In late August, we held our annual show and meeting at the Great American Stamp Show in Sacramento, California. We were again honored to cosponsor the show with our friends at the American Topical Association and the American First Day Cover Society. We’re also thankful for our show's sponsors, including the United States Postal Service.
Our annual show was not immune to the travel costs and COVID concerns that have affected so many stamp shows since we emerged from the pandemic. Over four days, we welcomed 1,600 attendees to the show, down from 2,500 at our 2021 Chicago show and 2,200 at our 2019 Omaha show.
This annual show is not possible without the support of the dealers who travel from coast-to-coast to support it. Thank you to the great partnerships developed with the ATA and AFDCS to make the show an experience for all attendees. The ATA booth was themed perfectly for Sacramento with its tribute to the Old West. Thank you to the show volunteers, who work tirelessly to ensure the event goes off. Finally, thank you to the amazing APS staff that works behind the scenes and on the ground to pull off this event, specifically to Director of Membership and Shows Wendy Masorti, Membership and Shows Assistant Sarah Myers, and Director of Expertizing Ken Martin.
Stamp designer Tom Fritz speaks at the first day ceremony of the Pony Car stamps. Courtesy of Lloyd Chan.
First Day Ceremonies
For those in attendance, I hope you joined us for the Pony Cars Forever First Day ceremony. The ceremony's highlight was stamp artist Tom Fritz, who shared his process for turning the car images into lifelike renderings for the stamps. Thanks to a cooperative arrangement with the California Automobile Museum, we had muscle cars on the show floor, which attracted many philatelists to share some non-philatelic memories of their youth.
The Boston 2026 World Expo organizers organized a first day label ceremony to promote the upcoming international show in Boston to coincide with the semiquincentennial (250th anniversary) of our nation’s founding. If you have not signed up to get more information about the show, please visit Boston2026.org for all the news and information. You can sign up for the newsletter through the website for regular updates on the show's events.
The United Nations Postal Administration held a pre-launch ceremony for its World Heritage Great Spa Towns of Europe series introduced on September 9. Thanks to Jay Bigalke, editor-in-chief of Linn’s Stamp News and Scott catalogs, for organizing a great event. Greg Galletti, president of United Nations Philatelists, Inc., joined us for the event to promote UN collecting. I should note that UNPI is sponsoring UNEXPO 2023 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, on October 20-21, 2023, a two-day World Series of Philately event. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us next year for the show.
Awards and Recognitions
On Saturday, August 27, the APS held its annual General Membership meeting in the morning. During the meeting, we recognized 25- and 50-year members, Carter Award winners and heard reports from APS officers. The meeting was followed by a Town Hall meeting for APS members to ask questions and provide comments on member services.
Many 25- and 50-year members choose to receive their awards by mail, but we’re honored to have members join us to share in this milestone with the APS membership. This year, we recognized:
25-year Members 50-year Members
Gary Bates Ted Bahry
Peter Beck Eric Borsting
Rene H. Bravo Frederic L. Danes
Randall J. Brown Eric A. Jackson
Emmet C. Eckman III Brian L. Kuehl
Ralph Gowen Robert (Bob) Lamb
Brian F. Jones
Persis J. (Perky) Ramroth
Among our 50-year members who attended are some familiar names. There was Ted Bahry, who was instrumental in raising funds for the Gung Ho Room at the American Philatelic Center. The room honors the men and women who have proudly represented our nation in the United States military and includes some great postal history over the years. Also on hand was Eric Jackson, a member of the APS Expert Committee and the Dealer Representative to our Board of Directors.
Finally, there was our former Executive Director, Ambassador Robert E. Lamb. Most of you read Bob’s column, Worldwide in a Nutshell, in the pages of our journal, one of the most popular reads in the monthly magazine. We also recognized Bob with the Kehr Award for his work in bringing new and young collectors into the hobby. Bob, who still resides near our headquarters, has also been a great friend since I arrived at the APS. He has generously offered his insights and wisdom whenever I ask, and I’ve not been afraid to ask. It’s been my honor to get to know Bob over the years, and I cannot thank him enough for all he does for the hobby.
Champion of Champions winner Vince King.
In the August issue, you read about the 2022 Nicholas G. Carter Volunteer Awards honorees. The award bears the name of former APS President Nick Carter, who believed we must recognize volunteers throughout the hobby for their contributions. Joining us in Sacramento to receive their awards:
William T. (Bill) Harris for National Service. Bill is president of the Allentown Philatelic Society.
Cathleen F. (Cathie) Osborne for Local Service. Cathie is the Secretary/Treasurer/Show Chair for the Strait Stamp Society and is quite active in the hobby in the Pacific Northwest.
