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DeWees, a 50-Years Member, Donates Superb French Collection to APS

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     From time to time, things happen that stop you in your tracks. In December 2015, Don DeWees celebrated his 50th year with the APS by making an amazing donation to our reference collection — a $300,000 collection of magnificent German stamps, including stamps dating from 1872 to 1900, virtually complete in unused condition.
      Among the items: the German cruiser Vineta provisional of 1901, used on piece, specialized sections of the Inflation Period, 1948 overprints and Buildings issue, and complete semipostal and airmail issues (with booklets, plate flaws, paper types), and World War II Feldpost issues.
      How can you top that? By bringing a $320,000 French collection to add to the reference collection this year! Included in this donation: are the 1862 reissues (Scott 1g to 9d), a 20-cent used tête-bêche pair (Scott 26a), the mint 5-franc of 1869 (Scott 37), many classic unexploded booklets, propaganda forgeries from WWII, complete airmail, including certified unused examples of Scott C3–C4, and C5a and C5b, and the “E.I.P.A” (Paris International Air Post Exhibition) perfins.
      As it happens, Don was also kind enough to invite me to join him and fellow member Bob Rufe in his offices in the Wilmington, Delaware area. Don has had a long and successful career running his own investment firm, one of the largest in the state. During our visit, Don shared amazing stories; we talked the economy, politics, and stamps. Stamps are his passion and watching him and Bob go back and forth over this stamp or that was one of the highlights of the visit. He chose the APS and the reference collection because his collection includes some incredibly rare stamps.
      By bringing them to the reference collection, they are available to all of our members and not necessarily in the hands of just one person. Don and Bob are already looking at the next part of his collection that would make a fine addition to the reference collection and we look forward to another visit. Don’s incredibly generous spirit and appreciation for his years as a collector shine through.
      The Reference Collection is one of our great resources here at the APS. You can view some of the philatelic material online or you can see the collection firsthand when you visit the headquarters in Bellefonte. To learn more about the Reference Collection and see some of the great donations we’re received from Don and other members, you can go to our website at stamps.org/reference-collection.
      Thank you, Don!

Joint Meeting of the APS and APRL Boards
      On October 28, the members of the APS Board of Directors and American Philatelic Research Library Board of Trustees held a joint meeting at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. This is the first meeting held by the APS board in Bellefonte since 2008, and 2005 for the APRL.
      The primary purpose of the meeting was to review and approve the 2017 APS and APRL budgets, which were approved unanimously. As of September 30, the APS is performing $75,000 ahead of budget for the year. The budgets approved for 2017 would anticipate a positive cash flow of $62,000 for the APS. The annual APS dues have remained the same for the past decade. Thanks to the respective boards and staff of the APS and APRL for working hard to providing the best possible return on your annual dues.

During the meeting, the APS board also approved a one-time World Series of Philately show to be held in Bellefonte, on October 28 and 29, 2017. The event will occur at the American Philatelic Center and is sponsored by United Nations Philatelists Inc. The United Nations Expo 2017 show will feature a national exhibiting competition of U.N. postal material. The winner of the competition will then be eligible to compete in the Benjamin and Naomi Wishnietsky Champion of Champions Award at the 2018 APS StampShow in Columbus, Ohio.. There also will be a dealer bourse and special events through the U.N. Postal Administration. It has been four years since the APS played host to a national exhibiting competition at our headquarters and we look forward to seeing you in October.

The APRL Board of Trustees also approved proceeding with the sale of one of the McCoy Block Inverted Jenny stamps recovered and still held at the APC. The first stamp, recovered in 1981, Position 75, was sold almost immediately by the APRL that same year for $115,000 at the APS Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Position 65, which was recovered in New York City in 1982 remains with the APRL and has been one of the most publicly viewed examples of the Inverted Jenny. The third stamp, Position 76, recovered in June at World Stamp Show-NY 2016, also is housed in Bellefonte. We will begin reviewing options for sale with all proceeds going back to the APRL to help retire the debt held for construction of the library.

Investing in the Future
      We were also able to announce several other large donations received in the month of October. A longtime APRL member donated $100,000 for the second straight
      year. He has requested that his generosity remain anonymous, but those contributions have been among the donations that have made the new library possible.

The APRL also received a $50,000 donation from Don Sundman and Mystic Stamp Company. Don generously offered a $50,000 reward for each of the two missing stamps of the McCoy Block back in 2014. Earlier this year, he paid the reward for the missing Position 76 stamp recovered at the WSS-NY 2016 just two days before the reward offer was set to expire. During the press conference, Don also announced he would extend the reward offer to the end of the year. He has now donated the full amount of the reward to the APRL and, if the stamp is recovered by the end of 2016, we will pay the reward. If the stamp does not turn up, the APRL can extend the reward into 2017 or use the funds for other purposes.
      Thanks to Don’s generosity, the APRL has a valuable stamp in hand and we’ve been able to promote one of the greatest philatelic whodunits in history.
      Finally, the first dividends from WSS-NY 2016 are coming to the APS. We have received two $25,000 challenge donations — each to be matched dollar for dollar by our own fundraising efforts to fund technology upgrades, including the APS website and more collector outreach through e-mail and social media as proposed in our Strategic Plan. I will discuss the other donation a little later in this column. We know more will be coming from WSS-NY 2016 in support of the APS and APRL, but these two seeds will definitely bloom for the hobby and the APS in the years to come.

