Postage rates will increase in 2011, with first-class stamps rising from 44 cents to 46 cents starting in January, pending approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission, the US Postal Service announced Tuesday. It is the latest in a series of cost-cutting, revenue-raising moves the USPS has made as it confronts plummeting service, out-of-control health-care and pension costs, and a massive budget deficit. With Americans abandoning regular mail in favor of the electronic, the USPS has been unprofitable for a number of years and is drilling a hole in the US budget. Next year's USPS projected loss is over $7 billion. Postmaster general said if the Postal Regulatory Commission won't approve the postage stamp price increase, they will have to start firing people and closing offices, as they are one step away from bankruptcy.
So, we will see the postage stamp prices increase in 2010. The USPS already came up with the new stamp prices but they are still shopping for ideas for what should be featured on these new stamps. Let's help the USPS design new postage stamps of different (real or not so real) denominations. Will they approve our stamp designs? Let's see who (or what) deserves to be featured on these stamps.
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This contest is fueled by the following news: A postage stamp is a special symbol issued and sold by the national (and by other) postal departments and each postage stamps has a certain nominal price (face value). The postage stamp serves for the simplification of collecting the fees for sending items (dispatches) which are carried out by mail. Franking the symbol, i.e marking the mail (pasting of stamp on mail) certifies that the service fee of the postal department has been paid.
Usually, the postage stamp is a rectangular shaped small piece of paper as a rule, with perforations and gum applied to the back side of the stamp. Besides face value, the name of the postal administration which has issued the postage stamp can also be mentioned on the stamp; frequently, various symbols, decorative elements and figures are represented on postage stamps.
The collection of postage stamps is a hobby (Philately).
The classification of postage stamps:
A huge variety of postage, semi-postage or non-postage stamps is available. Only some of them are mentioned below:
1. Official postage stamps – postage paid marks issued by the state postal department and used as payment for various mails. They can be divided into three categories:
* Postage stamps let out into the market for sale for making payments towards mails;
* Intended for internal needs or requirements of certain departments (for example, official postage stamps). These postage stamps are usually not on sale in the open market;
* For paying taxes (for example, war tax stamps).
2. Semiofficial postage stamps – issued by non-postal departments or organizations, which will be used for paying additional postal fees;
3. Unofficial postage stamps – stamps issued by public, private organizations or individual persons;
4. Private mail stamps – postage stamps from a private city or hotel mails belong to this category (for example, postage stamps of private local mails).
Apart from postage stamps special stamps also existed for mailing simple letters in many countries in the past:
* For mailing printed matter, mainly newspapers – newspaper stamps were used;
* For official packets – official stamps;
* For collecting payment against unpaid or insufficiently paid letters – so called surcharge or free stamps;
* For registered letters – registered postage stamps;
* For packets – packet postage stamps etc.
Apart from postage stamps, telegraphic, tax and ink stamps were also available in several countries; but postage stamps were often used even for these purposes. In England, the duel purpose of a postage stamp was designated by the inscription “Postage and Revenue”, in Spain – “Correos y Telegrafos” etc.
The price of the postage stamp can indicate any one of the three:
* The labor used for the manufacture and realization of the postage stamps & what's embodied in them. In this case, mainly, the postage stamp customer (postal department) and the postage stamp manufacturer (company, which prints the postage stamp) are interested in the price of postage stamp. The price of the postage stamp directly depends on the postage stamp manufacturing labor cost. Since the manufacture expenditure of the postage stamp in turn depend on the selected printing method, then the standard postage stamps printed in large quantities are usually manufactured by much cheaper relief or offset printing methods;
* The price (face value) printed on the postage stamp and reflecting a sum of money for which the postal services will be rendered on presentation of this postage stamp;
* The “collection price” - the certain amount of money which expresses how the postage stamps correlate with each other as collection items (exchange) or the price which is set on the postage stamps by the collector.
The function of the postage stamp as a collectable item serves as the basis of pricing and only a fictitious value from which depends on the selling (also auction) price of the postage stamp is the result. In this case, the price of a postage stamp is correlated with its catalogue price; the catalogue price is nothing but the assessment of the postage stamp (or other symbols of mail payment) in the catalogue of postage stamps (other symbols of mail payment).
Cancellation of postage stamps:
The cancellation of signs of postal payment has been done regularly and has continued to date through postmarking the date of dispatch of a letter. Further, automatic machines, which can postmark 5000 letters per hour (manual postmarking– 3000) were introduced in the USA. Apart from these automatic machines, New York had Barry devices, which could postmark up to 40 000 letters per hour provided all the letters were of the same size with the postage stamps at a specified place on the letter.
From the middle of the XIXth century the cancellation of postage stamps on the first day of their issue into the market gained momentum. In this case, postage stamps were pasted on an envelope, specially designed for this purpose. Specially designed artistic postmarks were often used for cancellation.