A fellow librarian recently told me about the Washington Calligraphers Guild. This is not a philatelic group, but there is some overlap because of calligraphers’ interest in letter writing.
The group is based in the Washington, DC area, there is much of general interest on its website. It also has a library, and you can browse the holdings online.
It holds an annual contest called The Graceful Envelope. The contest promotes calligraphy and also celebrates “the role of letters in binding people together and serves as a reminder that the people who deliver the mail are career government employees who take pride in their work and care about the communities they serve.” The contest began in 1995 and was originally sponsored by the National Postal Museum. Today the National Association of Letter Carriers partners with the Washington Calligraphers Guild to co-sponsor the contest.
This year’s theme is “Time Flies” and the deadline to postmark an entry is April 30, 2011.
I recently acquired a March 20, 1900 thank you note from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh sent to H. E. Deats. Mr. Deats had donated the London Philatelist Vols. 1-7 “from the American Philatelic Association”. I have previously written about the Pittsburgh library’s custody of the American Philatelic Association’s (now the American Philatelic Society) library. When I acquired the thank you note, I didn’t know anything about H. E. Deats. Through the wonder of the Internet and Google, I now know much. Hiram Edmund Deats (1870-1963) is a member of the APS Hall of Fame. According to his Hall of Fame entry he was “one of the foremost collectors of the 19th century” and he “formed an enormous philatelic library, a close second to that formed by John K. Tiffany.” I found a detailed description of the Deats philatelic library on the Earl P. F. Apfelbaum, Inc. website which has a number of historic documents in its online “Philatelic Library“. That description was written by Alvah Davison in 1888. A large part of the Deats philatelic library went to the Free Library of Philadelphia in 1952. The rest was sold to private collectors through auction over a period of years. One of the major philatelic interests of Deats was revenue stamps. I found information about his interest in this area from a post at the “Philately of Today” blog. Continue reading “The Library and Philatelic Connections of H. E. Deats”
Don Schilling did a recent post on his blog The Stamp Collecting Round-Up about the philatelic collections in the John Hay Library at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. His post was based on an article in The Herald News. That got me to thinking about other collections of philatelic objects other than books in libraries. The most extensive philatelic collections in a library are those at the British Library. The website for the Philatelic Collections department of the British Library has extensive information about its collections. In additions to collections of postage stamps and other philatelic items, the British Library has one of the world’s largest philatelic literature collections. The New York Public Library is home to the Benjamin K. Miller Collection which has been written about in the book Rarity Revealed: The Benjamin K. Miller Collection by Scott R. Trepel with Ken Lawrence. That collection is considered to be one of the most outstanding collections of U.S. stamps in the world. The Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame University include several philatelic collections in its Rare Books & Special Collections Department. One of those collection is “The Wolf Collection of Irish Postage Stamps” for which there is an online exhibit. The Navy Department Library has a collection of philatelic items related to the Navy and maintains information about this philatelic specialty on its website. I’m sure that there are other libraries that have significant non-book philatelic collections. If you are aware of any, make a comment below.
The American Philatelic Association (APA), now the American Philatelic Society (APS), was founded in 1886. The APS is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and a brief history of APS is located on its website. In the beginning the “Library Department” for the APA was housed in the home of the APA member who was designated as the librarian. The first librarian, E. D. Kline of Toledo, Ohio, posted a notice in the first issue of The American Philatelist soliciting donations to the library. In 1895 the City of Pittsburgh, PA opened a magnificent new library courtesy of Andrew Carnegie which was named appropriately the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. In 1897 the APA board voted to place the Association’s library in the new library building in Pittsburgh where it was administered by the Pittsburgh library. A good idea in the beginning gradually diminished in effectiveness and in 1928 the board of APS voted to relinquish any claim to the philatelic library in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. It would be another forty years before APS would have a library of its own. In 1901 the publication Books on Philately in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was published. It is my understanding that much of this early philatelic library collection still exists at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
One of philately’s rarest books is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, DC.
