Philatelic Vacations 1930

John Nicklin was one of the most prominent philatelists of his time. He edited the American Airmail catalog, was an editor of the Scott catalog and was president of the Society of Philatelic Americans a group that rivaled the American Philatelic Society in influence but was badly mismanaged in the 1970s and is now out of business. His biography shows us how much we have changed as a hobby and a culture in the last eighty years.

Nicklin was an active philatelic writer in the 1930s. He tells us that his favorite way of spending his vacation was as follows: He would research the older banks and bankrupt trading houses in a geographic area and then use library phonebooks to find possible relatives of the people who ran these companies. He would spend his holiday motoring around, stopping at these people’s homes and asking if they had any old correspondence or knew where any was. In one instance, that he himself relates, a family found him rooting through the storage boxes of their detached garage because, when they weren’t home for his visit, he started looking anyway. He called the experience “embarrassing”. Most prosecutors would call it breaking and entering. He discovered many rare Baltimore Postmaster Provisionals in this way and boasts that he bought them for next to nothing. His tone as he describes this is suffused with self satisfaction over how clever he is. When we consider that he was president of a large collector’s organization his behavior by modern standards is reprehensible. And remember, these are stories he relates himself. His real behaviors were probably even more borderline.

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