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General Philatelic/Gen. Discussion : USPS destroying stamps.....

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Tobbe656
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07 Feb 2016
04:20:03pm

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Image Not FoundHi,
I´m a collector living in Sweden and lately all stamps on big covers, from USA, are being totally destroyed by USPS. They just take a marker, most often a red one and just get loose on the stamps with it. I thought of complaining to them but theres no way a person outside the US can mail them since they insist on having "state" and "ZIP code" as mandatory to fill in on their forms.
Same problem with destroyed stamps inside the US...??
Just take a look at the scan.....

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philatelia
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07 Feb 2016
04:24:09pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Ohhh Crying that is AWFUL! About the only way to prevent it is to insist on a hand cancel and even then if the cancels aren't heavy enough some moron with a sharpie will deface the cover.
I must admit I've never seen one done it red - usually it is a big thick black marker.

So very sorry, Tobbe.

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DavidG
APS member since 2004
07 Feb 2016
08:21:20pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Beautifully engraved and lithographed stamps ruined by the USPS. Clearly, they hate stamp collectors.

David

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
07 Feb 2016
08:31:12pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

It happens with other countries as well. Not just a USA problem. You have to remember that while it upsets stamp collectors, it is the job of postal employees in every country to protect the revenues of their postal service.

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ikeyPikey
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07 Feb 2016
08:31:52pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

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michael78651
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07 Feb 2016
08:37:25pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

I'm impressed. The USPS has advanced to using colored Sharpies!

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Anglophile
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07 Feb 2016
09:30:25pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Nothing to complain about here; the USPS did its job in canceling the stamps. The simple reality is that steel circular stamps and the like are too costly to replace when lost or stolen, and markers or pens are cheap.

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
07 Feb 2016
10:23:57pm

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re: USPS destroying stamps.....

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I had shared these on another thread. Even when they use a cancelling machine, they manage to mutilate the stamps. These are nicely printed postcards we did for our upcoming model show. The smears continue around on to the image side of the card.

Anyone else notice that older stamps tend to get torn in the sorting machines? A good quantity of these on my incoming eBay buys get shredded.

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larsdog
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08 Feb 2016
12:23:02am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

It happens domestically as well. See the bottom cover below:

Image Not Found

But Michael is right. In most cases this is caused by the sender not getting a hand cancel to ensure all stamps are properly cancelled. You can't blame USPS for that unless there is also a proper hand cancel already there. Even then you have no legitimate complaint. If you want a nicely cancelled stamp, buy a First Day cover or get a hand-back favor cancel. Anything going through the mailstream is subject to all kinds of abuse and I also see a lot of older stamps being ripped by the modern sorting machines as BenFranklin mentioned. USPS doesn't hate stamp collectors, far from it. They probably cater to us more now than at any time in their past. But their job is to move mail and protect revenue. If the automated machinery that moves the mail damages a 25 year old stamp or if they have to use a Sharpie to make up for missed cancels, you shouldn't fault them for doing their job.

Lars

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jduester
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08 Feb 2016
02:58:53am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

I agree with Lars and Michael above. We should not forget that the service you paid for and owed by the postal service is timely and safe delivery of the contents of an envelope or parcel - not to produce a perfect, collectable philatelic item.

Of course, I am also disappointed when I receive a "pencil-cancelled" item. Fortunately, it does not happen often in Germany. And most larger envelopes from the UK which I receive never get cancelled at all, not even by a sharpie.

Joachim

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smauggie
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08 Feb 2016
09:25:09am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Cancelling stamps with something other than a proper cancel is against postal regulations which require that stamps by cancelled with a proper cancel. In my mind it is not about getting a perfect philatelic product, but it's part of what I am paying for. Thankfully I have a post office near me that understands that.

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ikeyPikey
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08 Feb 2016
09:27:46am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

If you are the sender, perhaps the best way to avoid the marker-crayon treatment of your outgoing letters & flats & parcels is a Mailer's Postmark Permit, to wit:

What is an Mailer's Postmark Permit?

