Personalized postage creates new hurdles

Publishing deadlines being what they are, this issue has a Dec. 30 cover date, is being prepared the first week in December, and will go in the mail the middle of the month, making this the last issue you will receive before Christmas.

I couldn’t quite bring myself to do my Seasons Greetings thing in November, but this way it works out fine, because I can cover both Christmas and New Year’s in one message.

The holiday season is largely one of celebration, regardless if you view it from a religious or secular standpoint. We can celebrate family, friends, or even the fact that we are blessed to live in a nation where we have peace, security, and plenty. It is also a time to remember that, even in a society as rich as ours, there are others in need. We should all take a few minutes from our celebrating to offer a kind word, or a kind deed, to someone else.

From all of us here at Trajan Media, to all of our readers and advertisers, have a happy and safe holiday season.

New Year’s of course, is all about looking back and looking forward.

It is the time of year when we look back and assess the previous 12 months, and make plans for the future. If only to make those determined resolutions, most of which don’t make it past Jan. 2.

For us, we have a traditional summary of the stamp issues from the previous year, a task Ian Robertson has been taking on for as long as I can remember.

It reminds us of just how many stamps get issued each year. Now I know it is popular to talk about the proliferation of issues, but I don’t think the number of things being marked each year has grown much in recent years – at least with conventional stamps.

What we have seen is a growth in the number of commemorative envelopes, often using personalized postage and a custom cancel. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. Because the stamps created for the covers are only available on cover, and only sold with the cancel in place, it is easy to view them as a sort of souvenir rather than a legitimate postage stamp. That is using the definition of a postage stamp as an item which can be purchased from the post office and used to send mail. They are a kind of fun area where collectors pick and choose what they want, but not having one won’t leave a whole in a traditional collection.

A second area is the creation of these, for want of a better word, mega-issues. Here I am talking about the NHL stamps, with stamps for each team and their Zambonis. We also saw a program last year with a whole whack of Canadian Football League stamps. From the view of a sports collector, this isn’t much of an issue. Fans tend to focus on their own team, and if a few get motivated to start building a stamp collection, so much the better.

An even more extreme case is personalized postage. Here the number of rates, different border designs, and vertical and horizontal formats mean the collector will need dozens of designs.

The whole area of personalized postage collecting is becoming a bit confusing. It was easy in the old days, the stamps arrived with the framed on one sheet, and a bunch of sized photos on a second. Mailing involved attaching the picture to the frame and the frame to the envelope. The frame was actually the stamp so collecting the series involved getting frames.

Today they are shipped all in one. This means that any collection of personalized postage, postally used or mint, will have the photos of Canada Post customers.

Ian hasn’t paid much attention to personalized postage in his article. The nature of the issue is out of the scope of his mandate. My view is that collecting is a very personal choice, and collectors can decide what does and doesn’t belong in their collection.

That applies to uncut press sheets, official first-day covers, corner blocks, and gutter strips, if you want it, collect it, if not that’s fine.

But I do wonder at the potential cost and challenge for a collector who wants one of everything, particularly unused.

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