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.

ATA 2017 Distinguished
Topical Philatelist Selected

[April 17, 2017 ATA Press Release]

For her wide-ranging contributions to philately, Vera Felts has been selected to receive the American Topical Association’s highest award at the National Topical Stamp Show awards banquet June 24 in Milwaukee.

As ATA executive director since 2009, Felts has brought innovation and a positive attitude to the office and many of the organization’s programs. She spearheaded the highly successful ambassador program which has resulted in hundreds of new members, and managed the transition to a new topical checklist database, which has made ATA’s signature checklists better than ever.

For the past 18 years she has served as registration chair and managed the show cachets for the St. Louis Stamp Expo.  She edited the APS gold award-winning newsletter of the Southern Illinois Stamp Club for 15 years, and co-founded its SIRPEX local show.

A life member of APS, she served eight years as coordinator of its newsletter exchange. At the Science Center in Carbondale, Illinois, in 1999 she founded a long-running youth stamp group.

Felts is revered throughout philately for her devotion to helping people advance and enjoy topical collecting.

The Distinguished Topical Philatelist (DTP) award has been presented each year since 1952, by the ATA, the largest affiliate of the American Philatelic Society.  Don Smith served as chair of the selection committee.  The scrolls signed by all of ATA’s 119 DTPs can be viewed at http://americantopicalassn.org/awardsdtp.

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.

New Author Combines Mysteries and Stamps

A new author has created a world where mysteries found in stamps are pursued and unraveled by young detectives. And you can get a nice sample of the work right now via the internet for free for a very limited time.

In a nod toward the styles of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Carl Wildrick has crafted a trilogy of philatelic-related mystery books for young people.

The first book – The Finder, about Carter Owens, The Accidental Philatelist — can be downloaded free as an eBook via Amazon through April 1. It is available at http://amzn.com/B01N00EEMQ.

The second in the series, The Seeker, will be available as an eBook for free on April 2 only at http://amzn.com/B01MSYEJ9L.

The third book in the trilogy, The Fighter, has just been released.

Two APS Members Chosen to Sign Roll of Distinguished Philatelists

Two longtime members of the American Philatelic Society — John Hotchner, of Falls Church, Virginia, and Steven Walske, of San Francisco, California — have been chosen as to receive one of the world’s greatest philatelic honors.

The two Americans and two philatelists from Great Britain — Alan Holyoake and Colin Tabeart — were elected last week as 2017 signatories to the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists by the Association of British Philatelic Societies.

This is one of the highest and most prestigious honors in philately, recognizing achievement, research, publication, and service. The roll was first signed in 1921 and as of now, 356 philatelists from 40 countries have signed.

This year’s signing ceremony will take place in Cardiff, Wales on July 28. The four join 78 other living signors from 25 countries spread over five continents.

Hotchner is a former APS president and longtime philatelic researcher, writer, exhibitor, and national and FIP judge. His numerous accomplishments and awards include those from the APS — signatory of the Luff Scroll and recipient of the Charles J. Peterson Philatelic Literature Lifetime Achievement Award — not to mention his many leadership roles. He and Randy Neil are founders of the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors. He’s been a regular contributor and author to many magazines and journals.

Walske has compiled several national and international award-winning exhibits, including a“Franco-Prussian War Siege Mail”exhibit that won the Grand Prix International at Luxembourg 98 and the Grand Prix National at PhilexFrance 99. (He was the first non-Frenchman ever to win the award. His Civil War exhibit was nominated for the Grand Prix National at Washington 2006. His books include Special Mail Routes of the American Civil War: A Guide to Across-the-Lines Postal History (2008), co-authored with Scott Trepel and The Pony Express: A Postal History (2005) with Richard Frajola and George Kramer.

More details on the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists can be found online at www.abps.org.uk/Awards/Roll_of_Distinguished_Philatelists/index.xalter.