Stamp fun for the rest of us

As regular readers will know, this year is shaping up to be a pretty spectacular year for big-ticket stamp sales.
This issue contains a report on the first of the three sales Ron Brigham has for this year. We also have a second example of the rare Scott #32 coming up in a Gary Lyon sale this fall, and this summer will see the sale of the world’s rarest stamp of all, the British Guiana one-cent magenta.

All of that is fun, and it is nice to dream, but most of us live in a more modest world. Fortunately, stamp collecting also offers some very affordable alternatives. Take, for instance, modern stamp issues. Sure we can whine about how many different issues are out there, and the variations of borders, alignments, and rates for picture postage is almost staggering to consider, but the positive side is that we can have fun tracking down all these issues. The new year is still early, so why not check and see how many of the domestic-rate stamps coming out this year, you can find postally used?

That means no cheating. It would be a simple matter to go out and purchase stamps and mail them to yourself, but that’s really just chequebook collecting. I also think it would be unfair to make a similar deal with a friend or fellow collector, unless that is something you have been doing for some time. No, I think the fun comes in knowing that you have to wait and see if any of these stamps get used on mail sent to you as a matter of routine. That means you probably won’t get them all, the fun is just to see how close you come to the elusive one of each. Here, at Canadian Stamp News, I think we have a bit of an advantage over members of the general public, because people in the hobby correspond by regular mail more than average, and are less likely to use the simple flag over stamps that the local drugstore sells.
I know the covers I get at the office are much more interesting and diverse than the stuff that turns up at home.

Another thing to watch this year will be the rate combinations. It still remains unclear at this time exactly what will and will not work when our new rate of $1 for a single and 85 cents for a booklet buy of domestic-rate stamps comes in to place. The way it has been reported in CSN, and that was based on what I read in the Canada Gazette, the rate appears to be $1, with a discount to 85 cents per stamp if bought in booklets. That would imply that sheets of stamps will not be at the 85-cent-rate, even though they are not single-rate purchases. It also seems to state quite clearly that the first-class rate is $1 per letter, and the 85-cent rate is a discount for buying them by the book. At least that’s how I had it figured.

However, Canada Post is bringing out a 22-cent make-up rate stamp to bring the current 63-cent stamps up to the 85-cent value. That would imply that stamps with 85-cents postage will be accepted, unless the rule is that the make-up rate can only be used with the current batch of 63-cent definitive stamps. So what would happen if someone mails a letter using older stamps? Do they need to put enough to make a full dollar, or would say eight 10-cent and a single five-cent stamp do the job since it totals 85 cents, the same as a 63-cent stamp with the make-up rate issue. Or are they going to sell the make-up rates in blocks of five along with old booklets?

I suspect that Canada Post may not have thought about this. In fact, I’m pretty sure they haven’t because they seemed quite confused when I asked this question. On my second try I asked a simpler question. “After April 1, would a letter containing three 25-cent stamps and a 10-cent stamp be considered sufficient postage?” That seems simple enough. So far, the only answer I got was to ask me, “where would someone get those stamps?” I may have to mail that April 1 letter to settle the matter. Sigh, sometimes it seems that Canada Post is from Mars and collectors are from Venus.

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