Monthly Archives: November 2018

Episode #198 – Lincoln and Davis Elections, and Online Companies Using the Postal System

Welcome to Stamp Show Here Today Episode #198

Welcome to Stamp Show Here Today Episode #198 – Today we are discussing the elections of President Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, who were elected on the same date one year apart. We also discuss online modern companies and startups going back to using the postal system for advertising. Scott and Tom will be at Chicagopex next week and there will most likely not be a show then. Enjoy.

Hosts – Tom, Scott, Caj, Mark

Presidents Lincoln and Davis

November 6th 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States over a deeply divided Democratic Party, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency.

Lincoln received less than 40 percent of the popular vote but handily defeated the three other candidates: Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, and Constitutional Union candidate John Bell by winning 180 electoral votes.

Lincoln carried many states above the Mason-Dixon line as well as California and Oregon. He did not win one southern state ands was not even on the ballot in 10 of them Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. He was the first presidential nominee to not appear on the ballot of every state.

Lincoln, a Kentucky-born lawyer and former Whig representative to Congress, first gained national stature during his campaign against Stephen Douglas of Illinois for a U.S. Senate seat in 1858. The senatorial campaign featured a remarkable series of public encounters on the issue of slavery, known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which Lincoln argued against the spread of slavery, while Douglas maintained that each territory should have the right to decide whether it would become free or slave. Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his campaign brought national attention to the young Republican Party.

In 1860, Lincoln won the party’s third ballot for the presidential nomination with a party platform the promised not to interfere with slavery in the states but opposed slavery in the territories, a homestead act that promised farmland to western settlers, and the funding of a transcontinental railroad.

The announcement of Lincoln’s victory signaled the beginning of secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.

By the time of his inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states had seceded, and the Confederate States of America had been formally established.

One month later, the American Civil War began when Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina. In 1863, as the tide turned against the Confederacy, Lincoln emancipated the slaves and in 1864 won reelection. In April 1865, he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a confederate sympathizer, at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after the American Civil War effectively ended with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

For preserving the Union and bringing an end to slavery, and for his unique character and powerful oratory, Lincoln is hailed as one of the greatest American presidents.

Also on the same day in 1861 Jefferson Davis was elected as the first president of the Confederate States of America. Davis ran unopposed with the election simply confirming the decision that had been made by the Confederate Congress.

Davis like Lincoln was from Kentucky. He attended West Point and took parts in the Black Hawk War of 1832 and the Mexican War from 1846 – 1848. He was appointed to fill a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate from Mississippi after the war and later served a Secretary of War for President Franklin Pierce.  

Though he was the first and only choice for the Confederate States he feared what was to come saying, “Upon my weary heart was showered smiles, plaudits, and flowers, but beyond them I saw troubles and thorns innumerable.”

Davis was elected to a six year term which ended with the end of the Civil War when the Confederacy was dissolved May 5th 1865.

Abraham Lincoln was first featured on the fifteen cent black National Bank Note stamp, Scott No. 77 issued in April, 1866. He was also prominently featured on the ninety cent Pictorial Issue of 1869 which is the Carmine and Black Scott No. 122. He would go on to be represented on many more U.S. stamps.

Jefferson Davis, appeared on a majority of the Confederate States of America stamps, not holding to the convention of only representing prominent figures who were deceased. Davis is featured on Confederate States Scott Nos. 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

Why do so many hip startups advertise with snail mail

An article on breaks down why many digital first companies are marketing with mailers in this high tech environment.

The idea of having a mailbox full of actual mail seems outdated.

Print magazines are fading, more and more bills are paid online, and many brands have scaled back on printed catalogues, preferring to funnel resources into website upkeep and social media instead.

Yet over the last few years, brands — including hot, digitally savvy, direct-to-consumer ones like Casper, Harry’s, Wayfair, Rover, Quip, Away, Handy, and Modcloth — have taken to targeting customers in the mail.

