visiting here:

    THANK YOU so much for helping me with my postmark project.  I appreciate your interest in helping stamp collectors and postmark collectors!   I hope you will take just a minute or two for me to provide some information exchange as it relates to collectors.  I have a lot of collector's information on the page you just came from, and I hope it is all useful to you.  Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues as well as any stamp collectors you might know of in your community.

    As you likely know by visiting this page, I have been personally visiting post offices in the immediate four-state area of Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas, collecting examples of postmarks for my collection and in many cases, taking a photograph of the post office to add to the collection of U.S. post offices already existing at http://www.postmarks.org    

    I often post interesting postmarks on my blog at StampWants (now called BidStart.com) and encourage other collectors to get into the hobby of collecting postmarks.  Postmark collectors are a bit different than regular stamp collectors; in that while stamp collectors are mainly concerned with the condition of the stamp, we are interested in the entire item including the cancellation and markings, whether it be a postcard or an entire cover; and in the postal history reflected in the condition of the whole mailing piece.  We cringe when we see old historical covers being destroyed by someone who doesn't know better than to soak an old stamp off an envelope in order to obtain the stamp, thereby destroying the potential collector's value of the "entire."  In many instances, the complete envelope with all the postmarks and postal markings left intact will always enhance the value, especially if we are talking about older items, mail from the wars and so on.  A good rule of thumb is to allow someone who knows about "covers" take a look at what the item is, before allowing an old envelope to be destroyed, just to obtain the stamps off of it.  Stamps are available from dealers practically everywhere in the country at a very nominal price, and potentially valuable covers should not be destroyed to obtain a .05 to .10 cent retail used stamp.

    I appreciate the fact that the Postal Service management recognizes and supports philatelists and postmark collectors, as well. 

    I have found from my travels that many of you apparently receive very little, if any, contact from stamp collectors.  Small towns, by their very nature, don't have many stamp, First Day cover, or postmark collectors.  The idea of someone wanting to collect a postmark may strike you as strange, and in many cases, as even being illegal.  I myself, have been told that several times just within the last year!  I assure you that such is not the case and that in March of 2003, USPS Manager of Stamp Services Dave Failor issued a two page memorandum that covers postmark collecting; and in particular "handback service," to postmark collectors.  In case you missed it, go here.  

    In that same memorandum, as an attachment, Failor also provides information about  USPS pictorial cancellations, which many community organizations in your area might be interested in sponsoring to serve as a way to honor local celebrations, including anniversaries of cities, groups and government and service organizations.  We collectors appreciate you postmasters who cooperate with community organizations who seek to sponsor such cancellations.  It benefits both collectors and the community.

     Some collectors have asked for a quick-reference guide to the regulations that relate to obtaining postmarks, and I realize you have those regulations available to you in Section 231.3 of the POM.  Those references are not available to the average collector, so one of the stamp publications placed them in a form for easy reference.  The regulations found in the old DMM are apparently still applicable, and many collectors still refer to this file, which you may also find helpful.  You can view it here.

     Another area of collecting that many collectors both collect and use for mailing their outgoing mail, is Mailer's Postmark Permits.  A few years back, one postmaster vehemently told me there was no such thing as a "mailer's postmark permit."   Well, believe it or not, there is!  Many of you may not have encountered this postmark, so I'll illustrate one here.  I personally have three current Mailer's Postmark permits, including the one illustrated here, MPP # 1 from Lamar, Missouri.  They fall under the same section as precanceled stamps, but these are precanceled postmarks.  Go here to read all about them in Section P023 of the POM. 

     These permits as used by stamp collectors for first class mail, do not have anything to do with Bulk Mail, and there is no annual fee for the permit.  Mailer Postmark Permits can be used by bulk mailers for Presort Standard mail, so that is often confusing.  When a collector uses a Mailer's Postmark, there is not a fee, and the mail is presented to the counter clerk, for entry into the mailstream.  Many collectors like to decorate their outgoing philatelic mail with older collectable stamps, and using a MPP cancelling device is one way to insure that they receive a desirable light postmark, and also to help prevent damage from abusive cancellation machines.  MPP mail is pre-canceled and ready to go directly to the OCR, without additional handling, so it is also cost-effective for the USPS, in that sense.  It does not need to be over-sprayed at the sectional center.


    The Post Mark Collector's Club (PMCC) is just one of many collector groups recognized by the USPS philatelic division, with members who collect a wide variety of postmarks, including those from military units, ships, shore stations, historical locations; cities with interesting names with holiday connections, such as Noel, Missouri, and Valentine, Texas and Loveland, Colorado.  Some collectors collect the special pictorial postmarks that the USPS announces in the Postal Bulletin, also called pictorial cancellations; here is an example from Columbia, MO from July 2009.  Thanks to all those postmasters who have assisted local philatelic groups and others in obtaining a special souvenir postmark for their event!


    As a point of information, about postmark collecting, postmark collectors are wanting to be able to read the name of the city and the zip code in the postmark.  It is helpful if the device is properly inked and legibly applied.  The following example is overinked, or evidences use of too much pressure during the application process:

  Heavy cancellation on a collector's item, in the same manner as might be expected or seen employed on a parcel bearing stamps, is not only unnecessary on an envelope, but will likely be found to be very unsatisfactory to a postmark collector, and don't be surprised if they complain.   I thought it might be helpful if you could actually see what I am talking about; below is a live example from earlier in 2009. Some of the stamps were from around World War II. Others used in the franking are from the 1980's.

These stamps immediately above missed being canceled at the point of mailing in New York, and in administering postal regulations which are designed to protect revenue, someone, somewhere, along the line, performed the Sharpie operation shown above. Use of an Item 570, all-purpose dater/obliterator, would have been much preferred by a collector and would have allowed the stamps to later be added to a collection.

    Use of a heavy permanent marker as shown in the image immediately above, is not much better!  None of these stamps could ever be salvaged for use by a stamp collector, and this kind of treatment does nothing but breed ill-will and hard feelings among stamp collectors, toward your organization.  Collectors will often ask for a light cancellation, which is also covered in the Postal Operations Manual. (It's OK)

     Many times, a cancellation applied directly to the top of the stamp (a killer, as collectors often call it) will indeed assure that the stamp will not be reused--but for a person who collects postmarks, you can safely assume that they are not involved in the hobby of postmark collecting with an intention of reusing the stamp.   Postmark collectors would prefer to have the cancellation device bars or dial catch the left side or lower edge of the stamp, where most of the remainder of the dial of the postmark then appears on the envelope portion, therefore making the postmark itself clearly readable, and also leaving the stamps themselves collectable.

     As more helpful information arises, I will post it here.  I welcome all of you to join a philatelic group or two online,  a couple of examples include BidStart.com which has collector discussion groups, and the Virtual Stamp Club forum, one of many found at http://forums.delphiforums.com    There are already a lot of USPS employees who go there to both of these online sites, and I think you would find the information you obtain from the discussion groups and forums there quite helpful.

     Again, thanks for all you do for collectors!  Keep up the good work!

Back to the KGYH Polar Philately Page (Polar Philately is another lesser-known area of postmark collecting!)

QSL.net /KGYH page, last updated 06 November 2010, 0034Z