For letters, place the stamps a solid inch down from the top edge of the envelope, and the occasional shpritzy cancel will at least miss the stamps, while your MPP cancel will obviate the need for the marker-crayon.

I suspect that USPS management is instructing the clerks that it is simply faster to use a marker (dirt cheap to put one in every pocket) rather than hunt around for a hand-cancel device (even if one is nearby).

That might be a technical violation of the postal manual, as it does not apply the city/date, so the next time you write your congressman ...

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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Snick1946
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08 Feb 2016
11:22:02am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

We used to live in a neighborhood with a carrier who'd spend his break time sitting in his truck defacing stamps. I actually saw him doing this more than once. I tried talking to him about it then dropped it because he didn't seem quite bright to me and it seemed to be an obsession of his.

So I tried talking to staff at the main post office and got a quick education into attitudes toward stamps and collectors. An older woman there yelled at me- before slamming down the window- about 'all you stamp collectors want to do is to re-use stamps. "

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Jps1949
08 Feb 2016
01:30:48pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

I agree that it is undesirable to have these marks on stamps. However, they may be preferable to the 'proper' cancellations shown by BenFranklin1902 above! Perhaps these kind of sharpie cancellations should be regarded as normal postally used condition for stamps.

How many people would prefer to have a sharpie cancellation to a very messy machine cancellation in their collection of 'used' stamps?

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ikeyPikey
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08 Feb 2016
04:39:15pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Quote:

"... How many people would prefer to have a sharpie cancellation to a very messy machine cancellation ..."



Not me.

Good subject for a new thread.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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Dakota
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08 Feb 2016
05:22:37pm

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re: USPS destroying stamps.....

I have received mail from both the U.S. and other countries (notably Sweden) with the Sharpie treatment. Must be lucky. I have seen both the black and red sharpie used.At Wits End

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rbpuzzles
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08 Feb 2016
05:39:34pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

This is something I fail to understand. On one hand the post office is, basically, destroying collectible stamps with the markers. And on the other hand they sell A LOT of stamps to collectors. So are they trying to help the hobby, or hurt it?

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ikeyPikey
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08 Feb 2016
09:24:46pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Quote:

"... On one hand ... destroying collectible stamps ... on the other hand they sell A LOT of stamps to collectors. So are they trying to help the hobby, or hurt it? ..."



Different departments with different priorities.

No reason to expect that they would share a common policy or goals when they have different priorities.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey
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jduester
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Member of RPSL, APS, GBOS, India Study Circle
09 Feb 2016
09:35:10am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Quote:

"This is something I fail to understand. On one hand the post office is, basically, destroying collectible stamps with the markers. And on the other hand they sell A LOT of stamps to collectors. So are they trying to help the hobby, or hurt it?"



Perhaps it all means you can't have it both ways ... LOL ...You are probably supposed to put the stamps you purchased from the philatelic department into your album - and not put it on an envelope and ask for a postal service in return Confused

Joachim

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roy
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09 Feb 2016
11:10:37am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

The USPS gets no additional revenue from stamps that are used, so has no corporate incentive to support that side of the hobby.

They want you to collect mint stamps! (or their other philatelic products).

Roy

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boseauro
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09 Feb 2016
10:50:12pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Hi,
When I post an international/national letter for philatelic cause I make sure it is hand cancelled by the postman.But I am not sure what happens when it reaches the destination.
For packets or postcard received here in India, the postal department are kind to the Philatelist as they do not make any mark on the foreign stamps.I did get international packets with stamps which are not cancelled,but our local post didn't touch the stamps else they mark the cancellation in the other side or any vacant place.
Regards
Auro

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larsdog
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APS #220693 ATA#57179
10 Feb 2016
12:01:54am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Now let's be honest about this. The majority of cases where a Sharpie attack happened was on a decorated cover (a cover with several stamps, often with varying denominations, and not always in the normal location for a spray on cancel). It's not a receiving clerk that uses a Sharpie. It's someone downstream that notices that stamps used to pay for a service haven't been cancelled. Requesting a hand cancel upon submission will solve most of those problems, but you still are not guaranteed that stamps submitted to the mailstream will arrive without blemish, nor should you.

