Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monthly Report: Collectors News Spotlights KNS

KNS is proud to announce our site, its efforts and its club president, Mark Rossi, is being featured in Collectors News a magazine that focuses on various aspects of collecting (toys, dolls, cards, stamps, etc.) The January 2009 issue will be examing the stamp collecting aspect of collectibles and KNS was chosen as an organization making a difference in the vital effort to keep stamp collecting alive for another enlightened generation. We sincerely thank them for spreading the good word. http://collectors-news.com/ {Cover Issue is November 2008}

KNS is continuing to fine tune its effort to equip a children's hospital with a complete stamp collecting program. We also made another meaningful contribution of stamps to the Stamps for the Wounded program. Meanwhile we continue our main mission of assisting parents with free starter-kits one parent at a time. We welcome new members from Canada and India and thank everyone for their inquiries and questions. A special thank you for those kind members who leave comments on the blog articles.

As always I welcome parents to read the blog articles and discover what KNS is all about and how to go about setting up a basic inexpensive stamp collecting outfit for your child. This is also a good time to address a few issues that have risen:

1. Free starter-kits are available always. No expiration date. No until supplies run out.

2. I don't care about your martial status, political affiliation, religion or cultural background.If you are committed to getting your child interested in stamp collecting. We will help.

3. Please keep your questions relevant to helping parents help kids collect stamps. This is a family operation. Our time is precious.

4. Stamps Images. Some are in the Public Domain due to their age or country's liberal policy to promote their stamps or country's image. Others are used through Fair Use which allows stamp images to be utilized like book reviews. We are not selling anything hereand our articles only elevate stamp collecting. Period. Appreciate the concern but nothing's happening to the 20,000 auctions (with images) taking place on Ebay everyday. And those guys are actually making money. Hope that answers your questions. Enough said.

5. You need to provide your mailing address. I am still surprised on how many inquiries we get and how many turn down the offer of a free starter-kit because we need their mailing address. Folks, the stamps can't materialize through the internet. They have to be mailed through the postage system: a service also free of charge from KNS.

I wish you all a Happy Halloween. Keep those children safe. And rejoin us again in November.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We Continue To Serve Families: Free Starter-Kits

After a few months of log entries on the blog you begin to forget that the important introductory articles are not so visible anymore. I continue to get emails from parents believe the starter-kits were only a summer phenomena. They are not. They are forever. KNS continue to serve families seeking to introduce their children to the exciting world of stamp collecting.

The starter-kits contain 10 US stamps and 10 foreign stamps (each from a different country)
I have also began to include a credit card magnifer with each request (while supplies last.)

The parent also receives 5 information attachments that specify how to identify foreign stamps and how to understand various stamp definitions and terminology.

You can purchase inexpensively various Vario stock book pages and place them in a looseleaf and create your own stamp book. (There's a brief explanation in the welcome letter I send out.)

Or parents can download one or both of the following album pages presented free to collectors:

16 page kid album (from Stamps.net)

{please kind in mind you need to have Adobe on your computer to open this up}
{warning: kid album is cute and useful but also uses a lot of black ink}

black album pages (from International Society of Worldwide Stamp Collectors)

{blank means blank --you have to title everything} (But these folks have a link to download
Adobe Acrobat for free)

Keep those email inquiries coming. Love to hear from everyone. Thanks again to Stamp Collecting Round-Up for directing parents to our site.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Dad and Stamps: A Rose By Any Other Name

One of the most popular inquires we receive at KNS (next to requesting the free starter-kit) is what do you call someone who collects stamps?

If this were an SNL sketch a few of the answers would be "nerd," "geek", "a member of the non-dating community", etc., etc., but truth be told children in the United States do not collect stamps as much as adults. It is the mirror opposite throughout the world where governments help promote stamp collecting and stamp supplies can actually be found in regular department stores.

While submitting these inquires the answers the emailers also provided are curious insights into their knowledge or lack thereof: "stampers", "stampsters", "stamp hobbyists", "stamp collectors", and on and on. Some folks do not really care what it is called as long as they can enjoy its entertainment value and learn a valuable historical fact along the way.

