scan

Stamps from Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary

Soviet stamp

Soviet stamp

This is just a taste of some loose stamps in my collection. I have many more mounted with hinges in albums and over time I’ll be working to unmount them and get them cleaned up and scanned.

For more on how these stamps were scanned and processed check out this post.

Soviet stamp

Soviet stamp

Soviet stamp

Soviet stamp

Polish stamp

Polish stamp

Hungarian stamp

Hungarian stamp

Hungarian stamp

Hungarian stamp

Stamps from British colonies

North Borneo

North Borneo

This is just a taste of some loose stamps in my collection. I have many more mounted with hinges in albums and over time I’ll be working to unmount them and get them cleaned up and scanned.

For more on how these stamps were scanned and processed check out this post.

Nyassa

Nyassa

Nyassa

Nyassa

Nyassa

Nyassa

Newfoundland

Newfoundland

Bermuda

Bermuda

Postage Stamps

Stamp 1

I read a piece in the New York Times the other day: An Inverted Jenny Surfaces. The Flawed Stamp Had Not Been Seen Since 1918 and it got me thinking about my own stamp collection (and yes, I was hoping I might have another copy of the inverted Jenny).

My late father inherited his father’s and his uncle’s stamp collection and I inherited my father’s collection and his younger brother’s. The stamps in these various collections are spectacular: both U.S. and lots of other countries. My father liked French, Belgian, and English colonies in Africa and I have many of those (see above and below), his father liked U.S. commemoratives and air mail stamps. The collections are far ranging and fascinating as many countries represented don’t exist anymore. So, collections like this one are a wormhole into a time that’s long gone, except for Wikipedia and the like.

I merged all the collections into fewer albums and kept it up until I went away to college in 1971. The collection was in my mother’s house until she died in 2016, then I had to bring it home.

There were two large boxes of albums, tools, smaller boxes of loose stamps, some of them needing to be soaked off of envelopes. You see, even though I wasn’t actively collecting since 1971, I was still corresponding with people all over the world and when I got envelopes back with interesting postage I tossed it in a box.

Last year I went down to New York and the Javits Center for a big philatelic (stamp) show. It was mind boggling and fun although one thing I learned for sure: stamp collecting is out of vogue and my collection is probably not worth much to anyone except me.

What to do with all of these great stamps?

Understand that not only are these stamps pieces of history, many of them are also marvels of printmaking and they’re beautiful as art objects.

Besides my now old and musty stamp collection (I have to take an antihistamine when I open one of the boxes) I also collect matchbooks and boxes, and many other pieces of interesting ephemera.

A while back I posted a video on Collectors and collections and another on Jane McDevitt’s Eastern European matchbox labels which sort of zero in on what I’ve decided to do with my stamps.

I was all set to set up my camera on a tripod and photograph stamps but then I realized that my flatbed scanner would do a better job and it would be a lot easier.

So, I experimented and came up with a process that I think works. Feel free to comment with ways to make this better.

1. Clean stamp (blow it off to get dust and hair off).

2. Clean scanner glass (scanner is an inexpensive Canon Lide 220).

3. Place stamps on scanner with enough space between them (white space) to rotate them to straiten once scanned.

4. I use MacOS and I don’t like Canon’s software so I use Apple’s Image Capture to run my scanner. Settings are Color, Millions of colors, 1000dpi, JPEG.

5. Run overview scan, then scan each stamp with enough border so as to straighten it later.

6. Drag all the scans into Apple Photos.

7. Crop and straighten, adjust white balance, enhance color if needed.

8. Export at full size JPEG.

9. Drag each stamp into Preview, choose “Show Markup Toolbar” then use the “Instant Alpha” tool (the magic wand on the left) to drag over the stamp’s background to make it transparent. One has to be careful with lighter colored stamps to not “leak” into the body of the stamp. This takes practice. Practice on copies. Alternatively use Photoshop or Pixelmator do do the same with dedicated tools.

10. Save the stamp as a JPEG and you’re done.

I reached into a box and pulled out a few hundred stamps of various kinds that weren’t mounted. These are just a random sample of French and Belgian colonies from the 1900’s. I have thousands of these from Africa, the Pacific islands, and other places that were colonized at the time. Not to mention all sorts of other stamps. This is my start…

Stamp 30

Stamp 21

Stamp 60

Stamp 50

Stamp 5

Stamp 2

Stamp 6

Stamp 3

Stamp 4

Gordon brings home a bear cub

My brother and sister with a bear cub in our home, 1965.

