As you might have already guessed, the recent U.S. Postal Service rate hikes hit us pretty hard. The bulk of our distribution has been handled through the U.S. mail and that service is one of our greatest expenses. It has also been one of our greatest consternations. We mail more than 1,000 individual copies of The Celator per month via third class bulk-rate mail. In the recent fate hike. that category of service increased by over 25%. The first-class rate increase was slightly lower at 16%. but the picture worsens dramatically if we want or need to print more than 20 pages in an issue. With the current 20-page format, we are right at the 3 oz, breakpoint. The problem we face is that, because of mailing expenses, further growth could result in a net loss.
After wearing out a set of batteries in the calculator, we have decided that a change is inevitable. In order to provide the best service possible, at the most reasonable cost, we are switching to second-class mail across the board. It means some initial expenses for us, a slight increase in mailing costs, and more effort in sorting and bagging papers for distribution; but the speed and reliability of delivery will be nearly that of first-class mail and copies will now be forwarded in the event of an unreported address change.
To reduce our handling costs, we are converting both third- and first-class mail subscriptions, effective immediately, to second-class at the new rate of $15 per year (12 issues). Those third-class subscriptions already in force will be honored for their full term at the $12 rate, renewals will be charged at the $15 rate. New subscriptions submitted on previously distributed flyers will also be accepted at the $12 rate until those forms are exhausted. First class subscriptions currently in force will automatically be extended by one, two or three months (depending on renewal date) to compensate for the overpayment. Canadian subscriptions, and overseas surface mail subscriptions will be offered at $18 per year with overseas "air printed matter" mailings at $35 per year.
By initiating this change, we feel that we can provide substantially better service to the majority of our readers and allow for future growth without the necessity of a big rate increase.
Moving on to more pleasant news, we are happy to announce that The Celator has a new home. After a year and a half of operating almost literally from the kitchen table, we will now be able to ramble about in spacious comfort (see photo on page IV). Originally built as a branch office of an area bank, the building is located in Harmony Grove, a small community located on the shores of Lake Wisconsin about 15 miles north of Madison. Our address and phone will remain the same.
We have received several good manuscripts recently and will be sharing them with you in the next few months, but we are always looking for interesting historical and related themes relevant to ancient coins and antiquities. If you have a favorite topic. or area of specialization, that you would like to share. give us a try. Dust off some of those college term papers and see how easy it is to become an internationally read numismatic author. Those who teach may want to submit some shorter symposium papers; or if you have a promising student who wants to be published. here's the chance!
We received a letter this month from Michael L. Bates, Curator of Islamic Coins for The American Numismatic Society, congratulating Stephen Album for his series of articles in The Celator about Islamic coinage (Vol. 2. # 2 and Vol. 2, # 4.) Islamic coins are often thought of in a context outside the realm of "ancient" coins. yet they are struck in the same places and during the same time periods as other more traditionally accepted series. Bates and Album have done much to show how this fascinating coinage interacts with contemporary Byzantine issues. Their work will undoubtedly foster new enthusiasm for this period. Islamic coins seem to be involved in a growing awareness among collectors not unlike that which Byzantine coins underwent in the past two decades. We are very pleased to be able to offer this in-depth view of a coin series which certainly deserves to be better understood if not more widely collected.
Our thanks to those who wrote in with their thoughts and suggestions this month, we really do appreciate the input. Keep those letters coming and let us hear your point of view!