Summit on the Future of Philately
      During the APRL Grand Open-ing weekend in Bellefonte, a Summit on the Future of Philately convened for a session on promoting the hobby, strengthening the market place, and building lasting partnerships among the philatelic community. The event was co-chaired by APS President Mick Zais and American Stamp Dealers Association President Mark Reasoner. Forty-two leaders in the philatelic community participated in the event, including representatives from the APS, U.S. Postal Service, National Postal Museum, national stamp collecting affiliates, national stamp dealers’ groups, and local chapter representatives.
      The meeting, which was broadcast live on Facebook and at facebook.com/american.philatelic.society/videos/, was a very productive start. To the credit of all of the participants, the discussion focused on positive directions we could take the hobby to be more inclusive of postal collectors of all types and do more outreach to non-traditional collectors and non-collectors where we might have natural appeal, such as seniors, veterans, and professional organizations.
      At the meeting, we were able to announce a $25,000 challenge donation from WSS-NY 2016 to be matched dollar for dollar by fundraising efforts to support a permanent philatelic council going forward. The group will include representatives from the APS, U.S. Postal Service, National Postal Museum, the American Topical Association, and national stamp dealers’ groups as a permanent body, plus other members from national stamp collecting groups, local clubs and chapters, and leaders from related hobbies, such as ephemera or postcards.
      The mission of the group will look at two very important challenges facing the hobby at large. First, whether we are best branded to represent all corners of the hobby. APS Vice President Trish Kaufmann raised the issue that postal history is a broader area that fits into our collecting world and provides an easily understandable brand for non-collectors. This idea was echoed by several participants. Second, is the state of the market today. While stamp shows and traditional dealers are well known among members of organized philately, stamp sales occur in other forums, especially online. So many of these buyers do not belong to organized philately because they do not necessarily see a value in services provided. This group can assess the marketplace and the participants and determine how their needs can and should be met among the organized groups.

A Building for Our Future
      We hosted a grand opening of the new library facility on Saturday, October 29 — a day after the 48th anniversary of the founding of the APRL. According to local media reports, there were approximately 300 people on hand, including members from as far away as California and Oregon. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was the official event, with APRL President Roger Brody and APS President Mick Zais cutting the ribbon, actually a coil of stamps, to officially open the library.

A clear sign of how important this event is at both the national and local level, several federal and local officials joined us for the event. Speaking at the ceremony were U.S. Representative Glenn G.T. Thompson of Pennsylvania (Fifth Congressional District), Centre County commissioners Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins, Bellefonte Borough Vice President Randy Brachbill, USPS Director of Stamp Services Mary-Anne Penner, and former APS Executive Director and Ambassador Bob Lamb. [Additional photos from the weekend’s festivities can be seen in the Philatelic Happenings column in this issue.]
      It was truly an honor to have so many members and friends from the community turn out for the event, and thanks to the amazing staff of the APS and APRL for all the hard work they put into making the event memorable. Special thanks go to APS staffers Ken Martin, Tara Murray, Megan Orient, and Jay Bigalke for all of the planning. Also, many thanks to Scott Tiffney, Betsy Gamble, Fred Baumann, and Krystal Harter, our amazing library staff, for all the hard work in getting the library ready for the big day.
      We’ve received overwhelming thanks and positive comments from the experience of all of our visitors who joined us.
      For those who were not able to be here for the grand opening, you have an excellent resource in Bellefonte to see in person. Not only that, but all of our visitors get the red-carpet treatment. You can get a tour, visit Circuit Sales, research in the library, view the reference collection, buy stamps and covers, and visit the historic Headsville Post Office — and that’s just at the APC. Bellefonte, just 10 miles from State College, is a wonderful community and proud to be home to the world’s largest stamp collector organization. We have great partnerships with local hotels and we are readily accessible by planes, trains, and automobiles — and even great bus service. We hope you will visit us soon.
      Now that the library is completed, we can turn our attention from building a home to building a future.
      The year 2016 has been a tremendous year for the hobby, from WSS-NY 2016, to recovering an Inverted Jenny and seeing Siegel Auctions sell one for a record-breaking $1.35 million; from celebrating the 130th anniversary of the APS, the National Postal Museum’s successful fundraising to ensure the William H. Gross Gallery has a reliable financial support into the future, to the grand opening of the new research library in Bellefonte.
      Each one of these moments is another permanent marker for the world of stamp collectors yet-to-be to find, learn, and grow in the hobby. We can, and should, keep this momentum and excitement going into 2017, and after all the team work and leadership we’ve seen, I believe the future is indeed promising for our hobby.

If you have thoughts you want to share, please feel free to contact me at scott@stamps.org.

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