American Philatelic Society
The American Philatelic Society (APS) is the largest nonprofit stamp collecting
Stamp collecting
Stamp collecting is the collecting of postage stamps and related objects. It is one of the world's most popular hobbies, with the number of collectors in the United States alone estimated to be over 20 million.- Collecting :...

 and organization of philately
Philately is the study of stamps and postal history and other related items. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting, which does not necessarily involve the study of stamps. It is possible to be a philatelist without owning any stamps...

 in the world, with almost 44,000 members from 110 countries. Both the membership and interests of the society are worldwide.


The society was founded on September 14, 1886 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, originally named the "American Philatelic Association", and the following day elected John K. Tiffany as its first president. Voting membership was granted to 219 individuals who paid Two bits
Two Bits
Two Bits is an American drama film. It was directed by James Foley, and stars Al Pacino, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Jerry Barone. It was released on November 22, 1995.The title refers to the American slang term two bits for a quarter dollar....

 for the privilege. The organization's name was changed to its present name for a few months in 1897, then back, then permanently in 1908. Society membership reached over 4,000 in 1940, and included US President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 and his Secretary of the Interior
United States Secretary of the Interior
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...

 Harold L. Ickes
Harold L. Ickes
Harold LeClair Ickes was a United States administrator and politician. He served as United States Secretary of the Interior for 13 years, from 1933 to 1946, the longest tenure of anyone to hold the office, and the second longest serving Cabinet member in U.S. history next to James Wilson. Ickes...

. At the 1942 APS convention, board member Donald Lybarger argued for the creation of a central office near the geographic center of the philatelic community, but not be in a large city. When he was elected APS President in 1943, he was able to turn his vision into reality. At the 1944 APS convention it was announced that the APS would accept applications for the position of Executive Secretary. H. Clay Musser of State College, Pennsylvania
State College, Pennsylvania
State College is the largest borough in Centre County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is the principal city of the State College, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Centre County. As of the 2010 census, the borough population was 42,034, and roughly double...

, was selected and the APS office was established there on April 1, 1945. As a testament to their leadership, the APS became the US representative to the Federation Internationale de Philatelie
Fédération Internationale de Philatélie
The Fédération Internationale de Philatélie was founded on June 18, 1926 and is the world federation for philately based in Zürich, Switzerland.- Aims :The primary aims of the FIP are:*To promote stamp collecting and philately....

 in 1947.

By the mid-1990s, the expanded services, staff and the American Philatelic Research Library had outgrown the facility in State College. A study determined that because of high local real estate values, it was not cost effective to expand the existing building. A search of alternatives identified a property ten miles (sixteen kilometers) from State College that was basically sound and could be acquired for a reasonable amount. In 2002, after much discussion, debate and soul searching, the APS committed millions of dollars to purchasing and renovating what was known as the Match Factory
Pennsylvania Match Company
The Pennsylvania Match Company, known locally as the Match Factory, was founded in 1899 by Col. W. Fred Reynolds, Joseph T. Montgomery and S. A. Donachy with $200,000 of their own money.Mr...

 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Bellefonte is a borough in Centre County, Pennsylvania, United States. It lies about twelve miles northeast of State College and is part of the State College, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area...

. The American Philatelic Center was dedicated in June, 2004.

Philatelic services

The APS offers several services to its members:


APS membership includes over 1600 commercial stamp dealer
Stamp dealer
A stamp dealer is a company or an individual who deals in postage stamps and philatelic products. It also includes individuals who sell postage stamps for day to day use or official stamps for use on court documents.-Stamps on Approval Basis:...

s and about 700 local stamp clubs. In addition, some 200 specialty societies are affiliated with the APS.
Individual membership reached a high of 60,000 in 1991, but declined substantially since then. Throughout its history, the APS has struggled with the issue, concerned for the future of the hobby.


The organization has two national events each year: APS AmeriStamp Expo is held each Winter and APS StampShow is scheduled in the Summer. Both shows rotate to different locations around the country. The Summer event is the largest annual national show with 150 dealers, 10,000 pages of exhibits, meetings of more than 25 national societies, and over 100 educational seminars. Local stamp clubs host smaller shows, some several times each year.

Honors and awards

The society honors those who serve notably in the field of philately. The American Philatelic Society Hall of Fame
American Philatelic Society Hall of Fame
The American Philatelic Society Hall of Fame award honors deceased philatelists who have contributed significantly to the field of national and/or international philately.-History:...

 honors those now-deceased philatelists who have served philately. In addition the society honors living distinguished philatelists for their contributions to the field with the Luff Award
Luff Award
The Luff Award is awarded by the American Philatelic Society for meritorious contributions to philately by living philatelists.-Established:...



Around 1970, numerous newly independent countries realized that issuing stamps was an excellent source of revenue. Because the stamps were sent to other countries, there was little risk of the stamps actually being used for postage. Historically, a country issued stamps to commemorate an event or honor a national figure, but these new nations created stamps that appealed to popular collecting themes, such as Disney, Scouting, airplanes or space. Instead of releasing a single stamp, they would create a set, with values ranging from a penny to five dollars. The APS was appalled, and created the “black blot” program. The society published a monthly magazine for members, and began to include a list of new stamp issues that were judged to be overpriced or unnecessary. A country with high illiteracy and a marginal postal service did not require 100 different stamps each year. However, many collectors rebelled at being told to reject some stamps, and the program was eventually dropped.

External links

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