About Us

The Stamp Family Apfelbaum

Many of you may have wondered where, why and when the Apfelbaum family got into the stamp business.

It did not happen overnight and economic reasons had a great deal to do with our arrival on the scene. It is not a short story and it involves thousands of stamp collectors and dealers over a 100 year period of time.

The first stamp dealing Apfelbaum was Maurice Apfelbaum who listed his occupation in the 1910 U.S. census as “Stamp Dealer”.

He began dealing when his son Earl was only four years old, and by the time Earl was ten, he had begun collecting stamps and was going around to dealer shops and bourses with his father.

Stamp collecting was different one hundred years ago than it is today. Most stamp business was done at bourses or in dealer shops, that is face to face, and little stamp business existed outside of major urban centers. Collectors in the country saved up for their annual visits to New York, Chicago or Philadelphia where they would go to the many stamp shops there and purchase a years’ worth of collectibles.

Earl and his father continued dealing throughout the teens and twenties but it was not yet a full time business, rather they dealt their duplicates and did a little trading as so many collectors did in those days to offset their stamp collecting habit.

The love of philately remained deep in Earl through the 1920’s.

He graduated Temple University and went into the family tailoring business, “Apfelbaum and Elias”, at 9th and Walnut Streets. In 1926, Earl hired a young secretary who had just moved to Philadelphia from Gloversville, New York. Among her qualifications was her ability to type over 100 words per minute on a manual typewriter. It did not take Earl long to realize that the only way to keep a secretary so gifted was to marry her and on February 26, 1928 they were married at the Old Majestic Hotel atBroad & Girard.

All went well and a year and a half later their son Martin was born.

The Apfelbaums became full time stamp dealers in 1930.

The Great Depression killed off many businesses (as it did the Apfelbaum tailoring business) but it was kind to the stamp collecting hobby. Even workers who had lost their jobs could afford a few pennies to add some stamps to their albums and thousands of collectors tried to become stamp dealers when they lost their day jobs.

Earl was an anomaly in the Depression – he was successful, opening a succession of shops in downtown Philadelphia and running Mail Sales and Public Auctions, long before the method of auction was highly accepted for the movement of valuable philatelic properties

The World War II era was good to the stamp business as well.

The war effort made for full employment, overtime made for fat paychecks, and rationing meant that there was little (except stamps) for people to buy so business was good.

The Apfelbaum firm began to run regular monthly Public Auctions and Earl still traveled a lot but now more to acquire philatelic material than to sell it. In the early 1950’s Earl’s son Martin joined the business after a stint in the service during the Korean War. Marty’s responsibilities included revamping the retail division of the company which he did by eliminating selling stamps to collectors from stock books, where a one on one relationship between the seller and buyer was necessary.

He instituted a Self Service Stamp Shop where thousands of individually priced stamps and sets rested in the counter books that could be browsed through by collectors. The Self Service Stamp Shop was so successful that it billed itself as the “Grand Central Station of Philately” and attracted hundreds of visitors each week.

Marty was responsible for establishing the Mail Sale business where stamps of a more moderate price point than those sold at Public Auction were offered in the popular competitive bid process. The company increased its advertising and its presence at national philatelic exhibitions.

In the mid-1960’s Earl started his Apfelbaum’s Corner weekly column for Linn’s Stamp News which ran for over twenty years and was the most popular feature in that magazine.

In August 1969, Earl retired, or shall we say semi-retired.

Martin took over and directed the Public Auction business to new heights, while developing a highly successful Mail Order business which replaced the old Discount Stamp Company. In 1972, Martin’s wife, Diane joined the firm. After 18 years of living the stamp business she decided to join it. A couple of years later both John and Ken, the great-grandsons of Maurice, the grandsons of Earl, and Martin and Diane’s two sons joined the family team, as did their daughters, Missy in 1978 and Susanne in 1984. Earl passed away in 1985 at the age of 80 and, in December of 1988 Martin too passed away, well before his time.

Martin Apfelbaum
Diane Apfelbaum

The last forty years have seen many changes in the firm and in the stamp business.

As technology has changed, Apfelbaum has been in the forefront of computer and Internet use bringing rapid listings, scans and better prices that results from using the newer technologies. Under the direction of the fourth generation of Apfelbaums – John, Ken, Missy & Susanne – our Stamp Store & Net Price Sales, with thousands of listings and tens of thousands of scans, are a favorite within the hobby. And as we have always done, we guarantee every stamp that we sell as being genuine and as described without time limit.

We continue to be major buyers of stamps and stamp collections that are needed to fill our sales and our buyers comb the country constantly looking at collections that collectors have for sale. If you are buying or selling you will find that the Apfelbaum Family will meet your highest expectations. For over one hundred years we have been satisfying tens of thousands of philatelists and it is our goal in both buying and selling to treat you as we would wish to be treated ourselves.

The Apfelbaum Family

John Apfelbaum 

  • Member, Publications Committee – American Stamp Dealers Association
  • Chair, Ethics Committee – American Stamp Dealers Association
  • Adjunct Professor of Philately – Temple University, 1975-1980
  • Instructor at Penn State’s Stamp Camp, 1981-1995
  • Author The World of Stamps & Stamp Collecting
  • Member of the Board Of Directors of The American Philatelic Society, 1976-82
  • Chairman of the Board of Vice Presidents of The American Philatelic Society, 1990-92
  • Treasurer of The American Philatelic Society, 1992-94
Ken Apfelbaum
Missy Apfelbaum Knee
Susanne Apfelbaum Meyer
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