David and Trice Klauber for Local Service. David is the editor of the Poway Stamp Club newsletter, and Trice organizes the bid boards for the club. They brought several generations of family members to the show!
In July, I presented the Carter Award for Local Service to Beatrice Adams, president of the North Carolina chapter of ESPER at CHARPEX. In September, I traveled to BALPEX to present the Carter Award for Local Service to Clarence McKnight, webmaster for ESPER, who has done an outstanding job of building their engaging site for all collectors. We will present the remaining Carter Awards to the recipients at events around the country.
GASS Exhibits, Lit Awards
StampShow (sponsored by APS)
Multiframe Grand & Large Gold: P.D. Allen, “Outgoing Victorian Indian Mail from October 1854-July 1876.”
Multiframe Reserve Grand & Large Gold: Daniel J. Ryterband, “The U.S. 1847 Issue: America's First Stamps.” Ryterband’s exhibit was also selected as the Most Popular.
Single Frame Grand & Large Gold: David Zemer, “PANAMA - The American Bank Note Company 1909 1c Balboa Stamp.”
National Topical Stamp Show (sponsored by ATA)
Multiframe Grand & Large Gold: Norma Nielson, “The Story of Lloyd's: From Coffee to Commerce.”
Multiframe Reserve Grand & Large Gold: Greg Herbert, “An ancient connection, an uncertain future. Butterflies, moths, and man.”
Most Popular: Dawn Hamann, “Abraham Lincoln’s Life & Legacy.”
Single Frame Grand & Large Gold: Mark Maestrone, “Men's Gymnastics: Dressed to Win.”
Americover (sponsored by AFDCS)
Multiframe Grand & Large Gold: Charles J. O’Brien, III, “Georgia Bicentennial.”
Multiframe Reserve Grand & Large Gold: Rick Gibson, “Smokey Bear Issue of 1984.”
Most Popular: Mark Thompson, “Women of the Black Heritage Issue: From the Fields of Slavery to the Halls of Congress.”
Single Frame Grand & Gold: Anthony F. Dewey, “The 1¢ Cent UN First Issue of 1951 and Its First Day - Solo Use.”
Literature Exhibition (sponsored by APS, ATA, and AFDCS)
Literature Grand & Large Gold: David Spivack, “British South Africa Company King George V Admiral Stamps 1913-1924.”
Literature Reserve Grand & Large Gold: Steven C. Walske, “Mails of the 1861-1867 European Intervention in Mexico.”
Hal Vogel, honored for Distinguished Philatelic Research, signs the Luff Scroll.
James Milgram accepts the Charles J. Peterson award for Philatelic Literature Life Achievement.
At our Saturday evening banquet, we honored several outstanding philatelists profiled in our awards announcements in the August issue of the journal. Due to unforeseen events, two of our Luff honorees, Jacquelyn Alton, Exceptional Contributions to the Hobby, and Kenneth Nilsestuen, Outstanding Service to the Society, could not attend the dinner in Sacramento. It was an honor to recognize them at the annual Chicagopex banquet on November 19. However, Hal Vogel, recognized for Distinguished Philatelic Research, was present to sign the Luff Scroll in Sacramento. Dr. James Milgram received the Charles J. Peterson Philatelic Literature Life Achievement Award. John Birkinbine, the John Walter Scott Dealer Award winner, cannot travel at this time, but we’re thankful for his years of contributions to the hobby.
The Great American Stamp Show is home to three separate World Series of Philately events. Thank you to all the exhibitors who participated and to the amazing work of the GASS jury for undertaking the mission. Congratulations to the winners in each exhibition, as listed in the sidebar on page 1095.
Champion of Champions
The evening concluded with the hobby’s top exhibiting prize, the Benjamin and Naomi Wishnietsky Multiframe Champion of Champions. This year, the Silver Cup went to Vince King for his exhibit, “In the Beginning...Timbromanie, How the Proliferation of Postage Stamps Started a Collecting Revolution.”
In January, King’s exhibit won the grand at the Sarasota National Stamp Expo. His exhibit was selected as the most popular exhibit at StampShow 2021. At the awards banquet, Vince was surrounded by friends and family, whom he thanked for supporting him in his hobby and exhibiting. Congratulations to Vince, and we’re so glad he was able to celebrate this great accomplishment with those who supported him along the way.
A Proposal to Merge the APS and the ASDA
In September, I outlined a proposed merger of the APS and the American Stamp Dealers Association to the respective Boards of each organization. The proposal represents a starting point for a discussion. Still, any final decision will require a deeper examination of the ASDA financial and membership information before the two organizations work to put a detailed plan together.
The proposal comes from years of research and discussion with APS members, dealers, and others on the state of the hobby. It recognizes three fundamental issues we are confronting today and in the future:
The changing nature of the marketplace.