If you’re in your 20s or 30s and live in an urban city, you probably have gotten, for example, a glossy, blue booklet from mattress brand Casper inviting you to check out its latest products.

Perhaps you’ve tossed these mailers into the trash and moved on to your meal delivery kit. But maybe you’ve done exactly what these companies want you to do, which is to go to their site. Extra points if you buy something using the accompanying discount code found on all their mailings.

Why do these disruptive, online-first companies want to be our old school pen pals?

The rise of young, digital brands spending money to mail us stuff speaks to the cyclical progress of shopping trends. A decade ago, companies looking to reach customers would often buy email addresses from third parties. They’d do giveaways and, if existing customers handed over their family and friends’ email addresses, they’d offer discounts too.

Fast forward 10 years and the virtual mailbox today looks a whole lot like our parents’ IRL mailboxes back then: A total wreck. Our inboxes are overflowing with newsletters, real letters, ride-sharing receipts, lunch-sharing receipts, bills, fake bills, breaking news notifications, not-so-breaking news notifications, brand promotions, sales promotions, social media alerts, spam, and porn. How do we all stay on top of this?

The answer, as you probably know, is that we can’t and we don’t. Emails often get deleted without so much as being opened, regardless of how cheeky the subject line is.

“People our age get hundreds of emails a day, but they only get ten pieces of a mail a day, if that many,” says Pete Christman, the head of acquisition marketing at the shaving company Harry’s, which counts on mailers as part of its marketing. “From a numbers perspective, email is a much noisier environment.”

Advertising on social media has become increasingly difficult too. In case you haven’t noticed, which surely you have, brands are targeting you on social. And in aiming for the ideal consumer for sexy, digital brands, many companies are finding themselves in the same spot: targeting the exact same age group (millennials), living in the exact same areas (heavily populated cities), with the exact same income (middle-class).

This pond brands have to fish in is small and only getting more crowded, which explains why so many digitally-native brands turn to old-school retail methods like opening stores or buying billboards. It’s for this reason that mail is often a better way to catch the attention of new and existing customers than a Facebook or Instagram ad.

“The advertising world gets excited about things like digital and pours money into complicated ads when there’s limited opportunity because everyone is trying to get in front of the same people and there are limited users,” says Christman.

Facebook often raises its ad prices as they become more effective, and so the cost of customer acquisition keeps climbing. The cost of a stamp, on the other hand, is not up to Mark Zuckerberg.

“Direct mail went away for a while, but more digital brands are seeing how well it works as strong marketing,” says Cheryl Kaplan, the president of DTC footwear company M.Gemi, which sends attractive, thick-papered pamphlets to new and existing customers. “It’s a different way to speak with customers who are sick of the ads they see on Instagram.”

But while customers might be sick of ads on Instagram, they’re not sick of ads that look like Instagram. Today’s mailers have a distinctly modern feel.

While brands like Glossier and M.Gemi choose to mail pamphlets out on their own, more companies are opting for a way in which they can share the costs: group mailers.

At some point in time, you probably have been mailed a thick, colorful envelope filled with promotional advertisements from many brands, all packaged and delivered neatly together.

One company that has mastered this type of mailing is Share Local Media, a mailer advertising company that’s been around for about two years, and specializes in working with digitally-native brands. Teju Prabhakar, the company’s CEO and co-founder, has a background in the world of digital. He previously worked at Quidsi, the fast-growing e-commerce company behind, which was acquired (and later killed) by Amazon. After moving to on-demand cleaning startup Handy, Prabhakar decided to start a mailer marketing firm in 2016 because he didn’t think digital businesses took the mail seriously enough.

“Everyone lumps direct mail with TV and radio together, and they are actually pretty different,” he says. “I felt like direct mail could work really well if you get the right targeting format and you are creative.”

Share Local Media now has Instagram-friendly clients like Casper, Joybird, Lyft, Oars and Alp, ModCloth, Away,, Rover, Hims.

