The Rail Philatelist August 1997 Newsletter

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Volume 2 ………………………………………………………………………. Number 1 August 1, 1997


Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:

Thank you to all who helped make the past 3 months my best retail mail sales quarter ever! (And with Pacific 97, my best overall sales quarter yet!) Now that I've pared the mailing list down to you more serious collectors I hope to provide you even better service. Actually, I was both surprised and gratified that several of you sent checks to continue receiving my monthly missives even tho you weren't yet in a position to place an order. Please note that previous stamp lists are no longer valid once the new list for that letter of the alphabet is published - so throw away your old A-B lists when you receive this ( or at least file them away in an INACTIVE file). Here we go with Volume 2.

RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH:"Yet I never saw a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going." from the poem Travel in Second April by Edna St. Vincent Millay. My thoughts exactly after my recent experience with the Swiss railways!

WHAT A TRIP! Sue and I had a great time on our two week Hummel Club tour to Germany, Switzerland and Italy. It was our first experience with a tour group and it was fantastic! The trip was well organized and first class all the way, our 28 person group ( only 7 men) was extremely congenial - the bus, trains and restaurants were filled with laughter and lively conversation almost constantly, our British tour guide was excellent - a fountain of knowledge, both practical and trivial. While I thoroughly enjoyed the castle, monuments, fountains and gloekenspiel in Munich, the artwork and figurines in the Hummel Museum in Massing, the informative Goebel factory tour, the beautiful church and convent near Saulgau where Sister Hummel did most of her work and is buried, the da Vinci Museum with models of his marvelous inventions, the marble quarry where Michelangelo got his raw materials, the leaning Tower of Pisa and Cathedral, all the delicious meals - each seemingly better than the last, I really went to see European trains - and I wasn't disappointed! In addition to spending time just watching trains at stations in Munich, Coberg, Lucerne and Zermatt on my own, we all rode the Mt. Pilatus cog railway (steepest in the world at 48% grade ) up and two different aerial cable cars down. Then our group rode 5 different trains in one day going from Lucerne to Zermatt. I was particularly impressed with the Swiss engineering feats - the tunnels and viaducts were incredible as well as the track work hugging the mountainsides. Every train was on time and we had our own private first class car on each train. In Zermatt, I rode the Gornergrot cog railway but didn't get to see the Matterhorn - still a nice ride except for the wheels slipping near the top on the snow covered tracks. We then took the famous "Glacier Express" for 7 1/2 hours from Zermatt to St. Moritz including a fabulous veal lunch in the dinning car - 3 different railways with locomotive changes at Brig and Chur and dining cars added at Disentis. A great day of rail fanning and sightseeing only to be out done the next day by the scenery on the 2 1/2 hour "Bernina Express" ride from St. Moritz to Tirano, Italy. Besides a funicular ride in Montecatini, I had an unexpected railway surprise when we took a cruise along the Mediterranean coast to the fishing village of Vernazzo. During lunch I could hear trains roaring by so I found the station nestled between tunnel portals not more than 150 feet apart - two high speed tracks of the Italian State Railways coast line. You could feel a train coming from the rush of air (almost a whirlwind) out of the tunnels before you could hear the trains - and there was a train about every 5-10 minutes, both passenger and freight! The entire trip was a totally delightful experience - I wasn't ready to come home - I'm certainly ready to go back. If you get the chance, make the trip!

STAMP OF THE MONTH: While not a particularly attractive stamp, Switzerland #338 has always intrigued me. Now that I've been there it seems like the appropriate choice for this month. The stamp pictures a Rhaetian Railway passenger train on the 65m (211 ft) high Landwasser Viaduct near Filisur, Switzerland. You would have to be in the gorge below to get the stamp

view but from my seat on the "Glacier Express" I had a similar view thru the trees as we rounded a gentle curve, then onto the viaduct southbound and into the tunnel just as the stamp depicts. In fact, it was my memory of this stamp that had me select seats on the right side ( & correct side) of the train when we left Chur. However, my train had a modern RhB Ge 4/4 III electric loco rather than the old workhorse Co-Co "Crocodile" electric on the stamp.

"BEEN THERE, DONE THAT" COLLECTION: The stamp just pictured is the first in my new topical collection, "Been there, Done that". It occurred to me that trying to find stamps picturing places or events from a vacation (or from a lifetime of activity for that matter) would make an interesting personalized collection. Has anyone out there already done one? Actually the complete quote from the Cracker Barrel "Genuine Antique Person" hat I wore as an ice breaker on my trip is "Been there, done that, can't remember!" - which is, unfortunately, all too true!

DISCOUNT POSTAGE: It may be discounted but it ain't no bargain! After being chided by several other dealers for being "the only dealer in America paying face value for postage", I decided to try some "discount" postage for my July newsletter mailing.One of my U.S. dealer friends provided me a Liberty Stamp Album filled with beautiful commemoratives and definitives ( many hinged) for $400. I hesitated to break up the collection but he assured me that it was only useful as postage. The selection seemed ideal for my needs since there were numerous combinations of 4 cent through 29 cent stamps available to make up the 55 cent rate I needed. I eagerly got to work, spending 3 hours making up 2 and 3 stamp 55 cent combinations while dreaming of the money I was saving. Then I spent 3 more hours licking and sticking all the stamps on 250 envelopes. I know many of you appreciated receiving the colorful stamps but I have since realized that I spent 6 hours doing what is normally a 1 hour job using 55 cent self stick stamps from the post office. So where were my big savings? 250 envelopes X $0.55 X 15%(the discount rate) = $20.625 / 5 hours = $4.125 per hour - less than the minimum wage. I can't even keep up with the things I'm trying to do, let alone catch up so I don't think I can afford the time it takes "saving" all that money using "discount" postage. Sorry!

SUMMER TRAVEL: The orange barrels are everywhere! My unscientific survey of the U.S. interstate system during my just concluded trip from Colorado Springs to my Mother-in-Law's near Dayton, OH, then through Madison, WI for the NMRA show and back home indicates that approximately one third of the highway miles are under construction and at least another third should be. A thirty mile stretch of I-70 in Kansas really rattled our teeth - and it wasn't even under construction! An overloaded van with heavy duty shocks really accentuates every bump and irregularity in the road. We also lost almost an hour in a construction caused traffic jam just east of Indianapolis among many other minor delays. Even the railroads were doing maintenance - the Union Pacific was grooming or repairing signals, bridges, track and right-of way between Kearney and Lexington, NE. Incidentally, highway U.S.30 provides a ring-side seat for all the UP action from Grand Island past the huge North Platte yard to Big Springs, Ne. The improved scenery (and fuel economy) at 60 mph more than compensates for the time lost not doing 75mph on I-80. I hope your travels are blessed with smooth roads, sunny skies and lots of trains ( I saw 52 crossing Nebraska!).


Al's signatureAL PETERSON



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P.O. Box 25505
Colorado Springs, CO 80936
1-800-807-RAIL access code RR

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