Though many collectors still attend stamp shows, a great deal of buying and selling stamps occurs online. One of the pillars of the APS at its founding was: “It will be able to cope with and hold in check the dealers in counterfeit stamps, who are now the pests of collectors.” Even though those words were written in 1886, the same challenge exists today.
Collectors can browse hundreds of thousands of stamps to purchase through several platforms, such as eBay, HipStamp, and others. Though the APS pioneered the online sales space with StampStore more than two decades ago, the impact and appeal were smaller than those of other sites. I outlined moving our StampStore platform to HipStamp to expand the value of our Code of Ethics to online buyers not already familiar with the APS.
Today, anyone with a scanner and an internet connection can sell stamps without going through a third party. How important are the professional standards, accountability, and knowledge of each seller, and does it matter if the buyer can distinguish between a knowledgeable seller and bad actors who intend harm? I believe there is value in that, and we should be willing to enter this territory with a plan and with as many allies as possible.
Greg Galletti attends the pre-launch ceremony for the UN’s World Heritage - Great Spa Towns of Europe issue. Photo courtesy of Lloyd Chen.
The changing nature of organized philately.
Alexis de Tocqueville writes in Democracy in America,
“In the United States, as soon as several inhabitants have taken an opinion or an idea they wish to promote in society, they seek each other out and unite together once they have made contact. From that moment, they are no longer isolated but have become a power seen from afar whose activities serve as an example and whose words are heeded.”
In the founding of a national organization of philatelists, the proposal stated: “’In union there is strength,’ and in the matter of stamp collecting, it will be found that old adage holds just as good as ever it did in another case.”
Organized philately at the national level has served the hobby well, and as members of the APS, you should be proud of our history on behalf of stamp collecting. Since our founding, several other institutions have come to the stage. As time has progressed and fewer collectors joined the organized side of the hobby, we’ve all been limited in our reach and impact. The challenge posed to us is whether we’re satisfied with spending money on duplicative administrative costs without improving our reach to those outside our organizational memberships.
The aging pool of experts and dealers.
Our Expert Committee has more than 180 members with countless decades of experience in the field. Unfortunately, time stands still for none of us, and we will start experiencing losses that will be harder to replace. The value of the American Philatelic Expertizing Service is to provide our fellow members the comfort of knowing they’ve purchased the item as described or the right to return it if it’s not. Though we don’t always serve the wealthiest clients in the hobby, APEX has afforded thousands of APS members peace of mind for those higher-than-usual purchases.
It takes years for a philatelist to gain the knowledge necessary to offer expert opinions. For years, dealers have been an important part of that process. Late last year, Stanley Piller, president of the ASDA, passed away. Stanley was one of our classic U.S. experts and offered great insight into stamps for our certificates, and he will not be easily replaced. Ultimately, how many Stanley Pillers will we lose before we recognize that now is the time to invest in educating and training the next generation of experts who will serve future collectors?
In the show’s dealer bourse, Stamp Art welcomes customers.
From the Youth Area, hosted by the APS Education department.
I outlined several items to address these concerns:
Merging the ASDA with the existing APS Dealer Program to provide a coalition of dealers to move forward on creating a branded alliance to provide buyer confidence under the APS Code of Ethics.
Add an Alliance director to manage the dealer program and our annual stamp show. The current ASDA Executive Director previously worked for the APS as Shows Director.
Revise the Dealer Advisory Committee to help coordinate dealer and collector interest programs and help develop online education programs for buyers and sellers.
Create an Institute of Philately. We need to build a centralized resource to improve professional dealer standards and develop our next generation of experts.
Bring the American Stamp Collector & Dealer to the APS membership through a discounted subscription and provide magazine options for the future.
My proposal is a starting point to explore whether the merger makes sense and what it might look like if we proceed. We’ve already received input, and I expect more before we even proceed to discussions.
We live by the adage, “Measure twice, cut once.” Before I even propose to the Board to open actual discussions, we have more due diligence to perform. A deeper dive into membership and financial information will determine whether the merger is possible. If that review provides enough rationale to move ahead, the APS Board will act to initiate the formal discussions and appoint a group to discuss details. Only after the group has a proposal in hand would the APS Board consider a more specific vote to proceed with the merger.
There are many checkpoints along the way, and we expect APS members to share their ideas and expectations to ensure this is the best move for the APS and the hobby. Under no circumstances would I propose a plan that would water down the APS Code of Ethics or require investment from Society members. If those two simple conditions cannot be met, then, in my opinion, the merger is not the best move for us.
In the meantime, we welcome your thoughts on the challenges discussed above and the proposed merger.