Associations With People In the Hobby Enrich Life

by John M. Hotchner

hotchnerIn a previous column I mentioned that my history in the hobby stretches back over 60 years, and it got me thinking. In many respects I’ve had two jobs – my means of putting food on the table for my family, and a nearly equal amount of time week-by-week devoted to the hobby. The financial returns have been modest, but the enjoyment has been a gift; whether time spent working on my own collections, or writing and editing time, or working with others helping to build the hobby’s infrastructure.

What came to me as I thought about the 60 years is the wide range of friendships I have had, but would not have, had I not gotten involved in organized philately, in exhibiting and judging, and recruiting for the hobby. One of the wonderful things about our hobby is that everyone, both the well-known names and the beginning collector are equal in our enjoyment of the collecting experience. When I began at the “beginning collector” end of that spectrum, I asked a lot of questions of anyone I thought might be able to answer. And it was rare that I did not get a cheerful, helpful answer.

All these years later, remembering back to those days, it is clear that I have gone through a role reversal. I now get to field a lot of the questions collectors have, but that is terrific, because I have always treasured the opportunity to hear about what others at all levels of the hobby think about what is happening in the philately, what they collect and why, and the odd things they find and enjoy. Perhaps that is one of the motivations of my becoming a philatelic writer. But the bottom line is that I feel privileged that my pursuits have allowed me to meet and get to know a great many wonderful people.

I want to take the rest of this column to name some of them; some names you will recognize, others not. My object is to acknowledge and say thanks; but also to make clear that we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before. I’d also like to entice you further into the hobby as I know that you will enjoy the experience AND will find that involvement is a one way ticket to friendships and associations that will enrich your life as they have enriched mine.

I must start with my father, Howard Hotchner, a Brooklyn boy who began collecting stamps before age ten and never quit. Of his three children I was the only one to catch the disease from him, but I was well and truly hooked early, and benefited for 40 years from his knowledge, encouragement and guidance. In the early years, my enthusiasm for the hobby was matched by that of high school (and beyond) buddy Bob Olds, who through his own enthusiasm stoked my philatelic fires, and remains a dedicated collector to this day.

Several of Dad’s friends were also mentors and friends to me: Jacques Minkus, Ernie Kehr, Elizabeth Denny Vann, Bill Hermann, Herman Neugass, Jan van der Vate, Bill Waldrop, Wes Capar, Bill Littlewood, Bud Petersen, and others now gone, pushed or pulled me along the path. Minkus and his Washington, D.C. staffers Morris and Hilda Flint even gave me a part-time job at the Minkus operation in the Woodward & Lothrop Department Store, just a few blocks from the White House, that lasted several years.

In the local Dolley Madison Stamp Club, those I got to know well over many years included Ray Hall, Margaret Babb, Ralph Walker, Mary Onufrak, Hank Simpson, Charlie Baker, Eric Emsing, Ann Brown, Tom Bristol, Miles Manchester, Gil Corwin, Carl Troy, Marilyn Mattke, Jim Cross, Bill Olcheski, and Harry Wohl, a few of whom are still above the sod, and remain good friends.

When the time came to get deeply into interest areas beyond my father’s, I got to know by mail such people as George Brett, Vernon Bressler, Jack Molesworth, Dick Graham, and Joe Bush. They could have ignored the twerp who asked a lot of what must have seemed to be elementary questions, but they were unfailingly gracious, and the dealers among them spent far more time on my queries than I spent money with them!

Eventually I got knowledgeable enough to trade information and material with others sharing my philatelic persuasions. Among them I would recognize with special fondness Larry Weiss, Frank Pogue, Pete Martin, Dan Pagter, Phil Nazak, Hugh Wynn, Jerry Wagshal, Charles Rudd (from New Zealand), Pip Wilcox, Doug Lehmann, Jim Cotter, Ernie Mosher, Don Evans, John Briggs, Ella Sauer, Lyle Hall, Tom Current, Ray Garrison, Jack Beachboard, Steve Datz, Bruce Mosher, Howard Gates, Bill Hatton, Ray Fehr, Bob Collins, Lou Caprario, Alex Hall, Brian Saxe, Arne Rasmussen (of Denmark), Ernest Malinow (of the UK), and Lou Repeta.

