difference between a stamp collector and a philatelist is the way he builds his collection: While stamp collectors will just acquire stamps, sort them for sets or motives and place them into an album, philatelists go much further, their goal is to form a collection which shows the postal history, the general history and the cultural development of a country or a special area like e.g. an island. A typical philatelist uses mint and used stamps, historical covers which in many cases will date back to the pre-stamp age, plus documents and e.g. newspaper clippings to form his collection. He will arrange his material and write it up in a way that it will display the (postal) history of his collecting area in an attractive manner. A philatelist appreciates and enjoys his stamps in a very special way: • A mint stamp will tell him something about the countries cultural history, its landscape, flora or fauna. Whereas the quality of the design, the paper and last but least of the print shows whether it was made with patriotic pride or just for paying the postage fee. • A used stamp with a crisp and clear postmark will whisper to him, where and when it was used and possibly more… • A stamp on cover tells a story. He will be able to obtain lots of additional information like e.g. the complete route the cover had travelled, the franking required, censorships, possible mishaps like crashed aeroplanes, ships etc. and sometimes the letter content will add interesting cultural or historical information. I have been watching a slow but continuous sad decline in the US stamp issuing policy over the last 22 years which culminated in the present scandal about the 100 upright Jenny $12 stamp sheetlets. It all started back in 1993 when Azeezaly S. Jaffer became Executive Director of USPS stamp services. He remained in that position for 6 years and 4 months. During that period of time he drove the first 3 nails into the coffin of US-Philately: 1. Foolish Increase of the Number of Stamps Issued He increased the annual revenue from stamps he claimed would be retained by collectors, by 400% i.e. from $60 to $240 million. He did that by increasing the number of different issues in a sheer endless manner. At first sight this sounds good, however it effectively drove young people away from stamp collecting, because they simple couldn’t afford so many new issues. Time has shown that there was next to no increase in retained stamps. A large share of the increased stamp volume was not purchased by collectors, but held by speculators who thought that issues like the Elvis Presley one would increase in value. When they learnt the hard way that they had made a mistake, these stamps were sold as discount postage via eBay. The same is true for the many collections of small collectors who could no longer afford to purchase so many new issues or were simply disgusted. 2. Attractive Commemoratives were Made Unavailable from Normal Postal Outlets Jaffer had the stamp program split into pretty looking large commemoratives and small dull stamps to move the mail. This came with a promotion that the commemoratives were meant for collectors only and should be retained in their collections. It also meant that commemoratives were no longer distributed to smaller post offices. Philatelists would laugh at him, because as explained above they love stamps which have done actual postal duty. US-philatelists made a point in using just commemoratives, on their mail. However, normal postal customers could no longer purchase commemoratives at their local post office. As a result some 90% of the US-mail was now franked with small dull stamps and the strong advertising effect from the attractive commemoratives was lost. Canada Post who has a habit too frequently copy mistakes made by the USPS (like e.g. selling printer sheets) did not fall into the same trap this time. They made a point of producing a booklet version of all their commemoratives. 3. Ignoring the Export Market Jaffer decided to use endless versions of the US flag for the majority of the small workhorse stamps and called it a “patriotic action”. Within the US he got away with this argument. Outside the US it was however a catastrophe. In most of the bigger stamp collecting countries, especially so in Europe excessive flag showing is linked to either communist or dictatorship countries. The argument is that they have to do so, because they lack cultural achievements. I remember many incidents where I was asked about the countries I collect and when I answered that my top country is USA, I was met with disbelieve and the question: “But why, all they print is their flag, they have no culture!” Now I am sorry that I have to mention this, and I know of course that the USA have a rich culture. However USPS marketing does its best to hide this fact, and US stamp exports have dropped dramatically for this reason. 4. Selling Printer Sheets Another negative effect on US philately was the decision of the USPS to sell printer sheets. It put the US on the same low level as the so called Dune countries, small entities which are lacking the funds to properly finance their postal system and which are using anything to raise some revenue, no matter how small it may be. This again drove many collectors towards other countries. 5. Moving from Water Soak Able to Benzene Removable Stamps The biggest and may be final blow against US philately was however USPS’s incomprehensible decision to move from water removable to Benzene removable stamps. Benzene is a toxic and fire hazardous substance, which can only be used outside and even then it may cause cancer. As explained above, simple stamp collectors as well as philatelists need to be able to neatly and attractively arrange their “treasures” in sets on album pages. Now that this is no longer possible without big health risks, I can see no future any longer for US philately. No responsible parent will permit his child to work with Benzene. While other big countries like e.g. Canada go out of their way to produce stamps of the most excellent quality, USPS has decided to go the other way. They completely lost their former patriotic pride for the national stamp program. 6. The Lottery for the Upright Jenny Stamp Sheetlet This idea was apparently copied from Australia Post. I used to have an almost complete collection of Australian stamps. However, when I learnt at the time that Australia Post was planning to intentionally produce “stamp rarities”, I immediately decided to stop collecting their stamps and sold my collecting. Philatelists try to make their collection as complete as possible within the budget they can afford. This is of course no longer possible when Australia Post or USPS decide to create artificial rarities whenever they feel like it. After 5. above, I had thought that USPS had done everything possible to harm US philately, however their creativity is endless when it comes to kill the cow which has produced so much milk for them for so many decades. What types of activities would enhance support of the philatelic program? The answer to this question is dead easy: • Reverse the above foolish decisions. • Replace the current members of the stamps advisory committee with US philatelists. You can be sure that they will produce an endless flow for the revival and steady growth of the philatelic program. • If you wish to use lotteries as marketing methods to boost philatelic sales, you are most welcome to do so, but do it in a sensible manner like e.g. randomly granting purchase vouchers of say $50, $100 or $300 to your customers. By all means, never try to tell your customers what they should collect. If however you start listening to their needs, you will find it easy to make the right decisions.

    Aug 23, 2015
  • anon

    Henning, thanks for taking the time to express your passion as a philatelist. We appreciate your interest. Your comments will be retained for potential future audit coverage in this subject area.

    Aug 26, 2015
  • anon

    Given the upright now exists and that the USPS said only 100 were produced it is unlikely that you could produce more without finding yourself in court. My suggestion is place the remaining ones, that the fulfillment center has, in a public auction with all the proceeds going to the Philatelic Foundation and American Philatelic Society. In that way you would help the hobby.

    Aug 23, 2015

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  • 3 days 6 hours ago
    YES All Postal Carriers should wear an approved Uniform, that will identify them. But, only window clerks, city carriers and maintenance employees are getting an allotment to buy uniforms. Rural...
  • 3 days 8 hours ago
    nope, no one cares until something happens .. post office does nothing until fatality strikes. and they only do something then to cover their butts.

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