People who’ve received these mailers have noticed how striking it is to get mail from startups, of all places, and have even joked about comparing Share Local Media’s envelopes to podcasts, IRL.

Share Local Media charges them a minimum of $15,000 for 30,000 envelopes, a cost that’s split between the companies in the mailer. Prabhakar’s team buys customer addresses and demographic information from the United States Postal Service and third party providers like your credit card company.

Not unlike Facebook, the company is able to provide targeted mailing thanks to a proprietary system that organizes addresses into categories, such as moms, people who’ve just moved, or residents of high income areas. Shared Local Media also does “look-alike” marketing, determining who the brand’s existing customer is and finding similar customers to mail envelopes too. This is exactly the way Facebook helps brands target audiences online, except as Christina Carbonell, the co-founder of kids clothing company Primary, notes, “you give an offer that the person can hold onto. It’s hard to do that in a banner ad.”

As anyone who’s actually bothered to open one of these envelope knows, discount offers are what really matter to customers. Prabhakar advises that every brand puts in “value prop that compels a customer to take action” — a.k.a a coupon code. This, of course, is one of the oldest retail tricks in the book, dating back to when Coca Cola introduced the concept of a coupon in 1887 by offering a free glass of Coke as a way to introduce the drink to shoppers.

Science has studied how coupons can cause a rise in oxytocin levels. Psychology Today has reported on how shoppers prefer to buy products they have coupons for, even if it means spending more money on a product because it provides “smart shopper feelings.” More analysis of the coupon industry has found that 57 percent of shoppers will buy from a company for the first time if they are presented with a coupon.

Are mailers more effective than online advertising?

Shane Pittson, the head of marketing at electric toothbrush startup Quip says “direct mail piece URLs are more likely to be used than URLs from other offline marketing channels” and Christman, from Harry’s, advocates for the practice, noting that sending something to someone’s home can feel more intimate, which is true. But being targeted, unsolicited, at home could be at least as off-putting as being served an ad for a brand you Googled or talked about.

Glossy photography definitely looks better IRL, but it also essentially just ends up in the trash, just like everything else.

Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on how much you enjoy being entreated to spend money — brands see mail as complementary to the rest of their advertising budget. It’s not an “if/or,” says Kaplan, but “is something that adds to the ways we can share our story.”

Show Schedule

November 15
Postal History of World War II in the Pacific OceanOn the Road CoursePrior to CHICAGOPEX- Westin Chicago Northwest, 400 Park Blvd, Itasca, Illinois

Instructor: Ken LawrenceCost: $45 for APS Members $95 for non-membersWebsite:

10am- 4pm

November 16-18CHICAGOPEX
Itasca, Illinois
Westin Chicago Northwest, 400 Park Blvd.

November 17
Manchester, Connecticut
East Catholic High School, 115 New State Road

November 17
Autumn Stamp Festival
Cheektowaga, New York
VFW Post, 2450 Walden Avenue

November 17
Black River Stamp Club Annual Show
Elyria, Ohio
St. Judes School, 590 Poplar St.

Episode #197 – The Colombian Exposition, H. H. Holmes, USPS Supreme Court Patent Case, and Colombian Stamp Issue

Welcome to Stamp Show Here Today Episode #197

Welcome to Stamp Show Here Today Episode #197 – Today we are discussing the Colombian Exposition of 1893 including its link to H. H. Holmes, the nations first serial killer. Also the U.S. Supreme Court is going to hear a patent case involving the USPS, and the Colombian Issue of stamps that came out for the Exposition. We also discuss United Kingdom and Canada Christmas issues and upcoming shows, including the Black River Stamp Clubs Ohio show that is going to feature an airmail exhibit. Enjoy.

Hosts – Tom, Scott, Caj, Mark

Colombian Exposition of 1893

October 30th marks the last day of the 125th anniversary of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The fair celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the Americas.

