One of my greatest enjoyments as a philatelist is creating exhibits of portions of my collection of postal librariana and displaying them at stamp shows. Philatelic exhibiting can be a scary undertaking and I want to mention some resources that helped me make the transition from scary to enjoyable. I joined the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors (AAPE) long before I was brave enough to enter my first exhibit in a stamp show. The AAPE’s quarterly journal The Philatelic Exhibitor (TPE) has proved to be an invaluable tool. Not only does it provide many great tips on improving exhibits, it makes you feel part of this specialized philatelic community. Although you have to be a member of AAPE to get current issues of TPE, the AAPE has very generously digitized all issues of TPE over five years old and placed them on their website. In addition, the tables of contents of the issues for the last five years are provided. The AAPE website includes a wealth of other valuable information for exhibitors. One section includes digital copies of award winning philatelic exhibits.
The American Philatelic Research Library encourages exhibitors to place copies of their exhibits at the APRL. These are in both printed and digital formats and are included in the APRL’s online catalog. The APRL would like to work with the philatelic exhibiting community to make more philatelic exhibits available online.
The Slusser Memorial Philatelic Library of the Postal History Foundation in Tucson, Arizona is setting an excellent example for how postal history can be effectively incorporated into the broader history of our communities and our states. The Library is a partner with the Vail Preservation Society in a new online exhibit/collection entitled “Between the Tracks: The Story of the Old Vail Post Office”. This collaborative effort involved merging photographic items in the Vail Preservation Society with postal history items in the collection of the Slusser Library. The exhibit is part of the Arizona Memory Project which already includes three other collections from the Slusser Library. The Slusser Library is also working on collaborative exhibits about the Arizona post offices in Oracle and Jerome. The Vail, Oracle, and Jerome post office exhibits are being funded with a federal Library Services and Technology Act grant through the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records. The grant is called “Centennial Celebration of Arizona Post Offices” and the goal of this project is to preserve the history of the three post offices in preparation for the state’s Centennial. The postal history artifacts from the Slusser Library which are included in the project are from Slusser’s Arizona Postal Document Collection 1884-1949 which is part of Arizona Archives Online. The efforts of Charlotte Cushman, Slusser Library Librarian/Archivist, and the other folks at the Postal History Foundation to reach out to other cultural institutions to cooperate in promoting local and state history is noteworthy.
On Saturday after the Postal History Symposium, my daughter Helen and I lunched in Georgetown before we toured the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Park. This engineering project began in 1828, where Rock Creek meets the Potomac River, with the goal of creating a link to the Ohio River. Had the canal been finished, it would have created a navigable waterway from Chesapeake Bay to Missoula, Montana. However, by 1850 as railroads began to dominate transportation and communication, the canal had been dug only 184 miles to Cumberland, Maryland where it ends today, far short of the Ohio River. As we rode the replica canal boat, pulled by a pair of mules at 2 miles-per-hour, past the historic factories and mills that now house trendy restaurants and boutiques, I mused about the mail contractors who once traveled the towpath to serve Post Offices along the canal.
Afterwards we stopped at Bartleby’s Books on 29th Street. Although they had only a couple philatelic titles in stock, I did not get the puzzled looks that so often greet requests for our literature. And, when I asked Karen Griffin, one of the owners, for postal history and Post Office documents she graciously searched their pamphlets and ephemera stock. The find of the day was the 1794 edition of the Postal Laws and Regulations containing the Post Office Act of 1794, 14 pages of “Regulations to be Observed by the Deputy Postmasters in the United States,” a table of Post-Roads from Passamaquoddy, Maine to Greensborough, Georgia, and 8 sample post office forms showing their correct use. This store certainly warrants a return visit.
October is National Stamp Collecting Month. It is also American Archives Month, and archival institutions around the nation are taking this opportunity to promote their collections. In Wisconsin we’re using the theme Postcard Wisconsin to celebrate Archives Month. Archival records can be valuable resources for the philatelic researcher and we hope to highlight selected archival collections in future posts on this blog. The National Postal Museum Library is home to a number of special archival collections and it is beginning to develop online finding aids for these collections. One of the collections is the archives of the Third Assistant Postmaster General’s Office which contains documents related to the design and production of U.S. regular stamp issues from Scott #1 (1847) to Scott #2532 (1991) as well as ‘back of the book’ issues (airmail, postage dues, postal savings, federal duck stamps, and postal stationery) for roughly the same period. On a personal note, I bring stamps and archives together with my collection of archives and archivists on postage stamps.