Author archive

David Straight

Well known postal historian David Straight passed away on Saturday, October 13, after suffering a massive stroke earlier in the week. David was an advocate for establishing this blog and was a regular contributor. He introduced himself on the blog shortly after it was established.   David and I were both librarians before our retirement, and I first met him as a result of his interest in my philatelic exhibit on library history. From 2003 to 2011 David wrote an immensely informative column for the Philatelic Literature Review on forthcoming and in-progress publications and research which he called “Colophon”. When he decided to spin off the philatelic library news component of the “Colophon” column, he recruited me to write the new column on library news. His encouragement was the main reason that I became a trustee on the board of the American Philatelic Research Library. David was a huge proponent of cooperation among philatelic libraries and worked actively to accomplish this. I’m sure that you will read much more about David’s many contributions to the philatelic world in the days to come. He will be greatly missed by all of us.

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Postal History Foundation Completes Another Digital Project


Postcard showing Carnegie Library Tucson

The Postal History Foundation and its Slusser Library in Tucson, AZ have recently completed a project to digitize a collection of Territorial and early Statehood period Arizona postcards. Both the fronts and backs of the cards were scanned so that postmarks, addresses and messages can be viewed and searched. This online collection is part of the Arizona Memory Project which is a statewide initiative to make Arizona’s archives available to the public. This is the fourth digital collection the Postal History Foundation and the Slusser Library have added to the Arizona Memory Project. In addition they have collaborated with other organization in three other projects. There are links to all of the projects on the Postal History Foundation’s contributor page for the Arizona Memory Project.

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Collectors Club of Chicago Philatelic Exhibitor’s Award

It’s always good to receive a high medal award for a philatelic exhibit, but it is especially nice to receive one of the special awards. After a significant revision of my Display Division exhibit on public libraries and their forerunners, I entered it into the Rocky Mountain Stamp Show in Denver in May. To my delight it received the Collectors Club of Chicago (CCC) Philatelic Exhibitor’s Award. This is a new award created in 2012 by the CCC. Special awards come with a variety of artifacts to recognize the achievement – certificates, medals, ribbons, and sometimes an object that just might go into the next garage sale. In the case of the CCC award it is a collection of publications which have been published by the Club. What a great idea! The CCC estimates the total value of the publications to be from $150 to $200 which makes the award highly desirable. I received four publications which are shown above. There are some fairly broad parameters for the award with the judges of the show making the final decision on the recipient. More about the award can be found in this press release. It should also be noted that for a number of years the American Philatelic Congress has been giving a philatelic award that is accompanied by the latest issue of their annual Congress Book.

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First Days Digital Archive

While checking the website of the American First Day Cover Society (AFDCS), of which I am a member, I discovered an amazing digital product. It is the digitized archive of First Days, the journal of the AFDCS, from its inception in 1955 through 2011.  It includes 395 issues of the journal which constitutes almost 35,000 pages. The archive is available on a DVD ($79) or a USB drive ($89) postpaid. The archive is formatted in the searchable PDF format. What is really amazing about this product is that it is the result of the effort of a single individual, Todd Ronnei who is Chairman of the AFDCS Board of Directors. Todd tells of how he went about digitizing First Days in an online article on the website. For anyone contemplating a digitization project, this is an excellent primer. A key to the success of the project was Todd’s access to a sophisticated scanner at his place of work, the Canon ImageRunner Advance 6055. Todd used some real ingenuity to deal with some of the challenges of the project. For philatelic libraries and serious first day cover collectors, this is a wonderful resource. Mine is on order.

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RMPL’s Map Room


Steve Schweighofer in RMPL's Map Room

On my recent visit to the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library (RMPL) I got a chance to see RMPL’s map room which includes maps from the U.S. and the world. The collection is maintained by Steve Schweighofer, a library volunteer who contributed many of the maps himself. The RMPL has been able to acquire map cases that are designed to store large maps flat. Maps can be a valuable resource for the postal historian. The RMPL map collection includes highway maps, topographical maps, railroad maps, and others. Steve continues to work to organize the maps in the most useful manner possible. Thanks for taking time to show me this great resource Steve.

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A Visit to the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library


Panoramic view of RMPL complex courtesy of Ron Mitchell
RMPL President Sergio Lugo left, Larry Nix right

While in the Denver area for the Rocky Mountain Stamp Show earlier this month I was able to make visit to the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library (RMPL).  RMPL President Sergio Lugo was kind enough to giveme a thorough tour of the library complex which consists of two buildings and an outdoor garden. I visited the library a couple of years ago and I was amazed at how much progress they have made in achieving their vision for the future of the library. When I visited last they had just purchased a building adjacent to their original building. Although there is work still to be done, the newly purchased building has been substantially remodeled. A large meeting room is regularly in use by RMPL and area philatelic organizations. On my recent visit to the library the Scandinavian Collectors Club was there for a major seminar in conjunction with the Stamp Show. On the lower level of the new building several small alcoves have been created for specialty stamp organizations. The Henry Hahn Memorial Library of the Society for Czechoslovak Philately has already taken residence in one of these alcoves. One of the most unusual aspects of the RMPL complex is an outdoor garden that has been established on vacant land which came with the new building. It is quite impressive. Thanks to Sergio and all of the nice folks at RMPL who made my visit a great treat. I will be adding a few more posts about my RMPL visit in the future.

