Guyana Postal Rates have Quadrupled

Guyana Provisionals-The End of Era. Guyana raised their postal rate for the first time since 2001 from $20 to $80 (from US 10c to 40c). They have plenty of $80 stamps so the need to revalue has stopped. Click here for the new rates.

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Where do you put it? What category does it belong to?

What category would this be under? Russia? Kenya? St. Helena? Missent? Or all of the above? Do you have a cover that fits into a “grey area”? Show us!


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How I started Collecting Stamps – How Did You Start ?

I recently received an email with this link from a stamp acquaintance in the Netherlands to a ‘nice short film about the IFSDA’ on how to collect stamps. It gives some basic tips to the starting collector – and I love that the kitschy (no disrespect, the background music inspired me to say that) video was shot in a stamp dealer’s shop. But more importantly it got me thinking: How did I end up collecting stamps and, as my wife constantly complains, the dust attached to piles of envelopes?

As some of you may know, my father and great Uncle were philatelists – good ones too – their envelopes still show up in stamp shows and collections. One day when I was about ten my father dumped a bag of stamps on my desk telling me to, ‘Organize this!’ I remember thinking what were these weird country names…Helvetica, Posta Romana (this sounded like food), followed by Hungary (this sounded like someone needed food) and so on. I also remember thinking that the organization possibilities to do so were endless – did I go with geography, themes, pictures, colors, or just squares versus rectangles? I suppose geography ruled – and the more obscure locations became my future obsession.

After I started sorting stamps, my father and I soon started to go to stamp shows. For me it was the twice yearly Interpex stamp show in New York City, held either at Madison Square Garden or the New York Coliseum (since torn down and replaced with the AOL Time Warner Center).

I remember going to the shows with limited funds and looked at stamps from the various Post Offices. These were usually represented by an agent. One of my favorite was the PNG stamp bureau run by an Englishman who lived in Florida. I was absolutely taken with the 1972 PNG shell definitives. I remember buying the stamps and a couple of these odd shaped things called booklets. There was a stack of about 100 of them (I asked). These are now worth $100+ each.

Another vivid memory is of me when I was 14 waiting on the line to buy UN stamps…I remember the issue- it has a gold center and from the 1970′s. I wanted it in blocks of ten…but I didnt have enough money. There was an older man behind me and he said “Kid, here’s $2 so you can get that block” when I said no he said “Just do it in kind for a kid someday”. And this I do in various ways.

Anyway, the point is that suddenly with stamps the time melts away and one can think clearly back to images and emotions from long ago.

The American Philatelic Society also has a series of educational tips on starting a stamp collection that totally validate what I did when I was ten. Ethan, my son, has one more year before he gets dumped on….his desk!

So now I ask all of you: How did you become involved with stamp collecting? Let’s share those stories.

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Solomon Island Postal Statistics

Solomon Island Postal Statistics

There is very interesting information here….Apparently Ranandi took over as the main Post Office for two years on a decision by the Solomon Island Government. This would be for the years 2011 and 2012. It has now gone back to Honiara.



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Unreported Samoa Postmark

internatioanl settlementsI was under the impression that Samoa had only two post marks. One for Domestic use and one for International use. Then I find this marking. Does anyone have any knowledge about it?


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Palau Mail Volume

Post_office_Mail_volumeSome interesting mail volume records here…while it does answer some questions (yes they DO need stamps) it makes new questions (so little missent mail?).

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Papua New Guinea PVI Butterfly Hologram Meter

PNG PVI labels

These meters are scarce and were in use about a year.  The whole Postal Value Indicated (PVI) effort which lasted three years proved difficult to maintain as it was expensive to keep sending out a repairman from Port Moresby everytime the machines broke down. Images courtesy of Wolfgang Holzl.

The well documented PNG butterfly design was apparently an attempt to have the silver line used to center the image. Later other Australian printers were developed for Counter Printed Stamps and one still remains in use in Adelaide today

The cumulative numbers on the labels are believed to have carried the following codes using the first 2 letters: 11 Boroko, 12 Port Moresby, 28 Mt Hagen, 41 Lae, 44 Goroka, 51 Madang, 62 Kimbe, ? Alotau (per Richard Peck). I believe this was the first practical application of the postal codes which were introduced around the same time.

PVI Butterfly

PVI butterfly mint 2

PVI butterfly mint 1


PVI Butterfly 2

PNG PVI Butterfly Stamp Census
Machine No. Date of Use Town Label Number Value Comments
  December 1, 1995 Kimbe 62992890 0.21 RP
    Madang 51000084 0.04  
  January 9, 1996 Alotau   1.45 no code
      21000153 1.45  
  January 19,1996 Madang   0.15  
  January 24,1996 Alotau   0.04  
  April 4, 1996 Madang   0.04 manuscript 4t
  April 25, 1996 Alotau   0.04 no code
  June 4, 1996 Alotau   1.2  
3502 Sept 8 1995 Kimbe 62001195 1.41 RP
3502 October 13, 1995 Kimbe 62001307   RP
3583 March 5, 1996 Madang 51000405 0.05  
3583 March 6, 1996 Madang 51000429 0.15  
3594 Jul 29 1998 Wewak 53000064 0.25 used same day/ made at 14:46
3594 Jul 30 1998 Wewak 53000122 0.25 used same day/made at 10:06
3594   Wewak 53000193 0.25 used 12 October/made at 11:51
3594   Wewak 53000208 0.25 used 11 August/made at 11:51
3599   Kimbe 62000162 1 RP

