Saturday, July 31, 2021

Younger collectors are here

People who say that stamp collectors are all old people, or middle aged people, are unaware of the newcomers who have YouTube channels. Graham Beck of Exploring Stamps has pointed out one to us and the Digital Philatelist (Digi) brought another to our attention. I want to spotlight them here.

A young stamp collector who understands what philately is all about, and just started making their YouTube channel "I'll Be Stamped!" He doesn't give his name, but check it out.

Another one I would like you to check out, is Lisa at "StampCat Stamps". She says "Exploring my postage stamp collection one stamp at a time." Check out this video, filled with history that some I did not know and others I forgot about.

If you know of others, let me know.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Mentioned in an Exploring Stamps episode

I was mentioned in an episode of #philately, so how can I not boast about it?                            

Here it is:                                                                                                    

Thank you Graham. Follow him on YouTube at

Monday, July 26, 2021

Olympics - the event of Brotherhood?

The Olympics, an event of brotherhood amongst the nations. The symbol's five rings are supposed to represent the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from around the world. But let us look back at darker times.

It is 1936, Germany is controlled by the Nazi Party, and Hitler wants to show the world that the Aryans are the superior race. Germany was awarded the right to hold the Olympics a few years before the Nazis came to power. It was supposed to signal Germany's return to the international community after her defeat in WWI.

Nazi Germany's hate filled anti-Semitic policies led to an international debate about a potential boycott of the games. The International Olympic Committee pressured the German government and received assurances that Jews would be a part of the German team and that the Games would not be used to promote Nazi ideology. But of course the Nazis were not to going to abide by this. They did, however, let a single Jewish athlete take part, Helene Mayer, a fencer, who was only partly Jewish. She was on Germany’s team as a public relations façade to fool the world into thinking Jewish people still had rights in Hitler’s Germany. Of course Goebbels refused to allow the media to talk about here Jewishness.

So now we are in the Olympics and the newly constructed sports complex was draped in Nazi banners and symbols because Hitler wanted to show off. This was going to be the first time the Games were going to be televised. A big feather in Hitler's cap.

So the Germans are winning gold medals, until along comes an American runner named Jesse Owens, who won three individual gold medals and a fourth as a member of the triumphant U.S. 4 × 100-metre relay team. The only problem was...Jesse was not white, he was black! What a blow to Hitler’s Aryan ideals of white supremacy. Hitler left before receiving the medal winners and of course the myth is that he left to avoid shaking Jesse's hand. Not nice. Of course today no one shakes hands anymore, we pump fists.

So Germany had supposedly to have changed, at least with regards to Jews, and was awarded the 1972 Olympics. This was supposed to fix the stain of the 1936 Olympics, discarding the military image of Germany and as a result, security was lax, if existing at all. The Munich Summer Olympics opened on August 26, 1972.

On the morning of September 5th, eight Palestinian terrorists, wearing tracksuits and carrying gym bags filled with grenades and assault rifles, breached the Olympic Village at the Summer Games in Munich. The terrorists were a part of a group known as Black September, a faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization; funding for the operation was provided by Mahmoud Abbas, current head of the Palestinian Authority.

As security was so lax, and the lack of armed personnel worried the Israeli delegation, the ski masked terrorists easily entered the apartment complex where the Israeli athletes were staying. Once inside, they murdered two members of the Israeli team and took nine others hostage.

Their demands? In return for the release of the hostages, they demanded that Israel release over 230 Arab prisoners being held in Israeli jails and two German terrorists. In those days, unlike today, Israel did not negotiate with terrorists.

When negotiations to free the nine Israelis broke down predictably, the terrorists took the hostages to the Munich airport. Once there, German police opened fire from rooftops and killed three of the terrorists. A gun battle erupted and left the hostages, two more Palestinians and a policeman dead. All of the nine Israeli hostages were killed. I actually know two of the Israeli athletes who were not taken hostage.

The Olympic competition was suspended for 24 hours to hold memorial services for the slain athletes.

Golda Meir, the Israeli Prime Minister, and the Israeli Defense Committee authorized a Mossad operation to track down and kill those allegedly responsible for the Munich massacre. This became known as Operation God of Wrath.

The International Olympic Committee regularly rejected demands for a moment of silence for the murdered Israelis, but it was always rejected. 

After 44 years, the IOC finally commemorated the victims of the Munich massacre for the first time in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics and now in Tokyo, there was a moment of silence for this fiasco.

Unfortunately, even today, when Jews are killed, there is very little international outrage. People need to remember, Jewish Lives Also Matter.

Check out another item for the Olympics - A design error

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Saturday, July 17, 2021

When money lost all value #inflation #noMoney #stamps

Many countries have faced inflation at some time or another, some worse than others. You go into the supermarket and buy the same things as last week and it costs you more but in most cases your salary did not increase accordingly.

