US Postal Museum Taps Elliot Gruber

Elliot Gruber, the chief development and external affairs officer for the Jewish Social Service Agency, has been named director of the National Postal Museum, effective Sept. 5.

Gruber has more than 30 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector. As chief development and external affairs officer for the Jewish Social Service Agency since January, Gruber is responsible for the organization’s philanthropic revenue, marketing and communications. Under his leadership, the agency launched a $6 million capital campaign to renovate one of its buildings in the Washington, D.C., area. The Jewish Social Service Agency is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, client-focused health and social service agency helping individuals and families meet emotional social and physical challenges for more than 120 years.

Before joining the Jewish Social Service Agency, Gruber was a principal at EHG Consulting, which provides strategic planning and operations and fundraising expertise to nonprofit organizations. Gruber worked with the Houston Maritime Museum, which is preparing to launch a $50 million capital campaign for its new facility scheduled to open in 2020. He also conducted a comprehensive review and analysis of the organizational and fundraising structure for Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Gruber was the president and chief executive officer of The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Va., from February 2013 through April 2016. There, he managed a $7 million annual budget, 550 acres of parkland and a staff of 90. He also established the Monitor Foundation, a nonprofit organization overseeing the largest marine metals conservation lab in the world, to ensure continued conservation of the ironclad steamship the USS Monitor, which was built by the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.

From September 2010 until January 2013, Gruber was the senior vice president for resource development for the United Way of the National Capital Area. He was responsible for all fundraising programs, including the Greater Washington Give to the Max Day, which in its inaugural year raised more than $2 million in 24 hours.

Gruber was the vice president and chief operating officer of the Gettysburg Foundation (August 2002–September 2010) where he directed the $125 million capital campaign to build a new museum and visitor center at Gettysburg National Military Park. He oversaw all museum operations, including ticketing, reservations, visitor services and facilities management.

He has also worked in leadership capacities at the Ocean Conservancy, the Civil War Trust and the National Parks Conservation Association.

“Elliot brings great and relevant experience to the directorship of the National Postal Museum,” said Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton. “His skills as a museum leader and his fundraising acumen make him an excellent choice to lead this important museum into its next chapter.”

“I am proud to have been selected to lead the National Postal Museum, which tells the story of our American journey, past, present and future,” Gruber said. “I look forward to using my experience to work with the museum’s staff, advisory council and the Council of Philatelists to build new partnerships within the Smithsonian, across the country and around the world.”

Gruber received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and his master’s degree in organizational psychology from Columbia University in New York City.

He succeeds Allen Kane, who retired in January, as director of the museum. Marshall Emery has served as acting director of the museum since then.

About the National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum is dedicated to the preservation, study and presentation of postal history and philately. (Note: Philately is the collection and study of postage stamps, postmarks and stamped envelopes.) The museum uses exhibits, educational public programs and research to showcase the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world—including postal stationery, vehicles used to transport the mail, mailboxes, meters, cards and letters and postal materials that predate the use of stamps—and make this rich history available to scholars, philatelists, collectors and visitors from around the world.

The museum occupies more than 100,000 square feet of the historic City Post Office Building, with 35,000 square feet devoted to exhibition galleries. A U.S. Post Office stamp store, museum store and a 6,000-square-foot research library complement the exhibition halls.

APS Exec On The State of The Hobby

At a “town hall” meeting at the NAPEX show in suburban Washington, D.C., June 9, 2017, American Philatelic Society executive director Scott English talked about the diminishing membership, not only in the APS, but in stamp collecting organizations in general.

APS membership in 1988, when English graduated high school, was almost 56,000. Today, when his youngest child is graduating high school, it’s about 29,000. Membership is down about 900 for the year. “It scares me,” he admits.

English said he did “opposition research” before he took the job as executive director 22 months ago. He described that as “I know more about you than you do, and it isn’t all good.”

In this case, he found that the APS was disconnected and standing still. It’s still a problem, he said. “Our problem with the hobby is we love tradition.”

However, English — who was not a stamp collector before he took the job — disputes assertions that stamp collecting is dying, and decreasing organizational membership proves it.

“Stamp collecting isn’t collapsing, organized philately is,” he declared.