The fair was an amazing spectacle with over 23 million visitors and in at least one way changed the face of the world as we knew it.

The fair included many technological wonders including the first gasoline powered motor car in the United States, the Daimler quadricycle. It also housed an alternating current power plant, a 46 foot long cannon, a 1,500 lb Venus De Milo made of chocolate and Juicy Fruit Gum. The fair was also home to the world’s first ferris wheel. And brought us the Columbian Exposition stamps.

The transportation building contained the horse drawn carts, alongside bicycles and boats, which were all dwarfed by American manufactured steam locomotives. The expositions organizers believing the trains were the transportation of the future.

Only one vehicle in the entire display had an internal combustion engine and it was tucked away in the back of the hall. A wire wheeled quadricycle similar to that which Daimler had displayed in Paris at the 1889 World’s Fair. Even though most Americans had never seen one before the vehicle got almost no notice. It was so overlooked that the press barely covered it and it was not even mention in the exhibition catalog.

It was however noticed by two individuals. Bicycle mechanic Charles Duryea who ended up partnering with his brother to create the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1896 and produce a one cylinder Duryea Motor Wagon, the first mass production gas powered vehicle in the United States.

The other notable party to show interest in the Daimler Quadricycle was none other than Henry Ford. Ford returned to Dearborn, Michigan and created what he called the gasoline buggy. Ford drove the carca for the first time on July 4th, 1896 and later sold it for $200.00. Only a few years after that he incorporated the Ford Motor Company. The age of the automobile had officially begun.

Only a few items from the fair still exist today in Chicago. The Palace of Fine Arts is now home to the Museum of Science and Industry, and anand area called the Wooded Island was described as a place to get away from the noise of the fair had fallen into disrepair though in 2015 an $8.1 million dollar renovation was completed.

There was a 65 foot “Statue of the Republic” that served as a symbol of the fair. The original statue is gone, but there is a 24 foot bronze replica that sits in Jackson Park.

The Columbian Exposition also holds on other item of historical note. Close to the site of the Exposition was what many came to describe as the “The Murder Castle” a building owned by America’s first serial killer H. H. Holmes.

Holmes was born Herman Webster Mudgett in New Hampshire in 1861. In 1885 he abandoned his wife and young child fleeing accusations of fraud, poisoning and murder and moved to Illinois where he changed his name to Holmes in what many believe was an homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes took work at a pharmacy near Jackson Park which would become site of the fair 8 years later. Believed to be a masterful con artist and highly charismatic he is suspected of having swindled money from his pharmacy coworkers and used it to buy an empty plot of land in the Englewood neighborhood.

Holmes built a two story building on the lot and later added a third. During the construction Holmes is said to have hired and fired several workers in order to hide the true intentions of the building. The building which is said to have contained several false staircases and doorways as well as small interior rooms that were rigged with gas lines that Homes could control to suffocate guests and then put them in a chute that led to the basement where they would be subsequently killed and disposed of. The basement contained acid vats, quicklime pits and a crematorium. He sold skeletons to medical research facilities with connections he had made during a brief time spent in medical school.

Having become adept at insurance fraud during medical school by desecrating cadavers and saying they died in accidents Holmes was able to collect on insurance policies that he had taken out. It is believed that he used the same tactics on victims of what has been dubbed the murder castle.

Holmes was ultimately captured and convicted of murder of one of his “friends” Benjamin Pietzel. Holmes convinced Pietzel to fake his own death and have his wife collect the insurance money. Instead of finding a cadaver to use as the body however, Holmes actually murdered Pietzel and convinced his wife that he was still alive and in hiding in London. HolmesHolme was even able to convince Mrs. Pietzel to hand over custody of three of her children who he later killed as well.

It is said that Holmes killed anywhere from 20-200 people, but he was only ever directly tied to nine. He was found guilty and hung in Pennsylvania in 1896. It is reported that his neck did not snap and that he slowly strangled for almost twenty minutes.

