The Rail Philatelist November 1997 Newsletter

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Volume 2 ………………………………………………………………………. Number 4 November 1, 1997


Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:

OCTOBER TRAVEL: My Eastern show tour had its ups and downs.I spent two wonderful afternoons immersed in trains, first at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, PA, then at Steamtown National Park in Scranton, PA. It was amazing to see what $25 Million of our taxes has done there in the past few years! Financially, the trip was a disaster since sales at the shows were poor although I did get to meet a few mail-order customers I hadn't met before. I somehow managed to lock my keys in the van at a Greensboro, NC gas station late Friday night on my way to Raleigh and had to get a locksmith to jimmie the lock - he indicated that mine was one of the toughest to get into - took him almost 5 minutes! Plus I had major car problems - after 289,500 miles of outstanding service, my 1991 Toyota Previa started having problems on the way to the D.C. show to the point that I had to pull over near the Dulles Airport exit of I-495 during Friday rush hour and get towed to a Toyota dealer. Of course, they couldn't get parts until Thursday so I had to rent a cargo van and was stuck in Manassas, VA until the following Friday (where this was written). That cancelled my planned visits to the B & O Museum in Baltimore and the American Philatelic Society headquarters in State College, PA plus my visits to my son Jeffrey and his wife in Pittsburgh, PA and my sister in Bradford, PA on my way to the Akron show. All in all a bad week. The highlight of my Eastern tour of course was my pilgrimage to the "Mecca" of railway philately where I spent three nights and two days studying at the feet of the master. For security reasons I can't give out the name and address but all those who have been there will agree with my assessment I think. I have co-opted the name "The Rail Philatelist" for my business, but in reality I am a train nut who collects stamps whereas the "oracle" is a true philatelist who happens to specialize in train stamps. My interest in trains led me to specialize in railway philately while his interest in philately has by now caused him to develop at least a passing interest in railroads. He started when he was a kid in New York City in the 40's and has been adding to his collection ever since. He only collects stamps, cinderellas and postal stationery that depict trains, trolleys and aerial trams; he doesn't bother with stations, tracks, covers,etc. but he does do watermarks, paper varieties, perforation varieties, shade varieties and all those things that "real" philatelists concentrate on. You would think that he would have everything by now and to the untrained eye (no pun intended), he does. However, if he knows (or suspects) that something exists, he creates a space for it in one of the 90 or more green 3-inch binders that house his extensive train stamp and cinderella collection, confident that someday he will locate the item and add it to his collection. His train postal stationery collection fills another 50 2-inch blue binders! An essential part of the collection is an extensive library composed of hundreds of clippings from periodicals and auction catalogs, specialized catalogs and articles from various journals, many of which he wrote or contributed to. He still enjoys the hunt (particularly for cinderellas) and is thrilled when he discovers an item he didn't know existed - and that still happens a few times each year. His collection is strictly for personal pleasure - he doesn't exhibit or present seminars. But what he loves most is sharing his extensive hard-won knowledge with others with similar interests - he is always willing to help out anyone with a question or problem. I hadn't visited for over three years so there were lots of items to catch up on. I saw over a thousand items I had not seen before ranging from recently issued stamps listed in ATA Handbook 130 thru shade varieties, imperfs, trial colors, deluxe sheets, die proofs, essays to original artists concept drawings - everything imaginable! He said that in social gatherings when people find out he is a stamp collector there are invariably two questions he can't answer:"How many stamps do you have?" & "What is your collection worth?". Well now I can: "Almost everything that exists" and "Priceless". His collection is a treasure that patience, dedication, knowledge and love have assembled over the past 50 years - it probably could not be duplicated with any amount of money today.

WHERE ARE ALL THE TRAIN TOPICAL EXHIBITS?: As best I can recall there were at least five outstanding train topical exhibits at AMERIPEX in Chicago in 1986 ( or was it the WORLD COLUMBIAN in 1992?) but there were none at Pacific 97. Actually there was one excellent exhibit of South Australia Railway Parcel stamps but it was hidden in the Revenue section. During the Casey Jones Railroad Unit meeting at Pacific 97, a young lady asked why there weren't any train exhibits there - a very good question. I didn't have a good answer but I hypothesized that since the train topic is one of the oldest most of the themes within the topic have already been done. What do you think? At APS STAMPSHOW 97 in Milwaukee, Dzintars Grinfelds' "Railroading in the U.S." won a VERMEIL in the "YOUTH" category while his mother Vesma Grinfelds won a GOLD for her "Latvian Traveling Post Offices: Rates, Routes and Cancellations". Norm Wright (of Handbook #130 fame) has done pretty well with his exhibit "Rochester Rail Mail" - he just won a GOLD at the Elmira, NY show Oct. 19 plus a SILVER for another exhibit linking trains with music and literature ("Readin', (W)ritein' & Railroadin' "). Congratulations to all! Where was the last train topical exhibit you saw? Are you working on one? Or have you already exhibited? If so, what were the results?

Event Cover

STAMP OF THE MONTH: This W. Wyman Local Post stamp (Scott #149L1 ) is probably the earliest philatelic item to feature a locomotive. Issued in 1844, 25 years before US #114, they were used for private letter delivery between Boston & New York . The one illustrated is actually a fake, forgery or fantasy (how many of us can afford an original with catalog value of $200 used). The many fakes (at least 6 types) are easily distinguished, primarily by the shortened or broken smoke but don't use the illustration in the Scott Specialized Catalog for comparison either because it is of a forgery also!

RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: "My other car is a locomotive" - Bumper sticker seen on a white Toyota near Castle Rock, CO Sept. 27 on my way to a stamp show in Denver. I wanted to pull him over to get more details but there was too much traffic. Is it a 4-4-0 steamer or an SD70 MAC - I guess we'll never know.

AMERICA ON LINE: I've read a lot of complaints about AOL in both the computer and daily news, but for my purposes I highly recommend it. I don't do a lot of web surfing but I do need to check my e-mail during my travels (and my web page occasionally). I haven't encountered a place yet where I couldn't connect to AOL via a local number - places like Victorville, CA; Grand Junction, CO; Lancaster, PA; Dale City, VA. And for only $4.95 on the "Lite" plan (3 hours per month) it only takes me one or two minutes a day to download my mail, type replies off-line, then send the next time I check my mail using the "Run Automatic AOL" menu so I usually don't even use the full 3 hours allowed. On the other hand, my AT&T Worldnet service gives me local access only in the bigger cities. And I usually get on AOL the first or second try so I haven't encountered all the problems everyone seems to be writing and complaining about - of course I seldom try to get on line between 7-12 PM either - I usually go on line in the morning before breakfast!

P.S.Preparing the "G" list (in my Manassas hotel room), I noticed prices have more than doubled for most used German stamps - not sure what is going on there but make a note for future reference.


Al's signatureAL PETERSON




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