People You Meet at a Stamp Show

by Scott English
Executive Director

In 2016, I asked a question at a stamp show I never thought I’d ask, “Excuse me, are you Hillbilly Jim?” For those of you who don’t know, Hillbilly Jim, born James Morris, was a wrestler popular in the World Wrestling Federation, now the WWE, in the 1980’s.  I’m reminded of the meeting as we head into the biggest weekend of the year for professional wrestling− Wrestlemania Weekend and the induction of Hillbilly Jim into the Hall of Fame.

Hulk HoganI have been a professional wrestling fan since I was 10 years old. In my childhood, wrestling became something of a national phenomenon as the World Wrestling Federation, now known as the WWE, rose to prominence. It all started on January 24, 1983 when Hulk Hogan won the World Heavyweight title from the Iron Sheik and the MTV crossover of “Rock-n-Wrestling” made wrestling cool for teenagers like me.

Being a wrestling fan and a stamp collector share one similarity, no one understands you if they aren’t a part of it. So, it is a bit surprising when the two worlds collided for me at World Stamp Show – NY 2016.  Every ten years in the U.S., the philatelic community comes together to invite collectors and exhibitors from around the world. In May 2016, this show took place at the Javits Center in New York City for ten days.

During the show setup, the APS booth was not far from a booth operated by Champion Stamp Company, the only stamp store in all of New York City. Since the show was local, Champion purchased a large booth, so they could bring sizeable inventory. There were several large guys helping move material in and make sure no one thought about taking anything, including Morris.

In 1984, Jim Morris started appearing in the audience of WWF matches. At 6’7” and 320 pounds, he was hard to miss, but to make sure you didn’t he wore denim overalls and had a huge beard. Eventually, the popular Hogan took “Big Jim” under his wing and the world met Hillbilly Jim. He was a nice country boy, supposedly from Mud Lick, KY and was wildly popular with fans because he was a giant guy with a big smile and a great personality. Due to his popularity, the WWF added family members, like Uncle Elmer and Cousin Junior to join him in the ring, accompanied by Hillbilly Jim’s theme song, Don’t Go Messin’ with a Country Boy.  Morris retired from the WWE in 1992 with occasional appearances, but he never enjoyed the same visibility he did in the 1980s.

To his credit, Hillbilly Jim did not run into some of the out-of-ring issues, like drugs, alcohol, or jail. Instead, he made appearances and greeted fans with the same warmth that he was known for in the ring. This was true even when a grown man comes up to him at a stamp booth in the Javits Center in New York. When I walked over to say hello, Jim cracked a smile and we talked wrestling, stamps, politics, and life for 30 minutes or so. When we got finished, he stood up and said, “Let’s get a picture my man” and rounded up a volunteer. Morris doesn’t frequent stamp shows, but usually provides muscle and security at coin shows around the country. He will do stamp shows if it’s a big deal. You can hear Morris every Saturday on Outlaw Country on Sirius XM Channel 60 doing Hillbilly Jim’s Moonshine Matinee.

This Friday, Morris will add Hall of Famer to his biography and I can’t think of a nicer guy. He probably won’t mention he’s been to a stamp show during his speech, but hopefully we’ll see him again soon!

Cheryl Ganz Selected to Sign Roll of Distinguished Philatelists

Cheryl R. Ganz, Ph.D., has been selected to sign the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists, regarded by some as the world’s pre-eminent philatelic honor. The roll was established in 1921 by the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain with the approval of King George V, who was the first signatory.

Cheryl Ganz Award with Mick Zais
APS President Mick Zais awards Cheryl Ganz the prize for the Single-Frame Champion of Champions at AmeriStamp Expo 2018.

Ganz, of Winfield, Illinois near Chicago, is a 40-year member of the American Philatelic Society with a long list of philatelic accomplishments, including being a 2016 recipient of the prestigious APS Luff Award and the Alfred F. Lichtenstein Award for Distinguished Service to Philately. In February, Ganz won the Single-Frame Champion of Champions at AmeriStamp Expo for her exhibit, “Zeppelin LZ-129 Hindenburg Onboard Postmarks.” Ganz is curator emerita for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum, where she served as curator from 2005 to 2014.

Ganz will be the lone American among four signatories in 2018. The others are Robert Abensur, of France; Gustaf Douglas, of Sweden; and Geoffrey Lewis, of Australia. The Signing Ceremony will take place on July 27 at The Assembly Rooms in Newcastle upon Tyne, during the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain.