A.M. Tracey Woodward’s Postage Stamps of Japan and Dependencies was published in 1928. Only 100 signed and numbered copies were produced. The Smithsonian’s copy is on display alongside original pages from Woodward’s collection of the 1 sen issue of 1872.
The APRL also has a copy of Woodward’s book in its rare books collection. We don’t loan rare books such as this one, but luckily for researchers the book was reprinted in 1976. We have three copies of the reprint available for loan.
The plates illustrated in Woodward’s book came from the collection of F.J. Peplow. These plates were first reproduced and published in Plates of the Stamps of Japan 1871-6. This book was produced in an even more limited private edition of 25 copies. The APRL is currently working with Penn State’s University Libraries to digitize this book with high-resolution scans of the plates. I’ll update PLR readers as soon as we have more details about this book.
What could be more fitting than a former railroad station serving as the home of the Railway Mail Service Library (RMSL). The RMSL is located in the historic Boyce, Virginia railroad station. According to the mission statement on its website the RMSL “is an archival collection of primary and secondary sources pertaining to en route distribution history. It also features many obsolete postal artifacts associated with this activity. These items are used to assist researchers interested in route agent, seapost, railway, and highway post office (RPO and HPO) operations, known as the Railway Mail Service/Postal Transportation Service (RMS/PTS).” The RMSL has every major book published about RMS/PTS. The library includes six types of original-source documentation in its collection: 1) photographs of HPO and RPO vehicles; 2) The Railway Post Office and Postal Transport Journal issues between 1905 and 1959; 3) oral recollections of former clerks on audio and video tapes, as well as movies about the RMS/PTS; 4) general orders describing weekly changes within several divisions; 5) general and standpoint schemes of mail distribution; and 6) schedules of mail trains/routes. These schemes and schedules are helpful in understanding how the network of mail transportation and distribution activities operated, as well as when routes began, ended, or underwent significant changes. The RMSL and its predecessors date back to the early 1950s, but it was incorporated in its current format in 2003. Frank R. Scheer is the Curator and driving force behind the RMSL. Scheer routinely makes presentations at meetings and events related to railway mail service around the country. Scheer can be contacted at email@example.com . The railway station housing the RMSL appeared on a special postmark (shown above) for the centennial of the Town of Boyce in October 2010.
Anyone with an interest in philatelic libraries (including librarians, staff, volunteers, board members, and others) is invited to the Philatelic Librarians Roundtable at APS AmeriStamp Expo in Charleston, SC on Feb. 11.
The Roundtable is scheduled for noon-2 p.m. The agenda will include discussion of digitization projects, duplicate materials exchange, and the Philatelic Union Catalogue hosted by the APRL. If you have additional items you would like to discuss, please contact me.
In addition to periodic roundtable meetings, those interested in philatelic libraries can also communicate with each other using the Philatelic Library Forum, hosted on Google Groups. The Forum provides an email discussion list and a place to share duplicate and want lists.
I don’t think any other philatelic library has a more elegant setting than that of the library of the Collectors Club of New York. The Collectors Club was founded in 1896 and is housed in a five story brownstone on East 35th Street in New York City. The building was designed by noted architect Stanford White . The library is one of the most extensive philatelic libraries in the world and has approximately 150,000 volumes. The extensive nature of the library was the primary reason for undertaking a major renovation of the club’s facilities which was completed in 2000. The library is one of the participants in the online union catalog of the American Philatelic Research Library. To search the holdings of the Collectors Club library, select “CCNY” from the “Location” drop-down selection list near the bottom of the on-line Catalog Search form. Only members can borrow materials from the library but visitors are welcome to conduct onsite research during regular library hours. The Collectors Club Philatelist, the journal of the club, is considered to be one of the most prestigious in philately. The table of contents for recent issues of the journal and selected articles are available on the club’s website. The Collectors Club has also published several significant books which are available for purchase.