Q&A with Kevin Blackston

– Hello Kevin! Many thanks for participating on the series of interviews for the ’Blog de timbrofil’. At the beginning, please explain us what’s the point with a private post?

– Historically, a private local post was a commercial enterprise established to compete with or, in some cases, supplement the official government-operated postal service. The private local posts that operated in the United States in the 1800s were all run out of business by the government on the grounds that they infringed on the post office’s monopoly on carrying mail.

The private local posts operating in the United States now, including my own Philosateleian Post, are what Wikipedia calls ‘hobbyists’ local posts,’ operations run by individual stamp collectors who are not trying to compete in any way with the United States Postal Service. We make ‘stamps’ that we use on the mail we send, but it’s really just an excuse to play post office.

– Where does Philosateleian Post’s name come from, and how does it look a day of work there?

– Philosateleia gets its name from the Greek words from which the word ‘philately’ is derived:  ‘philos’ (loving) and ‘ateleia’ (exemption from tax).

As I mentioned, Philosateleian Post is really just a way for me to play post office without actually working for the post office. I create my own stamps which I apply to all of my outgoing mail, and I have rubber and cork cancellation devices to postmark what I send. My ‘stamps’ don’t pay postage any more than a pretty sticker would, so I also use real US stamps on all of my outgoing mail.

– You write on your blog, philosateleia.com/blog/. Which do you think are the trends in today’s blog posting, and how do you choose your own subjects?

– It’s hard to say if there are particular trends on stamp collecting blog, but my own approach is to write about things I’m interested in or have some knowledge about, items that I’ve recently acquired for my collection or new local post stamps that I’m aware of. I also try to let my readers know whenever I have new stamp album pages available for them to download and print.

– Let’s talk a bit about your stamp collection! What’s the most valuable in it, and how easy is to update your collection by living in the USA?

– Like a lot of collectors, I started out accumulating whatever I could get my hands on. I eventually narrowed my focus from worldwide to used United States stamps, then started a topical collection of natural landscapes and got particularly interested in the 14-cent American Indian stamp of 1923. These days, the Indian stamp is my primary interest, then landscapes, then used US. US stamps are naturally very easy to acquire here, and landscapes is a general enough topic that I haven’t had any trouble finding new material for my collection.

As far as catalogue value is concerned, a first day cover with the American Indian stamp is probably the most valuable thing in my collection. I also have a Civil War POW cover that’s pretty scarce, but it’s not in the best condition.

In terms of rarity, my greatest treasures are two covers showing solo uses of the 14-cent American Indian stamp. 14 cents was an odd denomination at the time it was issued, and the rates that it met exactly (2-ounce registered letter, 7-ounce domestic first-class, 4-ounce international etc.) weren’t very common. The Scott Specialized Catalogue doesn’t even list the stamp by itself on cover, though I suspect it’s just as rare as some of the stamps from the 1938 Presidents definitive series that are listed with high catalogue values.

– Returning to the Philosateleia, you have a section dedicated to the US stamp album pages, that can be downloaded and used by anyone interested. What are the opinions between your blog readers?

– I started creating my own stamp album pages for my US collection because I wasn’t completely satisfied with any of the commercial albums that I’d used, and I decided that as long as I was making them for myself, I might as well share them with others. I started doing that in 2006 and have released quarterly updates every year since then.

Overall, the feedback I’ve received has been very positive. There are some collectors who don’t like that I group stamps with other stamps from the same series instead of going by year of issue, but I think it’s more visually pleasing to keep stamps that share design characteristics together, and there are other options for on the market for people who want a strictly chronological approach.

Another issue that a few users raised was having to sometimes reprint pages due to my quarterly update schedule. I view having fresh pages ready every three months as a good thing, but to accommodate collectors who would rather print new pages only once a year, I’m now offering annual supplements.

– I liked the idea with your own commemorative postage stamps! Tell me more about this project.

– One of the main attractions of operating a local post is that you get to make your own stamps. You choose what subjects you want to commemorate, come up with your own stamp designs, and produce your stamps yourself.

I started out in 2004 creating very basic designs in Microsoft Paint, then eventually switched to Paint.NET and started working out more complicated designs. In 2014 I acquired my first antique pinhole perforator, which allowed me to perforate my stamps; I purchased dry-gummed paper so that my stamps would be lick-and-stick. I print my stamps using an inkjet printer, but there’s a stamp creator in England (Alan B. of Adanaland fame) who prints his stamps using an actual letterpress printer. There’s really no limit to what you can do or how deeply you can get involved in the production process.

Creating my own local post stamps has really given me a greater appreciation for stamps in general. Coming up with my own designs has made me appreciate really beautiful stamp designs more; making something that looks good on a tiny square of paper is more difficult than you might think! Likewise, I’ve developed an even greater appreciation for well-centered classic stamps. Operating my own antique perforating machine has taught me that perfect centering on all four sides seems to be about as much a result of chance as it is in the perforator operator’s skill.

– How do you see this project into the near future? Do you intend to issue some new pieces this year?

– I just issued my latest Philosateleian Post stamp at the end of January, a design commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I (see philosateleia.com/blog/entries/philosateleian-post-to-commemorate-end-of-world-war-i/). I would like to create a design featuring one of my three year old’s pieces of ‘artwork’, and I may try to do another landscape stamp before the end of the year.

– About the future, what reasons should we use to recommend stamp collecting to the young generation?

– For me, the greatest benefit of stamp collecting has been educational. When I was a kid and I’d see some old guy on a stamp, I’d wonder, who is this? What did he do that justified commemorating him on a stamp? Or where is the country that issued this stamp? And then I’d go look up that person or that country, and I’d learn something new. In that way, I learned a lot about history and geography. If someone takes up stamp collecting, and they have a little bit of curiosity, they’ll learn about things that they might otherwise have never even heard about. I think that’s invaluable.

The other thing that I think stamp collecting really emphasizes is paying attention to detail. When you realize that a few dots or lines on a stamp, or a perforation difference, can mean a difference of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a stamp’s value, you pay more attention to exactly what you’re looking at. This has benefits in school, in the workplace, and in life in general.

– Many thank for your time, Kevin! Please address a short message to my readers!

– Not everyone in the world views stamp collecting as a ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ hobby, and that’s okay – not everyone’s a collector. It’s still one of the most accessible hobbies in the world, and it’s a privilege for us to get to be a part of it.

© Copyright: Blog de timbrofil. The text can be read free of charge, but cannot be taken over or republished in print or digital format than in a written agreement and citing the source. Thank you for you understanding!

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