Not including the newly elected RDPs, 380 philatelists from 40 countries have achieved the distinction of signing the roll. There are at present 78 signatories from 26 countries including 16 from the United Kingdom, 14 from the U.S., seven from Germany, four each from France, and Belgium, and three each from Australia and Italy. Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, and Thailand each have two, with other countries including Austria, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Greece, Israel, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, The Russian Federation, and Switzerland, having one.

At a recent meeting of the Board of Election, comprising Jane Moubray (chair), Tomas Bjäringer, Christopher Harman, Alan Huggins, Rolf-Dieter Jaretzky, Robert Odenweller, Christopher King and Raymond Todd, the members unanimously decided to ask the four named to sign the Roll.

In its formal news release, the RDP notes that Ganz “is known for her lifelong philatelic outreach at local, national and international levels, engaging a vast spectrum of collectors from specialists to new audiences. Her collections, exhibits, research and writing, and speaking focus primarily on her specialty of zeppelin posts.”

Philatelic recognitions include the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award, Luff Award for Exceptional Contributions to Philately, Alfred F. Lichtenstein Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Philately, American Air Mail Society Research Award … She has written and edited books, articles, and online content, putting philately in a wider context to reach larger audiences without sacrificing philatelic scholarship. Her service to organized philately is multi-faceted in a variety of positions of influence and accomplishment.”

The news release offers the following about this year’s other signees:

Abensur has researched widely and his main collecting and researching areas are the postal rates and regulations of France and Alsace-Lorraine. His latest book published in 2017 is The Franco-Sardinian Route in International Relations (1818-1851) and his articles on various subjects number more than 100 in France and elsewhere. He has been president of the Académie de philatélie since 2002 and was awarded the chevalier dans l’ordre des Art et des Lettres in 2009, and gained a Large Gold Medal at FEPA 2015.

Douglas has formed what are considered to be the most complete collections of both Sweden and Finland in existence. His monographs are always of the highest standard and he has attained Gold and Large Gold medals in international exhibitions since 1971. He co-authored Sweden Number One, in 2005. He was awarded the Tilleard Medal of the Royal Philatelic Society London as well as the Strandell Medal, the highest philatelic recognition in Sweden, in 2014 and is presently working hard as Head Patron for Stockholmia 2019.

Lewis’ collections have included the postal history of Spanish Philippines, Cuba, New Orleans and stampless mail entering Spain. He has won FIP Large Gold medals in postal history with exhibits on the subject matter of each of the three continental areas: Asia, Europe and the Americas.  In 2013 he attained a Large Gold Medal for his well-written study – The 1836 Anglo-French Postal Convention. He was president of the Philatelic Society of New South Wales between 1998 and 2013, was chairman of the jury at Sydney 2015 and president of the organizing committee of the National Philatelic Exhibitions held in Sydney in 2007 and 2011.

Soakable Stamps Return As Postage Rates Fall!!!

The U.S. Postal Service announced today it will return to producing only soakable stamps by next year and it expects postage rates to drop 10 percent!!! Haha! April Fools!

I don’t suppose we caught too many of you with that one. How about the return of the penny postcard? Maybe stamps that are mini-drones and will fly special delivery letters to their destinations? Hey, we tried.

How about this: With the multitude of castles, knights and heraldry on stamps, we wondered if perhaps the best known symbol of April Fool’s – the jester – is found on our commemoratives.

Like fools, we rushed into our hunt and started scanning page after page of our favorite catalog. You can call us foolish, but we found a few. (If you like the idea of jesters or fools on stamps, don’t forget this year’s American Philatelic Society StampShow in Columbus, Ohio will be co-hosted by the American Topical Association, the go-to society for ALL collecting themes.)

So let’s get to our jesters. The jester – the king of fools – was the one character in a royal court that could get away with clowning around about the monarchy and its ways. But he’s not a real clown, so we disregarded clown stamps. Medieval court jesters wore bright, gaudy clothing – the color of the leggings are often different – and often wears a signature three-point Fool’s Hat with a bell on each point. He also carries a mock scepter called a bauble, which was adorned by a carved head or the inflated bladder of an animal (yuck, no foolin’).

Spani - Jester
Spain, Scott 3009

We start with a couple of real-life jesters, the first from Spain. A masterpiece painting by Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) – Portrait of Sebastián de Morra (1645) – appears on a 1999 stamp (Scott 3009) from Spain. De Morra was a court dwarf and jester in the court of Philip IV of Spain. The painting is in the Prado in Madrid.

