“What do you have at the APRL regarding the history of Artcraft Cachets?” was a recent reference request received at the APRL. Apart from some articles found in the American First Day Cover Society’s (AFDCS) own journal, First Days, and the various handbooks and catalogues which are housed in the circulating collection at the APRL that list, illustrate, and in some instances value Artcraft and other cachetmakers and their cachets, the APRL also holds another unique collection which over the years has grown thanks to contributions from the AFDCS and its members and that can assist in answering this question. Starting in the late 1970’s the AFDCS decided to donate its considerable archives of materials to the APRL for safekeeping and for use by future first day cover researchers. The initial donation comprised ten four-drawer filing cabinets but has now through ongoing donations by the AFDCS and its members grown to take up 45 linear feet of compact shelving space in the closed stacks area on the second floor of the APRL.
The AFDCS Archives consists of over 3,000 file folders labeled mostly by cachetmaker and arranged alphabetically with the files including such valuable research information as original advertisements, correspondence, unserviced cachets, biographies, article clippings, photographs of the cachetmaker and their cachets, as well as in some rare instances, serviced cachets. Not all AFDCS Archives file folders contain all of this useful information but many include a good number of the aforementioned items. Folders labeled by Scott number contain photocopies of serviced cachets. Also included at the end of the cachetmakers files are three more shelves consisting of over 200 file folders that are specifically about the AFDCS and its history arranged chronologically. Included in these file folders are a wealth of information regarding the history of the AFDCS including among other things copies of AFDCS meeting minutes, society correspondence, research materials used in producing AFDCS publications, and various AFDCS chapter and convention notes and materials.
The AFDCS Archives is currently housed in the second floor closed stacks area of the APRL in order to provide a more controlled and consistent environment for the material and is not readily accessible to the public. However, when visiting the library in person, researchers can ask the APRL staff to retrieve any items from the AFDCS Archives for use in the library during their visit. (The APRL requests advance notice for visits to use archival material.) Remote researchers can also access the Archives by contacting the library and requesting materials to be either photocopied or scanned according the fee schedule found on the APRL website.
The AFDCS Archives is truly another unique “collection with a collection” at the APRL and provides another resource for researchers, specifically those researching cachets, cachetmakers, or the AFDCS itself.
Oh, and back to that question about the history of Artcraft Cachets: the AFDCS Archives contains three large file folders labeled “Artcraft” which provide an extensive amount of information, as well as files for Leo August (the producer of Artcraft cachets), the Washington Stamp Exchange (cachets August produced before Artcraft), and John Coulthard and Ralph Dyer (both of whom produced cachets with August at the Washington Stamp Exchange). Whether you are researching a specific cachetmaker or are interested in the history of the AFDCS, feel free to contact the APRL for your research needs.
The APRL and AFDCS are seeking a volunteer to help maintain the AFDCS Archives. If you are interested in helping, and are able to work onsite at the APRL either on a regular basis or several times a year, contact Tara Murray at the APRL.