On this day: the first successful transcontinental air mail flight

An historic event took place in postal history on this day in 1921 when the first successful U.S. transcontinental air mail flight arrived at New York’s Hazelhurst Field from San Francisco.

Air mail pilot William "Wild Bill" Hopson. Source: Daniel  Hines Air Mail Collection, American Philatelic Research Library.

Air mail pilot William “Wild Bill” Hopson. Source: Daniel Hines Air Mail Collection, American Philatelic Research Library.

Since September 8, 1920, airmail service had flown the mail back and forth from New York to San Francisco during the daytime only, transferring it to trains at night. As a result, the elapsed time for cross-country mail was 72 hours at best, or a mere 36-hour savings over the fastest all-railroad trip.

Congress, having supported the airmail service from its beginning in 1918 through its first three years, hesitated to appropriate additional funding to expand the service thinking that mail carried by airplanes would be too unreliable and unable to support the volume of mail necessary to make it viable.  Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger knew he needed a dramatic demonstration of airmail’s potential so he decided that a round-the-clock relay of mail from San Francisco to New York and New York to San Francisco in the worst possible weather would provide the best possible example of the potential of airmail as an alternative to as well as an addition to surface mail. The eventual experiment would entail night flying, strongly discouraged at the time, and seven pilots taking 33 hours 20 minutes in order to fly the 2,629-mile cross-country trip. » Continue reading…

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New books at the APRL, February 2016

APRL acquisitions, January 16–February 15, 2016. To request loans, copies, or scans, or to search our catalog, visit the APRL website.

book coverAlaska Collectors Club. The Alaskan Philatelist [electronic resource ([n.l.]: Alaska Collectors Club, 1959-2009): 1 computer optical disk; 4 3/4 in. [JOURNAL Alaskan Philatelist]

Ambrose, Jill R. and James A. Siekermann. A guidebook and checklist, U.S. Postal Service no-die-cut stamps 2012 to 2015 ([n.l.]: Jill R. Ambrose and James A. Siekermann, c2015): [14], 61, [5] pages: color illustrations; 23 cm. [In process 000060771; In process 000060899]

American Philatelic Society. Chapter Activities Committee. 2010 APS CAC Newsletter Competition ([n.l.]: [American Philatelic Society. Chapter Activities Committee], [2011]): 1 computer optical disk; 4 3/4 inches [APS Archives] » Continue reading…

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New books at the APRL, January 2016

APRL acquisitions, December 16, 2015–January 15, 2016. To request loans, copies, or scans, or to search our catalog, visit the APRL website.

book coverBarefoot, John. British Commonwealth revenues (York, [England]: J. Barefoot Ltd., 2012): 410 pages: color illustrations; 30 cm. [G5731 .R451 B248b 2012]

Beattie, Cliff A. Canadian local & national Easter seals catalog ([n.l.]: Cliff Beattie, 2004): 52 pages: color illustrations; 28 cm. [G3401 .S438 B369c 2004]

Calhoun, Linda Culp. Ducks in miniature: designs for quick and easy projects (Little Rock, AR:Leisure Arts, c1985): [4] pages: color illustrations; 30 cm. [HE6183 .B618 C15d 1985]

Grabowski, Heinz. Lufthansa spezialkatalog. (Wurttemberg: Grabowski-Verlag, 2001): 2 v.: illustrations; 21 cm. [In process 000060660] » Continue reading…

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Student volunteers help the APRL

student volunteers in the libraryFour students helped the library prepare for its upcoming move to new space today. The students, participating in Penn State’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, moved boxes of excess material out of the library. They also volunteered in the APS Education Department, assembling youth packets for the upcoming AmeriStamp Expo and sorting stamps for educational programs.

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New subject guide: Fakes, Forgeries, and Counterfeits

forgeriesWe’ve just added a new subject guide to literature on fakes, forgeries, and counterfeits to the APRL website. The guide lists some important references on this topic, as well as tips for searching the catalog for more information. We also have guides for Machins and state revenues, and will add more.

This guide was developed in collaboration with the APS Circuit Sales Division, drawing on the knowledge of Bill Dixon and Tom Horn.

We will rely on subject experts as we expand the subject guide collection. Do you know the literature on an aspect of philately? You can help build our next guide!

