Philatelic treasure in non-philatelic libraries

Richard Boardman shows us around the map collection
Richard Boardman shows us around the map collection

Philatelic Literature & Research has focused, for obvious reasons, on philatelic libraries and research libraries with significant philatelic collections. Sometimes, though, the philatelic researcher must look beyond the usual places.

Earlier this month, while attending the Special Libraries Association Annual Conference, I had the opportunity to tour the map collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Richard Boardman, head of the map collection, showed us some of the maps in the library’s collection, which is particularly strong in maps of the Philadelphia region. Following the tour, I asked him if the library had any post route maps, and was rewarded with several maps that the APRL does not have. Most of the map collection is not included in the library’s online catalog, and this is probably the case at many libraries.

In order to find treasures like this, you need to contact the librarian and tell them what you are looking for. You will probably also need to travel to the library to do your research if the materials do not circulate and have not been digitized. If materials do circulate, you may be able to request them through interlibrary loan at your local library.

What other kinds of materials might you find at non-philatelic libraries?

Continue reading “Philatelic treasure in non-philatelic libraries”

New arrivals at the APRL, June 2011

Blindman's MailAfinscat. Catalog multimedia de sellos de España = Multimedia catalogue of Spanish stamps: 1850-1960 [electronic resource] (Barcelona: Afinscat: Afinsa Multimedia, c1995): 1 computer optical disk + 1 booklet (11 p.)

Aries Auctions. Aries Auctions catalogue: a celebration of independent India philately [electronic resource] (Gurgaon, Haryana [India]: Aries Auctions, 2011-)

Armed forces Stamp Exchange Club bulletin (Clarksville, TN: Armed Forces Stamp Exchange Club, [2008]): 28 cm. [Journal]

Barthelemy, Emile. Catalogue obliterations speciales temporaires, France et colonies francaise, 1849 a Octore 1943 ([Paris]: Barthelemy Emile (Paris: Lang, Blanchong et Cie, Imprimeurs), [1943])

Baumann, Carl. Das Postwesen in Basel unter dem Kaufmannischen Direktorium (1682-1798): Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Würde eines Doctor rer. pol. der hohen philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Basel (Weinfelden: Neuenschwander’sche Verl.-Buchh., 1927): 149 p.

Bautenserie 1948 e.V. Koln. Wir stellen uns vor Bautenserie 1948 (n.l.: Arge Bauten, n.d.): 14 p.

Bosshard, J.A. Katalog der Badischen Marken und Abstempelungen (Leipzig: Seifert, 1929): 69 p.

Continue reading “New arrivals at the APRL, June 2011”

New arrivals at the APRL, May 2011

This Royal ThroneAger, Donald R. Celebrazioni Colombiane (Christopher Columbus Philatelic Society, 2011): [8] p.: col. ill.; 28 cm. [Shelved with the Journal Discovery!]

American Philatelic Research Library and the National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives and Records Administration. M1918, Stamp bill books of the Post Office Department September 30, 1870-July 10, 1897 ([State College, Pa.]: American Philatelic Research Library; Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 2004): 3 p.; 23 cm. [Call No. HE6401 .A512s 2004]

American Philatelic Research Library. Forgery materials in the American Philatelic Research Library arranged by Library of Congress classification numbers ([Bellefonte, Pa.]: American Philatelic Research Library, 2006): 23 p.; 28 cm.

Arnould, Howard L. Danish West Indies postal history, the foreign mails before 1880 [exhibit] / ([Princeton? NJ]: by the author,, [1994?]): [ca. 100 p.]

Association of British Philatelic Societies Ltd. Philatelic Lecturers and Displays 2005 (London: Association of British Philatelic Societies Ltd., 2005): 72 p.

Continue reading “New arrivals at the APRL, May 2011”

Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library visit

Last week I was in Denver, representing the American Philatelic Society at the Rocky Mountain Stamp Show. While I was there, I visited the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library.