In Israel in the 1980s we had a joke when going to fill up our cars: "I am not late for the fuel rise, I am early for the next". In Zimbabwe the joke was that the supermarkets were stocked with toilet paper (maybe ready for Corona) because it was cheaper to clean with $1 bills. (Too much information?). The Zimbabwean dollar notes even had expiry dates printed on them.

But here we are talking about history and we will go back in time to the roaring twenties, the 1920s that is, and to be more specific, 1923 and Germany.

Before World War I Germany was a prosperous country, with a gold-backed currency and world leadership in optics, chemicals, and machinery. The German Mark, the British shilling, the French franc, and the Italian lira were all more or less equal in value and valued at four or five to the dollar.

World War I broke out, lasting 4 long years and Germany lost the war. Under the Treaty of Versailles she was not only forced to accept all guilt for the war, but also forced to make huge reparations payments. The 1921 London Schedule of Payments required Germany to pay 132 billion gold marks in reparations to cover civilian damage caused during the war.

In 1922 Germany defaulted on its second scheduled reparations payment. The first reparations payment had apparently taken all she had. Of course the French didn't believe her and in response, together with Belgium, sent troops into Germany’s main industrial area, the Ruhr Valley. Their aim was to confiscate industrial goods as reparations payments. They occupied coal mines, railways, steel works and factories, of course everything that was important to Germany’s economy.

The German government ordered workers to follow a policy of ‘passive resistance’ by refusing to work or co-operate with the foreign troops and in return the government continued to pay their wages. People were getting paid for doing no work and there was no income from sales because the workers were on strike and the creeping inflation got out of hand. OK, some people say that the writing was on the wall. In 1914 Germany had abandoned the gold backing of its currency. They expected the war to be short, so they financed the war effort by government borrowing, not by savings and taxation.

In early 1923 German workers began a general strike, protesting the occupation of the Ruhr by foreign troops. The Weimar government chose to subsidize this strike, which aided to the collapse of Germany’s economy. As an example a dozen eggs cost a half-Reichsmark in 1918 and three Reichsmarks in 1921. In 1923, the market price increased to 500 (January) then 30 million (September) and four billion Reichsmarks (October). Did wages increase accordingly? My wages never increased during our inflation (or today for that matter) and I just saw my bank account getting smaller.

Because we are talking about stamps here and 100 years ago letters were the main way of communication, we can see what happened just by looking at the amount people had to pay for sending letters. By August 1923, with the value of the German Mark fluctuating from day to day, designing and printing new postage stamps was out of the question. So they simply used overprints on existing stamps.

As an example, to send a simple letter locally in 1923 the cost was (check out November, multiple increases in the same month:
  • 01 March → 40 Marks 
  • 01 August → 400 Marks 
  • 24 August → 8,000 Marks
  • 01 October → 800,000 Marks 
  • 10 October → 2,000,000 Marks 
  • 20 October → 4,000,000 Marks 
  • 01 November → 40,000,000 Marks 
  • 05 November → 500,000,000 Marks 
  • 12 November → 5,000,000,000 Marks (5 billion or 5 milliard)
  • 20 November → 10,000,000,000 Marks 
  • 26 November → 40,000,000,000 Marks 
Can you imagine the same letter increasing from 40 Marks to 50 Billion in a few months? In November 1923, one US dollar was equal to one trillion Marks. The Mark had lost its value, paving the way for the rise of the Nazi Party!

Registered cover sent within Germany on 1st Oct 1923 to Chemnitz. The postage rate for non local postage up to 20gr was 2 million marks plus 2 million mark registration fee. Face value of the stamps on face is 4mil and 50 thousand marks. 50000 marks was of no value as $1 equaled 10,000,000,000 Marks. Rate valid only from 1st Oct 1923 to 10th Oct 1923

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Monday, July 12, 2021

World Cup Soccer

The Euroleague has just finished and England lost to Italy in the end. I personally didn't watch it, but it brought me back to another point in time.

The 1970 FIFA World Cup was held in Mexico from 31 May to 21 June. It was the first World Cup tournament staged in North America, and the first held outside Europe and South America.

For the first time (and so far also the only time) the Israeli team qualified for this tournament.

Yemen Arab Republic, in honor of the competition, issued a series of stamps. In one issue and on two of the stamps, Yemen printed the names of the teams that qualified for the tournament. Israel was one of those teams.

Someone in Yemen noticed that Israel's name appears on the stamp !! The 1967 Arab League summit held on August 29 in Khartoum, defined that there would be no recognition of Israel. A big oopsie!

How to fix the bug? Simply delete the name of Israel. Therefore a black stripe, known as an overprint, was printed on the stamps to eliminate the "disgrace".