English told the collectors at the NAPEX session the APS may get involved in the Regency-Superior bankruptcy case. That was a large philatelic auction house and retail stamp seller with headquarters in Saint Louis. A major creditor has seized the assets of the firm, and those who consigned stamps and covers to Regency-Superior for sale may not be paid.

He said that while the organization itself was a consignor to R-S auctions and stands to lose money, the APS also wants to stand up for its members and other consignors. English says it is not fair that material that they own should be seized by this creditor, a bank. He has director the APS attorney to look into the matter.

He also said that APS may get involved in seeking changes to bankruptcy law to protect future philatelic consignors. English said that in his past career in politics, he was at times involved in writing bankruptcy legislation.

English also disputed the assertion by the owner of Regency-Superior that the business failed because stamp collecting is dying. You can hear or read his comments in a Virtual Stamp Club radio feature (podcast).

On other subjects:

  • APS will be redoing its website to make it mobile-friendly and Google-friendly. Right now, it’s neither, and only 2% of its visits are from mobile devices (and he suspects that’s just himself and COO Ken Martin).
  • AmeriStamp Expo 2017 in Reno was on target for revenue, off target on expenditures, and resulted in a loss.
  • On finances, English deferred to APS Treasurer Bruce Marsden, who said APS/APRL finances are probably the healthiest they’ve been in the past 5-6 years.
  • English gives “all credit” to Robert A. Siegel Auctions for getting the most possible for the American Philatelic Research Library for the recently-recovered inverted Jenny airmail stamp. “That stamp should have sold for about $180,000,” English said. “It’s probably the most expensive reperfed stamp ever!”
  • A small shopping center is going into the vacant space right next to the American Philatelic Center, with six retail spaces. Its architectural style was influenced by and will be consistent with the APC.

Scheuer’s Kansas-Nebraska Overprint Article Wins APS Award

Henry B. Scheuer’s article titled “Kansas-Nebraska Overprint Stamps: Why, Where, and When They Were Initially Sold” was selected as the 2016 winner of the United States Stamp Society/Barbara R. Mueller Award for the best article published in a single year of The American Philatelist. The award will be presented at the APS StampShow Celebration Banquet 2017 on August 5 in Richmond, Virginia.

More on the award and the article can be found on the APS website.

APS Names 2017 Carter Service Award Winners

The American Philatelic Society is recognizing Ed Andrews, Jack Congrove, Dawn Hamman, Ed & Judy Jarvis, and David McNamee for National Service to Philately, and Ed Laveroni, Sharon Newby, Gerald Nylander, Guy Purington, Roger Rhoads, Charles Shoemaker, Norm Shufrin, Roger Skinner, Tim Wait, and Ann Wood for Local Service.

Awards are presented each year at the APS General Meeting, this year on August 5 at StampShow 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. The Young Adult and Young Philatelist awards will be announced at a later date.

Brief bios of each recipient can be found on the APS website.

The Nicholas G. Carter Volunteer Recognition Award recognizes the outstanding efforts of our volunteers at national and local levels and also recognizes our younger members whose outstanding leadership is crucial to our future. The awards were been named in memory of Nick Carter who helped to establish them. Nick felt it was important to recognize those unsung heroes who contribute their talents, time and energies to benefit stamp collecting and the society.

Felts Honored By American Topical Association

[press release]
ATA 2017 Distinguished Topical Philatelist Selected

For her wide-ranging contributions to philately, Vera Felts has been selected to receive the American Topical Association’s highest award at the National Topical Stamp Show awards banquet June 24 in Milwaukee.

As ATA executive director since 2009, Felts has brought innovation and a positive attitude to the office and many of the organization’s programs. She spearheaded the highly successful ambassador program which has resulted in hundreds of new members, and managed the transition to a new topical checklist database, which has made ATA’s signature checklists better than ever.

For the past 18 years she has served as registration chair and managed the show cachets for the St. Louis Stamp Expo.  She edited the APS gold award-winning newsletter of the Southern Illinois Stamp Club for 15 years, and co-founded its SIRPEX local show.

A life member of APS, she served eight years as coordinator of its newsletter exchange. At the Science Center in Carbondale, Illinois, in 1999 she founded a long-running youth stamp group.

Felts is revered throughout philately for her devotion to helping people advance and enjoy topical collecting.