I also find that (after requesting a hand cancel) it helps to ask for a zero value PVI (which tells folks downstream that the stamps were all added up somewhere). Be sure to leave room at the top right corner of the envelope for a PVI (kinda like a meter cancel on a sticker) if you go that route. The folks at my PO are VERY helpful, but they stress how important putting the PVI in the top right corner is. I don't know if it has UV tagging or if that's just a policy, but it's the only thing they seem to be sticklers about so I am more than happy to oblige.

Lars

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youpiao
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10 Feb 2016
03:52:07am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

That's good to know, Lars. Thanks.

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carabop
10 Feb 2016
06:35:39pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Lars I have never heard of "PVI in the top right corner". What is PVI?

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Jlav
10 Feb 2016
07:20:38pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Hi,

PVI is Postage Validated Imprint Label.

Jacques (jlav)

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carabop
10 Feb 2016
09:43:21pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Thank you. I don't know if I would like that to me it would make the cover not look very pretty. But if it were the difference between that and stamps with a black marker thru them I guess I would have to settle for that label.

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youpiao
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11 Feb 2016
01:05:18am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Quote:

"I don't know if I would like that to me it would make the cover not look very pretty."


Just think of it as an auxiliary marking; postal history collectors love auxiliary markings.

Ted
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Jps1949
11 Feb 2016
05:35:14pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

On 'a certain other discussion forum' there is precisely the opposite discussion. they are discussing why so many stamps pass through the system completely uncancelled.

If it is legitimate to post a link to a 'competing' board, here it is: http://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=67688&sid=7fefba01a3f919a2a82e420aead5825e. If I shouldn't post a link, then the moderators will remove it and replace it with a soothing image!

Why these different perceptions? Are there national or regional differences in what postal staff do or are expected to do, or are trends being imagined, one way or the other, from limited evidence?


(Modified by Moderator on 2016-02-15 00:25:15)

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purrfin2
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11 Feb 2016
07:36:24pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

JPS, I did try that link, had to cut and paste the whole thing. It is from the StampBoards.com. They are chatting about what we've basically said here.

While it is nice to see what others are saying, that thread lent no real value. This is just my humble opinion. And I'll leave it for now.

Luree
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ikeyPikey
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11 Feb 2016
09:30:52pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Both things happen.

Letter-sized mail that fits thru automated processing equipment sometimes comes thru uncancelled.

Most likely, in the USA, this is because stamped mail was passed thru the shpritz-free workstations used for metered mail ... again, most likely, simply because that was the workstation that was available at that time.

Flat-sized mail that is processed manually gets markered because that is faster & cheaper than properly cancelling each piece.

Both of these explanations focus on the cost of moving the mail.

No big mysteries, no big conspiracies, no big difference.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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cdj1122
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12 Feb 2016
02:26:27am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

One thing that mystifies me is that often it is an envelope from a foreign country that is defaced with a sharpie. the excuse being, is to protect revenue. I do not understand how defacing some UK stamps in Texas or Florida (Often that were cancelled in the first place.) protects revenue. Even if I were to soak them off and save them for that round the world cruise I have been planning, how would that protect USPS revenue?

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ikeyPikey
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12 Feb 2016
10:08:01am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Quote:

"... One thing that mystifies me is that often it is an envelope from a foreign country that is defaced with a sharpie. the excuse being, is to protect revenue ..."



So you would have postal management instruct the clerks to:

- pickup the letter/flat/parcel with one hand;

- determine if all of the stamps are canceled;

- if not, determine the country-of-origin of the stamps;

- if USA & uncanceled, deface the stamps while you find the address;

- read the address, and toss the item into the appropriate bin.

I have been suggesting the postal management has instructed the clerks to:

- pickup the letter/flat/parcel with one hand;

- deface the stamps while you find the address;

- read the address, and toss the item into the appropriate bin.