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Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The Inverted Jenny

The Inverted Jenny is one of the most famous postage stamps and one of the most famous stamp errors. It is also one of the most valuable stamps in the world. Whenever this particular error is up for sale, it gets a lot of media hype, worldwide. It has appeared in movies, such as the 1985 movie, Brewster's Millions, in which Montgomery Brewster (Richard Pryor) learns that his great-uncle has left him $300 million but to inherit it, he must spend $30 million in less than 30 days without donating to me, charity or assets when the period is up. No chance this will happen to me, so don't worry. 

It also appeared in an episode of the Simpsons, Homer's Barbershop Quartet, but on the other hand, what hasn't?

But what is the story behind it?

The issue itself is important because it is tied to the important issue of the introduction of airmail stamps and to the best of my knowledge, is considered to be one of the first postage stamps to feature a plane. In 1918, the US Post inaugurated a scheduled mail service between New York and Washington DC via Philadelphia. Of course this pioneering service would require a special stamp. The operation was a joint effort between the US Post and the U.S. Army, giving the postal department immediate access to experienced pilots while providing the U.S. Army with additional training opportunities.

An order was placed with the Curtiss Airplane and Motor Company for planes to be used as air mail carriers. The company was an American aircraft manufacturer formed in 1916 by Glenn Hammond Curtiss and this was a great opportunity for them. The order was for several Curtiss JN-4 planes and it was requested that they modify the plane to carry mail. The front seat would hold the mailbags.

A new mail rate was authorized. The formal request for the 24¢ airmail stamp reached the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) less than two weeks before the first scheduled flight.

Using a War Department photo, the new stamp was designed and featured the Curtiss JN-4 model. The stamp was patriotic, using the colors of the American flag, red white and blue. The Jenny got its name from JN. Because the image was designed from a War Department photo, the image was an unmodified version of the Jenny, one that wasn't made to carry airmail.

The 24¢ rate was a significant increase from the regular postage that was 3¢ at the time, someone had to pay for the plane, right? This rate lasted for two months and then was lowered to 16¢ and then again to 6¢ and each time the stamp was modified and reprinted accordingly.

So how did they print the stamps? The idea was to print one color on one machine and then insert the
This belongs to me :)
paper and then print the rest on another machine. First the sheets were printed with the red frames and then the printing plate was prepared with the blue planes that were then printed within the red frames. What could go wrong? Well, the alignment needs to be perfect and if not you get variations of the Jenny lovingly called the Fast plane, the Slow plane, the Low flying plane, as displayed on the right, the Landing plane and the Grounded plane. These are all positions of the plane on the stamp itself.

Murphy, the eternal optimist, once said that "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong" and this is what happened with the inverted Jenny. The second stage was probably inserted upside down. No one noticed! They also didn't do a very good job of quality control but on the other hand, they were rushed. Two weeks from design to issue!

Now we have a wise stamp collector, William T. Robey, who went to the post office to buy some stamps and noticed that they were inverted. He purchased the whole sheet of 100 Inverted Jenny stamps. He paid $24 for them, a fortune at that time, but he had a feeling that it was the only sheet. Robey asked if he had more sheets just like it. The clerk smelled a rat and asked William to return the sheet. William said, "Yeah right?"

He was visited by postal inspectors who tried to intimidate him into giving the stamps back but Robey refused and managed to keep his cool but he knew that time was not on his side.

William shortly sold the sheet to a Philadelphia dealer, Eugene Klein, for US$15,000. Mr. Klein immediately re-sold the sheet to Colonel H. R. Green for US$20,000 and advised him to split a sheet into blocks and individual stamps because he'll earn more that way.

Back at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, inspectors went through their stock and found eight unsold sheets of inverted Jenny's and destroyed them, making this the only known sheet.

Personally I have not heard of any forgeries of this issue, but if you find one that is not a forgery, I will over you $24!

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Monday, July 5, 2021

Egypt misspells its country name

Here is a short story for the day because why make a short story long. Actually that is what marketing is all about, taking an issue writing a lot about it without actually saying much, much like the character of Hawthorne in "Yes Minister". Check this out as an example:

Anyway on 20th Oct 2020, Egypt issued a £E4 stamp issued for CAPMAS, which is the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics. Basically this is the official government agency in charge of collecting, processing, analyzing etc of statistical data and conducting the census.

However this stamp was withdrawn from all post offices after two weeks! Why? Because they misspelled Egypt in both places. The y and the g were transposed making it Eygpt.

How many hands did this pass through and no one noticed. However this kind of error is the most difficult error to catch, ask a bookkeeper.

This was fixed and reissued later but people who spotted the error in time and bought stock are now selling them for around $20. This may seem peanuts but £E4 is worth around 25c!

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