Upon being invited by Kathy Hartley, the Reference Librarian at the Harry Sutherland Research of the Vincent Graves Greene Research Foundation in Toronto, I had the special opportunity to attend the “Canada’s First 150 Years of Philately” event at the Research Foundation on July 8. The idea for the event was the brainchild of the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada in order to celebrate 150 years of Canadian Confederation and to highlight many of the philatelic and national events of significance in each of those 150 years. Members of the Society and other interested Canadian philatelists nationwide were asked to select a year and then put together a one page exhibit for that year, with some participants doing pages for multiple years. The result was an extraordinary display of Canadian and British North American pride and philately with exhibit pages depicting and honoring various philatelic and non-philatelic events such as the first Canadian stamps printed in Canada; CAPEX, the first international stamp exhibition in Canada; the creation of the Philatelic Society of Canada and then the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada; the development of the Avro Arrow aircraft; the 100th anniversary of the Stanley Cup; and even a page dealing with Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip among many others.
After a brief ceremony the 151 exhibit pages (there was one extra page for good measure) were unveiled from underneath an appropriate draping in the shape and colors of the Canadian flag. The event took place in the meeting room of the Research Foundation and was well attended, with over 60 members, philatelists and interested onlookers present. Many of the exhibitors were also present, answering questions and providing informal explanations of their pages. While there, many attendees were also invited to tour the Research Library and to watch the Foundation’s state-of-the-art expertizing tool, the VSC6000/HS Video Spectral Comparator, in action as it examined various philatelic items.
One of the added highlights of the event for this librarian was an original Globe and Mail newspaper issue (the Globe and Mail is the oldest national newspaper in Canada still in publication) dated July 1, 1867, the day of Canadian Confederation. The newspaper, displayed under glass, was in remarkable condition and represented an extraordinary piece of Canadian history.
In all, the event provided not only an incredible opportunity to see and experience the rich and varied history of Canadian philately, but it also afforded everyone in attendance a remarkable moment to share in their national philatelic pride.
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 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.
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.
On the eve of the centennial of U.S. involvement in World War I, the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum opened My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I. Jay Bigalke, editor of the Philatelic Literature Review and The American Philatelist, and I were at the museum for the reception.
Marshall F. Emery, Interim Director of the National Postal Museum, welcomed the crowd, which included museum staff, noted philatelists like John Hotchner, and members of the public. Curator Lynn Heidelbaugh spoke about the exhibit, and Dr. Doug Dechaw, Digital Humanities Librarian for Chapman University, talked about the university’s Center for American War Letters and its contributions to the exhibit.
Andrew Carroll, Director of the Center for American War Letters and author of the new book My Fellow Soldiers: General John Pershing and the Americans Who Helped Win the Great War, introduced a reading of letters featured in the book and the exhibit. The readings featured correspondence from soldiers and their families, a nurse, and General John J. Pershing, closing with his letter to “My Fellow Soldiers,” written in 1919.
Following the reading, Lynn Heidelbaugh gave spotlight tours of the exhibit, and the Jefferson Street Strutters provided period music.
The exhibit is open through November 29, 2018. The National Postal Museum, together with the American Philatelic Research Library and American Philatelic Society, will host a postal history symposium with the theme WWI and its Immediate Aftermath November 1-2, 2018 at the museum in Washington, D.C. Proposals for papers are due June 15, 2017.