Stamp Madness — The Philatelic Final Four

The field in the American Philatelic Society’s 2017 Stamp Madness contest has been cut to just four stamps after an Elite Eight round that saw a couple of upsets, including a result that was tied online and broken by in-house votes at the American Philatelic Center.

The Stamp Madness Final Four pits the U.S. World’s Fair stamp of 1964 vs. Canada’s Eastern Farm of 1946 and the Elephant of Laos from 1958 against Southern Alps and Chapel from New Zealand.

Please vote via Facebook or Twitter to send your favorites to the championship round!

There were four brackets with four seeded contestants in each. The entire Europe and Afro-India fields have been eliminated, leaving stamps from the Americas and the Pacific divisions.

All of the second round matchups were close, including one — Laos vs. Japan — that was a tie in its online voting and was decided by live voting at APS headquarters. In another second-round matchup, No. 4 seed New Zealand turned back the pre-tournament favorite, U.S. Project Mercury, in a close battle.

Philatelic prizes will be awarded on a random drawing based on both our preview contest in which contestants picked the stamp they thought would win the game and from voting in the championship match.

But don’t hold back until the final to vote. Voting in the Philatelic Final Four will start tomorrow and is open through midnight, April 5.

Here are the capsule summaries of the Final Four contestants.

The Americas
United States (Seeded No. 1 in the Americas) – The artwork for the New York World’s Fair stamp of 1964 (Scott 1244) was created using the artwork of architectural illustrator John C. Wenrich, who worked on both the 1939 and 1964 New York fairs. The stamp features two of the fair’s prominent icons – “The Rocket Thrower” sculpture and the Unisphere globe. The World’s Fair stamp defeated UAR in Round 1 and Greece in Round 2.

Canada (Seeded No. 2 in the Americas) – The Eastern (sometimes Ontario) Farm scene stamp (Scott 268) of 1946 defeated Chad in the first round and India in the second. 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.

Laos (Seeded No. 3 in the Pacific) – A set of seven Asian Elephants (Scott 41-47), including this handsomely dressed pachyderm (Scott 42), was issued in 1958. That year, engraver Jean Pheulpin (see French entry) received first prize for best French philatelic art for a stamp in this set.

New Zealand (Seeded No. 4 in the Pacific) – Southern Alps and Chapel (Scott 256) is part of the New Zealand Peace and Victory stamps of 1946, 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.

The Guidelines
Choosing the field of just 16 special stamps for 2017 Stamp Madness wasn’t easy. Think about it: hundreds of thousands of stamps created worldwide since 1840. We needed a few guidelines to narrow the field. Here were the basic guidelines we used:
• Standard postage stamps only; no airmail, express mail, revenue stamps, etc.
• No specific images of individuals – kings, queens, scientists, musicians, etc.
• Avoid masterwork paintings and photos (statuary and buildings OK).
• Tried to be diverse to designs, colors, topics, and countries. Independent countries only, no colonies.
• No rarities – common stamps only.
• Stamps chosen are from post-WWII through 1970.

As it worked out, there are four general brackets based on geography: the Americas, Europe, Pacific, and Africa-to-India. The first two rounds have the Americas vs. Europe and Pacific vs. Africa-to-India. The top seeds will play the lowest seeds from the opposing bracket in Round 1.

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

World Stamp Show-NY 2016 Legacy Continues

The legacy of last year’s World Stamp Show-NY 2016 continues, thanks to $200,000 in grants from the show to help philatelic groups. Donations include a $25,000 matching grant to the American Philatelic Society to support the society website and marketing, as well as $100,000 to the next U.S. international show.

Read  details about all the grants here,

March 2017 American Philatelist Available Online

The March issue of The American Philatelist is online for APS members to view. Here are some of the highlights:

The Old Man of the Mountains (Scott 1068) by Charles Posner. Before the gigantic rock outcropping known as the Old Man of the Mountains collapsed, it was the centerpiece in 1955 for a stamp honoring New Hampshire.

David Pearce Cover by Paul Goodwin. A 19th-century cover holds correspondence between 18th-century privateers detailing encounters during times of war and peace.

The Boston Negative Cancels by Bob Grosch. A 19th-century experiment with canceling devices resulted in some interesting postal history from New England known as the Boston Negative Cancels.

Stamp Classics. The Belgian Congo Series of 1894 by Joseph Iredale. As a private citizen, the king of Belgium seized control and ran roughshod over the Belgian Congo, the huge interior of Africa. Despite the calamity, some interesting stamps were produced.

Collecting Coast to Coast. Is a Postal Marking Ever Truly Obsolete? by Wayne L. Youngblood. Evidence shows that old and outdated canceling devices and auxiliary marking handstamps sometimes take on a new life.

Visiting the British Empire. Barbados by Noel Davenhill. Different pigments, perforation devices, modifications, and watermarked paper all caused complexities among early stamps from the Caribbean island of Barbados.

Worldwide in a Nutshell. Nagorno-Karabakh by Bob Lamb. This mountainous enclave about the size of Delaware in the southern Caucasus has close ties to Armenia. One major catalog lists its stamps; another doesn’t.

APS 2017 Stamp Madness Contest

What historic postage stamp is the best of the best? Can a classic Canadian farm sow more votes than beautiful French irises? Can an Olympics stamp from Mexico run the table or will a 1962 U.S. space stamp rise to the top? Does the entry from tiny Chad have a legitimate chance? What about India, Great Britain and the others?

Welcome to our bracket-style head-to-head 2017 Stamp Madness contest [Enter Contest Here]. In four rounds of voting, we’ll choose a champion stamp and some lucky contestants will win fun philatelic prizes.

We have two simple contests. The first is our Preview Contest in which APS members, via the e-newsletter link sent today (voting closes March 22), are picking the stamp they think will win the overall championship. We’ll randomly choose the winner from the group that picked the winning stamp. One vote per person please and only members of the APS are eligible for the top prize (a 2005 U.S. Stamp Yearbook with $51.43 in face value stamps). A runner-up will receive the book Cataloging U.S. Commemorative Stamps: 1950.

Our second contest, also a Preview Contest, is open to the public for voting (voting also closes March 22) and prizes (top prize The Civil War, a book published by the USPS in 1995 that includes two panes of 20 stamps; runner-up prize the Cataloging U.S. Commemorative Stamps: 1950 book).

The stamps represent four regions — the Americas, Europe, Pacific, and Afro-Mediterranean — and they will square off to create a Final Four and eventual champion. Please choose your favorite stamp in each elimination round via Facebook and Twitter, which will lead to a final showdown and eventual champion. Again, we’ll choose at random from the “winning” stamp’s pool to award a prize.

The contests begin today! The first two rounds have the Americas vs. Afro-Mediterranean and Pacific vs. Europe. Good Luck!


The Americas
United States (Seeded No. 1) – The design for the New York World’s Fair stamp of 1964 (Scott 1244) was created using the artwork of architectural illustrator John C. Wenrich, who worked on both the 1939 and 1964 New York fairs. The stamp features two of the fair’s prominent icons – “The Rocket Thrower” sculpture and the Unisphere globe.

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