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Cuba Libre: Collecting After Embargo

Question: Is there a stamp society for collectors of Cuban stamps? And can these stamps be legally bought?--R.L.

Answer: The Cuban Philatelic Society of America, P.O. Box 450207, Miami, Fla. 33145, is an organization of almost 400 members in the United States and overseas. This society publishes an informative quarterly journal called El Boletin, has periodical mail auctions for members and distributes an updated membership list showing individual philatelic interests. Annual dues are $10, plus a one-time $2 admission fee. Write to them if you want more information, enclosing a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Cuban stamps issued after 1961 are illegal to import into the United States because of the federal government’s embargo on Cuban goods. But Cuba issued stamps as early as 1855 under Spanish dominion, so there are many years of issues (about 900 major Scott numbers) before 1962, which can form the basis of a fine Cuban collection. President Kennedy declared an embargo on Cuban trade effective Feb. 7, 1962, and it has remained in force since then.

Q: Like many of your readers of a certain age, I have a modest stamp collection put together during the 1930s. All the stamps in my album were obtained prior to 1942, and most are from the late 1920s and early 1930s.

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Many are from nations that no longer exist, at least under the names used back then. My question: Do such collections have any value, or should I put my stamps back in storage for my grandchildren?--K.R.

A: It depends entirely on which stamps you have. There are many worldwide rarities of the 1930s, like the Zeppelins, limited-edition souvenir sheets and high-value definitives that are quite valuable, retailing now for hundreds of dollars per item.

On the other hand, most stamps of 50 years ago are still relatively cheap to buy, many costing only pennies at the present time. You have to show your album to a stamp dealer to get a quick evaluation. Start by checking the Yellow Pages under “Stamps for Collectors” for a stamp shop near you.

Q: Now that first-class postal rates have gone up to 25 cents a letter, can we compare our postage costs with those of other countries? How do we stand in the scheme of things?--T.H.

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A: Adjusted for current exchange rates for foreign money as the markets existed on March 3, 1988, the United States has lower rates than many countries, according to the May 26, 1988, Postal Bulletin. For example, in American money, it takes 29.5 cents to mail a letter in Canada, 31.8 cents in Britain, 38.3 cents in France, 46.5 cents in Japan, 35.6 cents in Switzerland and 47.2 cents in West Germany.

Krause, a member of several national stamp-collecting organizations, cannot answer mail personally but will respond to philatelic questions of general interest in this column. Do not telephone. Write to Your Stamps, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.


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