Bob and Susan Sharp playing with a bear cub, Gordon Sharp in the back. April, 1965, Reedsport, Oregon.

My Flickr contact and friend Gary Sharp has been scanning old photos he’s digging out of boxes at his mother’s house. These two are terrific and tell a great story.

“My father Gordon Sharp owned and operated Sharp Logging Company that he and his father established in the early 1950’s near Reedsport, Oregon. He was at one of his logging sites in April, 1965 and came across a bear cub with no sign of its mother around so he brought the bear home and it liked being with us. We fed it milk with a baby bottle and took good care of it. My mother remembers that Gordon contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the bear was relocated, maybe to a zoo.”

My father feeding a bear cub in our home, 1965.

Gordon Sharp feeding the bear cub, April 1965. Reedsport, Oregon.

MacPaint print

MacPaint print

I had one of the first 128K Macintosh computers in Eugene, Oregon and while I did a lot of writing with MacWrite, I also did a lot of “drawing” with MacPaint.

MacPaint was written by Bill Atkinson (one of the core members of the original Macintosh team at Apple) who added lots of fun touches to all of his early software. MacPaint had various distortions and to be honest, I can’t remember which one was responsible for this image (maybe “invert” and/or “trace edges”). I didn’t draw this; instead I drew some random shapes and chose what would now be called a “filter” and this was the result. It delighted me to no end and I made hundreds of these which I printed on my ImageWriter dot matrix printer.

I’m posting this now because I’m cleaning our basement and found boxes and boxes of old Macintosh related keepsakes, including some of my old writing and drawing done on my first Mac (not my first computer but close).

I had to run upstairs and pop an antihistamine; between dust and mold it was like an archeological dig.

SuperPaint

SuperPaint (front of box)

I was cleaning out a box of old boxes (I love boxes) and found this product box from 1986.

Those of us who started with MacPaint eventually graduated to other tools. I was a MacDraw fanatic (object-oriented graphics) but still needed a bit-mapped painting program (this was pre-Photoshop). SuperPaint was what many of us used and it was like MacPaint on steroids.

If you remember, “FatBits” was MacPaint’s zoomed mode, “LaserBits” was something similar with SuperPaint (as memory serves). SuperPaint had all sorts of creative touches that were great fun for those of us who enjoyed MacPaint.

I’m posting two images, one of the front of the box, one of the back. If this history interests you, read the back to see more about what graphics programs looked like pre-Photoshop.

SuperPaint (back of box)

Scanned postcards of early 20th Century America

These picture postcards capture the monumental scale of America in the early 20th century

Rian Dundon, editor at Timeline has put together a fantastic collection of scanned postcards of things like the Flatiron Building under construction in 1902 to a scene of Market Street in San Francisco after the earthquake in 1906. It’s an amazing collection.

I recommend zooming it out, the images are high resolution and scale up well.

City to City

City to City

I was cleaning out a box of old boxes (I love boxes) and found this product box from 1986.

City to City was a travel reference tool that was built with HyperCard and ran on Macintosh Plus computers.

The significance of this is that it was more easily browsed than an atlas or travel book because HyperCard had the capacity to build links connecting different types of information (before the world wide web).

Once the web took off tools like this faded away. But, in its day it was a useful tool for those of us who did a lot of travel (I did a lot of travel for Apple in those days).

I’m posting two images, one of the cover, one of the back. If this history interests you, read the back to see more about what the world looked like before the web, GPSs and iPhones.

City to City

PhotoScan

This is a brilliant marketing video and I’m going to give this application a try. I don’t always like Google’s design sense on things like this but this video caught my attention. Might even give Google Photos a try too as Apple’s Photos app is less than wonderful. I’m a Lightroom user so use it for most of my heavy lifting but for stuff like this, especially image that won’t need much retouching, this system will be great, well, at least worth a try.

Update: I’ve PhotoScanned a number of images, some of which looked like they might be tough. The app works beautifully. I’m not using Google Photos, I’m moving the scanned photos into Apple Photos and that too is working fine. This is certainly an improvement over using the iPhone camera alone to do this kind of work. I highly recommend folks give this app a try, it’s quite good.

[via The Loop]