Q/ Which procedure is faster & cheaper?

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey
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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
13 Feb 2016
04:36:03am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Surely our esteemed postal clerks are intelligent enough, especially those working at the foreign mail sorting table, to be able to determine that an envelope with a mix of foreign stamps and a CUSTOM'S LABEL is affixed is not local mail even faster than scribbling all the stamps with a magic marker.

Or then, now that I think about it, probably not. Most have no idea what our local stamps are in the first place. Although, I should think Queen Elizabeth's profile might be a clue.

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Jps1949
14 Feb 2016
06:08:32pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

The discussion has largely concentrated on the aesthetics of these defacements - quite legitimately. However, there is another issue that has not been aired.

If a collector is interested in postally used items and postal history, isn't the use of a sharpie, ballpoint pen, wax crayon, or whatever, by a postal employee an example of how postal items are currently handled by the relevant postal service? Shouldn't they find a place in a collection alongside all other examples of postmarking or cancelling?

I don't like stamps defaced in this way, but aren't we ignoring an aspect of postal history if we exclude them from our collections?

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
14 Feb 2016
06:16:36pm

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re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Good point John! This practice indeed is part of postal history! The current equivalent of a 19th century pen cancel!

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youpiao
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19 Feb 2016
03:21:02pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

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The good news is: No Sharpie.
The bad news is: No cancellation.
The good news is: A nice clean block of 4 for my golf topical. Big Grin

Ted

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ikeyPikey
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30 Apr 2019
10:08:50pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

Image Not Found

This one bore a PVI (op cit).

Never in the course of human events have so many stamps been ruined by so few strokes ...

... okay, overdoing it, but color me Angry

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey (who is disappointed that the sender, a long-established supplies dealer, does not have a cooperating postal clerk who will postmark their packages or, better yet, their own Mailer's Postmark Permit)

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DaveSheridan
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30 Apr 2019
11:04:45pm
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

A major dealer in the UK has the same problem. I've asked to be unsubscribed from their mailing lists on numerous occasions, as I'm sure their deliveries would be cancelled the same way.

"We can't do anything, it's the mail centre" doesn't cut it with me

Image Not Found

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jmh67
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01 May 2019
04:00:29am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

As for foreign stamps being pen-cancelled, I was told that there once was an international rule that *any* uncancelled stamp on a mail item should be cancelled by the first post office that noticed it. Hence e.g. German cancels on Hungarian stamps, or penstrokes by UK postal employees on letters from France. Not sure whether this rule still applies.

Another thing to consider: Mass frankings cause much work for the people supposed to cancel the stamps, and can be hard on the postmarking devices as well, in particular on uneven surfaces. For instance, on mail items sent during the German high inflation phase in 1923, you often see only one stroke of the dated postmark, the rest of the stamps are cancelled by pen, brush, aniline pencil, bottle stopper, blocks of wood, ...

Lastly: Isn't it the custom in North America (at least in the USA) that the dated part of the postmark should not normally be printed on the stamps, and that's why there are duplex cancellers, and in the olden days they used penstrokes and fancy cancels?

Not that it helps much, but maybe it explains some of the pictures shown above.

Martin

PS: Which countries do still use hand roller cancels? Germany I know. The USA did at least well into the 1980s. I seem to remember one from Belgium in 2015, and from Switzerland in the 2000s.

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vinman
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01 May 2019
07:54:23am
re: USPS destroying stamps.....

When I have philatelic mail to send with a lot of stamps used as postage I just take it to the post office and have it hand cancelled. I never had a problem with this.
I have had some problems with my mail carrier using a Sharpie to mark stamps that were already cancelled. I had a conversation with him and he don't mark up my mail anymore. I found most Postal employees are accommodating.

Vince

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snowy12
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02 May 2019
08:40:25pm

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re: USPS destroying stamps.....

I do the same as vince ,infact on larger covers I get the stamps cancelled and then seal the cover in plastic to protect the stamps also stamp Please donot bend as well.
Brian

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