Resource of the month: American First Day Cover Society Archives

“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. Continue reading “Resource of the month: American First Day Cover Society Archives”

Resource of the Month: American Topical Association Handbooks

One of the more popular types of stamp collecting, by both the first time collector and the experienced philatelist, is known as topical or thematic collecting. Topical or thematic collections comprise the selective accumulation of stamps depicting a particular subject or concept such as people, animals, events, objects, even ideas. Collections can focus on a wide range of stamps depicting certain images such as presidents, birds, holidays, ships, religion, even stamps on stamps. Here in the United States back in November 1949, teenage topical collector Jerome “Jerry” Husak founded the American Topical Association in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with the idea of bringing together collectors who collected stamps by subject matter, across the usual national boundaries of simply collecting issues within a particular country. This month’s Resource of the Month are the resourceful American Topical Association (ATA) handbooks which provide published checklists for topical collectors. Continue reading “Resource of the Month: American Topical Association Handbooks”

Resource of the Month: Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbooks

This month’s featured resource are the informative and highly readable Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbooks. Begun in 1983 as an offshoot of various columns in Linn’s Stamp News regarding each year’s new U.S. stamps and postal stationery, the annual Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbooks go beyond the standard, or even specialized, catalog in providing a wealth of information regarding many aspects of each year’s U.S. releases in a convenient and thoroughly illustrated format. Continue reading “Resource of the Month: Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbooks”

On this day: the first successful transcontinental air mail flight

An historic event took place in postal history on this day in 1921 when the first successful U.S. transcontinental air mail flight arrived at New York’s Hazelhurst Field from San Francisco.

Air mail pilot William "Wild Bill" Hopson. Source: Daniel  Hines Air Mail Collection, American Philatelic Research Library.
Air mail pilot William “Wild Bill” Hopson. Source: Daniel Hines Air Mail Collection, American Philatelic Research Library.

Since September 8, 1920, airmail service had flown the mail back and forth from New York to San Francisco during the daytime only, transferring it to trains at night. As a result, the elapsed time for cross-country mail was 72 hours at best, or a mere 36-hour savings over the fastest all-railroad trip.

Congress, having supported the airmail service from its beginning in 1918 through its first three years, hesitated to appropriate additional funding to expand the service thinking that mail carried by airplanes would be too unreliable and unable to support the volume of mail necessary to make it viable.  Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger knew he needed a dramatic demonstration of airmail’s potential so he decided that a round-the-clock relay of mail from San Francisco to New York and New York to San Francisco in the worst possible weather would provide the best possible example of the potential of airmail as an alternative to as well as an addition to surface mail. The eventual experiment would entail night flying, strongly discouraged at the time, and seven pilots taking 33 hours 20 minutes in order to fly the 2,629-mile cross-country trip. Continue reading “On this day: the first successful transcontinental air mail flight”