An APS member is taking over the APS Stamps YouTube page!
This playlist is created by Richard Morel, PhD, Curator of Philatelic Studies, British Library. Morel can be found on Twitter: @RichardScottMo3, on Facebook: Richard Scott Morel and on Instagram: @blphilatelic.
Dr. Morel joins us on APS Stamp Chat regularly both as a presenter and fellow participant. His ability to synthetisize cultural meaning, history, and art theory is extraordinary. His passion for philately runs deep. Richard became an APS member in 2020. We thank Dr. Morel for this fresh take on philatelic programming and new insight into the hobby.
"When the American Philatelic Society approached me to select my favourite ten YouTube videos on philately and postal history, I was deeply honoured yet at the same time somewhat apprehensive since such a task necessarily omits much content worthy for inclusion. Eclectic as the following selection may appear, each one is connected by intellectual interests, issues and concerns of interest to me during the course of my work and research. Historians are taught to try and understand any source material used in their research to better enable meaningful interpretation. In recent years there has been a growing body of academic literature using and discussing philatelic material, yet little of it actually demonstrates any knowledge about the design and production processes underlying a stamp’s creation, or how it is used. Knowledge about the security printing industry is fundamentally important. Being the bread and butter of philatelic research, there are real opportunities for philatelic institutions and societies to engage with academic organisations to make the subject more mainstream. With these points in mind I have selected the following videos which each focus on different aspects of stamp’s creation."
Richard Morel's APS YouTube Takeover Playlist:
Video 1. The American Philatelic Society Video ‘The Men Who Made the Stamps of the 1920s’ provides an excellent introduction to the history of stamp production in the United States during the 1920s.
Video 2. Likewise, the AARP Video ‘How Stamps Get Designed’ presented by the Stamp Designer Antonio Alcala offers valuable insights into the challenges and practicalities underlying the design processes for a stamp.
Video 3. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the United Kingdom was a real global leader in the security printing industry producing stamps and paper money for over one hundred different countries. The following British Pathe video ‘Foreign Stamps Aka Stamp Factory (1956)’ reveals a good range of traditional engraving and printing techniques less commonly encountered in modern stamp production.
Video 4. Many tend to assume such traditional techniques are endangered being replaced by modern computer-based technologies. The following CCTV English video ‘One in a Billion- Stamp Designer and Sculptor’ reveals this is not necessarily the case. It comprises an interview with Ms Dong Qi, a young female stamp engraver and designer for the People’s Republic of China. China has clearly invested in training their new younger generation of designers in traditional engraving techniques so the end is far from nigh for now. If you can read Chinese, I also strongly recommend her excellent book also promoted in the video. Moving on from videos relating to stamp production, my professional role involves assisting researchers and predicting (if this is ever possible) future research trends. Since stamps carry a diverse array of designs, and often issued to commemorate particular themes and events, they are inherently didactic and are potentially a great resource for classrooms. Don’t just take my word for it, ask Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand!
Video 5. With this point in mind, I was very impressed with David Strittmatter’s recent American Philatelic Society Stamp Chat ‘Stamps in College Classrooms.’ Using a range of interesting examples, he demonstrated again and again how this could be done.
Video 6. The American Philatelic Society presentation ‘The Future of Philatelic Research’ by Tasos Kalfas also looks at how online platforms can be used to deliver a range of research resources for researchers across the world and the future possibilities this presents. He makes many good points, and the necessity of such platforms has been demonstrated by the Covid-19 pandemic. He does however make one small yet crucial error regarding the Crawford Library. The digitised images and metadata were actually done by the British Library’s Philatelic Collections. The Royal Philatelic Society London host the images and the metadata on their online platform. The remaining videos focus on stamp collecting as well as the development and history of philately. The history of collecting is becoming a very popular branch of research in the academic and cultural sector, yet there as of yet no significant studies focusing on stamp collecting per se. There is a real opportunity to promote our material again to mainstream academic researchers in this area.
Video 7. The Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s video ‘Stamp Collecting’ interviews a range of individuals from all ages and walks of life discussing the various reasons of why they collect stamps and the communities they are a part of.
Video 8. Likewise, the video ‘Stamp Collecting & Inverted Jenny Plate Block Live Video’ interviews my friend Alex Haimann. Introducing several philatelic rarities from the United States of America, Alex demonstrates the importance of provenance whilst revealing that philately and stamp collecting is not exclusively the preserve of the pale, frail, male.
Video 9. No selection would be complete without including one of Graham’s pioneering and grounding breaking Exploring Stamps video. I have selected ‘Best Stamp Collecting Tongs/Tweezers.’ Individuals who do not collect stamps or study philately are often perplexed by the tools we utilise. Not only is this video hugely entertaining to watch, it is genius on two different levels. It provides a great practical introduction and advice to new collectors, but it also offers a historical record about some of the more niche aspects of philately’s material culture. I am very interested trying to think outside the box promoting the value of archival and literary sources to postal historians, whilst promoting philatelic and postal history material for different academic or intellectual disciplines.
Video 10. Several of my own academic papers and discussions have looked at the untapped research potential and postal history treasures contained in archival institutions across the world as well as how they can be used to broaden our knowledge considerably. I also try to promote the original and valuable contributions postal historical material can make to academic research. Consequently, I enjoyed Leon Reed’s American Philatelic Society Stamp Chat ‘Civil War Covers as Historical Documents’ which argues the same points.
Video 11. A couple of years ago I unsuccessfully tried to pitch for the British Library to host a performance arts event which was curated by stamps. My proposal was that any piece of music, dance or recital performed during the festival had to be introduced by a postage stamp. It may sound crazy, yet the following video ‘Post Horn Fanfare’ hosted by LZ126ZR3 hints at potential contributions philatelic and postal history material can make in the performing arts. Always think outside the box!