My late father was a collector for nearly 50 years and held strong opinions about the King of Hobbies in the mid-70's which is when he first noticed stamp collecting was starting to decline in America. He noticed there was less about it on the children shows. He noticed stamps were beginning to be mocked on the game shows. It was becoming more a commercial specialty rather than a commercial staple in department stores. It was become more an intellectual pursuit rather than a passionate past time.

I remember attending stamp conventions at the United Nations with my father and listening to guys who looked like insurance agents declared they were "philatelists" and were going to rescue stamp collecting from the hands of schoolchildren and well-intentioned parents. I remember my father having some choice words for these "negative nitwits" as he called them. It was moments like these that shaped my father's opinion that stamp collecting was going underground and becoming for insular and exclusive after being overtaken by more popular forces in society such as rock n roll, movies and board games.

He used to say, "if I ever find out who ruined stamps, I will fire him, after I punch him out." I always laughed because it was obvious the companies involved never invested much in marketing or advertising. They depended on the word-of-mouth and the natural cultural inclinations to support a hobby "everyone just loved." Basically they depended on habit and faith and pocketed the ad money.

But I appreciated my dad's vigor and passion for the hobby he felt was dying from within and fast becoming an egghead luxury like water polo or shooting silly birds with bazookas. I wish he was still around to see how the Hobby of Kings has made a respectable comeback with the aid of technology and another generation wanting their children to learn real knowledge for a better day beyond the limited notions of violent video games and moronic music.

Philatelist, hobbyist, stamp collector, a rose by any other name is the craft we share with our children and the world shares with us. Who could ask for more.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fiction and Legends on Postage Stamps

One of my first collectable stamps was the Headless Horseman stamp blazing across my album page in bright orange against deep blue. I thought it strange until I realize they are actually promoting the writer Washington Irving----or were they?

At times, legends and monsters can make such a dramatic impact on the public imagination that it compels the postal authorities to include them on postage stamps. The Maldives include a picture representation of the legendary Scottish sea monster: The Loch Ness Monster.

The mountainous country of Bhutan is famous for mountain trekkers, dedicated hikers and a population so steeped in the Yeti (i.e. Abominable Snowman) tradition that nearly to a person they believe it is out there. Bhutan literature actually mentions the Yeti (i.e. missing link) nearly 1500 years old in ancient religious texts and histories.

The emerging Southeastern nation of Laos cling to the enduring legend of the Thunderbird which modern hunters are still seeking in the strong belief it is a genetic leftover from the dinosaur age.

The cynical among us often say these legendary depictions are merely the result of commercializing stamps for collectors in order to make profits for said producing countries. Yeah, so what. Many of these same countries snap photos of their beautiful shells, flowers and exotic animals and also reap financial rewards. Remember stamps can be art, news, politics, history, geography,--so why not plain fun.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October: Autumn Leaves and Halloween

Autumn is my favorite season. Always has been. Always will be. It even shades my art tastes and I like the browns and oranges in paintings. Strangely, there haven't been many Halloween stamps issued throughout the world. I was only able to locate five. Maybe we should petition for more. Ha.

Growing up Halloween was my favorite holiday--more so than Thanksgiving or Christmas. I couldn't wait to get out of school and into that costume, Batman, Frankenstein's Monster, Casper the Friend Ghost, etc. I grew up in the city and selling egg insurance 1 week in advance raised the funds necessary to buy the more expensive costume I craved--plus more. Every year I would have to clean a few windows but mostly it was profitable and fun.

Now I live in the suburbs and look back at the rows of orange leaves flooding the sidewalks to my grammar school with fond memories. I miss those days but I missed more the fact that my parents were rarely able to make the Halloween trek through the neighborhood. One or both often had to work late. I was usually assigned a neighborhood parent and went trick-or-treating with their kids.

Sometimes I felt my father was doing extra stamp collecting activities, such as field trips, with me to make up for those absences. All of this is going through my mind now that I have children and Halloween is fast approaching. I'm reliving those times with them and still thinking how I can improve being the best father I can possibly be.

When they grow up I won't worry if they miss those lovely autumn leaves, I just don't want them to miss me not being around. That is the best holiday gift any father can give his children.