My first expedition into organized philately beyond my local club was in our Virginia State Federation, and there were many who befriended the new kid: Joe Harowitz, Alma Snowa, Jo Bleakley, Rudy Roy, Mike Falls, Darrell Ertzberger, Ed and Fran Rykbos, Leroy and Cora Collins, and last but not least, Don Jones and his wife Mary Ellen, who have become lifelong friends and in doing so went a long way toward convincing my wife Nanette that philately can be a positive despite its stealing time from a marriage.

Speaking of marriage reminds me of children, and my four Rick, Jay, Posey and James each took a turn at the hobby, and dropped it in favor of other activities. But unlike when they begged me to stop smoking, all have been and continue to be supportive of the old man’s obsession with little bits of colored paper.

The Virginia Philatelic Federation led me into exhibiting and then to judging, and it was here that I met and was taken under the wing of the colorful Clyde Jennings who must have despaired at times of my geeky and shy approach to life, but encouraged me to do things I had never dreamed of by telling me repeatedly that I could — and should. Other early mentors and founts of knowledge included Bud Hennig, Bill Bauer, Bud Sellers, Phil Ireland, Gordon Torrey, Charlie Peterson, John Foxworth, Pete Robertson, Bob Odenweller, and George Guzzio.

As I got established in the hobby, I was lucky enough to meet and learn from/work with contemporaries Steven Rod, Randy Neil, Peter McCann, Stan Luft, Jim Lee, Dick Winter, Steve Schumann, Rich Drews, Francis Kiddle (of the UK), Dan and Pat Walker, Steve Luster, Jackie Alton, Jamie Gough, Karol Weyna, Scott Shaulis, Ed Jarvis, Jim Mazepa, Alan Warren, “Connie” Bush, Ted Bahry, Edgar Hicks, Cheryl Ganz, Roland Essig, Steve Suffet, Art Groten, Jack Harwood, Steve Washburne, John Warren, Pat Walters, Joann and Kurt Lenz, Henry Sweets, Eliot Landau, Nick Lombardi, Roger Brody, Phil Stager, Hideo Yokota, Bill Waggoner, Joe Ward, Ann Triggle, Jane Fohn, Nancy Zielinski-Clark, Charles Verge, Phil Rhoade, Abraham Gelber (of Costa Rica), Paolo Comelli (of Brazil), and Jay Jennings (son of Clyde).

And it has been a privilege to get to know some of the rising generation of leaders typified by Tim Bartshe, David McNamee, Liz Hisey, Tony Dewey, Tony Wawrukiewicz, Tom Fortunato, Lloyd de Vries, Larry Fillion, Vesma Grinfelds, Alex Haimann, John Allen, Andy Kupersmit, Mike Lampson, Cemil Betanov, Steve Davis, David McKinney, Dzintars Grinfelds, John Phillips, Rudy de Mordaigle, Don David Price, Tim Hodge, and Dan Piazza.

Randy Neil deserves a special note. The man is a marvel. I was lucky to work with him in founding the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors, U.S. Stamps & Postal History (the predecessor of USSN), in establishing American Stamp Dealer & Collector magazine, and on a dozen initiatives in APS. No one else in the hobby has been more creative in making it an attractive pastime.

When I first ran for a Director position on the APS Board, it was then Director of Administration Frank Sente with whom I had worked as head of the Chapter Activities Committee who told me to go for it. People not already mentioned that I met during the APS years that have been sources of inspiration include Keith Wagner, Mercer Bristow, George Martin, Bob Lamb, Janet Klug, Steve Reinhard, Dana Guyer, Barb Johnson, Ada Prill, Ray Ireson, Norm Holden, Dorothy Blaney, Cheryl Edgcomb, Ken Martin, Wade Saadi, David Straight, Kitty Wunderly, Ernie Bergman, Gordon Morison, Steve Zwillinger, Joe Cleary, Dave Flood, and Bob Zeigler.

My writing career really began with a go-ahead from Ed Neuce, then editor of Linn’s, but so many wonderful people have been talented editors, supporters and collegial colleagues over the years including Mike Laurence, Ken Lawrence, Dick Graham, Les Winick, Ken Wood, Rob Haeseler, Michael Schreiber, Denise McCarty, Donna Houseman, Fred and Elaine Boughner, Barth Healey, Charlie Yeager, Len Piszkiewicz, George Amick, Jim Czyl, Allison Cusick, Fred Baumann, Michael Baadke, Wayne Youngblood , Joe Brockert, John and Elaine Dunn, Dan Barber, Dane Claussen, Dick Sine, Jay Bigalke, and Brian Baur.