The Distinguished Topical Philatelist (DTP) award has been presented each year since 1952, by the ATA, the largest affiliate of the American Philatelic Society.  Don Smith served as chair of the selection committee.  The scrolls signed by all of ATA’s 119 DTPs can be viewed at

FDC Writing Contest: Entries Now Accepted

[press release]
Nominations Open for FDC Writing Award
Doug Weisz Won 2015 AFDCS Philip H. Ward Citation

Nominations will be accepted through May 1 for the Philip H. Ward Award for Excellence in First Day Cover Literature, presented annually by the American First Day Cover Society. All works published in 2016 are eligible

All articles published in First Days, the AFDCS journal, are automatically considered. Others may be submitted to the Ward Award Committee chair, Mark Goodson, 202 W. Temperance Street, Ellettsville, IN 47429,

Douglas S. Weisz, Len McMaster and Alan Warren were the winners of the 2015 Philip H. Ward Award. Dorothy Knapp: Philately And Family, a book by Weisz, a well-known first day cover dealer, received first place. (Weisz is pictured with a copy of his book.)

McMaster received the first runner-up prize for “The 1898 One-Cent Green Franklin, Scott 279; The Issue Date and EDUs,” which appeared in the March-April 2015 issue of First Days. Warren, a charter member of the AFDCS, wrote a five-part series in First Days, “Denmark Birth Certificates: Commemorative First Day Covers,” which concluded in the September-October 2015 issue.

Back issues of First Days are available for $4.00 each postpaid within the U.S. from Jeffrey Bennett, 1601 River Farm Drive, Alexandria, Va. 22308. A searchable electronic archive of every issue of First Days from its inception in 1955 through 2014 is available on DVD for $79 postpaid. In addition, AFDCS members also can download back issues since 2011 for free on the AFDCS website.

The awards are presented each year at Americover, the annual show and convention of the AFDCS. Americover 2017 will be held August 11-17 in Independence, Ohio.

The award is named in honor of Philip H. Ward (1890-1963), the distinguished Philadelphia stamp collector, dealer and journalist who was a pioneer in the field of first day covers. The award was instituted by the AFDCS in 1964.

Additional information about the AFDCS can be found at

APS Warns of Reno Hotel Scam

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HOTEL SCAM ADVISORY:  APS AmeriStamp & Stamp Show Guests

February 10, 2017

The American Philatelic Society (APS) has received several complaints from members regarding calls or emails received from a third party, indicating that the APS AmeriStamp Expo and Stamp Show hotel blocks are full and soliciting a room reservation through the caller’s travel agency.  When asked, the caller cannot typically identify the show hotel, and has no knowledge of our event.

This third party is NOT authorized by the APS to solicit room reservations on behalf of the APS.  This is a form of “Housing Pirating”.  These ‘housing pirates’ or ‘bandits’ are companies that phone, email, or fax convention attendees, claiming to offer room reservation services for hotels near a convention.  They may falsely claim to be affiliated with the APS.

Do not respond to any unsolicited calls or emails from a third party offering hotel reservations.  Unless you have initiated the communication, please do not provide anyone with your personal information, especially your credit card number.  If you provide your credit card information to one of these companies, your card may be charged and there is no guarantee you will have a room upon your arrival to Reno or Richmond.

At this time, the only authorized blocks of rooms being held for upcoming APS shows are:

• Atlantis Casino Resort Spa – 3800 S. Virginia St., Reno, NV 89502.  To reserve a room:  Call 800-723-6500 (“AmeriStamp Expo” or “ASE”), or visit the Atlantis website.  For alternate lodging, contact Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority:  (800) 367-7366,

Marriott Richmond – 500 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA  23219.  To reserve a room:  Call (800) 228-9290, or click this APS Booking Link.  If you are seeking alternate hotels, please contact the Richmond Region Tourism: (804) 783-7450,

If contacted by someone asking if you need a room at an APS stamp show, or misrepresenting themselves as a representative of the APS, please share details with the APS to help us make a case against the inquiring organization.

