Here at the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) the most common resources used or cited when researchers consult the library for their collecting needs are often either books or journals which comprise the majority of the library collection. Book titles detailing all aspects of national, state and local philatelic interests can be found on the first floor of the APRL’s public space, while journals dealing with worldwide interests are located on the second floor.
But in the over 30,000 titles and 80,000 individual items that comprise the APRL holdings there is a small resourceful collection of materials which are a subset of the APRL’s vast collection of auctions catalogs, specifically name sales. Names sales are, as the title suggests, auction catalogs in which a particular or noteworthy collection is up for sale and the auction house has designated the sale by using the collector or the collection’s name.
Among the most famous early name sales was the renowned Philipp La Rénotière von Ferrary Collection in the early 1920s. Some collectors even collect all the catalogs from the sale of a notable collection. The 1960s Maurice Burrus Collection with its over 70 individual catalogs is probably the most extensive and collectible name sale in philately.
Because of the nature of name sales and their specificity to a collector or particular type of collection, many collectors can discover name sales that relate to their specific collecting interests. In this vein there are a wealth of name sales in the library that touch on a wide variety of collecting interests including airmail, railroad and maritime mail, Civil War, U.S. Classics, local posts, provisionals, revenues to name a few for U.S. collectors, as well as collections for and regarding specific countries for international collecting.
In the APRL name sales collection there are more than 2500 specialized catalogs of this nature that deal with a distinct aspect of collecting. Among the more prominent name sales for U.S. collectors in the APRL collection are the Honolulu Advertiser Collection of Hawaiian stamps and postal history (Siegel Auctions, 1995), the Robert Markovits Collections of U.S. Officials and Special Delivery Issues (Matthew Bennett Auctions, 2004 and Schuyler J. Rumsey Auctions, 2016), the Guido Craveri Collection of the 1847 U.S. issue (Matthew Bennett Auctions, 2003) and the extensive Walter Klein Collection of U.S. stamps (Christie’s Robson-Lowe, 1988-1989).
For the stamp collector and philatelic researcher these names sales are an incredible resource beyond the usual listing and valuing of particular noteworthy items. Names sale catalogs, like auction catalogs, are in many cases the best resource for an illustration of a specific item (often in color with more recent catalogs), a detailed description of the item, its current market value at the time of the auction (many auction catalogs and name sales in the collection include the Prices Realized sheets), as well as enabling the researcher the ability to track the provenance of a particular item. Of even more importance, often items found in names sales are the only place that these pieces are publicly noted, described and depicted as they are often only found in private collections.
In order to access these names sales at the APRL you can either contact us at (814) 933-3803 ext. 240 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in doing your own searching for them go to our online catalog (http://catalog.stamplibrary.org/) and type in the “Enter a word or phrase to search” text box the phrase “ns & your search term” (without quotes) with “ns” referring to names sales the “&” joining the terms. For example to find name sales for Hawaii type “ns & hawaii” (without quotes) or for a particular collection, type “ns & markovits”. Either way we look forward to assisting you in finding name sales to aid you in your philatelic research and specialized collecting.