YPL Fellow Dani Leviss Interviewed by Lloyd de Vries

Young Philatelic Leaders Fellow Dani Leviss was recently interviewed by Lloyd de Vries for The Virtual Stamp Club. The interview can be heard with the audio player below or on The Virtual Stamp Club interviews page.

The Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship program was founded by the American Philatelic Society in 2009 to identify and support the best and brightest aspiring philatelists. The program coordinates and funds transportation to, lodging during, and activities at: APS national shows, Smithsonian National Postal Museum, and the American Philatelic Center for enthusiastic young collectors between the ages of 16 and 24. Additionally, YPLF connects participating Fellows with seasoned collectors, exhibitors, writers, and dealers to expand their perspectives and exposure in the philatelic world.

Collections Could Become Total Losses From Hurricane Damage

A sizeable chunk of Texas is still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation and now Hurricane Irma is heading straight toward Florida and the Atlantic Coast.

Protection of personal treasures pales in the importance of personal safety, so please take care of yourselves and loved ones first. But those suffering through these weather disasters certainly need to consider and cope with their lifelong collections at some point; either before the storm hits or afterwards.

Jonathan Topper of Topper Stamps in Houston, Texas, has been front-and-center amidst Hurricane Harvey; his words are likely good warnings for anyone now in Irma’s path.

“I have lived through eight hurricanes in my life, and the devastation around Houston is just incomprehensible to me,” Topper wrote in an e-mail to the American Philatelic Society.

About 20 people so far have contacted Topper in regards to damaged stamp collections, he said earlier this week; damage to many collections has been “extensive.”

“There will be a lot more. I am familiar with the different neighborhoods that flooded (sometimes row after row of houses) and have spot checked it with our mailing list for local stamp shows,” Topper said. “I know that there are many stamp collections in these areas and I am sure we will hear more about details soon.”

The best way to cope with potential flood losses is to act beforehand. Some of the steps seem obvious, but are worth repeating:

Move precious paper material to higher, dryer ground. If you can’t move it all, move the items most precious to you.

For items you cannot move, pack in water-tight containers; some of these containers are from other realms but could be utilized for paper collections. For example, this past April, Boating magazine tested a couple dozen such containers for several conditions — from drowning to dropping — and gives the results here.

Consider flood insurance.

Hugh Wood Inc. is the society’s official insurance carrier, and works with insuring fine arts and collectibles. Hugh Wood has a satellite office in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania right next door to the American Philatelic Center.

Lisa Souders, a senior account executive based in Bellefonte, said the agency has been (gulp) flooded with calls since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. Souders concurred that planning beforehand — with everything from water sensors to builder’s plastic sheeting — is the best hedge against flood damage, though, moving material away from the potential flood zones were about the only way to save collectibles in the case of Hurricane Harvey.

Topper feels that those who didn’t prepare or act will face total losses of their stamps, covers, and philatelic literature.

“The flood waters were dirty and mold seems to starts growing almost immediately here in the warm, moist air,” Topper said. “Mint stamps become unused stamps without gum, and some used stamps are salvageable if we can get them into some clean water and soak for awhile. Tap water is actually better than bottled water as it is chlorinated and that will stop some of the mold growth.”

Topper and American Philatelic Research Librarian Tara Murray noted that helpful information about preservation and salvage of paper collections can be found on the following websites:

American Philatelic Society at https://stamps.org/Preservation-and-Care.

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works at: www.conservation-us.org/membership/find-a-conservator#.Wa6pONOGNIo.

The Library of Congress at www.loc.gov/preservation/emergprep/dry.html.

Hugh Wood Inc. can be reached through its website or by calling 888-APS-6494.

Elliot Gruber Named Director of
Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum

Elliot Gruber, the chief development and external affairs officer for the Jewish Social Service Agency, has been named director of the National Postal Museum.

Gruber has more than 30 years experience in the nonprofit sector and will begin as director on September 5. He succeeds Allen Kane, who retired in January, as director of the museum. Marshall Emery has served as acting director of the museum since then.

“Elliot brings great and relevant experience to the directorship of the National Postal Museum,” said Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton. “His skills as a museum leader and his fundraising acumen make him an excellent choice to lead this important museum into its next chapter.”

“I am proud to have been selected to lead the National Postal Museum, which tells the story of our American journey, past, present and future,” Gruber said. “I look forward to using my experience to work with the museum’s staff, advisory council and the Council of Philatelists to build new partnerships within the Smithsonian, across the country and around the world.”

As chief development and external affairs officer for the Jewish Social Service Agency since January, Gruber is responsible for the organization’s philanthropic revenue, marketing and communications. Under his leadership, the agency launched a $6 million capital campaign to renovate one of its buildings in the Washington, D.C., area. The Jewish Social Service Agency is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, client-focused health and social service agency helping individuals and families meet emotional social and physical challenges for more than 120 years.

Before joining the Jewish Social Service Agency, Gruber was a principal at EHG Consulting, which provides strategic planning and operations and fundraising expertise to nonprofit organizations. Gruber worked with the Houston Maritime Museum, which is preparing to launch a $50 million capital campaign for its new facility scheduled to open in 2020. He also conducted a comprehensive review and analysis of the organizational and fundraising structure for Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Gruber was the president and chief executive officer of The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia, from February 2013 through April 2016. There, he managed a $7 million annual budget, 550 acres of parkland and a staff of 90. He also established the Monitor Foundation, a nonprofit organization overseeing the largest marine metals conservation lab in the world, to ensure continued conservation of the ironclad steamship the USS Monitor, which was built by the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.