Other organizations and other people played a role in my philatelic life, be it as elder mentors and guides, and/or colleagues on projects to push the philatelic boulder up the mountain a few more inches. Among them are Bill Schumann, Jacques C. Schiff, Jr., Jim McDevitt, Mike Bush, Robert Morgan, Michael Dixon, Harry Chamberlain, Elmer Cleary, Ralph Nafziger, Tom Breske, Doug Quine, David Beeby, George Godin, Jerry Kasper, Howard Petschel, Dennis Clark, Gene Zhiss, Stan Kenison, Hal Griffin, Al Kugel, Wilson Hulme, John Cali, Ed Dykstra, Carl Burnett, Jay and Denise Stotts, Steve Turchik, Jim Lee, Jack Williams, Kay Don Kahler, Gary DuBro, and Tony Crumbley.

To think that I might have missed meeting the great majority of these people if I’d remained a “closet collector!” And this is not a complete list. I have undoubtedly left out people who should be mentioned, but faulty memory and lack of space don’t permit a comprehensive list.

Also, among those named, many could be mentioned in several categories. Again, I simply want to convey the breadth of influences on my philatelic life, and by doing so illustrate how by allowing ourselves the freedom to get involved, we can enrich our lives in undreamed of ways.

Discretion Is The Better Part Of Valour

As a collector of new-issue U.S. first day covers and a journalist who covers U.S. stamps, it’s important for me to know what stamps are being issued by the U.S. Postal Service. Sometimes, I know more about new issues than the clerks in the post offices.

Here are some of the more amusing things I’ve overheard in recent months — at several post offices, I hasten to add, not just one.

songbirds_buntingUpon seeing Songbirds used for postage on one of my “first-class flats,” a fill-in clerk said, “Oh, those are pretty. What country are they from?”

At another post office recently, I asked for a specific recent issue.

“I don’t have that, but I do have the Clown stamps.”

circus2upTrying to be amusing, I replied, “No, thanks, I don’t need the clowns, nor the acrobats or the tigers.”

“We don’t have the acrobat or tiger stamps.”

“Yes, you do. They’re on that same Circus [Posters] sheet with the clowns.”


And this one had nothing to do with new issues, but the other day, I heard a clerk tell the same customer, within a few minutes, “I haven’t done one of these in years” and (sarcastically) “I guess you know my job better than I do.”

Sometimes, yes.

New Current Cachetmakers Directory – Free

[press release]

afdcs bestA new edition of the American First Day Cover Society’s Directory of Current Cachetmakers is now available as a free download on the society’s website, On-demand printed copies are $5.00 plus $2.00 postage and handling and may be ordered in the Marketplace section of the AFDCS website, or from AFDCS Sales, Post Office Box 44, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-0044.

This is the eleventh edition of the popular directory. The AFDCS hopes to produce new editions several times a year. The directory is now compiled by Ron Allen of Kentucky.

It lists cachetmakers both by their trade names and their real names (with a cross-reference), their regular mail addresses, websites, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers. The listings also indicate how often a cachet line is produced, what its first FDC was, and for what countries and what topics cacheted FDCs are made.

It includes both AFDCS members and cachetmakers who are not, and there is no charge for a listing. A form to request a listing is included in this edition, as well as information on how to reach Allen. The form can also be completed online at

“We want to list every first day cover servicer currently producing cacheted FDCs, regardless of whether they are members of the AFDCS or not,” said society president Lloyd A. de Vries. “Of course, we think all cachetmakers should be members, and that membership offers them many benefits.”

The American First Day Cover Society is the world’s largest not-for-profit organization dedicated to the collecting of FDCs. Each issue of First Days is published in full color and includes articles, columns, Society business, a non-commercial Cover Exchange, and the best collection of FDC advertisements anywhere, at affordable rates.

For more information on the AFDCS, visit or write to the AFDCS, P.O. Box 16277 Tucson, Arizona 85732-6277, or e-mail

Americover 2014 Celebrates ArtCraft

[press release]

afdcs bestAmericover 2014, the annual first day cover show and convention, celebrates the best of stamp and cover collecting in the New York/New Jersey area, and marks an important anniversary at the same time.

