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.

These stamps were created by Canada Post, use the personalized post format, and are sold to members of the general public for use on any first-class mail they want. The stamps have the P-rate attached and are therefore usable for all time. What is more, they were sold not only through Antigonish, but also at selected retail outlets. Several dozen outlets were selected, in fact. To me, these are no different than stamps issued during the year that do not appear on the annual stamp programs. A case in point being the Canada-Israel Friendship stamp of a couple of years ago, which was issued without any prior announcement and which had not appeared on the annual stamp program, or even the Olympic Gold Medal stamp, which had not been announced prior to the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games of 2010.

Again, I believe that these items of personalized postage meet all the criteria for a stamp, according to UPU guidelines and general stamp conventions. By definition, picture postage stamp designs are only offered to one customer, thus making them a bit outside the box according to most definitions. This wasn’t a real big deal at first, because the stamps were shipped as borders, and the customer applied the design of their choice as a sticker. The stamp frames alone were good for postage, and they were catalogued as such at first. It made perfect sense. In more recent years, the personalized postage stamps have been produced as a single piece, with the design and the frame printed together. The practice of cataloguing them by frame still made sense, since the actual designs were only sold by Canada Post to the person who ordered the stamp.

Once again, the so-called “ethnic” stamps were offered to anyone who wanted to pony up the cash, and some are still available from Canada Post’s website as postage. I think my case is pretty straightforward. I also believe that we need to make this decision now, because I am quite sure more of these issues are going to show up. The longer we wait, the harder and harder it is going to be to rewrite the book, and organize numbering. Even now, I would hate to be the Scott/Unitrade editors wrestling with this. Frankly, I have no idea how to get these items to their right place without renumbering a few years of issues. Still, an answer must be made; we cannot shun picture postage because it is a bit out of the ordinary. If our approach to collecting becomes hidebound, the entire hobby is bound to follow.

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