This article originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times, April 29, 2017, and is reposted here with permission.
By Frank Ready (photos by Phoebe Sheehan/Centre Daily Times)
You could hear a pin drop.
One would not necessarily expect to find a preponderance of pins in the American Philatelic Research Library, but nevertheless, it’s nice to know that the option is out there.
Silence may be preferred among some of your finer book repositories, but at the American Philatelic Research Library, the waste of perfectly good acoustics probably had less to do with decorum than the realities of mid-morning foot traffic on a Tuesday in Bellefonte.
There was one visitor wandering the first of the postal facility’s two floors, a maze of towering bookshelves and rectangular research tables tucked way in the back of the refurbished Match Factory.
Navigation duties had fallen to Scott Tiffney, one of the library’s five regular staff members. Continue reading “Postal history lives on in Bellefonte research library”
APRL acquisitions, April 2017. To request loans, copies, or scans, or to search our catalog, visit the APRL website.
American Topical Association. Chapter 5. ATA Chapter 5 (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin: ATA Chapter 5, 2016-). [JOURNAL ATA Chapter 5]
Australia Post Philatelic Group. Archives Section. Caring for your stamp collection (Australia Post, 1990). [In process 000063652]
Benner, Judith Ann. Fraudulent finance: counterfeiting and the Confederate States, 1861-1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College, 1970). [In process 000063947]
Castillo, Williams. Conoce las estampillas, Escuelas 1871-1880 (Atlanta, Georgia, USA: , 2016). [G5281 .D313 C35c 2016]
Castillo, Williams. Introducing Venezuela’s 1871-1880 Escuelas stamps (Atlanta, Georgia, USA: , 2016). [G5281 .D313 C35c 2016z] Continue reading “New books at the APRL, April 2017”
The Centre Daily Times, the major newspaper serving the home of the APS and APRL in Centre County, stopped by last week to learn more about the library and the work we do.
The result is a feature on the front page of Sunday’s newspaper, which you can also read online.
The article includes quotes from me as well as our reference assistant, Scott Tiffney, and Gary Loew, an APS member and postal historian who has traveled to Bellefonte to do research.
Tara Murray is the Librarian and Director of Information Services for the American Philatelic Research Library. She manages the library’s operations and collections and leads digitization projects.
Jane King Fohn was interested in making her gold and grand award-winning exhibit, The 9-cent Alamo Stamp and its First Day Covers, available to a wider audience. A display in the American Philatelic Center would only reach the limited audience of those who can make the trip to Bellefonte and wouldn’t be permanent, so I suggested that Jane lend us her exhibit for scanning. When she agreed and sent us the exhibit, we scanned it and added the digital copy to the library collection. It is now accessible through the library catalog and the APS online exhibit collection.
The catalog for the McCoy Inverted Jenny – position 76 sale by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries is now available online.
The sale, scheduled for May 11 at 1:30 p.m. in New York City, features the American Philatelic Research Library‘s recently recovered Inverted Jenny stamp. The stamp, Position 76 of the famous McCoy Block, stolen in 1955 at a stamp show in Norfolk, Virginia, was recovered by the APRL at a public event in June 2016 during the World Stamp Show-NY 2016.
Proceeds from the sale will go to the APRL’s new library facility.
Fred Baumann is a Library Assistant three days each week at the APRL. He helps patrons select materials, checks material in and out at the circulation desk, keeps a close eye on overdue books, processes payments for library services, shelves and locates books and periodicals, and prices donated books for resale.
When I moved to Bellefonte as an active collector a decade ago, I found the APRL both enchanting and intimidating. With hundreds of books and journals about the things I collected, the chief challenge was discovering what was indispensable and what was not. That task is even more difficult for patrons searching an unfamiliar online catalog from afar.
While I’m not a professional librarian, I do bring to the library an intimate familiarity with the stamp hobby both as a collector and as a writer for the last 33 years. My experience sometimes enables me to find precisely what a patron needs.
