Specialty Research

One of the greatest difficulties in our hobby is passing specialized information from one generation to the next. Philatelic books are often indexed and catalogs exist of book titles, but the vast majority of philatelic writing is (and was) for periodicals, and no adequate philatelic periodical index exists. During the later years of the Nineteenth Century, there were scores of monthly philatelic journals that printed scholarly and semi-learned articles about stamps, and nearly all of this material is lost to us now. We still have access to these periodicals in our better philatelic libraries such as the American Philatelic Research Library, but only readers who have the time and geographic access to thumb through these journals can use them. And these journals and articles are nearly useless to students who want to know what was written about their subject in the past. Years ago I used to buy cartons of hundred year old stamp magazines and page through them in my spare time. Such cartons of hundred year old literature are surprisingly cheap, when you can find them. What amazed me was how often different generations and different continents repeated the same research and study on their stamps and then presented the research as new because they had no way of knowing what had been done before. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of problem that it used to be because fewer collectors are researching their stamps and writing up their collections.
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