Online index to the Congress Book, part 2

Congress Book IndexIn my previous post about the Congress Book index, I neglected to mention the index that is available on the American Philatelic Congress website.

The advantage of the indexing that the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library has done for the Philatelic Union Catalog is that it allows researchers to find Congress Book articles along with articles and books from other sources. So, the researcher does not need to know that his topic has been covered in a Congress Book in order to find it.

If you know that you are looking for a Congress Book article, however, the American Philatelic Congress index may be more efficient.

Congress Book record with link to index
Congress Book record with link to index

At the APRL, we add links to online indexes to our journal records. We hope to also work with journal editors to incorporate as many of these indexes as possible into the union catalog. This is especially helpful for researchers who don’t know which journals might cover their topic, and for finding articles in unexpected sources. It also enables the researcher to do a broad search from one location, instead of having to search multiple indexes.

Online index to the Congress Books

Congress BooksDid you know that you can search the contents of the Congress Book using the Philatelic Union Catalog?

The Congress Book is published annually by the American Philatelic Congress (an affiliate of the American Philatelic Society) and each volume contains scholarly articles by philatelic researchers. The 77th Congress Book was released in August during APS StampShow.

Congress Book record
The Congress Book record in the APRL catalog. To see this record, go to the APRL home page and click on Online Catalog, which will take you to the Philatelic Union Catalog. Then search for Congress Book and select APRL from the list of locations.

Here at the APRL, we catalog the Congress Book as a journal, with each volume received added to the same bibliographic record. This is very handy if you want to see quickly which volumes we have available. However, it means we don’t record the contents of each volume.

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125 years of American Philatelic Society history

APS 125th Anniversary exhibitOne of the largest of the archival collections at the APRL is the APS Archives. The collection includes documents, photos, correspondence, and souvenirs from the Society, which celebrates its 125th anniversary today.

Over the summer, APRL intern Robbin Zirkle put together an exhibit to showcase material from the archives. It was on display at StampShow in Columbus, Ohio in August, and is now on display on the APS website.

APA Constitution 1886In addition to 66 pages of material, Robbin also set up a display case to show some of the larger items from the collection, including wine bottles with commemorative labels, a gavel, a ledger, a Stamp Cruise t-shirt, an APS tie, and the original constitution of the APS (then the American Philatelic Association).

Even before she started her internship, Robbin had been inventorying the APS Archives. The first installment of her inventory will appear in the 3rd quarter issue of the Philatelic Literature Review. Such inventories are key to helping researchers discover and use archival collections.

The Philatelical Library

The Philatelical LibraryDuring the Tiffany Dinner at StampShow earlier this month, Scott Trepel auctioned a rare piece of philatelic literature with proceeds going to the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship. (You can listen to Trepel’s talk on the APS website.)

The item auctioned was a copy of The Philatelical Library: A Catalogue of Stamp Publications by John K. Tiffany. This bibliography of the early literature of philately, published in 1874, is not a volume you’re likely to own unless you are a literature collector. Only 150 copies were printed. The APRL’s copy is in our rare book room and not available for loan.

You can read the book without even getting up from your computer though, because the Smithsonian Institution Libraries copy (no. 37) has been scanned and made available through the Internet Archive Texts database. From the Internet Archive, you can read the book online or download it in a variety of formats, including EPUB and Kindle. You can also search the text.

When we find examples of philatelic works that have been scanned and made available on the web, we add links to the entries for these books in our online catalog. If you find digital books, please let us know and we’ll add even more links to our catalog. In this way, some of the rarest philatelic literature is now becoming some of the most accessible literature!

77th Congress Book Released


American Philatelic Congress Logo

After Christmas 1935, Eugene Klein convened philatelists at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia for the First American Philatelic Congress. During the two-day event, they heard 19 original philatelic papers by philatelists such as Stanley Ashbrook, Clarence Brazer, James Waldo Fawcett, Max Johl, Catherine Manning, Delf Norona, and Philip Ward. The Congress published the articles in a softbound volume of 62 pages without illustrations.

This annual tradition of publishing original articles by leading philatelic and postal history scholars continued last week with the release of the 77th Congress Book at STAMPSHOW in Columbus, Ohio. Today, Congress Books are 200-page hardbound volumes, with color illustrations, containing eight or nine original papers. The 2011 volume is the sixth edited by Ken Trettin.

The Congress Book is distributed annually to members of the American Philatelic Congress. This year’s article titles convey the diversity of topics and research approaches published in the Congress Books: “The Disintegration of the Hohenzollern Empire 1918-1923” (Al Kugel); “Prexies and the Interaction of Color” (Diane DeBlois & Robert Harris); “A Census of Confederate Covers Bearing the 2¢ Green Stamp” (Dan Warren); “The Underground Railroad Post Office in Postumia Grotte 1872-1945” (Tom Lera); “The Development of Airmail Services in Poland 1918-1928” (Jerzy Kupiec-Weglinski & Jacek Kosmala); “The Salam ‘Pointing Hand PAID’ Handstamps: America’s First Pictorial Postal Markings” (Mark Schwartz); “The Puzzle of the Piscataqua Postmarks” (Nancy Clark); and “The Court Delivery Stamps of Imperial Austria” (Ingert Kuzych).

