Space Cover #29, Space "Photo Stamps" from Zazzle.com Bob McLeod
This week's covers come from long-time space collector/dealer Ken Havekotte of Merritt Island, FL. At first glance, these two covers, one for STS-115 and the other for STS-116, appear to be fairly ordinary Space Shuttle crew patch/mission emblem cacheted launch covers. But the unusually large stamps used on each cover are far from ordinary. These "photo-image" stamps came from Pitney Bowles, maker of the so-called Zazzle customized photo stamps, which allow anyone to send in their photographs to be made into official USPS stamps.
Zazzle.com promotes their "photo" stamps as customized postage that would be appropriate for mailing out such things as: wedding announcements, birthday invitations, Christmas cards, advertizing, etc. For example, many parents would be interested in mailing invitations to their child's birthday party using stamps picturing their child.
Ken began using space-themed Zazzle stamps on a few STS-121 covers in 2006. He continued for several flights until the United States Postal Service contacted and warned him that Zazzle stamps cannot be used on philatelic material unless another standard USPS stamp is also affixed. So even though the Zazzle stamp would have the required First Class postage, and cost around $1.00, it alone cannot or should not be used on philatelic covers.
The top cover shown here is for the STS-115 launch and is franked with a handsome Zazzle photo-image stamp picturing a prior Space Shuttle launch, and the bottom cover, for STS-116, is franked with a Zazzle photo stamp picturing the STS-116 crew.
Ken is to be commended for creating such impressive and unusual space covers, and we would like to learn if any other collectors have also created space covers with appropriate space photos on Zazzle stamps.