A collector requested literature about stamps of Bosnia & Herzegovina from the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The best-known reference is an 87-year-old text, too rare and fragile to leave the library. What he didn’t know was that there’s a superb catalog in full color with current stamp values, robustly bound and in great shape, that we could lend him without a worry. He was delighted, replying that he “found some valuable info for just about every stamp in my collection.”
Krystal Harter is a Library Assistant at the APRL, and is responsible for responding to researcher requests, processing incoming donations, and checking in new journals.
Collectors, organizations, and non-collector families are very generous when it comes to donating their accumulations of books, journals, notes, and other philatelic material. We actively receive current journals from approximately 525 organizations which are checked into our card catalog, online catalog, and then shelved for immediate use. Donated archival notes, clippings and research materials are catalogued and placed in our archival files and made available to collectors for their research. Philatelic reference books and stamp catalogs are processed by determining if we currently possess the 2-3 copies we keep in our collection and if not, they are cataloged, barcoded, and shelved for use. If not needed, we add them to the online catalog for sale to collectors.
Many collectors are very excited to have the opportunity to purchase the publications, at a discounted price, to have as their own rather than borrowing them. I remember receiving a call from a member with a limited income and living in an assisted home asking about borrowing a Scott Catalogue. Not only was the fee to borrow the catalog an issue, so was the fact that he had no way to get the publication to the post office to be appropriately mailed back to us. I mentioned that we had Scott Catalogues for sale, which were a few years old, and asked if he would be interested in purchasing one stating that he would just have the one-time fee and then the catalogue would be his to use from that point forward. You would have thought we offered this member a million dollars as he graciously accepted the offer to purchase the Scott Specialized Catalogue.
Betsy Gamble is the Library Technical Services Coordinator for the APRL. In library terms, technical services can cover the process of acquiring and evaluating incoming material, adding anything that is within the scope of our library collections, making sure that people can find the material in our online systems and on our shelves, making sure that the collection is cared for physically, and dispersing excess material appropriately.
Our APS members and others have built the APRL in many different ways. Journal issues have appeared on the doorstep like foundlings, books are mailed in large boxes from estate lawyers, we receive journals electronically, or scan loaned exhibits and collections, we receive donations from specialty societies for material in their subject areas, and we receive large collections transferred from other institutions.
Two such large acquisitions in recent years are a portion of the stock of George Atkins’ Edenbridge Philatelic Literature business, and many volumes recently de-accessioned from Library and Archives Canada. With the help of volunteers and member societies, the library staff is working to make those materials available to our members.
Scott Tiffney is the Reference Assistant for the American Philatelic Research Library. He researches and answers reference requests as they are received in the library.
Peter Kühlhorn of Wuppertal, Germany emailed a question regarding philatelic covers (i.e. mailed envelopes) he collected from Hawaii during the Second World War that were sealed with an obscure red censor tape with the initials “THMA,” followed by a censor number. During the war when U.S. mail was routinely viewed by censors, the tape was applied to all mail from Hawaii to identify that it had been cleared for delivery. Mr. Kühlhorn’s question was a simple one: “What was the meaning of the initials THMA?”
After finding many examples of the censor tape in question but no explanation of the acronym’s meaning, I finally found the answer in a specialized catalog of civil censorship postal markings. The letters stood for “Territory of Hawaii Military Administration,” keeping in mind that this mail was dated when Hawaii was still a territory of the U.S., before becoming a state in 1959. The catalog also included a complete listing of the Hawaiian censor numbers.
Happy National Library Week!
National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.
The theme for the week is Libraries Transform, and libraries all around the country are sharing how they transform their communities.
Help us celebrate by leaving a comment and telling us how the APRL has made a positive impact and helped you enjoy stamp collecting more.
Throughout the week, we’ll share some of the work we do and how we enjoy connecting with you.