Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Friday, December 20, 2013
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
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
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
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.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
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
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
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!