Tara Murray and Ellengail Beuthel at the RMPLThe RMPL is an all-volunteer organization. Retired librarian Ellengail Beuthel has provided the expertise necessary to organize the collection and provide an online catalog (RMPL holdings are also included in the Philatelic Union Catalog hosted by APRL), but many others have pitched in to do everything from organizing the topical collection to woodworking and painting to gardening.

RMPL gardenGardening? Yes, the RMPL has a very impressive alpine garden for those visitors who can pull themselves away from the books.

In addition to the expected philatelic books, catalogs, and journals, the RMPL also has a western history collection, and provides space for the Scandinavian Collectors Club Library and for regional stamp club meetings. During the stamp show, the RMPL hosted a banquet and tour for the United States Stamp Society.

The RMPL has recently embarked on a digitization project, and two volunteers are scanning a collection of historical letters.

I had talked to several representatives from the RMPL and SCC Library on the phone, but it was very helpful to get to talk to everyone in person and to see the way the collections were arranged and the library space used.

Scandinavian Collectors Club LibraryThe visit also reminded me that libraries are much more than just a building and a collection of books – they are a community. It is truly amazing what a dedicated group of volunteers have been able to do in Denver – build a collection, purchase and renovate a building, and, most importantly, sustain a lively community.

See more photos from my trip on the APS Facebook page.

Mighty Buck Club helps the APRL collection grow

Mighty "Dollar" Bill checks out one of the APRL's new books
Mighty "Dollar" Bill checks out one of the APRL's new books

The American Philatelic Research Library collection grows primarily through donations. Thanks to the generosity of our members, affiliate societies, and philatelic authors and publishers, we add publications (old and new) to our collection almost daily.

Occasionally, though, we find ourselves in need of a publication that we are not likely to receive as a donation.

The members of the Mighty Buck Club have filled one such gap in our collection by providing funds to purchase 5 books on historical geography which will be useful to postal historians using the library.

Historial Atlas of the United StatesThe Shaping of AmericaThe books are D.W. Meinig’s 4-volume The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History and Derek Hayes’ Historical Atlas of the United States. Both will be used by students taking “Geography and Postal History: A ‘Writer’s Institute'” during the APS Summer Seminar week next month, and will be available for loan to APS and APRL members.

Thanks to the members of the Mighty Buck Club who have helped the APRL collection grow “one buck at a time!”

Stamp Bill Books pamphlet digitized

Stamp Bill BooksYou may have heard about the new book scanner purchased by the APRL, thanks to the generosity of the members of the Mighty Buck Club. Here’s an example of what the scanner can do.

We had to do a little rearranging in the library to make room for the new scanner. We moved our microfilm reader to a different spot in the library, and in doing so, a joint publication of the APRL and the National Archives and Records Administration came to my attention.

I had been looking for a small digitization project to show off our new scanner, and this publication seemed to fit our needs perfectly.

First, it is a publication of the APRL, and one of our top priorities for digitization is preserving and making available the history of the APS and APRL.

Second, it is a finding aid, which can be used by researchers to learn more about resources in our collections (in this case, the Stamp Bill Books which were microfilmed with funding from the APRL). If you don’t know about the Stamp Bill Books, read the pamphlet to learn more about this valuable resource!

Third, as a publication of the U.S. government, it is in the public domain and free from copyright restrictions.

Fourth, it is short (6 pages), not requiring extensive staff time or large amounts of storage space – perfect for a test. One of our APRL volunteers took a few minutes’ break from another project and scanned it for us.

To view the document, go to our Online Catalogue and search for “Stamp Bill Books” in the title field. You should see two records: one for the microfilm, and one for the book describing the microfilm. Click to view the full display for the book, and you will find a link to the digitized book. The PDF file is fully searchable, thanks to text recognition software built into our new scanner.

Watch for more from our new scanner – and remember that if you want to see what our new scanner can do for you, you can request scans of articles and book sections from the APRL.

