Personalized stamps need a place in the numbering – now

I believe that some of the personalized postage issues belong among the regular Canada Post listings in references, rather than lumped in the back of the book. The reasons, I believe, are compelling. Now, I am not talking about Uncle John and Aunt Mary standing around the Christmas tree, or even the new specialized issues, but personalized postage stamps created by Canada Post and sold to the public for use on mail. There are a small number of stamps that fit this category. Not, for instance, the Royal Conservatory stamps of last year, which were only sold cancelled on commemorative envelopes. No, the specific stamps I am talking about would be typified by the 2011 Eid, Hanukkah, and Diwali stamps. Continue reading →

Overindulgent stamp issues not always bad

I have to admit that I am a big fan of the British television series Dr. Who. For most of my life I have been watching a succession of “doctors” battle a selection of British actors in rubber masks through space or time. The series, which is now 50 years old, obviously has staying power. Now I am not a “Whovian,” the name given to hardcore fans, many of who dress up as their favourite characters and attend events. Frankly, I think those folks have taken the idea of liking something to a bit of an extreme. I do, whoever, have a Dr. Who poster in my bedroom, but that’s as far as it goes. Really, you have to believe me on this. Continue reading →

Cash crunch streamlines Canada’s postal history

When a successful post office that serves a large number of people is closed and replaced with a back corner of a drugstore, that isn’t converting from one type of post office to another, it is a definite and permanent reduction in service. It is also a definite and permanent reduction in cost for Canada Post. It is no secret that the corporation’s biggest single budget item is paying for its staff and their gold-plated benefit packages. Chief among these is an indexed pension, with Canada Post picking up the deficit. That deficit is huge, since Canada Post has lots of employees on the retired list. What’s more, thanks to modern medicine, these people are drawing pension money out for more years than ever before. However, closing a post office today does not mean a dramatic impact on the cost of servicing the pension plan in the short term. Continue reading →

Kiosks offer collecting challenges

Now I really do believe that these machines add some fun to collecting. In my perfect world, of course, they would not be necessary. I would much rather see honest-to-goodness post offices staffed by real postal workers within easy reach of all Canadians. In this mythical world, these workers would all be well-versed on philatelic issues, make every effort to ensure that gentle cancels were respected and eager to offer hand-back service. Oh, and the use of a ballpoint pen to cancel a letter would be punishable by a day in the public stocks, while stamp collectors could toss rotten fruit and junk mail at the offender. Continue reading →

Canada’s mail ship is listing dangerously

Sometimes, I have to admire Deepak Chopra’s decision to take the helm of Canada Post. With all respect to Moya Greene, what he took over was a sinking ship with a striking crew. Still above water to be sure, but taking on water. The real challenge remains the corporation’s difficult relations with its staff. To continue the analogy, it is as if the captain and the crew, both of whom recognize that the ship it taking on water, can’t agree if they should plug the hole, man the pumps, or shut the watertight doors. Unable to agree, they end up pumping a bit, closing a few doors, and making the hole a bit smaller, but still continue to take on water. Meanwhile, the ship is still steaming through iceberg-infested water and more hits are to be expected. Continue reading →

Canada’s stamp-collecting magazine goes digital

While the digital version will be pretty much the same as the print version, except for hot links inside ads and editorial content, I do believe that electronic content offers a much better experience for the reader. I’m not talking about gimmicks, such as virtual reality games that almost nobody plays. I see opportunities for enhanced content, or even content not really suited to print, being connected to these articles. Right now we’re at the early stage of a digital experience, but I’m quite sure it is just the start of a whole new way for you and me to share our love of stamps. Continue reading →

The deets in Details target a very specific audience

Here in the hobby we are pretty well informed and have the chance to look at the whole program. Most Canadians only see a small part of the picture. Later this year, in the town where I live, there will be some events to honour Laura Secord. It makes sense since I live just a short walk from the place where she met with the native warriors and British soldiers, and even closer to the site of the battle that followed. There is a good chance that the stamp showing Secord will get some play. I know if I ran the local post office I’d be selling special covers and cancels whenever I got the chance. Continue reading →

Bidding at big-time sales will be telling

All of this means that trying to predict the stamp market is a bit of a guessing game. A year ago it seemed as if the top end of the market had entered hibernation and most rarities would be off the market for some time while owners waited for a better time to sell. More recently, we have seen a couple of high-value sales, and I expect that we will be hearing about a few more over the summer. Does that mean that collectors are opening their wallets, or does it mean that owners have stopped waiting and are testing the waters? Continue reading →

Mailman’s role minimized in the global village

Now in spite of what my children may think, I was not alive 100 years ago. But, I am old enough to remember a time when mail was different, very different. For one thing, if someone wanted to read an out-of-town newspaper, chances are they had it delivered by mail. I remember my father receiving copies of the Toronto and Montreal newspapers in the mailbox. They were delivered by a mailman – nobody ever heard the term “letter carrier” back then – who wore a very military uniform, complete with forage hat and cap badge. Back then the mail was royal, and the various letterboxes were mostly green with a very official coat of arms emblazoned on the front. Continue reading →

Canada Post’s decline will be stemmed by transformation

Sure, the corporation was piling up profits in the millions, but it had expenses in the billions. Canada Post is one of the largest businesses in Canada, and much of its costs are related to labour, and the cost of fulfilling its requirement to provide universal postal service to Canadians. Just a few years ago, when I was reviewing the annual report for the year 2010, I noticed that Canada Post, while making money then, was one bad week away from being in the red. Along came the labour problems of 2011, and that’s what happened. Lower volumes of mail, combined with an increase in the number of addresses to be served, means that it becomes increasingly less efficient to deliver mail. Continue reading →

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