Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Newsletters

Fremont Stamp Club

Newsletters are in pdf format.  If you do not have Adobe Reader, you can download it at no cost from here.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Council Courier - First Edition for the New Year

The Fremont Stamp Club is pleased to post the January 2014 quarterly issue of The Council Courier, the newsletter for the Council of Northern California Philatelic Societies.  The council promotes philately in the northern California region for clubs and member societies. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Austro-Hungarian Consulate -- in New Orleans!

I recently bought the cover below that originated from the Austro-Hungarian Consulate in New Orleans.  One does not normally associate Austria-Hungary, a long defunct empire, with New Orleans.  This cover intrigued me and I decided to do some research.

I found an excellent book on Austro-Hungarian missions in the US.  It is entitled Austria (-Hungary) and Its Consulates in the United States of America since 1820 by Rudolf Agstner, a diplomat in the Austrian foreign service. He had a small section on the New Orleans consulate and it had a long history dating back to 1837.  In fact there were many consulates scattered across the South.  The reason: economics (trade) especially cotton.  The consulate in New Orleans lasted until April 1917 when the US declared war on the Central Powers.

I wish that I could tell you stories of intrigue and spying at the New Orleans consulate.  No such luck.  I did find out that the last honorary consul in New Orleans was Franz Hindermann.  He served for twenty-one years.  One night in 1908 someone broke into the consulate and ransacked the files.  According to Mr. Agstner, no files remain past 1908.  Interestingly, the cover I bought is dated 1911.

Oh yes, I almost forgot.  I was puzzled by the I&R in the upper left hand corner of the cover.  A quick search revealed that it stands for Imperial and Royal.  

I look forward acquiring other such diplomatic covers related to the Empire.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Tolstoy Foundation

I really enjoy perusing the listings on eBay for philatelic items. Sometimes I run across an item of which I know nothing yet want to learn about its history. To me this is the best part of stamp collecting.

One such item was a cover addressed to Countess Alexandra Tolstoy at the Tolstoy Foundation in New York dated April 2, 1939. I never heard of this organization nor did I know anything about Alexandra Tolstoy. Thanks to the internet, I was able to gather some great background info on her in a matter of minutes. The youngest daughter of the noted author, she fled the USSR in 1929 to the US after being imprisoned by the communist government.  Understanding the plight of Russian refugees, she set up the foundation in 1939 along with several other motivated individuals.

I found a wonderful essay online written by Scott Moss entitled A History of the Tolstoy Foundation 1939 - 1989. The essay is almost forty pages and thoroughly discusses the foundation's activities over the years. The foundation's early years were quite challenging.  Ms. Tolstoy started in a room donated by an Episcopal church in New York with funds totaling $25.  Several years later they were sending several hundred thousand dollars to help captured Russian soldiers during the Russo-Finnish War. As with future conflicts, the biggest problem was repatriation to the USSR which often meant a death sentence.

The Foundation moved to its present day rural location in New York in 1941, allowing more room for its activities.  Over the years the mission of the organization expanded to serving non-Russians.  Unfortunately the Foundation's website is not active at the time of this writing according to their "under construction" message.

The cover I purchased was sent to the Foundation for the first two years they were located in the one room in the Episcopal church on Fourth Avenue. This fact makes the cover more special.  Also, note the War Prisoner's Aid cachet in the lower left hand corner.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Neat Piece of Americana

PSE graded stamps may be all the rage in the stamp world but my true philatelic love is the cover. I recently acquired the cover below addressed to Eddie Cantor dated April 9, 1937.  Not familiar with the name Eddie Cantor?  Don't worry, he's not well known as his heyday was back in the 1920s and 30s as a singer/comedian/radio host.  The Wikipedia article on him provides excellent background information. 

I call this cover a piece of Americana as it is addressed to his fictional title as Mayor of Texaco Town. Cantor had a popular radio program called Texaco Town. Apparently someone later added the street address on the front. I did find a YouTube clip from the Texaco Town program featuring Eddie Cantor with British film star Leslie Howard.  It is still funny (at least to me).

The sender of this cover spent quite a bit of money on it.  The nineteen cents in stamps includes six cents for airmail and ten cents for special delivery.  The date stamps provide a history of the cover's travel.  It began in Quakertown, PA at 7 am on April 9th, next stop was Reading Terminal in Philadelphia at 9 am, Newark, NJ at noon and then on to Chicago for delivery at 8:05 pm on the same day.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fun and Frivolity at Filatelic Fiesta

Ok, there wasn't much frivolity at Filatelic Fiesta in San Jose but I did have a lot of fun accompanying club president Ken. It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning and I managed to pick up a few fun items for a nominal price. The dealer selection was quite good for a local show so there was plenty of choice.

 Ever pass up an item and then have second thoughts that you should have bought it? Well I did at a show a few months ago and regretted not purchasing a certain prexie cover. Fortunately the same dealer appeared at this show and I bought it. The array of high denomination multi-colored prexies on this cover make a stunning appearance.

