Editor's Insights — By Donna Houseman
The stamp hobby lost two important collectors in recent weeks: postal stationery researcher and collector Charles A. Fricke, and former United States Postmaster General Benjamin Franklin Bailar. The obituaries of both gentlemen were published in the March 27 issue of Linn’s.
Early in my career at Linn’s Stamp News, as a budding staff writer in the mid-1970s, I wrote the Postal Stationery column. I had an interest in postal stationery, and I had a small collection, but my knowledge was limited.
Several members of the United Postal Stationery Society graciously shared their time and knowledge. Mr. Fricke was always just a phone call away if I needed an answer to a question or was seeking advice on collecting postal cards. Later, when I became editor of Scott Stamp Monthly, Mr. Fricke wrote the Postcards Over Easy column for the monthly magazine.
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He had a gift for taking what appeared to be an ordinary picture postal card and transforming it into a remarkable postal history item by examining the markings and researching fees and postal rates. His studies expanded into worldwide postal cards as well as those issued by the United States.
He was a first-class gentleman and a delight to talk with. He was always upbeat, positive, and willing to share his love for the stamp hobby.
My last conversation with him was in late fall 2016, after he received the American Philatelic Society’s Charles J. Peterson philatelic literature life achievement award.
Philately has lost a true treasure.
In addition to his connections with the philatelic community, Mr. Bailar had a close association with the Scott catalogs. In 1983, he was named to replace Frank Trumbower to lead the Scott organization, which was located in New York City. At that time, Scott was owned by stamp dealers Jack and Bert Taub. Jack Taub also was a well-known entrepreneur and investor.
Trumbower was a businessman who had been hired to reorganize the Scott operation. When Trumbower moved on, the Taubs called on their close friend Mr. Bailar.
When Linn’s parent company Amos Press Inc. (now Amos Media Co.) purchased the assets of Scott Collectibles Ltd., as head of Scott Collectibles, Bailar oversaw the negotiations that resulted in the sale, which included the Scott postage stamp catalogs, the Scott line of stamp albums, and Scott Stamp Monthly. And the rest, as they say, is history.