From September 2010 until January 2013, Gruber was the senior vice president for resource development for the United Way of the National Capital Area. He was responsible for all fundraising programs, including the Greater Washington Give to the Max Day, which in its inaugural year raised more than $2 million in 24 hours.

Gruber was the vice president and chief operating officer of the Gettysburg Foundation (August 2002 to September 2010) where he directed the $125 million capital campaign to build a new museum and visitor center at Gettysburg National Military Park. He oversaw all museum operations, including ticketing, reservations, visitor services, and facilities management.

He has also worked in leadership capacities at the Ocean Conservancy, the Civil War Trust and the National Parks Conservation Association.

Gruber received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and his master’s degree in organizational psychology from Columbia University in New York City.

The National Postal Museum is dedicated to the preservation, study and presentation of postal history and philately. The museum uses exhibits, educational public programs and research to showcase the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world — including postal stationery, vehicles used to transport the mail, mailboxes, meters, cards and letters and postal materials that predate the use of stamps — and make this rich history available to scholars, philatelists, collectors and visitors from around the world.

The museum occupies more than 100,000 square feet of the historic City Post Office Building, with 35,000 square feet devoted to exhibition galleries.

APS Donates 500,000 Stamps
to Holocaust Art Project

One of the framed versions of artwork that was created.

The American Philatelic Society donated 500,000 used stamps earlier this month to help a school in its Holocaust remembrance project.

The Foxborough Regional Charter School of Massachusetts started the project in 2009 with the goal of creating artwork dedicated to the 11 million people who died during the Holocaust.

The 16 boxes of stamps donated by the APS.

Charlotte Sheer, a retired teacher from the charter school and founder of the stamps project, told a reporter at the Wicked Foxborough website that the stamp tally was at 9,422,168. APS Executive Director Scott English delivered 16 boxes of stamps to the school, raising the total to close to 10 million.

Wicked Foxborough reported that Sheer started the Holocaust Stamps Project in 2009 to educate children about the Holocaust. The goal is to collect 11 million stamps to represent the all the victims whose lives were lost.

Bins of stamps for future projects.

Collected stamps are being turned into pieces of art reflecting the history of the Holocaust.

“Countless lessons in history, tolerance, acceptance and the importance of respecting differences evolve from the project,” Sheer said.

“We took advantage of the proximity of the school to the Philatelic Show in Boxborough to deliver stamps on behalf of the APS membership who have donated so generously over the years for youth education,” English said.

To date, the project has received donations from 43 of the 50 U.S. states. States yet to send donations are: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

For more information, visit their website at  www.foxboroughrcs.org/students-families/frcs-holocaust-stamp-project.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day was one of the first holidays honored with a specific U.S. stamp, long predating stamps for the likes of Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Anna Jarvis, of West Virginia, started campaigning for a mothers holiday in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a peace activist who cared for Civil War soldiers from both sides, died. In 1908, Anna Jarvis held a church memorial for her mother and by 1911, thanks in part to Jarvis’ campaigning, all states observed Mother’s Day in some form or another.

A first-day cover for the Mothers of America stamp issued May 2, 1934 was sponsored by the American War Mothers, which lobbied for the stamp.

President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 signed a proclamation officially authorizing Mother’s Day as a holiday on the second Sunday in May. Jarvis had great disdain for the quick commercialization of the holiday. She also noted that the word “Mother’s” should be a singular possessive, meaning for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.

In 1933, Mrs. H.H. McCluer, of Kansas City, a past National President of the American War Mothers, lobbied first-term President Franklin D. Roosevelt for a special stamp for use in conjunction with Mother’s Day mail. Requests also had been made for a stamp noting the 100th birthday of artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler. FDR, a stamp collector, liked both ideas and sent a design idea to his new postmaster general, James A. Farley. FDR’s design that combined themes, which is very close to the final product, can be seen on the National Postal Museum website.

The stamp (Scott 737) was issued nationwide May 2, 1934 for use on Mother’s Day mail and in tribute to the Mothers of America. It shows a reproduction of Whistler’s painting, Portrait of My Mother, also known as An Arrangement in Grey and Black, and popularly called Whistler’s Mother. Two perforated varieties of this stamp were produced, each on a different press. One is a perforation gauge 11 by 10½ rotary stamp, the other a perforation 11 flat plate stamp.

A cover with the Mothers of America stamp postmarked in Utica, New York, on Mother’s Day, 11 days after the stamp was issued.

Was this the first major U.S. holiday stamp? Some might argue that the Columbians of 1893 helped mark Columbus Day or that the Washington Bicentennial set of 1932 coincides with George Washington’s birthday, then still a holiday marked on February 22. This blog author doesn’t buy into either of those concepts as the stamps marked centennials for individuals, not holidays.

Arbor Day, first celebrated in 1872 Nebraska, received a U.S. stamp in 1932, and is celebrated internationally, but has in many places in the U.S. given way to Earth Day.

A U.S. Special Occasions booklet issued in 1987 includes sentimental greetings, such as Love You, Mother!

On April 20, 1987, the Postal Service issued a Special Occasions booklet of 22-cent stamps with six different sentiments, including Love You, Mother! and Love You, Dad! Despite the misplaced commas that make it look like mom and dad are saying “love you,” even the pickiest of copy editors are known to have sent cards to their mothers and fathers franked with the appropriate stamp with the obvious sentiment.