Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thoughts About Starting a Stamp Club

We need more stamp clubs for beginners. There are plenty of stamp clubs out there for lifelong collectors that sub-categorize stamps down to "new zealand stamps of animals with cancellation marks." God bless these collectors and clubs but their singular passion excludes nearly the entire planet.

We need more stamp clubs for beginners. And guess what the folks whom sponsor these clubs need not to be experts on stamps. Ironically, most stamp clubs for beginners are started by stamp beginners. This is only fitting because everyone learns something new and the class do not have to be subjected to cookie-cutter lessons on stamp history.

I am always inspired by new stamp clubs simply due to the fact that most take on a unique angle on how to present stamps, how to speak out what stamps mean to them or how their students might explore what stamps could mean to them. These open-minded approaches are essential to keep stamp collecting alive and well in the 21st century. Where it is written that stamp collecting is supposed to contain dry speeches about ancient slips of colouful paper promising to cure insomina if not frighten kids into the digital arms of video games.

Here are some of the approaches I have noted across the world:

Cultural: class focuses on a certain language or country of origin

Historical: class studies various historical figures

Topical: class collects stamps on animals, fish, nature, etc.

Philatelic: class groups world countries and learns about each group

Here are some of the instruments or techniques used by new stamp clubs:

Projection: instructor places an interesting stamp in a projector and displays to entire class

Digital: instructor saves certain stamp images and enlarges them on a computer screen

Foreign Identification: Using translation lists, a class can learn how to identify world stamps

Soaking & Pressing: Donated stamps on paper are soaked by students, removed from paper, dried and pressed in books for collecting, trading or classroom presentation

Here are some useful tips:

Try and get the parents involved, if they are not willing to be supportive, it's truly hard to get kids to stick with stamps compared to all the other so-called exciting distractions out there

Don't get complicated. One stamp can have 15 different angles of discussion or interest. Pick one. Have fun. Move on.

Whenever possible keep the class size smaller rather than larger: Not more than 10 if possible. Remember your students will have geniune questions. Even 5 questions from 10 students is a time management killer. Time is important because most kids have attention span issues.

If you don't know an answer, jot down the question, research it later and make it a cool annoucement during next class. Don't waste time guessing or making stuff up. Kids can Google too.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stamp Purism And Other Silly Obstacles

Yes, folks there is a such thing as stamp purism. It's enough of a task to raise stamp collecting out of near nerdhood before you have to then tackle some fanatic to wants to make stamps into antiseptic relics needing to be forever enshrined in a book. This person actually criticizes anyone who does anything different with stamps.

Too bad, bub, stamps are history and can be presented on a matted board in a museum, stamps are art, and can be used to make art projects. Stamps can be religious and have religious symbols on them and be used in religious ritual ceremonies. (I know of a guy who puts stamps of saints on a cross he made and hangs it in his living room.)

Any fair position for a stamp lover should involve making sure the stamp isn't being destroyed but being used to uplift a theme, cause, person, history, art, etc. Otherwise you just need to calm down and be happy people are still valuing stamps as objects of interest-----regardless of the interest.

Face it, for every kid picking up a stamp versus a video game, there are 10 whom never even come into contact with stamps on a daily basis. The advent of email and electronic billing hasn't killed stamps but it has reduced the average person's dependency of buying and using stamps.

Now and again I hear from people who are venturing to creating their own stamps clubs or pushing for their schools to start a stamp club. Most of these inquires or complaints do not stem from a lack of a stamp club in their community but from opposing the present club because of a myriad of silly obstacles that now infect even stamp clubs.

Let's talk about those, well because, I'm not afraid to speak openly about anything of substance. I object to political correctness in all it's forms. You can always spot political correctness because it defies common sense. That's the only rule you need to define it. Stamp clubs are formed to introduce stamps to children with the hopes that they will learn and eventually appreciate of stamps and maybe stamp collecting. The adult clubs often have a precise agenda like airmail stamps or Great Britain, etc.

This year alone I have heard of a club that refused to display stamps from Israel until stamps from the State of Palestine are created. (The Authority of Palestine issues stamps regularly) The instructor claims this is to present "balance" to the class. This is a silly obstacle that robs children of a stamp experience because their instructor suddenly forgot she was in a stamp club and not jumping on a soap box. Plus her notions and actions are plain stupid. There are Palestine stamps out there; not hard to get by any stretch of imagination or budget. "Balance" is in her dreams, stamps are stamps. Teach what they are made of, what they are about, where they come from and let the history teacher sort out the rest if you can too timid to go further. I question this woman's balance.

