Richard Porcelli is the author of multiple philatelic websites, an APS life member, and a collector of aerophilately as well as computer vended postage. APS interviewed Richard to learn more about his background in the hobby and his membership experience at APS.
Read the interview below:
Q: Tell us about yourself?
A: I was born in 1939, raised in Queens, NY and I attended Chaminade High School in Mineola. Our family moved to White Plains NY in 1953, where I attended Archbishop Stepinac High School.
I graduated from Stepinac in 1956, and enrolled in the University of Detroit where I studied Electrical Engineering. I participated in the University’s co-op program for my last three years of college. This allowed me to attend school and work in alternating three month sessions in order to pay my tuition. I was employed by Peter Kiewit Sons, working in NJ, NYC and Thule, Greenland at the Ballistic Missile Early Warning Site (BMEWS). Initially, I supported the electrical purchasing operations coordinating material supply flow consistent with construction needs and later became an Emplacement Engineer preparing electrical as-built drawings.
In 1961, after graduating with a BS degree in EE, I was offered a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Air Force. I was also offered a position in General Electric's Light Military Electronics Division which I accepted. This position with GE provided me with a critical-skill deferment to work with the military as a civilian.
My first assignment was with the Navy in their anti-sub detection program out of the Brunswick Naval Station in Maine. From 1962-65, I worked in Japan (Misawa AFB) and Okinawa (Kadena AFB) as an instructor teaching the Air Force how to use, maintain and support GE equipment to jam anti-aircraft surface to air missile radar sites. In 1965, due to the escalation of the Vietnam war, I was assigned to work in South Vietnam at Ton Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon.
I was reassigned to work in Fort Worth, Texas with the Air Force and General Dynamics supporting GE's terrain-following radar installed in the then TFX, later to become the F-111.
In 1966 I accepted a position with International General Electric in NYC, which led to my second career with GE. I began working with IGE as a Requisition Engineer in electrical generation power plants and distribution, then migrating to Sales Support, Market Development and finally to Marketing.
In my position as Marketing Manager, I specialized in the turnkey sales of Gas Turbine Power Generation Plants. While headquartered in NYC, my position required much travel around the world, including Central and South America, Asia, Indonesia, Peru, Brazil, and the Middle East, including Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Egypt.
I was very successful in marketing which included the sale of a Gas Turbine Power Plant powering the Royal Palace, Riyadh, Riyadh-7, Jetta-3, Mecca-1, as well as five power plants under a treaty between Saudi and the US. Also, I sold two power plants in Egypt (funded by AID); and in Brazil, I sold two floating gas turbine power plant barges to the Eletrobras Power Utility, providing power to cities along the Amazon.
In 1982 I left GE to start my own company, Turnkey Application Programs (TAP), primarily marketing fuel additives to Saudi Arabia. This product allowed the Saudis to burn crude oil out of the ground in their gas turbines countering high-temperature vanadium corrosion on the turbine blades. As with my former GE career, the marketing of my products required much travel to the Mid-East, as well as much stress.
My company TAP, started marketing a low VOC anti-corrosion paint in the mid-east and then introduced it to the US supplying it to the NY State Thruway Authority for the Tappan-Zee Bridge (in Tarrytown NY), as well as to commercial and Naval ships.
In 1996, I retired and relocated to Coastal North Carolina and Port Charlotte Florida, where I continue to enjoy my wife, my life, good weather and the opportunity to focus on my hobbies including philatelic collecting and postal history.
Q: How did you become involved in philately/stamp collecting?
A: When I was a pre-teen I often visited my Uncle Bill (William Schnelle) who was a renowned artist living in Greenwich Village, NY. On occasion I would run errands in the neighborhood, and one day I came across a sign that said “Stamp Store.” Out of curiosity I ventured into the shop and was welcomed by an elderly gentleman who asked if I collected stamps and I said no. He started showing me an assortment of stamps which I found fascinating; the artwork, colors and designs were remarkable. He then put a few stamps in an envelope and gave them to me as a gift, inviting me to come back anytime.
Q: Who inspired you to collect stamps?
A: I excitedly showed this gift to my Uncle, and he explained some bits of postal history and how stamps were used as prepayment for the cost of mailing a letter. I found myself intrinsically drawn to these tiny little pieces of art. Shortly thereafter, I purchased a few commemorative stamps, with the intent of mailing my first letter. However, I chose to keep the stamps instead - and so it was the beginning of my becoming a novice stamp enthusiast.
Q: How did you find out about APS and what inspired you to become a life member?
A: That gift of stamps launched a hunger to learn more about this artful phenomenon. Over time I became an avid "stamp accumulator.” I would cut and save every postage stamp I came in contact with, rescuing envelopes from being tossed in the trash.
My accumulation led me to stamp collecting, which in turn led me to join the American Philatelic Society (APS) and subsequently becoming a life-member. I attended numerous stamp shows, sought out local stamp dealers and auctions, which led to my becoming an avid collector of US and World-Wide stamps. As my philatelic interests evolved, I focused primarily on collecting US stamps: used, mint, first day covers and plate blocks.