Poland Jester Stamp
Poland, Scott 1607

Let’s stick to masterpieces, where we turn to a Polish stamp issued in 1968. The stamp features the 1862 painting known in short as Stańczyk, or The Jester, by Jan Matejko (1838-1893). Stańczyk (c. 1480-1560) was a popular figure who was jester to three kings. The painting shows the jester at a ball where he has just learned that the Russian army has captured Smolensk. Matejko created at least one other painting of him and there is a monument of the jester sitting on a bench in Niepołomice‎. The stamp (Scott 1607) is part of a set of eight stamps featuring Polish artworks.

Belgium Jester Stamp
Belgium, Scott B658

In 1959, Belgium issued a semipostal (a charity stamp) featuring a jester and cats (B658). The stamp raised money to fight tuberculosis. (Yes, we noticed the single-pointed hat; he’s a true fool to be misdressed.)

We may be foolhardy but we think Germany is king of jester stamps.

Germany, Scott B463

In 1970, Germany released a set of four marionettes semipostal stamps with one of them (B463) depicting a jester puppet.

Next comes the 1977 issue (Scott 1230) showing Scenes from the Till Eulenspiegel Folk Tales (c. 1350). Four scenes are shown with the jester-like Till in all four. In 2011, Germany commemorated the 500th anniversary of the first printing of the Till tales with another stamp, this one showing a jester in the center of the diamond-shaped stamp (Scott 2633) surrounded by other iconic items from the stories.

Germany, Scott 2633
Germany, Scott 1230
Germany, Scott 1544

Germany in 1988 issued a stamp (Scott 1544) honoring the 150th anniversary of the Mainz Carnival. The character does look a bit more like a clown than a jester, but we’ll accept him because of his Fool’s Hat.

 

Germany, Scott 2070

In 2000, the 175th anniversary of the Dusseldorf Carnival, is honored with a jester doing a cartwheel (Scott 2070).

Great Britain may have been home to several foolish monarchs over the centuries, but we really couldn’t find any pure jester stamps from the Brits.

Britain has, however, honored the jester-like figure of a puppet – Punch, from Punch and Judy fame – on a few occasions.

Great Britain, Scott 1306

The famous puppet and his cast of characters date back to 16th-century Italian commedia dell’arte, where it eventually moved and morphed. The figure who later became Mr. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England on May 9, 1662, traditionally reckoned as his birthday in the U.K. His outfitted like a jester, though his hat has but a single point with a tassel that flops over the front.

Great Britain booklet cover, 1991
Great Britain booklet cover, 1991

In 1990, Mr. Punch is one of eight stamps (Scott 1306) in the Smiles set, which also includes the Queen of Hearts and Stan Laurel. In 1991-92, an image of Punch showed up on the covers of a couple of booklets marking the 150th anniversary of Punch magazine. Mr. Punch is featured along with five other puppet characters on Punch & Judy set of 2001. Punch is listed as Scott 1987. The stamps came in various formats, including a presentation pack.

Great Britain, Scott 1985-1990

Thanks for playing along with our fool’s game. Next time we’ll tell you all about…

Dragons Will Invade American Philatelic Society’s StampShow

You may want to consider packing some heavy armor, shields, crossbows, magic potions or anything else that might tame or slay a dragon if you plan on visiting Columbus, Ohio this August.

The U.S. Postal Service will issue four new Dragons stamps during StampShow, scheduled for August 9 to 12 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

StampShow – sponsored by the American Philatelic Society – is the nation’s largest annual philatelic show and promises to be more exciting than ever. This is first time the show will be co-sponsored with the American Topical Association, the group that helps collect stamps by topics, such as heraldry, legends and dragons.

The show will offer philatelic activities, exhibits and experiences, making it an event for collectors and non-collectors of all ages. There will be hundreds of exhibits, stamp rarities on display, specialty societies on hand, presentations, youth and beginners’ activities and dozens of dealer booths. The U.S. Postal Service plans to be at the show with an extraordinary booth.

Something sure to make the show more enjoyable will be the society’s new mobile app for the show, scheduled for release May 1.

StampShow, which moves among locations annually, will serve as the 132nd convention of the society, which has about 29,000 members worldwide.

The four new U.S. stamps will be issued in panes of 16.

“The high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures … have roamed our imaginations for millennia,” the Postal Service said in a news release.