Years later the Murder Castle was mysteriously burned down. A witness reported that two men had entered the building and a short time later were seen running away as the building started burning.

Can you take a guess a what stands on the site of the now infamous lot?

The Englewood Post Office.

And in true fashion of a con man it was rumored for a long time that Holmes had bribed his way out of the gallows and a cadaver was was buried instead of Holmes. As it was his wish that he be buried ten feet deep and covered in concrete, many people believed that the story was true. The rumors were finally put to rest in 2017 when the grave was opened and the body exhumed for DNA testing as part of a television series where one of Holmes descendants believed that he survived and moved to London to become Jack the Ripper. The tests however indeed proved the body to be that of Holmes.

Supreme Court to Hear Patent Case Involving USPS

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up a dispute involving a small Alabama company that accused the U.S. Postal Service of infringing on its patented mail processing system and improperly convincing a federal tribunal to cancel the patent.

The justices will hear an appeal by Return Mail, Inc of a lower court ruling that upheld the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office tribunal’s 2015 determination that the company’s patent covering a system for processing undeliverable mail was invalid.

Return Mail argued that since the Postal Service, a self-supporting independent federal agency, cannot be sued in the same way as private companies it should not be eligible to ask the patent office to review a patent’s validity like private companies can. The Trump administration, backing the Postal Service, asked the Supreme Court not to hear the case.

The case began in 2011 when Return Mail sued the U.S. government, accusing the Postal Service of stealing its technology after the company had tried to license its system but the agency instead developed its own.

The Postal Service challenged the patent’s validity at the patent office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The board’s patent review processes have become especially popular with high-technology companies that are frequent targets of patent lawsuits and have led to a high rate of patent cancellation.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last year upheld the board’s decision to invalidate a key part of Return Mail’s patent.

Rulings by the board can prevent further challenges to a patent’s validity in a federal district court, where infringement lawsuits are typically resolved. But the same constraints are not applied to the federal government when it is accused. Return Mail argued that this means the government should not be allowed to launch challenges before the board.

Columbian Exposition stamps of 1893

The Columbian stamps were supplied by the American Banknote Company, which had a four-year contract for the production of United States postage stamps beginning December 1, 1889.

However, where previous contracts had required printing companies to provide designs and plates at their own expense for any new stamps required by the Post Office, the 1889 contract specified that the Post Office would pay those costs.

Indeed, Postmaster John Wanamaker (of department store fame) executed a new contract with American Banknote specifically for the Columbian stamps without any competitive bidding process, which allowed the company to charge 17¢ per thousand stamps, in contrast to the 7.45¢ per thousand it had been collecting for stamps of the 1890 definitive series.

This arrangement prompted considerable public criticism which was not allayed by American Banknote’s argument that the Columbians’ size (double that of normal stamps) warranted a higher price.

Fifteen denominations of the series were placed on sale by post offices on Monday, January 2, 1893. They were available nationwide, and were not restricted to the Exposition in any way. This was a larger number of stamps than the United States Post Office had ever offered in a definite series, thanks to the unprecedented inclusion of stamps denominated $1, $2, $3, $4 and $5: no U. S. postage stamp previously issued had cost more than 90¢.

A sixteenth stamp, the 8 cent, to provide for the newly lowered registered letter fee was added during March. As a result, the face value of the complete set was $16.34, a substantial sum of money during 1893. In 2018 dollars, the set would cost approximately $458.32.

As a result, of the most expensive stamps, especially the dollar values, only a small number were sold and unsold stamps were destroyed after the Columbian Issue was removed from sale on April 12, 1894. In all, the American Banknote Company printed more than 2 billion Columbian stamps with a total face value exceeding $40 million.

