Monday, December 12, 2022

Library Postcards for the Holidays

As a collector of postcards featuring libraries, I seek out those that are less typical. Few are less typical than those that have a winter holiday theme.  Here are a few in my collection. 

What is the Santa on this 1910 postcard featuring the Cossett Library in Memphis, TN thinking?

This postcard featuring the Santa Rosa, CA public library was mailed on Dec. 24th, 1909. It was published by Richard Behrendt of San Francisco. I have several of Behrendt's California library holiday cards.

This postcard was mailed on Dec. 24th, 1920 and features the George Maxwell Memorial Library in Rockville, CT.

This multi-view postcard for Boise, ID was probably enclosed in an envelope when it was mailed in 1909 since it has a message but no stamp.  It includes an image of the Carnegie Library.

Robert H. Lord of Boston, MA published postcards with original messages and illustrations. This one was mailed on Dec. 18, 19ll from Molin, IL and has a message about public libraries.

A dramatic postcard featuring an angel and the Binghamton, NY public library. It was not mailed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Happy 125th Anniversary Book Palace of the American People

On November 1, 1897 the new Library of Congress building opened to the public. Ainsworth Rand Spofford, the sixth Librarian of Congress who was largely responsible for getting the building built, referred to it as the "Book Palace of the American People". Some even claimed that it was "The World's Most Beautiful Building". The building was renamed the Thomas Jefferson Building in 1980. IMHO it should have been named the Ainsworth Rand Spofford Building. I am a collector of a wide variety of artifacts that feature the 1897 building. One of the indicators of the beauty and importance of the building is the number of picture postcards that feature the exterior and interior of the building. On a recent search of eBay there were over 2,000 Library of Congress postcards listed which is more than any other library. I have over 150 in my personal collection of library postcards. There are also a large number of other souvenir items that feature the building. The history of the Library of Congress building coincides very well with the history of picture postcards. There are excellent examples of Library of Congress postcards for every postcard era. Here are a few from my collection.

PIONEER ERA (1873-1898)

1894 U.S. Post Office issue postal card. Mailed to Freiburg, Germany on Nov. 7, 1897, only 6 days after Library of Congress building opened to the public.


Mailed via the S.S. Kronprinz Wilhelm to Floha, Sachsen, Germany on April 5, 1902 just 7 months after its maiden voyage.


Washington, DC to Hagerstown, MD, Sept. 27, 1906.


Washington, DC to Lyon, France, April 21, 1908. Images of exterior and reading room.

WHITE BORDER ERA (1915-1930)

Great Falls, VA to Canton, NJ, Aug. 2, 1929. 

LINEN ERA (1930-1945)

Unmailed. 1940 date on back.





Friday, August 12, 2022

America's First First Day Covers

I'm a member of the United States Stamp Society. One of the most important benefits of being a member is receiving their monthly journal The United States Specialist. It is a wonderful source of philatelic information about postage stamps of the United States. The August issue for 2022 contained an especially interesting and informative article by Jay Stotts titled "One Collector's Fourth Bureau Issue Top Ten List". The Fourth Bureau set of stamps was first issued in 1922 and continued until 1938. Among Stotts' top ten list of these stamps were two that were of special interest to me. The first was the 11 cent Rutherford B. Hayes stamp which was issued by the United States Post Office Department (USPOD) on October 4, 1922. A special First Day of Issue ceremony was held for the stamp in Fremont, Ohio, the location of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library. First day covers were processed with the Hayes stamp and canceled with a Fremont, Ohio, October 4, 1922 cancel. One of those covers is shown above. The image is provided with the courtesy of Jay Stotts. According to Stotts this began the practice of holding first day of issue ceremonies and mailing first day covers at the site of the ceremony which continues to this date. I collect postal artifacts related to America's presidential libraries and have shown an exhibit of those items at several stamp shows. Jay told me that in his opinion the Fremont first day ceremony at the Hayes Library was in his eyes, a key philatelic event involving a presidential library. Which makes the Hayes first day cover a highly desirable item for my exhibit. If only I could afford one. 

Jerry Katz has a fantastic site on the  FDCs of the 11¢ Hayes Postage Stamp of 1922.

The second item in Jay's top ten list of particular interest to me is a first day cover featuring the 1923 2 cent Warren G. Harding stamp which was issued by the USPOD on September 1, 1923. This cover is considered to be America's first cacheted first day cover. It was produced by George W. Linn, the founder of Linn's Stamp News. A cachet in philately is any kind of illustration or printed information on a cover (envelope) that is not related to the cancellation, postmark, or address. The cachet on Linn's first day cover includes printed information about Harding. The cover is also a mourning cover. An example of the cover is shown below. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

