Updated 5 p.m. EDT
You know it’s bad when they start auctioning off the boss’s stuff.
The U.S. Postal Service, in the hole for nearly $16 billion last year, today announced it’s opened an eBay site to auction off items from the postmaster general’s collection.
Bidders have until Sept. 23 to compete for rare stamp press sheets and proofs.
The auction, which opened at 3 p.m. EDT today, includes more than 100 philatelic items. Nagisa Manabe says in an e-mailed statement that the items are “a stamp collector’s dream” and she hopes selling the items will open the world of stamp collecting to a new generation of eBay customers.
Amid declining postage revenue and mail volume, the Postal Service counts on sales of stamps to collectors to help its bottom line. The service, still waiting for Congress to act on a promised reform package, has said it expects to lose $6 billion this year.
Susan McGowan, the service’s director of stamp services won’t say what the agency expects to earn from the auction. She says it’s not about the money, rather it’s about piquing interest in stamp collecting.
“What prompted the idea is it’s actually been something that we have been thinking about because of the large collection in the postmaster general’s art collection,” McGowan said. “We have pieces of artwork that date back to 1860.”
The service also isn’t getting rid of any one-of-a-kind items. Duplicates, most of which are housed at the National Postal Museum near Washington’s Union Station, are what’s being purged.
“It’s very, very important to us to preserve the integrity of the collection,” she said. “This is America’s collection.”