Opinion regarding the Columbian Issue at the time was mixed. The set sold well and did not have the sort of criticism that resulted in the withdrawal of the 1869 Pictorial Issue. However, approval was not universal. An organization known as the Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps, also called the Society for the Suppression of Spurious Stamps, was created in protest of the creation of this set, deeming the Exposition in Chicago insufficiently important to be honored by postage, and some collectors balked at the Post Office Department‘s willingness to profit from the growing hobby of philately.

Ridiculing the $5 stamp, the Chicago Tribune stated that it could be used for only one purpose: mailing a 62½-pound package of books at the book rate.

The Columbians did not immediately increase in value after being removed from sale, due partly to substantial speculation resulting in a glut of stamps on the secondary market. However, in 2018, in mint condition, a full set has a catalog value of $9,498.00. These prices go substantially higher for never hinged and well centered examples in high grades. Per Professional Stamp Experts Stamp Market Quarterly price guide the price for a never hinged set with a grade of 95 is in excess of $300,000.

It was not only in design and commemorative purpose that this issue proved a watershed in U. S. stamp history. The Columbians, like all previous U. S. stamps, had been produced by private security printers on limited-term contracts periodically presented for bidding. They proved, however, to be the last U. S. stamps printed by a private company for many years.

During early 1894, the American Bank Note Company failed to secure a renewal of its stamp contract because the U. S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing submitted a lower bid; and the Bureau then enjoyed a monopoly on U. S. stamp production for decades thereafter.

It was not until 1944 that a private company again produced U. S. stamps (the Overrun Countries series, which required special multicolor printing) and the Bureau subsequently resumed its exclusive role in production, only gradually relinquishing it over the next sixty years. U. S. stamp operations at the Bureau ceased entirely during 2005.

Scholars believe that the Bureau’s first task during 1894 was to finish some Columbian sheets printed by American Banknote; what makes this theory plausible is that, while many Columbian stamps are perfectly perforated, others are distinctly substandard in this regard, with partially punched chads and/or holes that are missing, ragged or misplaced – flaws that would also mar the stamps of the first Bureau definitive issue, released later during 1894.

New Issues

Canada post releasing Christmas Stamps November 2nd.

Send Christmas greetings to family, friends and loved ones with this booklet of 12 Permanent domestic stamps featuring a fresh and contemporary look at the Nativity.

At the centre, above baby Jesus, is the bright Christmas star. More stars spell out the words Christmas and Noël at the top and bottom of the image.

In a departure from past Christmas issues that have reproduced Old Master paintings, this year’s Christmas stamp tells the story of Christ’s birth through simple, colourful imagery and rich symbolism evocative of traditional folk art.

Ideal for holiday cards and letters, or for sending invitations to seasonal events and parties, these simple, elegant stamps add a warm dose of Christmas cheer to your festive mail.

Also the Royal Mail is releasing their Christmas stamp set on November 1st.

The stamps feature traditional Christmas scenes with people posting their Christmas mail at various styles of post boxes – in the countryside and towns.

The set features eight stamps including 1st, 2nd, 1st large, 2nd large, £1.25, £1.45, £1.55 and £2.25

Show Schedule

November 9-10

31st annual mid-cities stamp club Expo

Grapevine, Texas

Grapevine Convention Center, 1209 South Main Street



November 10

Rubber City Stamp Club 99th Annual Stamp Show

Akron, Ohio

Akron General Health and Wellness Center, 4125 Medina Rd


November 10-11

MSDA Fall Cincinnati Area Stamp Show

West Chester, Ohio

Four Points by Sheraton Cincinnati North, 7500 Tylers Place Boulevard



November 10

2018 Johnstown Stamp Show

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

St. John Gualbert Activity Center, 110 Adams St.

Episode # 197 Images

Here are the images of the items discussed in Episode #1

Colombian Exposition

Palace of Fine Arts
World’s first Ferris wheel
H. H. Holmes

Colombian Stamp Issue

Colombian Issue of 1893

New Issues

Canada Post Christmas stamp 2018
Royal Mail Christmas issue 2018