Fiction with Philatelic Themes

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”

Resource of the Month – Stamp Albums

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”

New Books at the APRL, January 2018

APRL acquisitions, January 2018. To request loans, copies, or scans, or to search our catalog, visit the APRL website.

Andrews, Edwin J. Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the events and times that molded the man: a grand award winning display exhibit  ([Columbia, SC]: Exhibitors Press, 2017). [In process 000067315]

Andrews, Edwin J. Hitler youth, the generations of lost innocence: a grand award winning display exhibit  ([Columbia, SC]: Exhibitors Press, 2017). [In process 000067316] Continue reading “New Books at the APRL, January 2018”

Volunteering at the APRL in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Penn State MLK volunteers opening boxes of philatelic literature donations.

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.”

Resource of the Month – Edward Proud’s Series of Postal History Publications

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.

Continue reading “Resource of the Month – Edward Proud’s Series of Postal History Publications”

New Books at the APRL, December 2017

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

Abensur, Robert. La voie Franco-Sarde dans les relations internatinales: conventions, réglementations, tarifs 1818-1851 = The Franco-Sardinian route in international relations : conventions, regulations, tariff 1818-1851 ([Paris]: Académie de philatélie, 2017). [In process 000066424]

Birken, Andreas. Die Freimarken von Bhopal 1872-1908 = The postage stamps of Bhopal 1872-1908 (Hamburg: Andreas Birken, 2017). [In process]

Continue reading “New Books at the APRL, December 2017”

New books at the APRL, November 2017

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

 book coverAddendum M, Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada perforators ([n.l.]: [n.p.], [n.d.]). [In process 000066403; In process 000066404]

Andersen, D.W. Perfins of Tasmania ([n.l.]: D.W. Andersen, 1985). [G9061 .P438 A54p 1985]

Arato, Steven. AZ 1874-81-es elso tipusu 3 krajcaros v. oszlopanak metszetjavitasai = Reengraving repairs on the fifth column of the 1874-81 3 krajcar type I stamp ([n.l.]: Society for Hungarian Philately, c1994). [G6501 .P718 A66a 1994]

Australian States perfin catalog: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia + updates. ([n.l.]: South Pacific perfins bulletin, [ca. 1987-1990]). [G8961 .P438 S73s]

Bard, Leslie A. Airmail rates from Palestine to the Americas: from 3 August 1933 to 30 April 1948 (Carmel, CA: Leslie A. Bard, 2007). [In process 000066356] Continue reading “New books at the APRL, November 2017”

Resource of the Month: The Crawford Catalogue

The Crawford Catalogue is simultaneously one of the oldest and one of the newest resources in the library, and it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in early philatelic literature.

The original 1911 edition (left) and the 1991 facsimile (right).

The original catalog, the Catalogue of the Philatelic Library of the Earl of Crawford, K.T., was compiled by Sir Edward Denny Bacon and published in London by the Philatelic Literature Society in 1911. It is an annotated list of the Earl of Crawford’s library, which included the famous library of John K. Tiffany, who served as the first president of the American Philatelic Association (now the American Philatelic Society). It is considered the most complete collection of philatelic literature up to 1911, and, because the Earl of Crawford acquired Tiffany’s library, contains a very comprehensive collection of American literature. In addition to the Earl of Crawford’s holdings, Bacon included all known works, and his list was also published by Aberdeen University Press as A Bibliography of the Writings General, Special and Periodical Forming the Literature of Philately.

Following the Earl’s death in 1913, he bequeathed his library to the British Museum. The Museum’s library holdings were transferred to the British Library when it was founded in 1973, where they remain today.

In 1991, the Printer’s Stone Limited, in association with the British Library, published a revised edition of the catalog, the Catalogue of the Crawford Library of Philatelic Literature at the British Library. This edition includes shelfmarks (call numbers) for the British Library’s holdings, allowing it to serve as a reference for those requesting material from the British Library.

In 2016, the British Library and the Global Philatelic Library unveiled yet another edition of the catalog, this time available online. The online edition includes a digital, searchable version of the original 1911 catalog, plus the 1926 supplement and 1938 addenda.

Even more tantalizing for anyone interested in early philatelic literature, though, is the searchable index to the Crawford Library, which includes downloadable PDFs for most items in the library. Nearly everything from the obvious (like The American Philatelist) to the obscure (like Collector, a periodical which published one small issue in 1905 in Pittsburgh, Pa.) is available.

A more complete description of the Crawford catalog’s history was published as a supplement to The London Philatelist in March 2016, and is available online.

Philatelic Literature Review 4th quarter issue features postal rates, an Australian philatelic library, and more

The online edition of the Philatelic Literature Review 4th quarter 2017 issue is now available to subscribers. If you are a PLR subscriber and we have your email address, you should have received an email with instructions for accessing the online edition.

The 4th quarter issue features my farewell to the APRL and an introduction of the incoming Director of Information Services and Librarian, an article on finding postal rate information, a visit to an Australian philatelic library, and more.


President’s Message — Steve ZwillingerFrom the Librarian’s Desk — Tara Murray
Library News — Sergio Lugo
Search Methods — Scott Tiffney
A Visit Down Under — Abhishek Bhuwalka
Using as a Source of Philatelic
Publicity — Gary Wayne Loew
What’s on Your Bookshelf? — Ken Nilsestuen
Resource of the Month
Subject Guides


APRL New Acquisitions
Book Reviews
Index of Advertisers
New Books Noted
Philatelic Literature Clearinghouse
Philatelic Literature Contributors

PLR takes 4th place in Christoph Gärtner competition

The American Philatelic Research Library received the 4th place award in the Christoph Gärtner International Philatelic Promotion competition for 2017. American Philatelic Society President Mick Zais accepted the award and 700€ on behalf of the APRL at the ceremony today in Monaco during the MonacoPhil stamp exhibition.

The competition, open to all organizations and publishers of philatelic periodicals, was founded in 2013 to recognize promotion of philatelic research and the preservation of philatelic knowledge through publication.

The top prize in this year’s competition went to the Collectors Club of Chicago for the outstanding new book  by Hugh Feldman, U.S. Contract Mail Routes by Railroad (1832-1875). The APS took 10th place for The American Philatelist.