Anon E Mouse Library Covers

In July I attended the Minnesota Stamp Expo. A highlight of the show was the philatelic exhibits which included a number of exhibits of first day covers. One of the first day cover exhibits was titled "How Now Brown Mouse? - The Evolution of Anon E. Mouse Cachets". The exhibit was the work of Cynthia Scott the creator of Anon E. Mouse Cachets. I collect and exhibit first day covers for library stamps and I was delighted to find a first day cover for one of those stamps in Cynthia's exhibit. It was the first day cover for the 1982 Library of Congress stamp which is shown above. I own a copy of that cover as well as Cynthia's cover for the 1982 America's Libraries stamp, also shown above. Cynthia has an amazing website which in addition to serving as a vehicle for marketing her covers also explains how she produces the covers. For the two covers above, she drew the cachet (illustration) designs using pen and pencil on a small sheet of paper which she inserted into multiple envelopes one at a time. Using a light box she then traced the original design on the envelopes. She then hand colored the designs on the envelopes. All of Cynthia's first day covers include an image of a small mouse. Cynthia received a gold medal for her exhibit in Minnesota. She has a copy of the exhibit on her website. I have a first day cover exhibit for the America's Libraries stamp which includes Cynthia's cover for that stamp.

The American First Day Cover Society (AFDCS) has lots of excellent information for anyone interested in learning more about first day covers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

40th Anniversary of the Stamp Honoring America's Libraries

Forty years ago on July 13, 1982 the United States Postal Service (USPS) issued a postage stamp honoring  America's libraries. It was the result of years of lobbying by the library profession for such a stamp. A first day of issue ceremony for the stamp was held in Philadelphia at the annual conference of the American Library Association (ALA). Originally the stamp was supposed to also honor the Library of Congress, but Librarian of Congress Daniel Borstin persuaded the USPS to issue a separate stamp for the Library of Congress. That stamp was issued on April 21, 1982. I previously wrote a post about that stamp. Both stamps were designed by Bradbury Thompson, one of the world's great graphic designers and typographers. ALA, led by its President Betty Stone, went all out to promote the America's Libraries stamp. This included producing a first day cover (FDC) for the stamp (shown above) which was sold in various configurations. The one above is signed by Stone and ALA Executive Director Robert Wedgeworth. The cover included an insert with information about ALA. ALA contracted with ArtCraft, the major publisher of FDCs, to design and print its FDC. Over a hundred other FDC producers (called cachet makers) also designed an FDC for the America's Libraries stamp. I collect the different FDCs for the America's Libraries stamp and I have developed an exhibit of those covers which I have shown at national level stamp shows. Among the most sought after FDCs by collectors are those that are hand drawn and painted. The one below was created by arguably the most famous cachet maker Dorothy Knapp.  I wrote an article titled "Bradbury Thompson's 1982 Library Stamps" for the July issue of PHILATELI-GRAPHICS, the publication of the Graphics Philately Association of the American Topical Association

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Braddock Carnegie Library 25th Anniversary Postcard

The Braddock Carnegie Library in Braddock, PA was the first Carnegie library built in America. The library was dedicated by Andrew Carnegie on March 30, 1889. On April 29, 1914 there was a 25th anniversary celebration of the opening of the library. Andrew Carnegie was also on hand for this event. I have many postcards in my library postcard collection related to Carnegie libraries but the one above is exceptional because of its image and its content. The real photo postcard (RPPC) depicts the grandstand and its dignitaries (including Carnegie) at the 25th anniversary celebration in Braddock.  The content on the picture side of the postcard reads: "The above picture represents Doc. Whitfield introducing Andy to the crowd. Library street was packed from the Maple alley to above Parker. You can see Dinkey Schwab, Bope, Hunt all those big guys." The content on the message side reads: "Just to show you that I'm still busy. This is one of 24 pictures I got on the day of the 25th celebration. I got two catalogs from Penn State." The message is signed by Laddie P-?. The postcard was mailed from Braddock, PA to State College, PA on May 18, 1914. It is mailed to Mr. A. Northington. 

An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazett for October 3, 2012 describes the 25th anniversary event as follows: "Braddock’s streets were packed when Andrew Carnegie arrived to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the library he’d built for the town.  Flags flew from almost every building, according to newspaper reports, and hundreds of pictures of the steel king were on display. Carnegie led the crowd in the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and remained on his feet during the entire two-hour ceremony."

Wikipedia had a nice entry about the Braddock Carnegie Library which recounts the history of the building. The library is now operated by the Braddock Carnegie Library Association

I wrote a previous blog post titled "America's First Carnegie Libraries" in 2012 which noted that both the Braddock Carnegie Library and the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny have a claim to being the first Carnegie library in America.

Enlarged detail of postcard photo showing Carnegie

Thursday, June 30, 2022

1850s Library of Congress Copyright Envelope


I've been collecting Library of Congress postal items for over 25 years. These items contitute a postal history of the Library of Congress. Items mailed by or on behalf of the library before 1860 that still exist are rare. Before I acquired the envelope shown above, I had only seen one other postal item mailed by the library before 1860. Obviously I was excited to add it to my collection. The envelope is identified as being mailed by the Library of Congress by the notation or docket on the left side of the envelope. It reads "Librarian of Congress recpt of our Copy Right articles". The envelope was mailed between 1851 and 1854 to Messrs Troup and Fickardt in Circleville, Ohio. George Fickardt and J.A. Troup were druggists in Circleville. The mailing period is established because their partnership only existed from about 1847 to 1854. Additionally, the 5 cent postal rate shown in the postmark went into effect on July 1, 1851 for unpaid postage (to be paid by the recipient). 

