Collectors make tracks to 5 locomotive stamps


Stamp collectors and train buffs gathered outside the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station Museum in Ellicott City on Friday to buy dozens of books of 2-day-old stamps at an "outdoor" post office.

The temporary postal service, set up on a cobblestone sidewalk under a white awning, was part of a ceremony to celebrate the release of five stamps picturing five different Civil War-era steam locomotives.

The stamps were released into national circulation Thursday in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Baltimore District of the U.S. Postal Service, which encompasses the Ellicott City post office, sponsored the outdoor ceremony to commemorate locally the stamps' second day of circulation.

Marlin B. Johnson, Ellicott City's postmaster, said the event was for the convenience of local stamp collectors.

"There are a lot of stamp collectors in the area and a lot of them can't get to the first-day-issue ceremony," he said.

In addition to Mr. Johnson, making comments at the brief ceremony were Ed Williams, director of the Ellicott City B&O; museum; and Jerry August, a representative of the Postal Service's Baltimore District.

Dressed in Union Army uniforms, re-enactors playing flutes and drums performed a rendition of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" while 10-year-old twins Evan and Alana Black unfurled the American, state and county flags.

Van Black, the father of the twins, said he took them to the ceremony to interest them in stamp collecting.

"We looked at this as an opportunity to see if they have an interest in stamp collecting," said the Ellicott City resident. "We're looking to stamp collecting because it's something we can do as a family."

About a dozen people stopped under the white awning to buy the 29-cent stamps or purchase a ceremony program with five stamps and a pictorial postmark with the B&O; museum's logo of a locomotive smoke stack on it for $1.45.

Some people just wanted to get their mail stamped and postmarked.

"We wanted to bring this home for the local people," said Darlene Best, a retail specialist for the Postal Service. "What better opportunity to promote this but at a railroad station?"

Mrs. Best said the stamps could possibly appreciate in value in 10 or 20 years, after they are taken out of circulation.

Paul Zimmermann of Ellicott City said he has never considered making money off his 60-year-old stamp collection.

"You can't make a lot of money in stamp collecting, but it is worth enjoyment and time well spent," he said. "Stamp collecting gives you a love of history."

Vickie Goeller of Ellicott City bought five ceremony programs for relatives.

"I thought since I live and work in the historic district, I'd buy them for my nieces and nephews," she said. "They are interested in trains."

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