Collectively, the nearly 1000 articles published over the past 77 years represent a significant body of philatelic scholarship, which I consult often. I was able to complete my set of Congress Books this summer when I found No. 7 (1941) on the APRL library sales shelf. For those who do not own a set, they are widely available in philatelic libraries. The last paper index to the Congress Books was published in 2006 (Nos. 1-72). The Congress maintains an electronic version of the index, updated through 2010; and Leonard Hartmann’s Philatelic Bibliopole has a list of authors and titles that can be “Ctrl+F” searched.

John Barwis Wins Champion of Champions


John Barwis

Last weekend at STAMPSHOW in Columbus, Ohio,  John Barwis, who had two exhibits entered in the World Series of Philately competition, won the championship with his The Half-Lengths of Victoria, 1850-59. Those interested in spending more time with the first stamp issue from Victoria will find his book, The Half-Lengths of Victoria: The Stamps and Postal History 1850-59, published in 2009 with Rod Moreton, in the several philatelic libraries.

This attractive, readable, and well-designed volume should interest collectors beyond Australia, or even British Empire, because it set a new standard for the research and publication of monographs on a single stamp issue. Additionally, John provides a model for researchers planning to undertake a cover census, or analyze existing census data in greater depth. The authors consider stamps and covers in relationship to their postal use and historical events, placing the Half-Lengths within the context of Victoria’s developing postal system and 1850s Australian gold rush. “By concentrating on the confluence of stamp collecting and postal history and by presenting previously unpublished census data on Half-Length covers, we hope to shed light into areas that cannot be illuminated by stamps or covers alone.”

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StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List

SSSSQILThe StampSelector Scarce Stamp Quantities Issued List is now available online. Compiled by Alex of StampSelector, the website provides quantities issued for stamps issued in small numbers (fewer than 100,000). It aims to be comprehensive but is, as might be expected, a work in progress and Alex plans to update it periodically. You can browse the website by country or region, or you can search.

From the APS Archives: The 1908 convention in Columbus

APS Convention, Columbus, Ohio, 1908The American Philatelic Society’s StampShow will be in Columbus Aug. 11-14. One of the noncompetitive exhibits at the show will be on the history of the APS, which will celebrate its 125th anniversary in September.

Our APRL intern, Robbin Zirkle, spent the last few weeks selecting items from the APS Archives, describing them, and mounting them. One of the items she selected was a photo from an APS convention in Columbus – in 1908. That convention was important, as the society officially changed its name from the American Philatelic Association to the American Philatelic Society.

If you are attending the show, be sure to check out Robbin’s exhibit. She has also written a guide to the 19th century portion of the APS Archives which will be published in the 3rd quarter issue of the Philatelic Literature Review.

Stamp Bill Books pamphlet digitized

Stamp Bill BooksYou may have heard about the new book scanner purchased by the APRL, thanks to the generosity of the members of the Mighty Buck Club. Here’s an example of what the scanner can do.

We had to do a little rearranging in the library to make room for the new scanner. We moved our microfilm reader to a different spot in the library, and in doing so, a joint publication of the APRL and the National Archives and Records Administration came to my attention.

I had been looking for a small digitization project to show off our new scanner, and this publication seemed to fit our needs perfectly.

First, it is a publication of the APRL, and one of our top priorities for digitization is preserving and making available the history of the APS and APRL.

Second, it is a finding aid, which can be used by researchers to learn more about resources in our collections (in this case, the Stamp Bill Books which were microfilmed with funding from the APRL). If you don’t know about the Stamp Bill Books, read the pamphlet to learn more about this valuable resource!

Third, as a publication of the U.S. government, it is in the public domain and free from copyright restrictions.

Fourth, it is short (6 pages), not requiring extensive staff time or large amounts of storage space – perfect for a test. One of our APRL volunteers took a few minutes’ break from another project and scanned it for us.

To view the document, go to our Online Catalogue and search for “Stamp Bill Books” in the title field. You should see two records: one for the microfilm, and one for the book describing the microfilm. Click to view the full display for the book, and you will find a link to the digitized book. The PDF file is fully searchable, thanks to text recognition software built into our new scanner.

Watch for more from our new scanner – and remember that if you want to see what our new scanner can do for you, you can request scans of articles and book sections from the APRL.

Happy National Train Day

Railway postal clerk on parcel post stamp

 It is National Train Day and a good opportunity to comment on railway mail service information resources. Most of our philatelic libraries including the American Philatelic Research Library have books and periodicals relating to the railway mail service. The Railway Mail Service Library (RMSL) in Boyce, VA is a virtual treasure trove of research materials and artifacts related to the railway mail service. I wrote a previous blog post on the RMSL. The Mobile Post Office Society is devoted to the study of mobile mail including railway mail, and has several publications on this topic. The National Postal Museum of the Smithsonian Institution has a section of its website devoted to the railway mail service. It also has an online exhibit titled “Mail by Rail”.  One of the museum’s most popular exhibits is about Owney, the dog that served as the mascot of the Railway Mail Service. Searching the Hathi Trust Digital Library, an enormous collection of online digitized publications, using the term “railway mail service” links to a number of publications, many in full text. The National Archives has indexes to rosters of railway postal clerks from 1883 to 1902. Happy National Train Day.