APRL Resource of the Month: The U.S. Stamp Files

Beginning this month, the APRL will feature a “resource of the month” on this blog and in the APS e-newsletter. To get things started, I’ll share a unique collection for anyone researching U.S. issues, especially from the 20th century: the U.S. Stamp Files.

The U.S. Stamp files (shown above in their secure location in the library’s closed stacks) include files various sources, but primarily from three individuals: Forrest Ellis, John Stark, and Belmont Faries. They are organized by Scott number and collectively make the APRL a leading source of information on 20th-century U.S. stamps.

Ellis filesForrest Ellis’ files provide information on new issues and designs for U.S. stamps from the first half of the twentieth century (see example from the file for the 1948 California Gold Centennial stamp at right).  John Stark specialized in stamps with fluorescence.

Belmont Faries served for more than two decades on the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee to the postmaster general, and also wrote prolifically on stamps for newspapers and for philatelic publications, including the S.P.A. Journal. His files, which include everything from letters petitioning for a stamp issue to rejected designs to articles from the popular press, provide a wealth of information on U.S. stamp design and production (see samples from the 1968 Daniel Boone stamp file below).

Over the years, library staff have added to the files, and continue to do so. Folders from the clipping files are designated for in-library use only to protect their unique contents, but APRL staff can make photocopies or digital scans (depending on the amount of material) for researchers. As yet, there is no index to the collection, but library staff will look to see if there is a file for the stamp you are interested in. Anyone is also welcome to use the files at the library in Bellefonte, but please request an appointment at least three business days in advance.

2 thoughts on “APRL Resource of the Month: The U.S. Stamp Files”

  1. I am grateful to have had these files available for some of my research in the past, and plan to add some significant resource materials from my 20th Century specialty – the U.S. Special Handling stamps, including three large folders of clipping files. Keep up the good work!

  2. Great addition to the enewsletter, library staff! Many thanks. I’ll keep a lookout for it. I bet these files and collections are not only available to us because of the library staff’s hard work, but also because of volunteers who give of their time processing and preparing them. It reminds me of the fantastic work of volunteers at the annual APS Volunteer Work Week held at the end of July.

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