Stamps can historically and culturally inform a child about the world he/she is getting a slight peek into, but they are not objects to be used to divide or hurt people. I have heard at least 5 instances where stamps clubs unofficially discouraged girls from attending the class. One of the reasons why there are so few elderly women stamp collectors is because this was a common open practice for the past 100 years. Stamps were supposed to be for boys and dolls are for girls. There are a few exceptions naturally but if you went to an adult stamp club these days I promise you nearly everyone in there is a guy.

I grew up in the 70's, half my community was girls, and I do not remember a single girl collecting stamps. Never one in the club I went to while growing up. With deep respect I have to say, not everything our grandfather's taught us was right. On this point, keeping out girls from stamp collecting was shortsighted and dumb. Women live at least 20 years longer than we do. Not a bad idea to get them involved if you want to keep stamp collecting alive for the 22nd century.

Apparently, similar to sports outings, parents can mess things up when they are attempting to live through their children's current experience. It should never be that way with stamps, heck, if anything this should be an exciting time, there are stamps like Soviet Union, East Germany, etc, but these countries thankfully don't exist and those people are free to figure out their lives for themselves. We should apply that lesson to kids and stamps.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Foreign Stamp Identification and Classification

What Foreign Actually Means:

We've had a few inquires from parents on what "foreign" means in stamp collecting. A few of the inquiries were concerned about the "potential" negative nuance to the term. Please let us be very clear. We are stamp people and not concerned with politics by any stretch of the definition.

This is how "foreign" works in stamp collecting. If you are from India, all stamps other than India are considered foreign. Since I am from the United States, all the world's stamps accept US are considered foreign. It is truly that simple. Any offense perceived is just that: perceived.

As you delve into stamp collecting you will learn exactly what we are saying and realize these terms are merely part of the language of stamp collecting.

Foreign Stamp Identification (Basic)

Foreign stamp identification on a very basic level is essential to assist a collector in categorizing his/her stamps. Basic level refers to simple translations that help you understand what country you are encountering without going deeply into formal translation. A perfect example is: Norge which is Norway and once you know that you never forget it. Simple but essential.

KNS---Easy Foreign Stamp Translator

Azorbaycan -------------------------------Azores

Shqipervise ------------------------------Albania

RSA --------------------------------------Republic of South Africa

bbAFPNR ----------------------------------Bulgaria

Republika Hrvatska -----------------------Croatia

DPRK -------------------------------------Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
------------------------------------------(North Korea)

DDR --------------------------------------East Germany

Espana -----------------------------------Spain

Hellevita --------------------------------Switzerland

Hellas -----------------------------------Greece

Jugoslavia -------------------------------Yugoslavia

Macav ------------------------------------Macao

Magyar Posta -----------------------------Hungary

Nippon -----------------------------------Japan

Osterreich -------------------------------Austria

The above list is a basic one meant to help out new stamp collectors. It is not the whole list nor should it be considered anything other than a good solid example of basic stamp translation.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kids Need Stamps Approaches 4th Year in Operation

This organization continues to provide free stamp starter kits to all whom ask. Please observe the following recap of various happenings in the recent past.

We continue to branch out internationally and have added Oman and Israel as contacts to spread the good news about stamp collecting. This club is also a regular donor to Stamps for the Wounded, an organization that provides stamps and supplies for your wounded soldiers while recovering in the hospital.

Thanks so much for the emails, but we are still low on comments, I think because most find it easier to make their comments via email. With permission I have begun to paste those comments on the blog site (without names unless otherwise directed.) This the best method I discovered for others to notice what we are doing and get inspired to help their kids collect stamps too.

Basic Rules:

We really don't have many but very strict about the few we keep:

1. All stamp starter kits are free (no charge)

2. We do not accept donations of any kind, any time.

3. We do not allow contact with children. This club is solely about parents helping their kids collect stamps. We are in contact only with adults. No exceptions.

See. Very easy. Everything's free. We dont want anything from you but a nice email back telling us how the kids are getting into stamps. And kids being safe on the internet.

Stamp Clubs:

KNS is loosely sponsoring clubs throughout the US and some foreign destinations. At the moment it is a more loose association due to the infrequent schedule of clubs but we welcome a structured club with a firm schedule and a positive agenda. Inquires? Happy to hear them.

