Category Archives: Stamps

Another way to collect minerals

Published in the March, 2015 newsletter of the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club (

It is the middle of February in upstate New York and the weather outside is not particularly conducive to mineral and fossil digs.  Yes, I can plan, and I am.  Yes, I can clean and organize last year’s bounty, and I try to make time for that, but even the rocks in the garden remain covered and out of reach.  BUT, there is another way to collect minerals in the winter and I keep busy doing just that when the spirit moves.  They can be collected on postage stamps.

Did you know that there is an international organization of folks who collect gems and minerals on postage stamps?   They call themselves the Gems, Minerals and Jewelry Study Unit (GMJSU) and they are one of 52 active affiliate organizations of the American Topical Association (ATA), a philatelic organization with almost 3000 thematic stamp collectors worldwide.  The GMJSU publishes a quarterly newsletter called Philagems International and maintains an Excel spreadsheet listing all stamps depicting minerals, gems, and mining.  At last count there are over 2700 individual listings although many reflect sets of stamps so the list of actual stamps is larger.  Of those listings, over 1500 are identified as strictly mineral stamps and over 400 as gem stamps. Over 90 countries are represented on the list.

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Christmas Seals


written for the Feb-April 2015 issue of Hinges and Tongs

Rochester Philatelic Association member Florence Wright  opened the first RPA  meeting of 2015 by asking the 28 in attendance if they knew what these five items had in common.


Of course, we knew the title of her talk so it was a bit of a rhetorical inquiry, but we all learned a lot in the next 40 minutes as Florence explained the 108 year history of Christmas Seals.

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Hope Diamond in the Mail

I wrote this note for the Feb-April 2015 issue of the Rochester Philatelic Association newsletter, Hinges and Tongs

The picture above is the Hope Diamond, which was recently acquired by the Rochester Philatelic Association.  OK, that second part is fiction, but there are two bits of interesting philatelic news related to this famous gem.

Did you know that the Smithsonian Institute obtained the Hope Diamond in November of 1958 when New York City jeweler Harry Winston donated the famous gem.  He hoped the donation would stimulate further donations and lead to a world quality gem exhibit.  It did.  You knew all that?  OK, but do you know how the stone was sent from New York to Washington D.C.?  Turns out Mr. Winston wrapped the stone in brown paper and shipped one of the world’s most famous and valuable gemstones via USPS registered mail.  The shipment, with insurance, cost him $145.29, of which only $2.44 was for postage.  The Hope Diamond was then valued at 1 million dollars. Below is the envelope used with the meters and auxiliary markings.

This remarkable Auxiliary Marking envelope is now on display at the National Postal Museum in DC.

This remarkable Auxiliary Marking envelope is now on display at the National Postal Museum in DC.

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Learning to Exhibit

This is a two part post reporting the results of two Rochester Philatelic Association meetings in early 2014.

Part 1.  January 9th, 2014 meeting, text from Hinges and Tongs Jan-March 2014 issue 

It is a New Year and the Rochester Philatelic Association ushered it in on January 9th by learning a bit about the art of exhibiting. Past president, and ROPEX chairman Tom Fortunato described the basics of exhibiting to a audience of 28 members.

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Minerals on Stamps

On November 14, 2013 I presented a program simply entitled “Minerals on Stamps” to the Rochester Philatelic Association.  As a retired geologist, collecting minerals and other geology related topical stamps is a natural merger of my collecting interests.

Did you know that the checklist of gems and minerals on stamps maintained by the Gems and Minerals Study Unit of the American Topical Association has over 3000 entries?  Or that all 8 of the US mineral stamps depict specimens that reside in the Smithsonian?  The FDC with the four 10 cent stamps issued in 1974 is depicted shown below.  The mineral specimen in the bottom stamp is affectionately referred to as “The Postage Stamp Tourmaline.” It is from the pegmatite mines outside San Diego, CA.

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