The APS Expert Committee includes about 180 APS members. Many also serve on Expert Committees for other organizations and most review items from only a single country. The services of about 50 different experts are used for United States stamps, with one expert that reviews only colors and shades for two Scott catalog numbers and many experts who advise only for a single series such as Columbians or Washington/Franklins, or single area such as parcel post, postal stationery or revenues. We hope you enjoy our brief interview with Doc Pepper, an APS expert for U.S. newspaper stamps.
In His Own Words
How did you get started collecting stamps? How long have you collected stamps?
When I was 8 years old, my dad bought me a little stamp album and a packet of stamps. Fifty-six years later I’m still going strong! I still remember a couple of stamps from that very first packet.
How did you choose your philatelic specialties?
I collected general world until college. By that point, my parents were divorced and I was no longer in contact with my dad, but I remember him commenting how much he liked the U.S. revenue stamps so I started to specialize in them. Soon I gravitated to U.S. newspaper stamps just because I liked how they look. I then became fascinated with trying to “figure them out,” along with their variations, history, and facsimiles.
Have you written any philatelic articles or books? Have you exhibited?
I have never exhibited but I do have a web page, (http://unicornhall.com/NewsPaperStamps/) and four publications on the newspaper stamps. I’ve written United States Newspaper Stamps: 1865-1895 - The Regulars, which supplements the Scott Specialized Catalog newspaper section. It covers additional information, clarifies and corrects catalog information. United States Newspaper Stamps: 1865-1895 - The Proofs is a study of the newspaper die proofs, plate proofs, and printings. United States Newspaper Stamps: 1875-1885 - The Facsimiles is a study of the small newspaper stamp facsimiles. And United States Newspaper Stamps: 1865-1869 - The Forgeries types all the large newspaper stamp forgeries and explains how to tell them apart from each other and from the regular issues.
The manuals also serve as an on-going knowledge base for me. I update them frequently as I learn new information, with the most recent revision in May 2021 for The Facsimiles.
What is the single most important resource to you in expertizing stamps?
This question is easy. The answer is my own collection. Expertizing newspaper stamps can be very tricky and I’ve spent a lot of time comparing examples and sets. Identifying a PR83 may be hard by itself, but when placed among a set of PR63 to PR70, it jumps out. Especially difficult are the PR33-PR40 special printings. Having unused PR9-15s without gum is extremely helpful. What I don’t have much knowledge on is “re-gummed” stamps. I would sure like a re-gummed PR9-23 if anyone has one!
What is your favorite philatelic item?
To check the condition of the 1865 PR1-3 plates before the “Roosevelt Albums” were made in 1903, two black “ink tests” from each plate were pulled. At least 5 of these 6 printings still exist)! (I have three of them and will trade my second PR1 for a PR2).