Happy National Train Day

Railway postal clerk on parcel post stamp

 It is National Train Day and a good opportunity to comment on railway mail service information resources. Most of our philatelic libraries including the American Philatelic Research Library have books and periodicals relating to the railway mail service. The Railway Mail Service Library (RMSL) in Boyce, VA is a virtual treasure trove of research materials and artifacts related to the railway mail service. I wrote a previous blog post on the RMSL. The Mobile Post Office Society is devoted to the study of mobile mail including railway mail, and has several publications on this topic. The National Postal Museum of the Smithsonian Institution has a section of its website devoted to the railway mail service. It also has an online exhibit titled “Mail by Rail”.  One of the museum’s most popular exhibits is about Owney, the dog that served as the mascot of the Railway Mail Service. Searching the Hathi Trust Digital Library, an enormous collection of online digitized publications, using the term “railway mail service” links to a number of publications, many in full text. The National Archives has indexes to rosters of railway postal clerks from 1883 to 1902. Happy National Train Day.

Mauritius Ball Covers Together at The British Library

Michael Sefi (left) and David Beech of the British Library with the three "Ball covers"

David Beech, Curator and Head of the Philatelic Collections at the British Library, provided the following information about a philatelic first. 

“In February, Michael Sefi, the Keeper of The Royal Philatelic Collection, visited the British Library Philatelic Collections. The occasion for his visit was to bring together the only three known Mauritius “Ball” envelopes, one from the Royal Philatelic Collection, one from the British Library’s Tapling Collection, and one that is currently on loan to the British Library that belongs to Mr. Vikram Chand. The “Ball” covers are so called because they each bear an example of the Mauritius 1847 “Post Office” issue 1d orange-red and are understood to have been used to send invitations or admittance cards for a Ball being given by Lady Gomm the wife of the Governor at Government House, Port Louis on 30th September 1847. This is the first time that all three surviving Ball covers have been together in the same place.”

A closer view of the Mauritius Ball cover in the British Library’s Tapling Collection.

Slusser Memorial Philatelic Library Visit

Charlotte Cushman, Librarian, and Larry Nix in front of Arizona postal history display













On a reecent Southwest trip my wife and I were able to visit the Postal History Foundation complex in Tucson, Arizona.  On our visit we were treated to a personalized tour of the library building by Charlotte Cushman, the librarian, and a tour of the main Foundation building by Paul Nelson.  The Peggy J. Slusser Memorial Philatelic Library was of particular interest to me. It is housed in its own building which was designed specifically as a philatelic library. I am not aware of another instance in which this has occurred.  The building was designed by architect Les Wallach and dedicated in 1996. It is one of 40 libraries in the U.S. featured in the book Architecture for the Books by Michael J. Crosbie which was published in 2003.  In addition to its book and periodical collection devoted to philately, the library has an extensive collection of materials related to the Civil War. I wrote an earlier post about the Postal History Foundation and the Slusser Library, and it was really great to see this organization and its facilities in person. More photos follow.

Enhanced scanning services at the APRL

The American Philatelic Research Library has expanded its scanning services thanks to the members of the Mighty Buck Club.

APRL book scanner
Mighty "Dollar" Bill and APS staff and volunteers demonstrate the new book scanner

Through the generosity of the many members who contributed to the Mighty Buck Club, we have been able to purchase a BookScan Station for use in the APRL. The BookScan Station is a self-service large format book scanner. It features a beveled edge to scan pages without damaging the spine of the book, and can scan pages up to 11″ by 17″ in black and white, grayscale, or color. It can scan to a variety of formats, including JPG and PDF, and has text recognition software to create searchable PDF documents.

Visitors to the APRL can scan to a USB drive or send scanned images to an email address directly from the scanner. The touchscreen makes operating the scanner easy, as demonstrated in this YouTube video.

APRL book scanner
Scanning a large format document

Staff will also use the scanner to fill requests for scans. (See our library services page for information about ordering scans.) The new scanner will produce better images than our old equipment, and will reduce wear and tear on our books thanks to the beveled edge design. Scans can be delivered faster than photocopies, and scanning is also greener than photocopying (no paper!) so I am especially pleased to introduce this new scanner on Earth Day.

The APRL will also use this new scanner for digitization projects, and other departments at the American Philatelic Center can use it when they need a large format scanner.

Stop in the library or contact us to start taking advantage of the new scanner today!