Resource of the Month – Brookman Price Guide

One of the lesser known catalogs still in publication that can be found in the American Philatelic Research Library collection is the Brookman stamp catalog, more properly referred to as the Brookman Price Guide or Price List. Although in the shadow of the more prominent and highly regarded Scott, Stanley Gibbons, Michel and Yvert & Tellier stamp catalogs, the Brookman Price Guide is still considered a very reputable “retail” price list that, for the purposes of the general or beginning collector, can provide very valuable information. The original Brookman Price List, a little more than 30 pages published over 80 years ago, was nothing more than a list of philatelic items on sale with the Brookman Stamp Company. Now published by Brookman, Barrett & Worthen in Bedford, New Hampshire, the current catalog is over 390 pages and has grown to become a combination of the Scott United States Specialized Catalogue published by Amos Publishing and the annual Postal Guide to U.S. Stamps produced by the U.S. Postal Service.

The Brookman Price Guide includes not only listings and values for all regularly issued U.S. stamps and back of the book issues, but the guide also includes listings for postal stationery, revenues, booklets, state and federal hunting permit and Indian reservation issues, first day covers, souvenir cards, souvenir pages, and uncut press sheets as well as several other types of philatelic material. In addition to the regular U.S. listings the catalog also includes philatelic information for “U.S Related Areas” such as Canal Zone, Cuba, Guam and Confederate States to name a few. If that’s not enough, the current catalog also contains listings for the regular issues of the United Nations, Canada, and the Canadian Provinces, all in one book. Although the format of the catalog is a scaled down version of the U.S. Specialized, all listings include Scott numbers, image illustrations, some watermark information and prices for single issues, sets of various sizes (4, 6, 8 and 12), mint sheets, and plate blocks. Keeping in mind that the Brookman Price Guide is primarily meant as a pricing guide and sales inventory for the stamp company, the catalog’s listed values can be slightly higher than those found in the Scott U.S. Specialized or other standard catalogs but the inclusion of prices for mint sheets, plate blocks, booklets and stamp sets as well as individual issues affords the collector the unique opportunity of consulting another recognized catalog for U.S. material in order to make value comparisons when purchasing various philatelic items.

But one of the truly unique additions to the Brookman Price Guide and one that is not found in the Scott U.S. Specialized or other similar catalogs is a section devoted entirely to autograph collecting. The autograph section is organized under various subheadings such as Astronauts, Authors, Entertainers, Politicians, Scientists, Athletes and Celebrities. The listings include specific values for autographs found on photographs, letters, cards, or covers as well as just signatures on a piece of paper. This section of the price list has proven to be a valuable and one-of-a-kind resource in the Library when answering requests that involve a cover or postal card which includes a signature such as a President, an astronaut, or even in some cases a Postmaster General. One recent request involved the value of a postal card depicting the 1969 moon landing bearing the signature of astronaut Neil Armstrong. Although no catalog or price guide can ever conclusively evaluate the true value of such a distinctive piece of philatelic ephemera, the Brookman Price Guide was able to provide a reliable starting point for the market value of such an item (it’s $1,200, by the way!).

If you are interested in borrowing or just using the latest Brookman Price Guide come by for a visit or request it by contacting the Library. The latest Brookman Price Guides are located on the first floor of the Library’s public space right next to the main Reference Desk.

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Resource of the Month: Higgins & Gage postal stationery catalog

For many specialties, we acquire new catalogs annually or every few years. This is not the case for worldwide postal stationery. The most comprehensive catalog is still the Priced Catalogue of Postal Stationery of the World, more commonly referred to as Higgins & Gage.

The catalog, issued in multiple parts covering the countries of the world from A to Z, was first published in the 1960s and last updated in the 1980s.

Member Richard Thompson recently lent us some supplements he had acquired that were more up-to-date than ours, and we are now confident that we have the most up-to-date editions and supplements available. Still, that means the most recent date on any of our Higgins & Gage volumes is 1986, more than 30 years ago.

Though the pricing, even with the supplements, is out-of-date, Higgins & Gage is in regular demand for its detailed listings and illustrations and comprehensive coverage. The numbering system is also used regularly.

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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: the APRL staff

Need to know the postcard rate in Czechoslovakia in 1920? Have a Scott catalog number and need to know the Michel number? Want to learn more about the Inverted Jenny?

Every day, APS members turn to the library staff with questions like these, and our library staff uncover the answers. We can help you search our online catalog, provide more information about a book or journal in our collection, and even recommend resources on your topic.

For National Library Week in April, we featured each of the APRL’s five staff members on this blog. We are experts in philatelic literature, and we can help you build your knowledge and enjoy your hobby to the fullest.

Visit our library services page to learn more about what we can do for you and how to get in touch with us.

Tara Murray: an expert in making resources available online

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.

 

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Fred Baumann: an expert in finding just the right publication for our stamp-collecting patrons

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.”

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Krystal Harter: an expert at turning donations into library resources

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.

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Scott Tiffney: an expert in finding obscure philatelic facts

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.

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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”

APRL Resource of the Month: The Tedesco Index

This month’s featured resource has a lengthy title: Index of literature in the English language that describes postal stamp forgeries, fakes, reprints, fraudulent postal markings and other obliterations, and, Bibliography. In the library, we refer to it familiarly as the “Tedesco Index” for its creator, Theodore “Ted” Tedesco.

The first installment of the “Tedesco Index” appeared in the 1st quarter 2015 Philatelic Literature Review. The cover to that issue featured the Rev. Robert Briscoe Earée, author of Album Weeds: How to Detect Forged Stamps.

The index was originally published serially in our quarterly journal, the Philatelic Literature Review, from 2005 to 2009. Ted gave us a complete digital copy, which we printed and put in 3-ring binders for reference in the library. Because it covers the entire world, organized by country, and gives references not only to standard resources like The Serrane Guide and Album Weeds, but also to the many un-indexed journals in our collection and online resources, it is one of our go-to resources for forgery questions. Continue reading “APRL Resource of the Month: The Tedesco Index”