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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Betsy Gamble: an expert in putting things where people will look for them

Betsy Gamble is the Library Technical Services Coordinator for the APRL. In library terms, technical services can cover the process of acquiring and evaluating incoming material, adding anything that is within the scope of our library collections, making sure that people can find the material in our online systems and on our shelves, making sure that the collection is cared for physically, and dispersing excess material appropriately.

Our APS members and others have built the APRL in many different ways. Journal issues have appeared on the doorstep like foundlings, books are mailed in large boxes from estate lawyers, we receive journals electronically, or scan loaned exhibits and collections, we receive donations from specialty societies for material in their subject areas, and we receive large collections transferred from other institutions.

Two such large acquisitions in recent years are a portion of the stock of George Atkins’ Edenbridge Philatelic Literature business, and many volumes recently de-accessioned from Library and Archives Canada. With the help of volunteers and member societies, the library staff is working to make those materials available to our members.

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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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Celebrate National Library Week with the APRL

Happy National Library Week!

National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

The theme for the week is Libraries Transform, and libraries all around the country are sharing how they transform their communities.

Help us celebrate by leaving a comment and telling us how the APRL has made a positive impact and helped you enjoy stamp collecting more.

Throughout the week, we’ll share some of the work we do and how we enjoy connecting with you.

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Students volunteer to help APRL

The APRL has worked with volunteers from Penn State’s Circle K Club several times. Today, 5 volunteers spent a couple hours at the Match Factory as part of a day-long volunteer event.

The students, 4 of whom had volunteered at the APRL previously, moved a few remaining archival collections from the Morse Building into boxes in the new library’s closed stacks, unpacked a recent donation of Swiss philatelic literature from Edith and Dale Eggen, and moved boxes of Rob Haeseler’s philatelic library onto shelves.

Circle K is a collegiate service organization sponsored by Kiwanis International. Thank you to the 5 members who worked in the library this morning!

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National Postal Museum opens Letters from World War I exhibit

On the eve of the centennial of U.S. involvement in World War I, the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum opened My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I. Jay Bigalke, editor of the Philatelic Literature Review and The American Philatelist, and I were at the museum for the reception.

Marshall F. Emery, Interim Director of the National Postal Museum.
Dr. Doug Dechaw, Digital Humanities Librarian for Chapman University.

Marshall F. Emery, Interim Director of the National Postal Museum, welcomed the crowd, which included museum staff, noted philatelists like John Hotchner, and members of the public. Curator Lynn Heidelbaugh spoke about the exhibit, and Dr. Doug Dechaw, Digital Humanities Librarian for Chapman University, talked about the university’s Center for American War Letters and its contributions to the exhibit.

Curator Lynn Heidelbaugh speaking about the exhibit to the local NBC television station.
Andrew Carroll, Director of the Center for American War Letters.

Andrew Carroll, Director of the Center for American War Letters and author of the new book My Fellow Soldiers: General John Pershing and the Americans Who Helped Win the Great War, introduced a reading of letters featured in the book and the exhibit. The readings featured correspondence from soldiers and their families, a nurse, and General John J. Pershing, closing with his letter to “My Fellow Soldiers,” written in 1919.

Jefferson Street Strutters.

Following the reading, Lynn Heidelbaugh gave spotlight tours of the exhibit, and the Jefferson Street Strutters provided period music.

The exhibit is open through November 29, 2018. The National Postal Museum, together with the American Philatelic Research Library and American Philatelic Society, will host a postal history symposium with the theme WWI and its Immediate Aftermath November 1-2, 2018 at the museum in Washington, D.C. Proposals for papers are due June 15, 2017.

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”

New books at the APRL, March 2017

APRL acquisitions, March 2017. To request loans, copies, or scans, or to search our catalog, visit the APRL website.

book coverAlfano, Louis S. United States narcotic tax stamps (including marihuana tax stamps): a priced check list ([n.l.]: [n.p.], 1970). [In process 000063527]

American Topical Association. Membership directory 1990-1993 (Johnstown, PA: American Topical Association, 1990). [MEMBERSHIP DIRECTORIES]

Arveng, Knut. Fra vikingtiden til Afghanistan: Postkort med norske militærmotiver ([Oslo]: Krigs- og feltpostforeningen, 2016). [In process 000063558] Continue reading “New books at the APRL, March 2017”

New Zealand 15th National Philatelic Literature Exhibition

Christchurch literature 2017 logoThe New Zealand 15th National Philatelic Literature Exhibition, to be held in Christchurch, is accepting entries until June 30, 2017. For more information, see the prospectus.

New Zealand has held a philatelic literature exhibition every other year since 1989.

The Organising Committee for this exhibition also welcomes postcard literature and is actively encouraging entries of electronic media.

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Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries to Sell Recovered Inverted Jenny Stamp

Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries to Sell Recovered Inverted Jenny
Proceeds of the Sale to Go to American Philatelic Research Library

BELLEFONTE, PA — The American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) announced today they have reached agreement with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries to sell a recently recovered Inverted Jenny stamp. The stamp, Position 76 of the famous McCoy Block, stolen in 1955 at a stamp show in Norfolk, Virginia, was recovered by the APRL at a public event in June 2016 during the World Stamp Show-NY 2016.

The press event for the recovery of the stamp at World Stamp Show-NY 2016.

The APRL Board of Trustees selected Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries from eight proposals submitted since authorizing the sale in October 2016. “The Inverted Jenny is one of the most iconic stamps in the world and Siegel has been a part of many notable stamp sales from that sheet,” said Roger Brody, President of the APRL, “That history should deliver a great return to the APRL.”

“Of the many remarkable stories associated with the legendary Inverted Jenny, the theft of the McCoy block and the long road to recovery of the stolen stamps is perhaps the most thrilling,” added Scott Trepel, President of Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, “Position 76 is the third one to be found and reclaimed, leaving only one still missing. It’s a beautiful looking Jenny and has the distinction of surviving 61 years of felonious captivity.”

The return of the stamp in front of the biplane at World Stamp Show-NY 2016.

The stamp recovery press conference was held before an actual Jenny biplane in the Javits Center in June 2016. The plane was on display at the show courtesy of Siegel Auction Galleries. “This was one of the biggest moments and greatest images in the history of the hobby,” said Scott English, Executive Director of the American Philatelic Society, “By pure luck, the plane was already there to promote the sale of another Jenny and it helped make the moment special.”

Proceeds of the stamp, expected to sell between $150,000 and $200,000, will go toward the APRL’s new library facility in Bellefonte, PA. The $4 million library was completed and opened in October 2016. The facility spans 19,000 square feet in space at the American Philatelic Center and it is the world’s largest philatelic library. More information about the APRL is available at www.stamplibrary.org and you can also visit www.InvertedJenny.com to learn more about the Inverted Jenny stamps.