Americover 2014, sponsored by the American First Day Cover Society, will be held August 15-17 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Somerset Hotel & Conference Center, 200 Atrium Driver, Somerset, NJ 08873. A special Americover 2014 room rate of $97 – the 23rd year in a row with an Americover hotel rate of less than $100!

The theme of Americover 2014 is the 75th anniversary of ArtCraft Cachets, the oldest line still producing first day cover envelopes today.

Thursday’s pre-show tour begins with a tour of the Washington Press, home of ArtCraft, as well as White Ace albums. The Americover visitors will also meet current ArtCraft artist Susan Jorritsma.

The Americover 2014 bus will then take the visitors to New York City, for a quick tour of the Financial District, Nassau Street (once the greatest collection of stamp businesses in the world), and the Collectors Club of New York. The tour then goes to the famed Katz’s Deli, where lunch may be purchased, before heading to the World Trade Center site and then Champion Stamp Company, the only street-level stamp store left in New York.

Sunday evening, after the show closes, Americover visitors will go out to dinner at the Stage House Tavern, with rustic American fare and hearty portions. This event is limited to just 30 people, so register early!

During the show, the annual President’s Banquet will be held Friday evening, featuring the Taste of Tuscany Buffet with three entrees: tortellini carbonara, chicken marsala or fillet of sole with a spicy tomato sauce. (Special dietary needs can be accommodated if specified before June 30.) Following the meal, the results of the annual AFDCS Earl Planty Cachet Contest will be announced, as will the winners of the polls for cachetmakers of the 20th century, (fourth) quarter century, and decade (2000-2009).

Unlike other World Series of Philately shows, Americover’s exhibit awards are not presented at its banquet (which is held Friday night), but at the AFDCS Business Meeting Saturday morning.

Saturday evening’s “food event” will be held late – about 9 p.m., after the Cachetmakers Night Owl Bourse. The fare at the post-bourse party includes pizza, crudité platters (vegetables) and more.

Americover 2014 events may be purchased individually or as part of a discounted package. There is also a discount for purchasing event tickets before the end of June. There is an order form in the April 2014 issue of First Days and on the AFDCS website, .

Besides these events, Americover 2014 will also have two bourses (commercial dealers and cachetmakers), WSP competitive exhibits meetings, a youth table, a hospitality suite, live and silent auctions, seminars, and possibly a U.S. first day ceremony. A forum by a postal official involved with first day covers is also on the schedule.

For more information on Americover 2014 and the AFDCS, contact the AFDCS at P.O. Box 16277, Tucson, Ariz. 85732-6277, email or visit

ATA Launches Stamp Checklist Database

[press release]

ATALogo-2aThe American Topical Association has announced the launching of the biggest benefit to stamp collectors in its 65-year history. A five-year undertaking has resulted in doubling the number of its topical checklists to nearly 1200. The lists are being produced from a regularly updated database.

Already the world’s leading supplier of topical stamp checklists, the ATA is making the lists available to members from a new database containing almost 400,000 stamps and 578,502 topical listings.

Creating, merging and updating the listings have been the tasks of committed volunteer Karen Cartier, with technical assistance from her son, Michael. The project included adding topical listings from almost every page of the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, as well as all new issues.

“ATA checklists began when members sent in their lists for other members to use. Hundreds did,” said ATA president Jack André Denys. “Now that Karen Cartier has included every Scott-listed topical stamp in the database, our checklist service has made a huge leap forward. We are indebted to her for her time and perseverance in this colossal task.”

ATA checklists, available in a spreadsheet format or printed, include the country, date of issue, Scott number, denomination, and a description of what is depicted on the stamp. They are invaluable to topical collectors in researching and acquiring stamps. In some cases, meter stamps, postmarks, postal stationery and other items are included. Lists will be regularly updated, and members have the option to receive annual updates.

With nearly 1200 topics to choose from, collectors have a much greater choice for collecting major topics such as railroads and butterflies, to minor topics like hedgehogs and hurricanes. Hundreds of new lists not previously available through ATA, such as World War I and various lists relating to World War II, are being introduced.

Complete listings of the ~1200 checklists, according to Topic and also Alphabetical, are posted on the ATA website. A bonus listing of ~200 People shown on stamps is also included there.

Checklists are available to ATA members at a nominal price. Cost is a penny per item on the checklist—with Mini-lists for 50¢ and Maxi-lists over 5,000 items for $50. Membership information is available at or by calling the ATA office at 618-985-5100.

