In the editorial department, months blur into each other. It seems like just last week I was preparing the program for Great American Stamp Show (in reality, late June/early July), and now I’m working on the budget and finalizing next year’s editorial calendar. And – like clockwork – it’s soon time to begin planning the APS staff holiday party. Give me strength!
Does it get calmer for anyone in the fall? I hope so, and hope that for many of you the busyness of the season fades into quieter, more thoughtful times. The colder months afford some of us a chance to reset, to sit down and work on longer term projects, spend thoughtful hours doing research, and think more clearly about problems that require a different wavelength. I hope this opportunity doesn’t pass you by this November, and I will do my best to not let it pass me by, either. After all there is more than enough here at the APS that requires careful attention, the most important of which is your magazine and how we can make it the best it can be.
As ever, I welcome your thoughts, criticisms, and suggestions on that subject. Many hands make light work, and just as we rely on you as authors of these articles, so also we rely on your insight into what makes the magazine work!
In this issue
As we wrap up 2022, I am very glad to be bringing you an increased variety of articles in this and next month’s issues. This is in part due to some calls that you have read in the letters to the editor for fewer themed issues and more varied topics. I understand this preference, just as I understand the people who have expressed to me their enjoyment of the themed issues. In 2023, I’ll be taking both perspectives into account – there will continue to be ambitious themed issues, as well as issues that travel around the world and across time and varied interests. The AP should never be one-note, especially not in the themed issues.
To begin, Henry Scheuer returns to our pages with a magnificent two-parter that he researched and wrote for the 100th year anniversary of modern first day cover collecting. At the end of 1921, the Philatelic Sales Agency was formed, and in 1922 began the widespread coordination and promotion of new stamp issues – allowing for the similarly widespread preparation by collectors of first day covers. In celebration of this centenary, Henry talked about “the before-times” – how our philatelic predecessors collected designated first day usages in those earliest decades of stamp issues. Part 1 is heavily researched and sprinkled with philatelic forebears, both iconic and lesser-known. Part 2 will appear in the December issue.
Next we travel to the Pacific Theater in World War II, specifically two remote Alaskan islands that were occupied by Japanese soldiers. Don Glickstein shares photos and relics, as well as a brief retelling of the American military’s retaking of the islands.
The following several articles in the issue are a brief return to the topic of auctions. The June 2021 issue of The American Philatelist was The Definitive Auction Issue, but in fact we found there was more to define. As a side note, you’ll see us coming back to these topics – not just auctions, but buying and selling, catalogs, basics, building your collection, the philatelic community – many more times, albeit in briefer segments than our major, one-stop-shop issues. These are questions that always concern collectors, and from your responses we know that there is more to say. On a related note, I received a phone call a few weeks ago from a member who thought that a lot of the advice offered by our experts in the March 2021 Buyers’ Guide was a few decades out of date. Wow! So, in honor of the insight and interest you all have shared with us, we return now to the subject of auctions.
First we welcome Bob Rufe, who graciously spoke to me and Jeff Stage, drawing from his experiences selling through various auction houses. Bob is also a frequent auction buyer – after all, exhibitors constantly look for new material – but shared his insights into what potential sellers should consider. The upshot? Knowledge is power, if you want to maximize your returns. Thank you, Bob.
Matthew Healey is back again, soon after his first article in The AP in the September issue. Matthew’s main area of expertise is in writing about auctions, so we’re glad to have him back so soon to talk on the subject. Matthew, who writes a regular substack (an online newsletter, for those unaware) about auctions, contributed two brief articles for this issue. The first offers a historical perspective on the golden age of philatelic auctions. The second brings us to the present day, giving an update on the results of the second part of the Robert Mason auction, which was offered at Great American Stamp Show. The latter is especially exciting, as the Mason estate was generously donated to the APRL, and the proceeds support our library’s digitization project. As you’ll gather from Matthew’s coverage, Robert Mason’s legacy gave us a running start into this part of the APS’ future, turning a longterm goal into a reality.
Ron Lesher writes his column The Collector of Revenue every other month with us, and this month discusses beer stamps through a single, slightly obscure auction catalog that as it happens is the single best resource about this area of revenues. It’s a slim and unassuming catalog, labeled Part Two, but houses in beautiful color the extremely thorough collection of Henry Tolman II – a giant in the revenue world. I’ve begun to call this issue “an ode to the simple auction catalog.”
And on that note – anyone who has spent more than a few minutes with Charles Epting has surely heard him wax poetic about auction catalogs. That’s my little joke – Charles, who hosts a podcast called Conversations with Philatelists with Michael Cortese, will gladly wax poetic about any given topic of philately; he’s an excellent conversationalist with a wide range of knowledge. Drawing from his career at H.R. Harmer, his observations of the catalogs he loves and keeps close by, and his own work developing auction catalogs meant to resonate and last, Charles shares “The Art of the Auction Catalog.” Few of us will ever be in a position like Charles’, to lot, describe and produce a catalog, but this peek behind the curtain offers some fascinating insights.
Finally, I will point out a few other items of note. First – Yamil Kouri represents the Boston 2026 international exhibition in writing “The Road to Boston 2026” in this issue. This is the first of many updates to come as the show develops. Take a look and keep apprised of their progress, because it will be a show to remember! Next, we are coming into membership renewal season. There is a reminder on page 988 - please, while the reminder is at the front of your mind, renew today!
In September, I invited you to tell me how your club or society is reaching out to new collectors, trying new things, keeping meetings fresh, and moving into the digital age. I have already received a few interesting responses and am looking for even more – my intention is to compile your insights and publish them together.
Many of you are working hard to make philately relevant, meaningful and community-oriented. Please let me know about your efforts at 814-933-3803, ext. 207, or at email@example.com. Along those lines and finally, I want to make you aware of a philatelic event that is extremely meaningful and relevant.
The NOJEX/ASDA Postage Stamp EXPO, which was held a few days after this writing, featured a special unveiling of a souvenir sheet of six labels “depicting the sailing and sinking of the Russian Flag Ship Moskva on April 14.” The unveiling was on October 14, the six-month anniversary.
The sheet is free with a donation, with all proceeds going to Assist-Ukraine.org, which supports the people who are still in Ukraine. ASDA President Irv Miller tells me that there should be enough sheets available that you (readers who were not able to attend) can donate and receive a sheet after the fact, while supplies last. Well done to all who were involved to make this happen, and I can’t wait to hear the result.
And now, my soapbox exhausted, I thank you for your attention and await your responses.
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 (LetterToTheEditor@stamps.org.) More importantly, volunteer to participate. This is your American Philatelist. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters by regular mail are always welcome and will be responded to in kind.