Thursday, February 1, 2018

APRL Stamp Album Collection

While I was aware that the American Philatelic Society's Library (APRL) has a collection of stamp albums, I was unaware of any details as these are not listed in their online catalog. Fortunately, a recent entry in the Philatelic Literature & Research Blog gives more information. The collection, which is growing, at the moment consists of over 80 albums housed on 24 shelves. According to the blog post, "albums can be viewed in person, borrowed or pages can be copied or scanned from them as requested."

You can view the blog entry here . For future reference, the entry by Scott Tiffney appeared on 1 February 2018 with the title "Resource of the Month – Stamp Albums."


albumfilling said...

Very interesting article reference. I will admit I would love to have the opportunity to visit the museum and see the various albums on display as I do find them fascinating even without the stamps.

Bob said...

I was fortunate to live in two cities with philatelic libraries but never have made it to the APRL. Would love to see the albums as well as spend time doing research.

ChrisW said...

I went to APRL for a visit last year, but didn't see the album collection (didn't know they had one!). There's a lot there to see and easy to miss things if you are not well organized.

DrewM said...

Now I wonder what albums they do have, and if it includes a set of the Browns, a set of all Big Blue Scott Internationals (to date?), and what else? Do they also have old Yvert & Tellier French albums? Older Stanley Gibbons albums? I'm afraid I'd sit there for hours like a kid in a candy shop. But, I imagine I'll never get all the way to darkest central Pennsylvania to see the collection. If only the APS had had the wisdom to put themselves closer to a major city we'd all be more likely to visit. It's a decision I disagreed with at the time and still do.

My own Holy Grail as an early teenager was my Regent Stamp album (2 enormous volumes) which devoured me. It was really much too big for my little collection. I wonder if they have that one?

The interest in Air Mail stamp albums has come and gone, mostly. It grew with the rise of air travel, of course, in the 1930s and later. I don't know of any currently published Air Mail only albums, but I've seen a few from that era and it's an interesting collecting area.

Some earlier albums were very elegant, much nicer looking than most albums published today -- heavy paper, large pages, elegant borders, even illustrations of ruler, coat of arms, and maps. If you're going to understand the history of the hobby, you have to have these older albums to do it since that's what collectors used and because they show how collecting interests changed over time. I suppose it would go under "popular" or "cultural" history if we were being scholarly about it, and stamp collecting really goes well beyond other forms of popular history since it has always included a sense of history (looking back at what matters to a society), creative arts (the engraving of stamps and so forth), social values (who is honored on stamps and why they're honored), etc.

You can tell a lot about a society by just looking through an album to see what types of people and events a society chooses to honor -- the heroic but anonymous manual laborers of communist nations, for one, royalty and elite upper class values in some countries, for another, or the role of religion, sports, entertainment, and so on. Keeping in mind that stamps are issued by governments, not by their people, you can still see trends. Unlike in the past, modern American stamps include so many cartoon characters, movie stars, athletes, puppy dogs, and many different ethnic groups because we care about that sort of thing now compared to the (white male) political leaders and war heroes that used to dominate our stamps a few generations ago. You can clearly see that in stamps.

A legacy of the old 19th century empires can still be seen in the stamp albums of those nations which still provide "colonies" pages. Would German collectors ever have had a reason to collect the stamps of SW Africa, Togo or the Marshall Islands except that they were once German colonies? For the U.S. it's Puerto Rico, the Canal Zone, Hawaii, the Philippines, and the Ryukyu Islands, not places most Americans would collect maybe, except they were once "ours" (or still are).