One of the benefits of being fortunate enough to work here at the APRL is that every once in a while an opportunity comes along to attend an event that is truly unique to the world of philately. One such opportunity came recently with the chance to attend the Mister Rogers first day ceremony this past Friday, March 23, at the WQED-TV PBS Studios in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend an informative lecture about the postal history between Canada and the United States during the Civil War. The talk was titled “Canada – British North America (B.N.A.) Union and Confederate Postal Cross Border Correspondence during the U.S. Civil War” and was given by prominent B.N.A. philatelist and award winning exhibitor Ron Majors. The talk marked one in a series of postal history lectures organized by APS member and noted postal historian Bill Schultz in conjunction with an extraordinary exhibit concerning postal history titled “You’ve Got Mail!” currently on display at the Chester County Historical Society Museum (http://www.chestercohistorical.org/) in downtown West Chester, PA from November 24, 2017 through April 28, 2018.
One of the more diverse collecting interests within philately in recent years, whose popularity initially waned after the first World War, are stamps not normally listed in some of the more recognized stamp catalogs such as Stanley Gibbons and Michel. Revenue stamps, also known as fiscal or tax stamps, are stamps used to collect taxes and fees for a variety of goods and services by governments, either national or local, or by other official bodies.
Before I started working at the APRL in December, the majority of my knowledge about stamp collecting came from Terry Pratchett’s book, Going Postal. As a teenager I was a huge fan of Pratchett’s humorous fantasy books set in the fictional Discworld, and Going Postal was one of my favorites. When I arrived at the APRL I was glad to see that the book was included in the library’s collection.
The story of Going Postal concerns Moist van Lipwig, a con artist who receives a job as the Postmaster General of the non-functional Ankh-Morpork Postal Service. As postmaster general, Moist introduces postage stamps, delivers decades of undelivered mail, and competes with a visual telegraph company. The following excerpt is a conversation between Moist van Lipwig and his employee Stanley Howler (likely named after Stanley Gibbons) after Moist invents the first postage stamps. Continue reading “Fiction with Philatelic Themes”
Just this past month a frequent visitor to the library came by to conduct some research and was stuck by and pleasantly surprised to find a resource at the American Philatelic Library (APRL) that hadn’t occurred to him that we would collect or include as part of our collection. There on the first floor of the public space of the APRL tucked between a row of U.S. and international government documents and our collection of domestic show programs is a single bay of 24 shelves housing a small but growing collection of U.S. and international stamp albums. At first glance this collection of stamp albums, usually considered philatelic material meant possibly for resale in the gift shop, may seem to be an odd choice for inclusion in what is ostensibly a research-oriented philatelic literature collection that includes primarily books, journals and auction catalogs as well as the aforementioned government documents and show programs. After all, what research value could old stamp albums have for the serious philatelist? The answer to that question isn’t as complicated as their discovery at the APRL may seem. Continue reading “Resource of the Month – Stamp Albums”
One of the more rewarding experiences at the APRL are when we are fortunate enough to have volunteers come to the library to help us with various tasks. One such occasion happened this past Monday when a group of students from the nearby Pennsylvania State University gave of their time to come for a visit and to volunteer in the library as part of a Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Upon arriving at the American Philatelic Center in the late morning the students were given a brief tour of the building and then shown some tasks in the library keeping busy until the late afternoon. Continue reading “Volunteering at the APRL in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.”
One of the most frequently asked questions heard from visitors when on a tour for the first time of the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL), especially when it involves non-collectors, is something like “and all of this is just about stamps?” To clarify often the tour guide will respond to the interested visitors “not just stamps, but also postal history.” Those not familiar with the terminology will often then ask “what is postal history?” The answer to that question is not often an easy one that can be summed up in the brief moments of a library tour, but this month’s Resource of the Month is one of the most recognized and comprehensive sources for postal history information at the APRL particularly for the histories of British colonies, the Edward Wilfred Baxby “Ted” Proud series of postal history publications. Starting in 1961 as a stamp dealer, Edward Proud established the Proud Bailey Company in Heathfield, East Sussex, England which sought to produce a series of books about the postal histories of various British colonies. Proud enlisted the expertise of prominent postal historians as well as postal history specialty societies in order to produce what has become one of the most highly regarded series of postal history publications.