By RICH FOLEY
I recently obtained a copy of the United States Postal Service’s quarterly catalog for stamp collectors. Although I’m not what they would probably consider an active collector, I do have a few sheets of various stamps that have caught my eye over the years.
For instance, I have a sheet of stamps featuring a dog named Owney, an unofficial postal service mascot. Owney was famous for riding railroad mail cars all over the country in the late 1800s until he was shot and killed in Toledo in 1897. The postal service had the dog’s remains preserved for posterity and for the past several years he’s been on display in the Smithsonian.
In 2011, Owney was featured on his own postage stamp. I have a complete sheet of 20 plus part of another. I use an Owney or two on special occasions for special recipients. A stamp series released in 2016 gives me an opportunity to apply a “special” stamp on mail sent to not-so-special people.
In May, the USPS introduced Views of our Planets, a 16-stamp sheet featuring each of our currently recognized eight planets. At first, I felt sorry for former ninth planet Pluto, which I assumed had missed its chance at philatelic glory. But I learned through the catalog that really wasn’t the case at all.
The same day that the planet sheet was released to the public, Pluto-Explored, a four-stamp sheet, was also issued. It features two stamps of the New Horizons spacecraft which took spectacular close-up photos of Pluto and two more of the dwarf planet itself, taken by the spacecraft. I’ll need to order a sheet of those.
But it’s the eight planet sheet that really interests me. Some of them, like the slightly boring Neptune and Mars stamps, are used for my everyday postage needs. Letters to friends rate one of the spectacular Saturn stamps.
The Uranus stamp, however, is used only for payments of my cable bill. Those cable folks overcharged me earlier this year and did their best to stonewall me when I both called and wrote to complain. I’m sure they probably don’t even get the intended message I’m attempting to convey by using the Uranus stamp on my payment envelope every month. But hey, it makes me laugh so why not?
The catalog features some other stamps I didn’t know existed such as the Pets series. These come in a booklet of 20 and feature 20 different pets. Dogs, cats, birds, and fish are all represented by two different stamps.
The rodent lobby did a great job, placing mice, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and chinchilla stamps in the booklet. The remaining pets are the iguana, gecko, rabbit, tortoise, horse, hermit crab and snake. What, no pet bears? No problem. I still have a couple sheets of the polar bear stamps issued several years ago.
I also have a sheet of the Muscle Car stamps from 2013 which kind of makes up for the loathing I feel for the Pickup Trucks series issued this year. The best of the four chosen trucks is the 1938 International Harvester D-2, by far my favorite. Yes, younger readers, International made pickups until 1975 and the IH Scout, which was an SUV years before the term was coined, up until 1980.
The other trucks selected include the 1948 Ford F-1, the 1965 Ford F-100 and the 1953 Chevrolet pickup. If it had been up to me, those three would have been replaced by the much cooler 1956 Ford F-150, the 1967 Chevy and the 1963 Studebaker, that brand’s last truck. Along with the International, that would be four pickup stamps to be proud of. But, they didn’t ask me to be on the stamp selection committee.
Finally, there are the Soda Fountain Favorites stamps, issued in June. The booklet of 20 includes four stamps each of five different confections. One of them is an “egg cream,” which my dictionary says is “a drink made of milk, syrup and soda water.” I hate to sound ignorant, but is there an egg in it, too? And if not, then why that name? I’ve heard of the egg cream before, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never been anywhere that actually serves them.
The other four items are a double-scoop ice cream cone, root beer float, banana split and hot fudge sundae. You can’t go wrong with any of those. But I’ll save the postage picturing the egg cream for use on my cable payments. After all, some day I’m sure to run out of Uranus stamps.