     • Get as much information as you can, such as the:
         » Name of the company
         » Name of the person calling
         » Company address
         » Email address
Telephone number
     • Request information in writing

The American Philatelic Society is NOT affiliated with the following company, whom we believe is responsible for the complaints to date:

National Travel Associates
1 (877) 595-ROOM (7666)
www .nationaltravelassociates .com
Business License: NV20111324251
Entity Number: E0274712011-2

This company, based in Nevada, may appear legitimate – having both a website and social media pages online, but it is not authorized to make room reservations for any APS Stamp Show.  Several complaints are on file about this firm with the Better Business Bureau.

APS Vacancy: Director of Shows

The American Philatelic Society reports its Show Manager, Megan Orient, will be leaving following AmeriStamp Stamp Expo (March 3-5, Reno, Nevada) “to be closer to her family.” We understand that that is in Pittsburgh.

Orient was hired by the APS less than two years ago. According to the APS press release in May 2015, “she and her husband are planning to make Centre County, Pennsylvania a long-term home.” APS Headquarters is located in Bellefonte, Pa., the county seat of Centre County.

However, that press release also said she and her husband have a young son. The job description just posted by the APS says the position “requires significant travel, weekend work, and work outside of standard hours.” Typically, the show manager not only goes out to the APS’ twice-annual show locations early and stays after the end of the shows, but also goes to potential venues for first-hand assessments of their suitability.

The Virtual Stamp Club interviewed Orient for a May 2015 radio feature, which you can hear here.

According to that press release, she had both training and experience in convention and event planning. She succeeded Dana Guyer, who left the APS to become executive director of the American Stamp Dealers Association.

Reflections on the APRL Dedication

by Lloyd A. de Vries, VSC
Has it been that long already?

It seems like only yesterday that Bob Lamb and Ken Lawrence drove me from APS headquarters in Patton Township (“State College”) Pa. to Bellefonte to see a derelict factory complex. On a later trip, Ken Martin took me up into the loft area of “Building 4.” We had to watch where we put our feet, because the flooring wasn’t very solid. But I saw the view out the open end of the loft and said, “Wow! This could really be something.”

newaprl08It’s now 16 years later (left), and it really is something. In fact, when I went up to the second floor for the first time during the celebratory weekend, I was a little choked up.

Other articles, here at The Virtual Stamp Club and elsewhere, describe the new facility and the dedication events. Instead, here are some thoughts about the building and the event.

I like to think I was a key player, casting the deciding vote on the American Philatelic Society board in favor of purchasing the property. But in looking around that weekend, I saw so many other people whose claims are just as good, or better, than mine: Donors, members of the APRL and APS boards then and subsequently, the architects, local officials, and APS staffers, past and present. There were even some past opponents at the weekend celebration.

newaprl26aRoger Schnell was on the Board when the vote was taken; he voted against it. His comment as soon as the results were announced was, “Congratulations. You just bought yourselves a pile of bricks.” Yet as you enter the new facility, there’s the sign shown on the right: The Roger Schnell Main Entrance. Despite his misgivings, once the decision was final, Roger became a major donor for the complex’s renovation. There’s a lesson there that some mainstream national politicians haven’t learned. newaprl26Every local official paid tribute to Ken Martin, now the APS Chief Operating Officer as an important part of the project. I think some philatelic leaders don’t appreciate Ken enough.

I was also glad to see Ken Lawrence acknowledged during Friday night’s dinner. He is somewhat a pariah nonewaprl18w, after an ugly APS election in 2007 and the subsequent lawsuit, and his always sharp tongue — he can flay you with his pen — but Ken was a driving force behind the “Match Factory” project. APRL president Roger Brody praised Ken, while admitting that he is often “prickly.” (I think that is the word he used.) Kudoes to Roger for broaching the subject. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, nor was deciding whether to do so wasn’t easy, either.

I hope at some point a big piece of the American Philatelic Center is named for Bob Lamb (left). He also had the vision, plus (unlike Ken) the diplomatic skills to make it happen.

newaprl28I was surprised that more wasn’t made of Dennis Gilson’s contribution to the project when he received his Luff Award for Service to the American Philatelic Society. In reading a list of his activities before Dennis signed the Luff scroll, Ken Martin first listed all his many activities on behalf of the APS, quite a few of which are continuing. Perhaps it’s because the American Philatelic Center actually belongs to the APRL, not the APS. Dennis was the first project manager, using his engineering background to get the work started. He retired from that post after the first two phases were completed and the two organizations had moved to the Center.

newaprl07I was both pleased and surprised to see how closely the finished product (right) looks like the architectural renderings (left).