The stamps feature digital illustrations created by artist Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps.

The designs show:

A green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle.

A purple dragon with orange wings and sharp black armor on its back snaking around a white castle that evokes Camelot.

A black dragon with green wings and green armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea.

A wingless orange dragon, inspired by creatures from Asian art, architecture and ancient religion and lore, weaving its way around a pagoda.

“We’re very excited to bring these beautiful stamps to the 132nd annual APS convention,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Mary-Anne Penner. “This is one of the premier stamp shows in America and serves as an excellent platform to showcase these special stamps.”

“We’re thrilled to have USPS unveil these great stamps with us in Columbus,” said Scott English, APS executive director. “There will be something for the whole family highlighting this cool theme. No experience necessary, so we hope you will join us!”

The U.S., not home to many dragons of lore, has not issued many stamps with dragons; maybe just a couple from Lunar New Year series. The 2000 Lunar New Year stamp (Scott 3370) features a paper-cut styled dragon to mark the Year of the Dragon. The 2012 Lunar New Year stamp (Scott 4623) features a colorful dragon head of the type used in parades and celebrations. Many European and Asian countries have included dragons on stamp. They include Austria, Cambodia, China, Great Britain (including this year’s Game of Thrones set), Japan, Jersey and the Philippines.

More information about StampShow and the APS can be found online at https://stamps.org/STAMPSHOW-SS.

More information from the U.S. Postal Service can be found online at: https://aps.buzz/2GaraS0

Get Ready for a Beautiful Day in Our Neighborhood

BELLEFONTE, Pennsylvania – Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is coming to our neighborhood.

It’s sure to be a beautiful day when the neighborhood from the groundbreaking children’s television show will be the theme for an afternoon of children’s activities. The special day will include a very special guest – Mr. McFeely, who was the postman on the PBS show that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The American Philatelic Society and WPSU-TV, State College public television invite you to join us at the American Philatelic Center, 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte to celebrate Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and a new stamp issued in his honor. Activities for the whole family will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 24, 2018.

The event occurs the day after the new Mister Rogers forever postage stamp will be formally released in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Fred Rogers produced and filmed the show about his neighborhood. The show ran for more than 30 years on PBS.

Mister Rogers PhotoMr. McFeely – the postman from the Speedy Delivery Service portrayed by David Newell – will be in character. He will arrive aboard the Penn State trolley and invite everyone inside, where at 2:15 p.m. he will dedicate the new Mister Rogers stamp to become part of the American Philatelic Center’s collection. He will then visit with children and sign autographs.

Other planned activities include an opportunity for children younger than 12 to color a design on an envelope, address it to someone special, affix a stamp to the envelope and mail it (limited to one per child). The APS, through its historic Headsville Post Office, will have Mister Rogers stamps available for purchase.

WPSU will bring its cutout trolley, reminiscent of the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Trolley, which is a nice backdrop for photos. Also, Daniel Tiger, star of an animated Mister Rogers spinoff show, will be present via a life-size cutout (more photo ops!). These are set pieces that WPSU uses in live broadcasts.

WPSU will hand out Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Activity Booklets to children 8 and younger along with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood coloring sheets.

In addition to decorating and mailing an envelope, the APS Education Department will offer other stamp collecting activities, including an opportunity for children to create their own free stamp albums.

Children of all ages will be able to reminisce as we share video clips of Mister Rogers Neighborhood during the event.

Tours of the American Philatelic Center will be available.

Deborah Kris Farmer offered the following on the PBS web pages dedicated to Mr. Rogers (www.pbs.org/parents/rogers/the-timeless-teachings-of-mister-rogers-neighborhood):

“Fred Rogers was always addressing two audiences. First, he offered children lessons about friendship, emotions, and growing up. And he also offered parents simple strategies for helping their children grow and thrive: how to talk to kids, how to listen, and how to use song, story, and make-believe to communicate important ideas.

“Fred Rogers’ techniques were grounded in his study of child development, said Angela Santomero, the creator of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. “There was a reason behind everything he did. It was all very child centered.”

Public broadcasting station WPSU Penn State is a collection of innovative writers, storytellers, teachers, producers, designers and technicians — using 21st-century tools and media to bring information, education, and entertainment to viewers, listeners, and larger communities throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. WPSU engages communities in the heart of Pennsylvania with educational and commercial-free programs that reach across generations to inform, intrigue and inspire.