Mystery: Alexander Hamilton, a Missing Painting, and a 1957 U.S. Postage Stamp

Alexander Hamilton, a 1957 U.S. postage stamp, and the American Philatelic Society and one of its editorial contributors are all part of a mystery story published today in the New York Times.

Charles Posner is an emeritus professor at the University of London’s Institute of Education. His articles about U.S. commemorative stamps of the 1950s have been appearing in print, online, and now in book form through APS publications the past two years.

Posner was recently researching a 3-cent stamp issued in 1957 that features a profile of Hamilton and Federal Hall. The profile shown on the stamp is based on a painting by someone named John Weimar, Posner said. The painting was once held and exhibited at New York City Hall. But while researching the painting, Posner said no one at New York City Hall today could account for it.

His inquiries led City Hall officials to search for the painting, and further led to curators questioning whether the obscure Weimar existed or could it be confused with a painting by John Trumbull, the famous painter of many historical figures and scenes.

One thing is for sure. The original painting is nowhere to be found.

New York Times arts reporter James Barron shares the whole tale, including interviews with Posner and City Hall officials in his story published today. Barron also is author of a recent book about the world’s most valuable (and famous) stamp, The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World.

Hamilton, of course, is of the iconic 18th-century Founding Fathers of the United States and recently became the hottest ticket on Broadway thanks to the hit musical that bears his name. And now, he’s subject an art mystery.

Nominations Open for Annual First-Day Cover Writing Award

Nominations are being accepting through May 1 for the Philip H. Ward Award for Excellence in First Day Cover Literature, presented annually by the American First Day Cover Society. All works published in 2016 are eligible.

All articles published in First Days, the society’s journal, are automatically considered. Additional literature can be submitted to the Ward Award Committee chair, Mark Goodson, 202 W. Temperance Street, Ellettsville, IN 47429, or by e-mail to bgdsn@comcast.net.

The awards are presented each year at Americover, the annual show and convention of the AFDCS. Americover 2017 will be held August 11 to 13 in Independence, Ohio.

The award is named in honor of Philip H. Ward (1890-1963), a distinguished Philadelphia stamp collector, dealer and journalist who was a pioneer in the field of first day covers. The award was instituted in 1964.

Dorothy Knapp: Philately and Family, a book by Douglas S. Weisz, a well-known first day cover dealer, received first place in last year’s contest.

More information is available through the society’s website, www.afdcs.org/newsblog.html.

Back issues of First Days are available for $4 each postpaid within the U.S. from Jeffrey Bennett, 1601 River Farm Drive, Alexandria, Va. 22308. A searchable electronic archive of every issue of First Days from its inception in 1955 through 2014 is available on DVD for $79 postpaid. Society members can download back issues since 2011 for free on the AFDCS website.

Oh, It’s Canada! Stamp Madness Champion

Congratulations to Canada for winning the American Philatelic Society’s 2017 Stamp Madness contest, our bracket-style popularity contest.

Our Stampionship paired stamps from two Peace issues of 1946 — Canada’s 8-cent Eastern (sometimes Ontario) Farm scene stamp and a 9-cent New Zealand Southern Alps and Chapel. Canada won 59 percent of the vote in the fourth and final round of the balloting, which concluded at midnight April 10.

Voting was open to members of the APS and public.

It seems fitting that the Canada stamp was victorious in that 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. To celebrate that milestone, this July’s edition of The American Philatelist will be dedicated to Canada with special articles about Canadian philately.

To reach the final round, the Canada Farm stamp, part of the Americas Division in our 16-stamp competition, defeated stamps from Chad, India and the U.S. (World’s Fair). New Zealand, originally in the Pacific Division, triumphed over Switzerland, scored a big upset over the U.S. Project Mercury stamp, and then barely beat an Elephant stamp from Laos in the semifinal.

Prizes are being rewarded via random draws in the contest, including from those who chose the winning stamp and a pre-tournament Predict the Winner contest in which registrants tried to pick the eventual winner from the field of 16. (By the way, only four entries predicted Canada would win, while 19 picked New Zealand.)

John Perquin, of Pennsylvania, from the Preview contest, was chosen as our grand prize winner of a 2005 U.S. Postal Service Yearbook, which includes $51.43 in face-value stamps.

Jerry Derr, of Colorado, was among those who voted for Canada in the championship round. His name was chosen to win a The Civil War (1994) commemorative stamp book from the U.S. Postal Service.

Two contestants, one from the preview and one from the championship, were selected to win copies of the APS-published book, Cataloging U.S. Commemorative Stamps: 1950 (2016) by Charles Posner. Congratulations to John Murphy, of New York, and Blair Stannard, of Ontario, Canada.

Canada, France Present Joint Issue for Important WWI Battle

Canada and France released a joint issue April 8 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The battle is considered a significant victory for the Allies in World War I and also was an important military milestone for Canada.

The joint issue features two stamps, one designed by Canada Post and the other by France’s La Poste, and honors the bond that the battle on French soil forged between the two nations.

The Canadian Permanent (first-class rate; currently 85 cents) stamps are being sold in booklets of 10. There also are separate souvenir sheets from each country featuring singles of both stamps denominated appropriately per country.

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Stamp Madness Stampionship Begins

Two contemporary stamps from Canada and New Zealand issued in the same year in the aftermath of World War II have reached the championship round of the American Philatelic Society’s inaugural Stamp Madness contest. The finalists prevailed over 14 other stamps via popular votes in the bracket-style contest held over the past few weeks through Facebook and Twitter.

The public and APS members are encouraged to vote for their favorite through this link. Those voting in this round will be eligible for philatelic prizes after the contest ends at midnight April 10. A random draw will be made from those picking the winning stamp. Prizes also will be rewarded from our Predict the Winner Preview contest. Prizes include books with stamps from the U.S. Postal Service and copies of the new APS book, Cataloging U.S. Commemorative Stamps (2016), by Charles Posner.

Both the Canada and New Zealand stamps overcame some negative odds to reach the finals, including both scoring triumphs over entries from the United States.

Please vote to make your favorite the 2017 Stamp Madness champion.

Canada, from our Americas bracket, is the Eastern (sometimes Ontario) Farm scene stamp (Scott catalog No. 268) of 1946. The stamp defeated Chad Crafts stamp in the first round, the India Taj Mahal in the second, and just bested the U.S. World’s Fair stamp in the semifinals by securing a solid 63 percent of the vote. The stamp illustrates vital farm products and activities. The scene is a composite from four photographs. The farm house is from a photograph taken in Eastern Ontario, the barn from a farm in Western Ontario, the silo from Central Ontario, and the ploughmen and horses from Quebec. Designed by Herman Herbert Schwartz, vignette engraved by Warrell Hauck, and printed by Canadian Bank Note Co.

New Zealand, which we had seeded No. 4 in the Pacific Division, features the Southern Alps and Chapel (Scott 256) and is part of the New Zealand Peace and Victory stamps, a set of 11 produced by Bradbury Wilkinson. The 9-cent stamp, dubbed A Spirit of Thankfulness, shows the chapel window at Waiho Gorge. The Franz Josef Glacier can be seen through the window. This stamp has done very well in Stamp Madness. In the opening round, it defeated a Switzerland showing alpine viaducts, and it followed with a somewhat stunning victory over the pre-tournament favorite, the U.S. Project Mercury of 1962. In a close semifinal, New Zealand turned back the Laos Elephants stamp of 1958 by capturing 53 percent.

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