Sunday, June 22, 2014

Forever, yours!

While searching for some old letter in my collection, I stumbled on a sheet of 5 paisa stamps purchased long time ago.  These stamps were purchased probably four decades back when five paisa stamps were regularly used.  In those days, mail was the only easily available communication medium to be in touch with those in distance places.  Keeping a stock of postage stamps and envelopes was a habit for those who had the practice of writing letters regularly. If those five paisa stamps are to be used now, the entire sheet of 100 stamps is to be pasted on an envelope weighing 20 grams. The surface area on both sides of the envelope would not be enough to paste 100 stamps! 

I remember a letter received by my host in USA which had a postage stamp of "Liberty Bell" affixed on the envelope.  That stamp did not have any monetary value or denomination printed on it (Photograph downloaded from internet is given alongside).  Only the words "USA FIRST CLASS FOREVER" were printed on it.  I visited the nearest post office and found that these stamps are presently sold for $ 0.49 (49 cents).   These stamps can be purchased, kept and used forever without worrying what the current postage rates are.  These stamps can be used to mail an envelope weighing one ounce (about 28 grams) regardless of when the stamps were purchased or used, no matter what the price of stamps and rules are in force at the time of use.

The first forever stamp was introduced in USA in April 2007 and went for sale on April 12th.  In 2011, all first class one ounce stamps were made forever stamps with a very few exceptions.  These stamps can be purchased in all Post offices nationwide, online at USPS and also by phone.  They are sold in sheets of 20 stamps.  They can be used for international letters as well, but additional stamps will be required.  These stamps do not show any monetary value or denomination on the face of the stamp.

The practice of using forever stamps is said to have started in 1975.  Forever stamps are in use in many european countries.  It was introduced in UK in 1989. They are in use in Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Russia and scandinavian countries. Canada calls them "Permanent Stamps" with the letter "P" on them, as can be seen in the picture taken from the internet and given here. These stamps can be used for mailing an envelope weighing up to 30 grams. Canada Posts says on its website, these stamps are "Always worth the going rate, no matter when you decide to use them". 

Forever stamps are a good hedge against inflation and rising postal charges and may even be considered as a investment tool too.  "Philately" is defined as "collecting postage stamps or other postal matter as a hobby or investment".  Some stamp collectors have made fortunes through this hobby.  There are stamp valuation services as well as stamp insurance products.  There are exhibitions and competitions involving collection and display of stamps.  Collection of "First Day" postal envelopes used to be a hobby for youngsters and we used to stand in a line at GPO (General Post Office) to buy them on the day of their release, in those days.


When dwelling on the subject of stamps, one can never  forget "CHARADE". Charade means a blatant pretense or deception; a game of riddles.  Charade is a delightful 1963 movie with the fine pair of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in the lead.  The movie, directed by Stanley Donen and filmed mostly in Paris, is a suspense thriller and has its dose of romance and comedy as well.  It is a gripping story and the repartee between Reggie Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) and Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) is gripping as well as entertaining.  Walter Matthau, James Coburn and George Kennedy provide able support.  This movie is often referred as the "Best Alfred Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made"!

Regina Lampert (Reggie, played by Audrey Hepburn) is not happy with her husband Charles Lampert and wants to divorce him.  When she returns home one day, she finds that the home is cleaned up and everything they had is converted into cash.  He is murdered and the cash is also missing.  It turns out that Charles Lampert was one of the five men that went to deliver $ 250,000 in gold to "French Resistance" during second world war but stole it.  The other three (one is believed to be dead long ago) believe that she knows where the money is and threaten her to give them the money. CIA is also behind her to recover the money. She meets Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) and Joshua keeps changing his names and identity frequently.  Reggie finds an an envelope with no contents in it. Reggie gives the stamps on the empty envelope to a young boy to add to his stamps collection.  The boy trades those stamps with a stamp dealer, for other stamps.  All concerned suddenly realise that the money is actually hidden in the form of rare stamps pasted on the empty envelope! The stamp dealer is an honest one and knows the true worth of the stamps. He admits that he knew there was some mistake and duly returns them.  He says he was glad he had the three most valuable stamps in the world for at least five minutes.  When she finally goes to the US Embassy to return the money, she finds that Peter Joshua is actually the american official chasing the swindled money.  The suspense of the movie revolves on the money hidden in the form of the three stamps pasted on the envelope.

May be, one day these forever stamps without any monetary value denominated on them turnout to be as valuable as those depicted in "Charade".  And some of us end up having them with us and be able to safely en-cash them!                     

10 comments:

  1. Very good sir. Good message as eye opener.

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  2. Thankyou, v good information.

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  3. Sir,

    Does our country also has this kind of Forever stamps?

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  4. so much of interesting facts in this small write up

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  5. Very interesting information. Never knew about such an arrangement. Thanks a lot for sharring, Sir.

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  6. Very interesting information. Thanks a lot for sharing, Sir.

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  7. good piece of information.

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  8. As always - you have added to my GK, Sir! :)

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  9. article with an interesting - if rare - information. The story of the movie "Charade" was gripping to read. The movie would have been really suspense-filled. Vintage material. We would like to read more such interesting things. Thanks

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