Ponzi’s Philately

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AirMail-Stamp-6cents-webThe word “philately” is the English version of the French word “philatélie”, coined by Georges Herpin in 1864. Herpin stated that stamps had been collected and studied for the previous six or seven years and a better name was required for the new hobby than timbromanie, which was disliked. He took the Greek root word phil or philo, meaning an attraction or affinity for something, and ateleia, meaning “exempt from duties and taxes” to form “philatelie”. The introduction of postage stamps meant that the receipt of letters was now free of charge, whereas before stamps it was normal for postal charges to be paid by the recipient of a letter.

Speaking of postage stamps, remember Charles Ponzi? Using postal coupons Ponzi borrowed money and sent it back to relatives in Italy with instructions to buy postal coupons and send them to him to be redeemed at a 400% profit. However, when he tried to redeem them, he ran into an avalanche of red tape. Undaunted, Ponzi went to several of his friends in Boston and promised that he would double their investment in 90 days. The great returns available from postal reply coupons, he explained to them, made such incredible profits easy. Some people invested and were paid off as promised, receiving $750 interest on initial investments of $1,250.

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