One of the lesser known assets within the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) is one of the largest collections of worldwide philatelic auction catalogs and names sales. Researchers often consult auction catalogs to identify certain philatelic items as to their value over time or to see items that, if it were not for philatelic auctions, might not have been previously available for public viewing. Auction catalogs provide a history to the commerce of the philatelic world for both the hobbyist and the serious philatelist.
Today marks the middle of National Library Week and its motto of “Libraries Lead” as we recognize the role of the APRL. For another perspective of this role we turn our attention to how the world of philatelic auctions and auction houses make use of the APRL’s resources. Andrew Titley, a life-long collector working as a philatelist with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, one of the world’s highest-grossing stamp auction companies and the largest in the U.S., often consults the APRL’s auction catalog collection when new material is brought to the esteemed philatelic auction company.
“There are times, when a consignment arrives, that the need for additional research is required. Whether this is searching for a reference to a single item that hasn’t been seen in generations, the plating of an overprint or stamp, or even just basic information on a general topic, auction descriptions are often times more than just about condition. Specialized sales can also include lengthy introductions about the printing process, general use of the issue, and reasons behind their issuance.”
As an experienced philatelist at Siegel Auctions, he recognizes the important role that the APRL plays in the hobby and more importantly its significance in leading him to the resources necessary in his work.
“The amount of resources the APRL provides in their large repository of publications allows auction describers to take a description just that much further. There have been numerous times over the years where the APRL has provided much needed references, books and even something as simple as prices realized from sales decades ago. All of this translates into the high quality descriptions that thousands of collectors read in each of the sales we hold.”
Whether searching for a particular lot description in an auction catalog or discovering a specialized collection, the APRL leads collectors and specialists to unique resources found only in the world of philately.