Back in March 2022, we published our issue “A Guide to Stamp Basics.” This month we’re returning to that fertile ground to cover some of what we missed or skipped last time.
Our first article is by Tom Bieniosek, both a member of our APRL board and a regular (and upcoming) instructor for Summer Seminar. Bieniosek covers condition, everything you need to know about the wear and tear of the stamps in your collection, all of those normal, everyday minute differences that make the difference between a stamp you really prize, and one that you’d pass over purchasing. I was extremely impressed by the amount of time Tom put in searching for stellar worldwide examples of the conditions you might run into.
In our next article, A.J. Valente, author of the award-winning exhibit “History and Technology of the American Paper Industry in the 1800s,” walks readers through how the paper manufacturing developed in early America, from small handmade paper mills to the technological advancements of the Fourdrinier machine. Valente shows early paper examples used by the mills to send letters, stamps that were printed on this early paper, and more. Editing this article was difficult for me, considering my inexplicable compulsion to capitalize the word “mills.”
Our next article is in three parts, with three contributing authors: Randy Shoemaker, Richard Debney, and C. Lundberg. We asked these experts what they would consider the most frequent or most dangerous alterations they run across in their areas of expertise, U.S., British, and Italian stamps, respectively. Everyone interpreted the assignment differently. From Shoemaker, we have part one of two about expertizing U.S. stamps. Part one shares a lot of general wisdom that is applicable across the board – tools of the trade, reference materials, and, quite simply, how you should set up your desk in order to save yourself some back and eye strain! From Debney, some of the more dangerous forgeries he’s run across in his study of the British Empire, specifically Cape of Good Hope stamps, forgeries of which are usually easy to spot. Finally, from Lundberg, the most frequently seen alterations common to Italy stamps – added perforations, added overprints, and fake cancels.
When Ron Lesher heard that we’re going “Back to Basics,” the only choice was to share how 1898 Battleship documentary stamps – one of the most popular revenue collecting areas – can be collected in so many varied ways. Just like postage stamps, you can go as deep and specialized, or wide as you like while collecting these revenues.
New columnist Charles Epting posted an image of this puzzling cover on Twitter.
I’m excited to introduce a new regular columnist this month. You’ve met him before in these pages. Charles Epting introduces “The Letter Opener,” a new monthly column covering everything you want to know about understanding postal history. A few weeks ago on Twitter, Charles shared a (frankly intimidating) cover (previous page), with the question, “How would you begin to decipher the rates, routes and markings of this cover?” Starting this month, these are the kinds of questions Charles will tackle.
In celebration of a major anniversary being celebrated this year in the first day cover collecting world, Lloyd de Vries (president of the American First Day Cover Society) shares the basics of collecting FDCs. Modern first day covers have been around for 100 years – part of its appeal lies not only in collecting, but in creation!
Finally, Wayne Youngblood wrote (yes, a month early, and you won’t see him next month) on the topic of expertizing. His message is, “Expertizers, like all humans, are fallible.” All expertizing organizations have errors in their history. Collectors should approach the topic with open eyes.
The coming summer is a big one for our education department. June 12-16 is Summer Seminar, the first in-person seminar held since 2019. It’s been a sad few years without philatelists flooding the building every June, so I’m looking forward to meeting you all again in person next month. There’s still time to sign up (www.stamps.org/Summer-Seminar), and several of our authors in this issue are teaching courses or giving presentations: Tom Bieniosek, Ron Lesher, Wayne Youngblood, and Charles Epting.
In July, we’re holding the annual Volunteer Work Week. We welcome folks near and far to travel to the APS to volunteer in person. It’s a week of hard work – but our volunteers help us make massive progress through some of our big projects, such as organizing stamp and literature donations. We can’t do these things on our own – join us July 17-21, www.stamps.org/learn/volunteer-work-week.
I also want to point you to page 421. YPLF applications are due soon. If you don’t know, the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship is a one-year program for young stamp collectors 16-24 years old. Over the course of a year, fellows attend shows and Summer Seminar, learn philatelic skills from a mentor, and become immersed in the philatelic world. If you are or know of a young collector who might be interested, please point them our way.
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 stamps.org 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.
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.