This series has  its origins at the counters in Australian post offices as TIM machines were trialled in 1951 for parcels post. These led to the purchase of National Cash Registers from 1957. By the mid 1980s these were replaced by Postal Charge Calculators, invented in Australia which were modified desk top calculators. These could interface with existing electronic scales. A Melbourne firm went further and invented the Combined Scale Calculator. These were sold in Australia from 1991.

In an effort to “brighten up” the image, there were several attempts at using imagery in the designs. Suddenly in 1994 a “kangaroo and koala” design appeared and there were several attempts at using self adhesive labels with pre-printed backgrounds, but few were successful at this time.

In PNG, CSCs were introduced in 1995. The first design consisted of a bird of paradise and is known used at:


Machine          location           date                value               comments

3447                ?                      19.7.95            K0.21              unpostmarked

3997?              Boroko            31.7.95            K0.21              postmarked by machine

3552                Madang?          ?                      K0.24              cds indistinct

3593                ?                      7.9.95              K0.21              unpostmarked


The bird was then replaced by the post office “P” logo and receipts are known:

Machine          location           date                value               comments

3593                Mt Hagen         6.9.95              K1.41              “Registered” “Air Mail”

3517                Boroko            4.10.95            K0.04              make up, postmarked

?                      Lae                  31.10.95          K0.25              label squashed

3472                Lae                  6.11.95            K0.04              make up

3603                Boroko            15.12.95          K1.00              machine posrmark      

3491                Boroko            22.1.96            K0.0.04           make up, postmarked

3583                ?                      6.2.96              K0.04              make up

?                      Boroko            25.2.96            K0.21             

3599                ?                      17.5.96            K0.50+0.50     joined

3520                Goroka                        24.6.96            K0.21+0.30     plus receipt

3561                Pt Moresby      26.6.96            K0.50              with stamp

3565                Madang           4.7.96              K0.50              receipt

3472                Lae                  9.7.96              K0.21              plus receipt

3599                Kimbe             19.2.97            K0.50              postmarked “Par Avion”

As a matter of interest, Norfolk Island introduced CPS with a pre-printed tree design on 30.4.97 from machine 3811 in black. By 28.10.99 the image was purple. A FDC of a later design in 2001 actually shows the CSC machine. Pretext was the need to post boxed cigarettes in bulk but there was a lot of philatelic use!

The Isle of man is the only other known country to have used CSCs, with a pre-printed design.

 Thanks to Richard Peck and to Wolfgang Holzl for their effort in preparing this discussion.




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More than You’d Expect-Vanuatu

unusual free frankSometimes it is the strangest things that catch my eye.

Ordinarily, free frank mail unveils the workings of the government- various departments within the treasury office and how the government is organized.

Every once in a while something comes along that is unique in the sense that it just couldnt be anywhere else.

This mark is from a commission in Vanuatu which was established on that date was an inquiry into “foreign influences and interferenced with persons holding an office in the service of the Republic”.

There was another commssion set up a few days later on 28 September 2004 into the prosecution of Serge Vohor on 11 September. There was an armed confrontation between the police and the Vanuatu Mobil Force…and changes at both on the 13th. I wonder if there is a free frank mark for that as well.

Incidentially, this info is a little hard to figure out….it is not that clear when googling it.

Do you have something that fits into this category…of more than you would expect?




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New Barbados Pitney Bowes Meter Type

These meters have been around for a couple of years…but they are of a new type.

barbados meter_002barbados meter_001

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New Marshall Island Postmark- More Questions than Answers

This cancel just arrived. What is happening in Kwajalein? Does any one know? This is a Marshall Islands Postal Authority (MIPSA) with USPS below it. Which is confusing because it appears that the MIPA is under the the auspices of the United States Postal Service.

Additionally, prior to the Marshall Islands postal independence the Kwaj post office was operated by the USPS as a branch of the Honolulu Post Office. After the Marshalls Postal Independence the US Army Post Office took responsibility for both this and the Roi-Nam Post Office thought they are staffed by a US contractor. The Marshall Islands Postal Service have never operatd Post Offices at either place. So now w see a standard Marshall Islands Postal authority cancel with the name Kwajalein. This suggests that they are set to control the Kwaj Post Office sometime in the future.

Questions abound- What degree of control does the USPS have over the MIPA…the mixed use of both names on cancels implies that the USPS has some control in MIPS land and the military authorities are comfortable enough with the MIPS to allow them to run the Kwaj Post Office. What other reason could there be. Maybe all of this is just speculation.

It is up to the reader to help get the answers here. My thanks to Eric Baxendale, editor of the US Pacific Islands Bulletin  for pointing out these facts.


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