Along my life’s journey, I became a private pilot. My fondness for aviation merged with my philatelic interests and the speedy delivery of “air mail.” This led to my membership in the American Air Mail Society (AAMS).
Aviation-related philately became my new focus, and I began collecting first-flight and airport dedication covers. The risks and dedication of the pilots transporting air mail fascinated me. These pilots became my heroes and I began collecting their photos, biographies and autographs.
Q: Do you have a favorite philatelic memory or story?
A: During my career with GE, I sold turnkey gas turbine power plants. On one of my trips to Indonesia, I departed from New York, then flew from California over the Pacific to Hawaii, Singapore, Jakarta landing in Semarang Indonesia. On my return flight, I flew via the Mid-East and Europe across the Atlantic back to New York. I realized that I had circumvented the earth flying commercially round-the-world. This journey led to my interests in collecting philatelic covers carried on and specifically related to round-the-world flights. Here is one of my websites which is dedicated to this philatelic specialty:
I also author a website titled “Aerodacious.com.” I coined this term by combining the words aeronautical and audacious. This website is dedicated to my flight instructor, Arthur Harjula, because he truly was an audacious pilot. The site relates aviation history as documented by philatelic first flight covers, pioneer, government, CAMs, FAMs and Jet first flights.
Q: What interests you about computer vended postage stamps?
A: While visiting various stamp shows, I spoke with many stamp dealers and discussed my collecting interests, in particular the latest computer vended and personalized postage. The world was changing from analog to digital, but the use of digitized postage did not seem to excite most stamp dealers. This philatelic aspect interested me greatly since these stamps depicted many aspects of American life. People were willing to pay a premium over the face value for the privilege of having their photo-art documented on a US postage stamp. Philatelic collections in this format truly showcase a matrix of life; a Portrait of America. My website, "ComputerStamps.us" is designed to share this aspect with fellow and future stamp collectors.
A random excerpt form my "Computer Stamps" website, "A Portrait of America," showing families and friends gathering, all smiling - happy and healthy.
Q: What interests you about these new digital NFT stamps?
A: America was born in an analog world and has evolved into the digital world. A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to represent items such as computer vended postage and personalized postage stamps, since each stamp has a unique Info-Based-Indicia (IBI) digital code contained in a two-dimensional barcode matrix containing scannable intelligence (cryptographic digital signature) in "DataMatrix" format. One can conclude that computer vended postage and personalized postage stamp collections may become NFTs possibly collected and traded by interested individuals.
The USPS has recently announced that a new data-based standard of indicia called Intelligent Mail Indicia (IMI) will replace current IBI technology for US postal evidencing systems fully effective on December 31, 2024. It is said that this will provide more detailed postal transaction data for evidence of pre-paid postage. It will enable more advanced automation and will employ stronger security standards. I suspect that IMI will replace IBI in future computer vended postage stamps.
Q: Are your philatelic interests related to your professional interests?
A: My philatelic interests have evolved over the years, especially since retirement. What had started as stamp collecting, evolved into collecting postal history, to actually making postal history. I have designed an assortment of pictorial postmarks which commemorate people, organizations and events. Many folks that I have met with similar interests are filled with stories of their life experiences and accomplishments, some of which should be recognized and honored.
Q: Do you have any advice for collectors that are just starting out?
A: Those who are interested in this fascinating hobby should join a local stamp club. By associating with fellow collectors, you will be exposed to a variety of venues which can encourage this pursuit. The American Philatelic Society (America's Stamp Club), is a valuable source, along with the myriad of other stamp organizations, each of which are geared to a specialty in the philatelic world. Linn's Stamp News is an excellent publication that provides new and potential stamp collectors with a voluminous amount of philatelic information past, present and looking toward the future. New collectors should start small, identify what their specific philatelic interests are and then move in that direction. Whether it be flowers, animals, US or foreign countries, every interest has an abundance of stamps, and every stamp has a history, just as every philatelic cover tells a story. It’s a wonderful process to unearth these facts and share their stories. Philatelic history of the past can provide a foundation for the future of philately.
Q: Do you plan to work on any other projects outside of your websites?
A: Authoring my philatelic websites is a labor of love and a work in progress. It must be revised and updated continuously. It is my unsolicited contribution to fellow stamps enthusiasts.
Canceled postal covers can reveal an important story and weave together a historical chain of events. Exploring this history can give readers the incentive to further investigate the history of their own city that may have been forgotten. I author another website, "The Philatelic History of Wilmington, NC" which explores the history of mail sent from and to Wilmington and which further reveals the city's history.
Q: Anything else you would like to share or add?
A: I love my wife, my family and my friends. I love America. I have traveled the world, survived dangerous situations and realize that living in the United States of America is the greatest reward of all.
I hope you enjoy viewing my various websites, as well as my esoteric collection of US Computer Stamps which present a philatelic glimpse into the kaleidoscope of American life, a "Portrait of America."
If you are interested in sharing your stamp story, contact the APS Media Team by emailing [email protected]