To contribute, all you need to do is send me a list of what you think are the key resources on a subject. This could include handbooks, catalogs, journals, journal articles, indexes, and websites. We may add resources and library tips and will format the guide. We are happy to give credit to any subject experts who contribute.

If you are interested in contributing, contact me.

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The USPS Remote Encoding Center

As the Postal Service handles the holiday mail, Smithsonian.com looks at the Remote Encoding Center and how its staff work to decipher addresses that machines can’t read, either due to damage or unique handwriting. Read the full article at Smithsonian.com.

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New books at the APRL, December 2015

APRL acquisitions, November 16, 2015–December 15, 2015. To request loans, copies, or scans, or to search our catalog, visit the APRL website.

book coverAckerman, G. Adolph. Soviet Air Fleet/Osoaviakhim stamps/labels [electronic resource] (Worthington, OH: G.A. Ackerman, c2002.): 1 computer optical disk; 4 3/4 in. [JOURNAL Rossica no.44-161]

Ackerman, G. Adolph. Via the Red skies [electronic resource]: the development of Soviet air mail 1922-1945 ([Worthington? OH]: G.A. Ackerman, c2001): 1 computer optical disk; 4 3/4 in. [JOURNAL Rossica no.44-161]

Australia and New Zealand Society of Russian Philately. Pochta: the Journal of the Australia & New Zealand Society of Russian Philately [electronic resource] ([n.l.]: Australia and New Zealand Society of Russian Philately, 1986-[2004]): computer optical disk; 4 3/4 in. [JOURNAL Pochta]

» Continue reading…

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To Grow Your Specialty, Share Your Know-How

Perfins Club logoOtto F. Wolke is a longtime APS member who lives about 70 miles from Bellefonte, PA. Earlier this fall, Otto brought a wonderful gift with him on a visit to the American Philatelic Center: a fresh, sound, complete copy of the Catalog of United States Perfins, edited by John C. Randall.

You might be forgiven for thinking that the gift of such a catalog is no big deal in a library with literally miles of shelves, but you’d be wrong. A current catalog is always a sought-after asset, whatever your philatelic specialty. With perfins ― the perforated initials that firms punched through mint stamps to prevent misappropriation and misuse before meters were widely used ― the number of corporations, smaller businesses, banks, utilities and government departments confirmed as perfin-users still steadily grows, year by year. » Continue reading…

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An Exemplary Book by a Modest Author

Montana Precancels Catalog & Guidebook 1Charles Adrion is a modest man. On Sept. 28, in the “Press & Publications” listings on The Stamp Collecting Forum, he informed collectors of a new “Montana Precancels – free catalog online” with this flowery announcement, printed here in its entirety:

“This book shows all known denominations precancelled in Montana. If you have any others in your collection, I’d love to hear about them.”

Perhaps he would have made a bigger deal out of the new catalog if someone else had been the author, but in fact the Montana Precancels Catalog & Guidebook was his creation.

It is not just an excellent book on an eminently collectible U.S. stamp specialty, but it is the first publication on the subject that the APRL has seen since J.C. Whitham’s 24-page Official Precancel Catalog for Montana, published in 1952. That consisted of 24 three-ring-punched 5” by 7” loose-leaf pages with reduced-size black line illustrations of the precancels only, and was available for $2.00. (Using the Consumer Price Index, $2.00 in 1952 is equal to $17.72 in 2015.) » Continue reading…

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How to use special collections at the APRL

In September, the APRL Board of Trustees approved a new circulation and collections access policy for the library. The new policy makes a few updates to our book lending policy and adds a section on accessing rare books, special collections, and archives.

A researcher studies archival material in the library

A researcher studies archival material in the library

Almost everything in the library is available for borrowing by APS members, either in person or by mail. The exceptions are items which are needed for reference in the library, items which are too fragile to send through the mail, or items which would be difficult or impossible to replace. In general, this means:

  • the most recent edition of the Scott catalogs (unless we receive a second copy)
  • the Rare Books collection
  • Special Collections and Archives

Books in the Closed Stacks section are for in-library use only, but may be borrowed with permission from the librarian.

Researchers, both members and the public, are welcome and encouraged to use items from Rare Books, Special Collections, and Archives at the APRL. We ask that you follow these rules, and any special instructions from library staff, to help us protect our valuable resources: » Continue reading…

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