Talleyrand Park is beautiful and the weather Saturday — unseasonably warm and sunny — showed it off to best advantage. Several of the local officials at the dedication thanked the APRL and APS for sparking a renaissance both for the park as well as Bellefonte itself.

The project isn’t done: There are a few rooms or areas that needed to be finished, some details that need to be added. Given the nature of libraries, the APRL will probably need even more room at some point. (You can’t digitize everything: There are copyright issues and also “forward compatibility” issues. If you don’t understand the latter, let me know and I’ll send you a box of 5¼-inch floppy disks.)

I understand there’s some thought to buying out some of the other pieces of property adjacent to the present American Philatelic Center. G-d willing, I’ll be there for the dedication of the next completed phase.

Here are some earlier Virtual Stamp Club articles on the purchase and renovation (reconstruction, really) of “the Match Factory:”

The New APRLibrary

by Lloyd A. de Vries, VSC
The new facilities of the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., are up and running. The Virtual Stamp Club visited October 28th, the day before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  This is a quick and by no means comprehensive look:newaprl01The exterior of the building, which the APRL shares with the American Philatelic Society, The APRL is the owner and leases space to the APS, which in turn provides services. newaprl09The old library space, in “Building 1,” is now being rented to Centre County Democrats.newaprl02The main entrance to the Library. newaprl03Staffer Fred Baumann at the Circulation Desk newaprl04The Reference Desk on the first floor. newaprl05This is the children’s area. The table and chairs are, well, child-size. newaprl06The company making the chairs called the APRL before burning the design into the chair backs: “Do you know the airplane is upside down?” newaprl07The main floor reading area. newaprl08The second floor atrium. In 2001 or 2002, when the APS and APRL were considering buying the “Match Factory,” I was up in the second floor loft area, where there was not much of a floor and what there was wasn’t terribly safe. I saw the view out the end of the building and said, “Wow. This is going to be something some day.” It is.

Here are a few more photographs: newaprl23Our tour of the new facility was conducted by librarian Scott Tiffney (correct spelling). This photo was taken on the second floor in the less-public areas containing material that is less in demand. newaprl12A reading desk on the second floor. newaprl13The upstairs reference desk, usually staffed by the Technical Resources library, Betsy Gamble. Pay particularly attention to the potted plant on the left. You’ll see why below.

The Dedication (Saturday, October 29th): newaprl17People awaiting the start of the ceremony. How many do you know? newaprl15newaprl14newaprl10Music before the ceremony was provided by bagpiper Betsy Gamble, the APRL’s Technical Services Coordinator. Why is she in the closet next to her usual station (to the right of the potted plant)? “People said I was too loud,” she told The VSC. newaprl16APS/APRL executive director Scott English speaking at the dedication. newaprl18Bob Lamb, who as executive director of the APS/APRL guided the acquisition of “The Match Factory” and its initial stages of renovation. newaprl19APS president Mick Zais (left) and APRL president Roger Brody cut the ribbon (of stamps, of course) to signify the dedication of the new facility. Behind them, from left, U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson; Mary-Anne Penner, Director of Stamp Services, U.S. Postal Service; English; Randy Brachbill, vice president, Bellefonte Borough Council (and husband of APS Director of Education Cathy Brachbill); Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins, Centre County Commissioners; and Lamb. newaprl24After the Library Dedication was the dedication of the Connie I. Swartz Reception Area, the main entrance to the American Philatelic Center. Swartz was a long-time employee of the APS/APRL, and was often the first contact for members and others when they called or wrote the two organizations. In the photo below, English presents a plaque to her in tribute to her long service. newaprl25newaprl20And then we took a walk on the beautiful Saturday afternoon to downtown Bellefonte for lunch, pausing in Talleyrand Park for a different view of the exterior of the American Philatelic Center. newaprl21Hard to believe much of the park was once a dump or yard for the lumber/home improvement company that occupied “the Match Factory” in the 1950s and 1960s, isn’t it? newaprl22And if you read this far, you heard it here first: There are rumors that the American Philatelic Center may expand some more, acquiring additional land. But not this park. It’s too beautiful.

Some thoughts on the opening of the new Library facility, by Lloyd A. de Vries, VSC