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Passing the Baton at the APRL

Roger Brody Oversaw Growth in Services, Completion of Space, and More

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     A At the American Philatelic Society’s StampShow in Richmond, Roger Brody will step down as president of the American Philatelic Research Library, but will continue to serve on the board of trustees. Roger was elected president of the APRL in 2009 and has served with great distinction since then. Roger’s tenure began with the APRL, like the APS, reeling from the effects of the Great Recession. At that time, both organizations were working hard to maintain their ability to operate, so growth was a hope, not a plan.

     Early in his tenure, the APRL launched an online version of the Philatelic Literature Review and established the Digital Technology Committee. These actions paved the way for us to build an online library of both APS and APRL journals. Before the end of 2017, we will have The American Philatelist dating back to 1997, further increasing access to the wealth of information available to our members.

     In 2010, Tara Murray joined as the director of information services and librarian of the APRL. Working closely with Roger and the APRL board, Tara has led the library in great new directions, expanding our holdings, services, and building the path toward digitization. She has brought together an amazing staff and volunteer team serving thousands of requests each year. Today, the APRL is a recognized leader, not just in the philatelic world, but is touching libraries outside our hobby. While we are proud of where we are, I am confident the best is yet to come.

     Under Roger’s leadership, the APRL reignited the search for the two unrecovered stamps from the McCoy Inverted Jenny block. The board created the McCoy Recovery Committee and, combined with a pledge of $50,000 per stamp from Don Sundman and Mystic Stamp Company, the APRL undertook an education effort to bring the stamps back to Bellefonte.

     In 2016, those efforts bore fruit when Position 76 reappeared at the Philatelic Foundation in New York. Thanks to quick action by the APRL, we made history at World Stamp Show-NY 2016 in New York City. The philatelic world witnessed the iconic recovery of Position 76 in front of a Jenny airplane in June 2016 — receiving international press coverage on six continents! It has become one of the biggest philatelic media events in the past 50 years.

     From the Javits Center to Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries just 11 months later, the APRL received $250,000 from the sale of Position 76 — well above the expected value for the stamp. The proceeds of that sale have allowed the APRL to pay off one of the bank mortgages on the Match Factory property, bringing us another step closer to being debt free.

     Probably the most significant accomplishment during Roger’s tenure as president is the construction of the new library in the American Philatelic Center. Since the purchase of the Match Factory in 2002, many have dreamed that we would have a library worthy of the vast holdings of the APRL. At the time Roger took office, the financial situation was such that a new library would have to wait and many wondered if it would ever be possible.

     The APRL trustees worked with the APS board and staff to complete and lease the whole of the Match Factory generating enough revenue to pay the mortgages and support the library.

     With cash flow in hand, Roger turned his attention to working with the APS leadership to create the necessary financing to begin the library. When the estate of Walter Weber brought the APS a cash windfall of $1.6 million, Roger negotiated a loan between the organizations, securing the funds to begin construction. In July 2015, the APRL Board of Trustees approved the contracts initiating the new library’s construction. We completed construction and officially opened the library in October 2016, completing the last major phase of renovation at the Match Factory and quickly becoming a philatelic destination for collectors and non-collectors alike.

     On a personal note, I am both APS executive director and APRL administrator. Since the beginning, Roger has made himself available as both counsel and a philatelic mentor. Together, we have achieved some great things for the library and I will forever be grateful for the time and wisdom he has generously given to me so that we can make positive changes for the future of the hobby.

     While these accomplishments are great in hindsight, none of them were achieved easily. Roger’s unapologetic advocacy for the library and the hobby combined with his diplomacy and calm demeanor came to us at just the right time. The hope of any person who stands for office is that they can leave things better than when they came into the job. In Roger’s case, I believe he not only exceeded expectations, but the legacy of his work will benefit generations of collectors to come. Many thanks, Roger!

     As Roger steps down this month, longtime APS and library officer Steve Zwillinger will step up as the next APRL president. I look forward to working with Steve as the library grows even further.

APS and ATA Join Forces for 2018

     At the National Topical Stamp Show in Milwaukee in June, I joined Dale Smith and the leadership of the American Topical Association to sign an agreement partnering the two organizations for the 2018 StampShow in Columbus, Ohio (August 9–12, 2018).

     This historic agreement is the first time two national stamp collecting organizations have joined forces to host a stamp show outside of international shows.

     For a long time, there has been talk of working together in the hobby and building greater cooperation. Those talks have led to councils forming and summits, but those should serve as a means to an end, not the end. This agreement is a direct result of the Summit on the Future of Philately and the formation of the Council on Postal Collectors. Dale, in his capacity as ATA president, has been an active supporter and participant in these efforts. The conversation started at WSS-NY 2016 last year and, through the months, the APS worked out details with ATA Show Chairman Jack Hamman, ATA First Vice President Dawn Hamman, and ATA Second Vice President Jack Congrove, including a meeting at AmeriStamp Expo 2017 in Reno, Nevada.

     All four of them are APS members and no strangers to the StampShow experience. John, Dawn, and Jack deserve our thanks for their leadership in getting the job done. I believe the show in Columbus will offer the best of both worlds to all stamp collectors.

     While this is the first agreement, it is my hope that it is not the last. Moving ahead, we will be building off this great event to bring more of the large national stamp collector organizations together to build one large summer show to highlight all that philately in the United States has to offer. We also created a committee within the Council of Postal Collectors to bring together all of the active participants in our shows, such as the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum and the U.S. Postal Service, to develop new ideas and leverage resources to better attract and recruit young families to spend a weekend at a stamp show. Dan Piazza, chief philatelic curator at the NPM, former chair of the Napex show committee, and longtime APS member, will chair the committee and we are glad to have his leadership for this important task.

     We will be providing more details about the 2018 show and reporting on the progress of the committee in future issues. In the meantime, I want to thank the ATA and its leadership again for taking this big step to join forces with the APS. I am confident this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

     Feel free to share your thoughts with me at scott@stamps.org or contact me by phone, 814-933-3814 or by mail at the APS. Thank you for your continued support.

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