Please keep up the excellent work out there. Every week I hear from parents and teachers who are devoting their time to helping kids collect stamps. I keep my mind open as well, recently an art instructor requested a packet of stamps to use in an art project. I agree with his assessment, if we are also also stamps can be art, then why not allow them to be used in art projects. Who says they have to be collected or placed in books to appreciate it. They can also be used to enhance art projects.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Stamp Collecting and Child Safety on the Internet

Sadly, I don't remember a week in the past couple of years when a news report hasn't discovered another child being victimized by an internet pervert. Part of the reason for this uptick in internet child-exploitation is due to parental neglect. Parents must supervise their children while on the internet. The Internet is not the new "boob tube" to babysit your kids while you play bridge or poker with the neighbors. KNS has always taken this subject seriously both in practice and philosophy. We have a strict zero tolerance contact with children. If the request is not made by an adult it is not honored---period. No exceptions. No excuses. Never.

From time to time we get some negative feedback from legal guardians, parents, uncles, grandmothers and the occasional teacher about this policy. But understand this, zero tolerance to us literally means zero tolerance. We are not trying to impress anyone, owe no advertisers any compromise and laugh at political correct nonsense. This whole venture of providing free stamp kits to parents to encourage them to get involved with their children's lives through stamp collecting is on Our Dime and Our Time. We don't charge anyone for anything. We don't sell anyone's name or address for anyone's silly mailing list. We don't even keep our own mailing list of the hundreds of parents making free stamp kit requests.

You would think in this day and age---parents could be grateful that someone out there gives a darn about protecting children and sincerely wanting them to grow up with a rich experience of history, science, geography, culture and the joy of delving into a hobby. Yet I still get rude emails from parents too "busy" to make the requests or stay involved with their children. Some have even asked us to mentor their children through the stamp hobby process. The whole point of this site folks is for YOU to learn how to interact with YOUR kids through a fun and exciting hobby that is provided to you and the child/children for FREE.

I'm sorry to say but this is why children become vulnerable to all sorts of negative stuff out there because their parents are too busy passing the buck to someone else, the school system, the church, other family members, malls, etc. As ususal some of my longer pieces on the blog sound strident and turn off a few people here or there, but too bad, I will always speak my mind, especially when I know I am right on target with this one. I already had a responsible parent email back that she started putting a tigher rein on her kid's internet usage and suddenly their grades started improving. It was her belief, like alot of parents, that unrestricted use of a computer, is a good and educational excercise, when in fact, it was and is often used for goofy communiques with pals or dark chats with weird dangerous people---neither productive exercises that improve grades.

The following is a recap of KNS child safety on he internet policy:

KIDS NEED STAMPS adheres to a strict policy of adult contact where it regards the communication and mailing of stamp-related materials. Our subtitle: “Helping Parents Help Kids Collect Stamps” is not a slogan but a serious philosophy aimed at encouraging authority figures to get involved in their children’s lives in a more meaningful manner than merely purchasing a video game and plugging their offspring in its side port.

“When we say strict we really mean strict. Last year I had to turn down nearly the entire Boy Scout troop because their parents simply made each child email the site rather than doing it themselves. They all got the “see your parents” reply. KNS got a few less-than-civil parental emails back. Everybody got their stamps….and a lesson."

Within that context KNS recognizes the Internet is an excellent tool to spread the good news about stamps as an education hobby while realizing it is also a dangerous weapon in the hands of disturbed individuals. KNS strongly advises all parents to supervise their children’s use of the Internet. Just recently it was reported that child-sex predators were using Facebook as a recruiting too. We need to stay vigilant.

“This is not a soapbox. I supervise my kids on the Internet. Please do the same.’

KNS as a matter of policy and in full agreement with the FBI’s Parent’s Guide to the Internet does not maintain contact with anyone under the age of 18 years of age. If a child makes contact with our site or email address, we quickly reply to educate the child of the need for their parents to make the appropriate stamp kit request. That is our only contact! Any further emails are ignored until an adult or legal guardian enters the equation. We direct you to the useful FBI guide in PDF for any other useful child safety tips.

“Our philosophy is simple: stay involved in your child’s world. Stamp collecting aided by 21st century technology is a greatly enhanced experience, yet still offers the same education, wonder and insights as 100 years ago. Share the joy of discovery with them. You’ll be a better parent for staying connected.”

We also support the CyberAngels unique program that spells out in a contract the responsibilities of children using the Internet. Children agree to the parental rules and sign an Internet Safety Contract.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Stamp Alphabet Series: H is For Honduras

Hair Lines - Fine scratches from a printing plate.

Hand Made Cover - Folding a sheet of paper to create an envelope.

Handstamp - Cancellation or overprint applied manually to a cover or stamp.

Hatching - Close, fine lines for shading a stamp design.

Highway Post Office (HPO) - Portable mail-sorting equipment for mail in transit on highways.

Hinge - Piece of glassine or parchment paper used for mounting stamps on album pages.

Historical Cover - Postmarked and cacheted for a historical event.

Hub - A postmark’s circular part that includes place, date, zip code, etc.