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Congratulations to the SCC Library Committee

Congratulations to the the Library Committee of the Scandinavian Collectors Club (SCC) on the receipt of the prestigious  CARL E. PELANDER AWARD in 2012 for outstanding work in furthering the aims of the SCC. The Library Committee includes Paul Albright, Howard Benson, Roger Cichorz, Greg Frantz, Jim Kilbane, and Jeff Modesitt. This is the first time the award has gone to a group instead of a single individual. The Scandinavian Collectors Club Library is housed in two rooms in the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library (RMPL) complex in Denver, CO. I was able to visit the RMPL complex and the SCC Library while in Denver for the Rocky Mountain Stamp Show last week. Thanks to the work of Library Committee member Greg Frantz who is a cabinet maker, the library makes maximum use of its space. Basically, books, articles, exhibits and auction catalogs, and AV presentations are in one room with periodicals and show catalogs in the second room. Although the Library has its own online catalog, it is exploring the possibility of joining the Philatelic Union Catalog project of the American Philatelic Research Library. I was fortunate to be able to meet and talk to Library Committee member Paul Albright on my visit.

SCC Library Committee member Paul Albright


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Welcome to our newest philatelic library


Board of the Northern Philatelic Library. From left to right, standing: Steve Lund, Director; Al Sarvi, Managing Director; Brian Wilson, Director; Paul Hempel, Vice President Seated: David Bushard, Librarian; Gene Young, President; Dick Westerling, Director

On May 1 the world’s newest philatelic library became operational in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Northern Philatelic Library was created primarily to serve philatelists in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas. Volunteers have been hard at work in recent months preparing its new home at 1116 Sims Avenue. Although it is being established as a separate legal entity, it has a close partnership with the Northern Philatelic Society with which it has a joint board (see above). Members of the Northern Philatelic Society are automatically members of the Library and are eligible to borrow materials. David Buchard is the Librarian. The library expects to have an online catalog of its holding operational shortly. A grand opening for the library is scheduled for July in conjunction with the Minnesota Stamp Expo. Congratulations to all of those involved in making  the Northern Philatelic Library a reality.

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American Philatelic Assoc. 1908 Convention

I’m in the process of revising my exhibit on America’s public libraries and their forerunners for the Rocky Mountain Stamp Show in Denver later this month. I have a cover in the exhibit with two labels on the back depicting the Carnegie Library in Columbus, OH.  It was the Carnegie Library aspect of the labels that led to my purchase of the cover, but the labels also have a significant connection to the history of the American Philatelic Society (APS) and its predecessor the American Philatelic Association (APA). The labels indicate that the library is the “Home of the Columbus Collector’s Club”.  They also indicate that the American Philatelic Association will hold its 1908 National Convention at the library. The cover was mailed on July 7, 1907 from Cincinnati to Alliance, OH. Seeing the cover again prompted me to try to find out more about the 1908 APA Convention. Fortunately, I didn’t have far to look. In 1986 Robert L.D. Davidson wrote a whole series of articles in the American Philatelist titled “APS: The First Century”. The April 1986 article was titled “From Association To Society”. It turns out that it was at the 1908 convention that the APA changed its name to the American Philatelic Society. The vote to change the name (including proxies) was 527 to 171. Over the years I have come across a number of covers that connect libraries to philately, and this one is especially nice.

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My APRL Philatelic Exhibit

I’ve been collecting postal artifacts related to libraries for more than 17 years, and I’ve been exhibiting these artifacts at stamp shows since 2003. In 2005 I realized that I had accumulated enough items with a connection to the American Philatelic Research Library to put together a one frame exhibit of the items. I showed the exhibit for the first time on a non-competitive basis at StampShow 2005 in Grand Rapids, MI. More recently I’ve been including my APRL postal items in a three frame non-competitive exhibit titled “America’s Philatelic Libraries & Museums”. At the WISCOPEX stamp show on April15 in Madison, WI I went back to a one frame exhibit which is titled simply “The American Philatelic Research Library”. Part of my purpose in showing the exhibit was to help promote the current efforts to raise funding to relocate the APRL in an expanded space in the American Philatelic Center. I will also be showing the exhibit at the Rocky Mountain Stamp Show in Denver in May. I hope to make the exhibit available to other stamp shows that allow non-competitive exhibits in the future.

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