“It’s important to note that these checklists will never be ‘finished,’” said executive director Vera Felts, “as we will be constantly updating them, and making them more complete and accurate than ever before. As always, the help of ATA members is important in keeping the database information current and correct.”

Jack André Denys Honored By ATA

[press release]
Jack André Denys to Receive Highest ATA Award

Jack DenysJack André Denys has been selected to receive the American Topical Association’s highest award, at its 65th annual show in St. Louis, June 27-29.  The Distinguished Topical Philatelist award will be presented to Denys, who has served as president since 2008, the longest of any president.

Jack is a life-long philatelist, who has shown leadership and vision in his role as ATA president.  The ATA has enjoyed a membership increase the last three years.  The TopicalsOnLine website for buying and selling topical stamps, electronic and archive versions of Topical Time and a comprehensive checklist database of topical stamps are among the major accomplishments  during his tenure.

Among topical collectors and exhibitors, Jack is known as a champion of the hobby and mentor to countless new philatelists over many years.  His casual demeanor and wit add to the collegial atmosphere ATA members enjoy.

His exhibit on the Bayeux Tapestry has earned 10 gold awards, qualifying him for the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors’ prestigious Diamond Award.  It has also received the AAPE Creativity Award, the APS Award of Excellence, and the American Philatelic Congress Award for Excellence in Written Text. It received the Reserve Grand (2007) and the Grand (2008) at the National Topical Stamp Show. Internationally, the exhibit has merited a large vermeil with special prize at Washington 2006, and a vermeil at London 2010.  Albrecht Dürer is another of his collecting and exhibiting interests.

A member of APS, AAPE, and founder of the ATA Dürer study unit, Denys is a prolific philatelic writer who contributes to numerous journals.  In 2011, he received the Randy L. Neil Award for the best article in The Philatelic Exhibitor, “Myth-Busting Thematic Rules.”

The National Topical Stamp Show will be held June 27-29 at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel.  The Distinguished Topical Philatelist award will be presented to Denys at the show’s banquet on June 28. For show information see

2014 U.S. Scott Catalogue Numbers – May

Nos. 4785b-4785e A Flag For All Seasons in the 2014 US Specialized Catalogue have been renumbered to Nos. 4785c-4785f to accommodate the new listings below.

4782b As # 4782, dated “2014,” overall tagging
4783b As # 4783, dated “2014,” overall tagging
4784b As # 4784, dated “2014,” overall tagging
4785b As # 4782, dated “2014,” overall tagging
4785g Block of 4, #4782b, 4783b, 4784b, 4785b
4785h Convertible booklet pane of 20, 5 each #4782b, 4783b, 4784b, 4785b
Verrazano-Bridge4872 $5.60 Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
4873 $19.99 USS Arizona Memorial
4874 (49¢) Fortune’s Holly Fern coil stamp
4875 (49¢) Soft Shield Fern coil stamp
4876 (49¢) Autumn Fern coil stamp
4877 (49¢) Goldie’s Wood Fern coil stamp
4878 (49¢) Painted Fern coil stamp
a. Strip of 5, #4874-4878
4879 70¢ C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson
4880 (49¢) Jimi Hendrix
4881 70¢ Flowers and “Yes I Do”
4882 (49¢) Songbirds booklet stamp – Western Meadowlark
4883 (49¢) Songbirds booklet stamp – Mountain Bluebird
4884 (49¢) Songbirds booklet stamp – Western Tanager
4885 (49¢) Songbirds booklet stamp – Painted Bunting
4886 (49¢) Songbirds booklet stamp – Baltimore Oriole
4887 (49¢) Songbirds booklet stamp – Evening Grosbeak
4888 (49¢) Songbirds booklet stamp – Scarlet Tanager
4889 (49¢) Songbirds booklet stamp – Rose-breasted Grosbeak
4890 (49¢) Songbirds booklet stamp – American Goldfinch
4891 (49¢) Songbirds booklet stamp – White-throated Sparrow
a. Block of 10, #4882-4891
b. Convertible booklet pane of 20, 2 each #4882-4891

CVP90 (49¢) Computer-vended stamp on pre-printed Spiderman label

U683 $5.60 Verrazano-Narrows Bridge stamped envelope

UX645 (34¢) Tree postal card

UY52 (34¢)+(34¢) Tree paid reply postal card