This issue is all about East Asia philately. We learned back in September 2022 with the British Empire issue that readers enjoy this kind of theme; I later received requests to cover Germany and and its colonial empire, the Middle East, British North America, and others with a similar treatment. With that in mind we planned the East Asia issue.
We relied on our affiliates, Korea Stamp Society, International Society for Japanese Philately, and China Stamp Society. Thank you to Tony Bard, Bob Finder, Yong Sok Yi, and Ivo Spanjersberg (KSS); Ken Bryson (ISJP); and Hugh Lawrence and Jim Maxwell (CSS) for their assistance in this issue. We had many fruitful back-and-forths during the editing process.
East Asia is a geographical classification (unlike the British Empire issue, which was a geopolitical grouping). For the purposes of this issue, we considered East Asia to include North Korea, South Korea, Japan, People’s Republic of China, and Republic of China (Taiwan). Yet, as you’ll see, there’s no simple, cut-and-dry boundary that separates the history (and therefore philately) of one country within the East Asia grouping from another.
Take for example Robert Finder’s article on the Korea missionaries, which takes place in Korea during the Japanese occupation era, 1905 to 1945. Or, take Hugh Lawrence’s article on China air letter sheets, which takes place during and after China’s third civil war, when the Republic of China was established on Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China on the mainland. Years of wars, changing boundaries, expanding and contracting empires, are happening in the backdrop of the articles in this issue.
Sometimes these conflicts take center stage in the authors’ narrative, and we see exactly how a policy, or a military decision, directly affects the philately. Sometimes the authors touch on the background, enough to understand that important things are happening that shaped the stamps and postal history that we collect.
The balance of context to philately is a challenge for me. I sometimes think, how could you write an article and leave out the complex historical context? Do philatelists too often ignore the forest for the trees? But the articles in this issue are very aware of the forest, and enjoy the trees as well.
I hope you enjoy these tastes of East Asia philately. I look forward to your feedback at [email protected].
Speaking of forests and trees, this issue features an article that was a long time in the works: Noel Vaughn’s “The Case of the Curious Ink Spot.” Noel is the great-grandson of Eugene Donze, who during the rail strike of 1894 developed local post stamps for use in a temporary bicycle relay system to deliver the mail. Noel found an unusual ink spot on some of these stamps (right), and after some detective work, used the spots to rethink prior published conclusions about the printing dates of the stamps. Yes – the ink spot is small. This is what some would call “fly specking” (and what I have in the past called “not seeing the forest for the leaves”). But it’s fascinating to see the deductive process unfold, and realize that some really small evidence can turn a settled conclusion all the way around.
I’m excited to announce another brand new monthly column, “The Marketplace.” We’ve learned from surveys and feedback that readers are hungry for discussions about acquiring and disposing of stamps, whether it’s advice about the online marketplace, auction talk, how to navigate mail order sales, or any other means of collection. Our columnist, Matthew Liebson, will draw upon his experience as a collector, author, exhibitor, accredited judge, and dealer – and he welcomes discussion ideas and questions from readers for future columns, which can be addressed to [email protected], subject line “Marketplace.”
We also welcome Charles Epting’s second monthly column, “The Letter Opener,” on a difficult topic, freight money letters. Charles’ goal is to take complicated postal history concepts and make them accessible and understandable. This month’s column is handy for understanding those tricky transatlantic ship letters.
A sad loss
I was very saddened to learn of Lawrence Mead’s death in April. Lawrence was one of the first authors I ever worked with when I became assistant editor. I remember it vividly, as we had just starting working from home during the pandemic’s earliest days, and I was feeling lost without easy access to the library or my colleagues. Lawrence came through for me. He and I talked for hours, working through this problem and that. Again, these were the earliest days in my career here – I’d only talked to authors through email before, and still felt nervous about my place in the wider philatelic world – and he was so kind. That experience strongly affected how I felt about working here at the APS. He was a wonderful friend of the AP.
The American Philatelist relies on its advertisers. The folks whose ads you see in our pages are APS members, dealers, and societies, held to our high ethical standards. Take some time to read through the ads this month, visit some websites, and most importantly – tell them you saw their ad in the AP!
Please keep your feedback coming and share your views. Remember: if you wish to see an always-improving American Philatelist, you – our readers and APS members – must become a part of this exciting journey. Reach out with your questions, concerns, and suggestions. Write a letter to the editor ([email protected]). More importantly, volunteer to participate. This is your American Philatelist. My email is [email protected]. Letters by regular mail are always welcome and will be responded to in kind.
Call for Writers
The American Philatelist
depends on our members, who provide much of the content of this magazine. I’d like to encourage more members to join our roster of philatelic writers for The American Philatelist
, Philatelic Literature Review
, and the APS website. We are glad to review article proposals and submissions. The editorial team considers articles on any philatelic topic, but is especially interested in topics on U.S. stamps and postal history. Send your proposal or submission by email to [email protected]
. For more information about APS writing guidelines, visit aps.buzz/writeap