Herman Herst, Jr.

That is the name of a wonderful book written in the 1960s by the famed philatelic writer and dealer Herman Herst, Jr. “Pat” Herst, as he was called, was a newspaper man and well educated stamp collector who evolved into a full time dealer the way many dealers found their profession. In the 1930s, employment prospects were bleak. At the height of the Great Depression the unemployment rate was over 30%, and when you consider that there was no social safety net (unemployment insurance or food stamps) and that most families were single wage earning families, many Americans were on the verge of disaster.

In addition to poor employment prospects, many of those that continued to work were underemployed, taking any job that was available, despite their skill level. Herst was a skilled writer with an English degree from prestigious Reed College, and the only job he could find when he moved East was in the mail room of a large firm. Like many of his generation, Herst turned to his hobby and began to trade stamps on the side. Stamp collecting and part time dealing was pervasive in the 1930s. Many were out of work and had stamp collections, and it was easy to sell from your collection. Many collectors did a little trading to earn a few days respite from the anxiety of not being able to provide for their family. This is how and why our company was founded as well. Earl Apfelbaum (and his father Maurice before him) had traded stamps part time since 1910 to supplement their incomes. But only when his business failed after the 1929 stock market crash did Earl Apfelbaum become a full time stamp dealer.

But though he was a successful stamp dealer, Pat Herst’s first love remained writing. He published a weekly house journal which listed stamps for sale along with stories and reminiscences, and this journal became some of the most widely read philatelic material in the 1950s and 1960s.  Herst wrote two main books for the general mass market. The first, Stories to Collect Stamps By, was a New York Times best seller for many weeks. It is a readable and engaging book of essays about stamp collecting in the old days and is still available on Amazon at a modest price. His second book, Fun and Profit in Stamp Collecting, is a 1960s era primer on how to effectively buy and sell stamps. Hard bound and over 160 pages, it’s a bit dated but a very enjoyable read. We recently found a second like new copy in our library. Anyone who wants it please email me at johnapfelbaum1@gmail.com before September 1. It’s free (we even pay the postage), and if we get more than one request for it before the cutoff date, we’ll put the name in a hat and pick a winner.

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