American Philatelic Society member Arnie Janson recently sent me a video published by British Pathé on Youtube. The video is from 1956 and shows the “stamp factory” Thomas De La Rue & Co. Ltd, London. There, we watch professionals as they hand-engrave, proof, print, and perforate the United Nations New York Scott 1 stamp, issued five years earlier. The link to watch this two minute video is here: https://aps.buzz/StampFactory.
A screenshot from the video shared by member Arnie Janson.
A 1950s relic, republished on Youtube in 2014, here reaches my desk in 2023. Such is the power of digital preservation, a topic near and dear to our hearts. It also makes me think of the power of “word of mouth.” This video came to me because one person wanted to share their enjoyment with others. It’s as simple as that!
Word of mouth is the most effective kind of marketing. A friend’s genuine recommendation of a podcast or book will spur me to check it out, far more than a traditional marketing campaign would. All it takes is an invitation, offered genuinely and without expectation.
I think stamp collectors are especially good at this, sharing their passion with others. This was my experience when I started spending time on social media with other collectors – the online community is large and continually growing. The same happened when I first started meeting collectors in person, at shows and at Summer Seminar.
It takes warmth and generosity to bring people into our collecting community. You can do it, too. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to invite them to join the APS.
What’s in this issue?
This issue includes a few brief tastes of how mail moved around the world before the era of postage stamps. There can be challenges in collecting and understanding this kind of material – non-standardized postal markings, rates and routes, for example, that must be interpreted. Preserving aging, fragile material is another. What percentage of centuries-old papers survive to the 21st century? A recent paper published in Science uses a statistical model to estimate that 90 percent of medieval European manuscripts have been lost over the ages – a massive and rich cultural tradition, lost forever. Extrapolate those numbers to those of our hobby, and questions of preservation become vital.
I’ll therefore begin by introducing one of our library staff, Alicia Leathers. Alicia has a background in preservation, and shared a few examples of what and what not to do to keep your materials safe for a longer time. One important point she made is that much conservation and preservation advice has been published over the years – and much has since been proven wrong. The preservation methods you learned many years ago might need to be updated.
We have an article from Mark Schwartz, who takes us to colonial Boston, on the edge of uprising. Mark uses a few very fine examples of folded letters to demonstrate how mail moved in the colonies before the American Revolution.
Art Bunce is an expert in the beautiful Cavallini lettersheets produced in Sardinia, Italy, in the early 1800s. Royal decree demanded that letters be mailed on official embossed paper – but the royal postal service played no role in delivering said letters. A nice money-making venture, to be sure!
Lawrence Mead returns to the pages of the AP with some postal history examples from Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg was and is a port city, a major center of people and commerce. Lawrence shows material from the 1700s to late 1800s, some of them stampless covers sent as such even after Germany issued its first stamps.
Also in this issue
Author Victor Sloan was a Peace Corps volunteer in the ’80s, working in Cameroon. Now he works for the Peace Corps as an associate director of health services. Along the way, he’s assembled a collection of stamps and covers related to this, his life’s passion. Victor tells the story of the Peace Corps and its mission through his collection.
The Collector of Revenue, Ron Lesher, returns to our pages to describe an early American tax on distilled spirits. The result was some hard-to-find collectables, embossed stamps and seals on licenses to sell foreign spirits and wines.
Gary Wayne Loew writes a thorough and glowing review of the new book by Richard Winter and John Barwis, the sequel to North Atlantic Mail Sailings: North Atlantic Non-Contract Steamship Sailings 1838-1875. Having had the pleasure of reading the book myself, I can attest that it shares fascinating accounts of the fates of these ships that carried mail across the treacherous Atlantic – and will no doubt be a significant resource for collectors researching routes, which is a notoriously complicated endeavor.
As for other news, I’ll leave it to my colleagues to tell you. In Scott English’s column “Our Story,” he shares the results of a recent survey. One of those results is about the frequency that our staff-written columns are read by our members. Well, although only 50 percent reportedly read the membership column “In Touch,” or “Buy and Sell,” these columns written by my colleagues share information and advice that has wide application. We’re always trying new things, and can’t wait to tell you about them.
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.