The envelope is also of significance in regard to the impact of copyright laws on the Library of Congress. An August 10, 1846 act of Congress authorized the Library of Congress to receive as a deposit one copy of each copyrighted "book, map, chart, musical composition, print, cut or engraving." Because that requirement had no enforcement provision and was largely ineffective it was repealed by an act of Congress on Feb. 5, 1859. An act on March 3, 1865 reinstituted a requirement that the Library of Congress receive one copy of each copyrighted item. On July 8, 1870 President Grant approved an acto Congress that centralized all U.S. copyright registration and deposit activities at the Library of Congress. The implementation of the 1870 law resulted in an enormous expansion of the use of the mail be the Library of Congress. I have developed a philatelic exhibit on the administration of copyright by the Library of Congress during the period 1870 to 1930. 

I have over 50 other blog posts related to the Library of Congress.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The 1982 Library of Congress Stamp

On this day (April 21, 1982) forty years ago the United States Postal Service issued a stamp honoring the Library of Congress. It was significant in that it was the first United States stamp to specifically honor a library. Although there had been previous postage stamps on which library buildings had appeared, those were issued to commemorate academic and other institutions or architects. Originally, the proposed stamp was to commemorate all of America's libraries collectively and the Library of Congress individually. Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin wasn't happy with the design of the stamp, however, and the Postmaster General agreed to issue a separate stamp for the Library of Congress. The stamp honoring America’s Libraries collectively was issued on July 13,1982 at the conference of the American Library Association in Philadelphia. Both stamps were designed by noted graphics designer Bradbury Thompson. I have a large collection of first day covers for both stamps. One of my favorites for the Library of Congress issue is shown above. It was the Library of Congress Philatelic Club Cachet Number 1. The illustration on the envelope (called a cachet) is a pen and ink drawing by Paul Boswell.  Boswell was a staff member at the Library of Congress where he worked for 46 years. Bowell was also a poet and in 1994 Boswell published a book of his poems and drawings titled No Anchovies on the Moon: Three Score and Ten Washington Pictures and Poems. Boswell died in 1994. The first day cover is signed by Boswell and Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin. 

The Library of Congress Philatelic Club produced first day covers for 18 different stamp issues. Their second first day cover cachet was for the America’s Libraries stamp.

I also published a blog post on the 30th anniversary of the issue of the Library of Congress stamp.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Women on Library Postcards Revisited

 As a tribute to Women's History Month I'm revisiting the topic of women on library postcards which I previously posted about on March 12, 2013. The first postcard below was mailed on July 10, 1907 and depicts the female staff of the Aurora Public Library in Aurora, Illinois. The library had moved into a new building in 1904 funded by a $50,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. With the help of more recent staff members I was able to identify the women on the post card left to right as Alice Belleau, Gladys V. Hull, Minnie J. Pooley, Matie K. Quinn, Lillian C. Miles, Kate E. Marshall, and H. Belva Hull. James Shaw, the Librarian at the time, is not shown.

Interior William Fogg Library in Eliot, ME. Unmailed RPPC circa 1907.
Librarian Gail Willis is at table in reading room.
Interior Adrian College Library in Adrian, MI. Mailed on 1/10/09.

Interior Hyannis (MA) Public Library. Unmailed RPPC circa 1930s.
Ora Adams, librarian from 1900 to 1943, at desk.

Bookmobile for the Library Associatin of Portland, Oregon. Unmailed circa 1920s.

Monday, February 28, 2022

More Carnegie HBCU Libraries on Postcards

 Andrew Carnegie funded library buildings at fifteen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). I have previous posts about the library at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and the library at Fisk University. The other libraries are located at: Alabama A&M in Normal, AL; Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA; Benedict College in Columbia, SC; Johnson C. Smith Univ. in Charlotte, NC (formerly Biddle Univ.); Cheyney State University in PA; Florida A&M in Tallahassee, FL; Fort Valley Normal and Industrial Institute Fort Valley, GA; Howard University in DC; Knoxville College in Knoxville, TN;  Livingstone College in NC; Talladega College in AL, Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio; and Wiley College in TX. Postcards for the libraries are difficult, if not impossible, to find. Below are postcards showing Carnegie HBCU libraries in my collection.

Carnegie Library, Alabama A&M Univ. in Normal, AL

Carnegie Library, Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA
Library is building on the left.
Carnegie Library, Benedict College in Columbia, SC
Carnegie Library, Florida A&M in Tallahassee, FL
Fort Valley Normal and Industrial Institute Fort Valley, GA
Carnegie Library is building on the left.
Carnegie Library, Howard University in DC

Johnson C. Smith Univ. in Charlotte, NC (formerly Biddle Univ.)
Carnegie Library is building on the right.