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Sharing Stamp Stories

Fifty-Year Member Brings Stamps to a New Generation

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     F rom my first column, I have invited our members to share their stories because each of us brings something uniquely different to the hobby and the American Philatelic Society. I get e-mails, letters, and even phone calls from members who have been collecting for months, years, even decades. Each year, we contact members who are about to celebrate 25 and 50 years with the APS and invite them to receive their recognition at one of our general membership meetings at AmeriStamp Expo and StampShow. Usually, I get responses letting me know which show they will attend or to see if there is another way to get the pin or medal. One response opened the door to something completely different.

     Fifty-year member Norm Starr contacted me to say he was not sure if he could make it to Reno. “Our challenge is our 14-month-old daughter.” Norm and I exchanged e-mails and he shared a picture of him and his lovely daughter, Sadie, at the stamp album when she was 4 months old. She was “moisturizing” the hinges he shared. Okay, you immediately have my attention!
      So, I contacted Norm to get more of his story. Like many of our members, his father encouraged him to collect from a young age and, like many collectors, took a break in his 20s and came back to it in his 30s. Norm’s father passed away in 1991 and collecting has been “an obsession to this day.” He proudly noted his tongs are more than 60 years old. His collection, primarily worldwide from 1840 to 1940, provides him with a happy challenge, second only to fatherhood.
      When we talked, Norm described himself as a “lone wolf” collector who has been an active user of APS services, especially Circuit Sales and StampStore. With Circuit Sales, he noted that he finds a lot of good stuff and “some nice surprises” from the books. He tells me the StampStore works well for him because he buys whole sets and can get rid of his extras and put some extra money in his pocket very easily.
      At 78, Norm is still active with real estate, and stamps (and crossword puzzles) allows him to keep learning and is a great break from all that life throws his way. He’s been married for about 14 years, and with his wife has been able to visit some other parts of the world. He noted that stamp dealers in Europe are not as customer-service oriented as the collectors he deals with in the United States. On a recent trip to Lisbon, Portugal, he walked by a stamp store and had to go in because it was a familiar connection.
      Of course, we talked about Sadie, his daughter. “She keeps me young,” he shared, noting she is fast with her hands, so he has to be careful when showing her the stamps. I asked him about getting young people involved in the hobby. Norm said that the pace of life is so quick that the patience required is a challenge. But, he hopes that if she sees him doing it she might pick it up.
      Norm is planning on leaving the collection with her — so he wants her to be as familiar with the collection as possible. He did tell me he promised his wife he would live to be 120 years old and given all that Norm has done to 78, I believe it wasn’t an empty promise. We are hoping to meet Norm and his family at AmeriStamp Expo in Reno to join many other members who have reached the 25- and 50-year milestone. Hope you can join us.

Council on Postal Collectors
      In December, the Council on Postal Collectors convened its first telephonic meeting to organize and establish some goals. Participating in the first call were APS President Mick Zais, Vice President Trish Kaufmann, American Topical Association President Dale Smith, American Stamp Dealers Association President Mark Reasoner, National Stamp Dealers’ Association President Dick Kostka, and U.S. Postal Service Director of Stamp Services Mary-Anne Penner.
      We reviewed two previous efforts, the Council of Philatelic Organizations from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, and Shaping the Future of Philately Commission, which popped up in the middle of the last decade. Though both efforts can claim some success, the CPC determined that its goals would support promoting the hobby, not attempt to replace or duplicate efforts of other organizations.
      Toward that end, there are two projects that require some inter-hobby cooperation that will get immediate attention: targeting online collectors that have not actively joined organized philately, and cross-pollinating with other collectors to promote stamp collecting.
Dale Smith and Trish Kaufmann are spearheading efforts to perform outreach through other societies and hobbies by writing articles connecting with stamp collecting.
      The second group will focus on identifying ways to connect with active stamp collectors who are buying and selling on the Internet. This will be a challenge. The APS has tried pilot programs to reach out to stamp buyers on eBay, and other groups have tried to streamline and improve their digital presence in the hopes of drawing a larger audience. As with all collectors, we have to determine how organized philately can meet their collecting needs. With the survey of members and non-members now complete, we will be looking for information that might guide the APS and others into successfully reaching out.
      We will keep members posted on the council’s activities at our website, stamps.org.

Reference Collection Grows(And How You Can Help)
      In my December column, I highlighted a very generous donation of French material to the APS Reference Collection. This is a growing collection of stamps available for our experts to compare stamps against to help APS members combat fakes, frauds, and forgeries.
      The collection has been built over the years, thanks to the generosity of our members who have donated material for the benefit of all APS members.
      In light of that column and the cover story on expertizing in December, APS members have been asking how they can help with the reference collection. Below is a short-list of the in-demand items we could use to enhance the collection and assist our experts and members in identifying stamps:
United States Issues (Mint or Used) Needed
• Almost any of the Postmasters’ Provisionals
• Any of the scarcer types of the 1-cent 1851 issue
• The plum shade of either Scott 11 or 11A
• From the 1857 issue, 19, 25a, 31, and 34
• Any of the 1875 and 1880 Special Printings or Re-Issues
• Any of the 1867 A, B, C, D and Z-grills
• Banknote issues with H-grill, 139 through 140 and 142 through 144
• Banknote issues with I-grill, 134a through 139a
• 4-cent Columbian blue error 233a
• Any of the 1909 blue paper varieties from 359–363
• The 1919 Victory stamp shade, 537a, b, and c
• Newspaper stamps PR4 through PR6
• Confederate states 9 and 10
• Hawaii 5 and 6 and just about any of the Numeral issues

Worldwide Stamps:
• Canada Scott 5, 8, 10, 12, and 13
• Canada 16, black brown shade
• Canada 61–63 (unused if possible)
• Any of the air post semi-official stamps
• Cape of Good Hope 176 through 180
• Fiji 1 through 9
• Finland 1 through 3
• Monaco 9 and 10
• Poland 77 and 78
• San Marino, 22 and 24
• Switzerland: any of the Cantonal issued from Zurich, Geneva and Basel.

      While the stamps do not have to be in very fine condition, severe defects will have limited use for our experts. As stamps are added to the collection or additional stamps are identified as needed, we will continue to update the information at stamps.org/reference-collection. For more information, you can also contact Mercer Bristow, at mercer@stamps.org or 814-933-3803, ext. 205.

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