Lately I have been attracted to early twentieth century Canadian stamps. Several designs are downright gorgeous. My favorites, which I picked up at the show, are C1 and C5 airmail stamps. The C1 was the first Canadian airmail stamp issued in 1928. 

 Another favorite airmail is the C5 below.

One word of advice if you ever go to this show at the fairgrounds: stay away from the snack bar. Four dollars for a Diet Pepsi was outrageous.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My Quest for the Zeppelin

A few years ago I rekindled my interest in stamp collecting. I had a few years off, like thirty! Unfortunately I no longer had my old collection so I had to start fresh. The one burning and unfulfilled ambition I had as a teen was to get a stamp from the Graf Zeppelin series of 1930 (C13-C15). Whenever I'd look at the pages with early US airmail stamps, I would see the empty spaces for the Graf Zeppelin stamps. I had the sinking feeling that these spaces would always be empty.

What makes the US Zeppelin series special? This series has all the ingredients of a classic with a beautiful design, quality engraving, scarcity and interesting subject matter. Most people think of the Hindenburg disaster when it comes to zeppelins but I think of the luxurious mode of travel back in the 1930s. It is regrettably an extinct form of passenger travel. As for the stamp, it has always been valuable and reached a peak in the 1980s when a set sold for about $5,000. I didn't expect prices to come down so I gave up on getting any stamp from the series.

When I got back into stamp collecting my first pursuit was the green sixty-five cent Zeppelin, the cheapest in the series. I told a friend at work about a year ago that I could have bought an unused copy of this stamp fifteen years ago for $400. "How much is it worth today, a few thousand?" she said. "No, more like $300." It was a funny exchange. However it did tell me that the stamp was now within reach.

I'm more into covers than unused stamps these days. I began a quest for a C-13 on a postcard as this fit my needs both financially and in a collecting sense. Last summer I went to the APS Show in Sacramento with Ken searching for a C-13 postcard. Since it is one of the largest shows, I didn't expect any problem. Table to table I went in search of the stamp. The dealers had only special flight covers which were out of my price range. So I came home and ordered the card below on eBay!

There is a wonderful website about the zeppelin and zeppelin travel during the 1930s. If you are interested, please check out www.airships.net for photos and discussion of these beautiful airships. There are some excerpts from passenger diaries that give one the sense of what travel was like on a zeppelin.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Upcoming Show: Three Dealers (Sunnyvale)

The Three Dealer Show will be held later this month at the Sheraton in Sunnyvale on February 23rd and 24th. The address is 1100 N. Mathilda Ave. The hours will be 10am - 6pm on Saturday the 23rd and 10am - 4pm on Sunday the 24th.

There is something for everyone at this show. Richard Clever represents Asia Philatelics, Gary Hoecker does US and Tom from Stamp Art sells the world. Keep in mind that Gary and Tom come down from Oregon so show your appreciation by paying them a visit and buying a few stamps.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Visit to the Stamp Show in San Jose

Last Saturday I went to the Great American Stamp Expo held at Napradek Hall in San Jose. Several other FSC members were in attendance as well. Like most other collectors, I went to the show with a want list. My list was quite short as I wanted a used 10 cent Panama Pacific Exposition (400 or 400A) and an unused 10 cent Monroe (562) from the 1922 Fourth Bureau issue. Since I'm not seeking investment pieces, I am much more forgiving in terms of condition. A light hinge will not be a deal breaker in itself for me.

The five and ten cent issues of the Panama Pacific Exposition of 1913 are two of the most beautiful stamps in our history. I bought a nice used ten cent (400A) with light cancellation marks.  Many other collectibles from the expo survive. Coin collectors are familiar with the commemorative coins also issued which include the rare $50 gold coins, both round and octagonal.

The 1922 Fourth Bureau is another one of my favorite series.  I was in need of the ten cent Monroe and found a nice one at the show.  While the centering may be a bit off, it has nice color and is well struck.

My stingy budget allowed me to get another item at the show.  While looking through exposition postcards, I ran across a nice one from the Alaska-Yukon Exposition of 1909.  The card has some condition issues but I like the scene on the front as well as the message and expo station cancellation on the back. For a nominal price, I couldn't pass it up.

I noticed the address on the back as Jersey, Arizona. I lived in Arizona many years and never heard of that town. There is a good reason as the town no longer exists. Jersey was a short-lived gold mining town near Prescott.  It existed for only a few years. There are no remains of it, except of course for this postcard!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FSC's Henry Marquez Wins APS Award

The Fremont Stamp Club is proud of member Henry Marquez who won the Single Frame Champion of Champions Award at the 2012 APS Stamp Show. His exhibit, The First Coil Stamp of the World, discusses the Peruvian coil issue of 1862.  It is a complete study of the stamp and has wonderful illustrations.

You can view the complete exhibit here. Enjoy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Local Stamp Show this Coming Weekend

This upcoming Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26th and 27th, the Great American Stamp Expo will be held in San Jose. The address is Napradek Hall, 770 Montague Expressway. Hours are from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday and 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday.