Postal Updates

Hotchner, Sundman, Trepel to receive NPM philatelic achievement award Nov. 4 in Washington, D.C.

Jul 13, 2023, 8 AM
John M. Hotchner, Donald J. Sundman and Scott R. Trepel will receive the National Postal Museum’s philatelic achievement award at a gala to be held Nov. 4 at the museum in Washington, D.C.

By Linn’s Staff

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., has announced its 2023 Smithsonian philatelic achievement award recipients: John M. Hotchner, Donald J. Sundman and Scott R. Trepel. They will be honored at a gala at the museum Nov. 4.

The award was established in 2002 to honor and celebrate living individuals for outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of philately. This achievement may include original research that significantly advances the understanding of philately, exceptional service to the philatelic community, or sustained promotion of philately to the benefit of current and future collectors.

“The National Postal Museum is honored to present this esteemed award to these prominent and influential individuals,” Elliot Gruber, director of the museum, said. “Their lifetime achievements in the field of philately embody the essence of this award.”

Charles Shreve, chair of the museum’s council of philatelists, said: “I could not be more delighted that the Smithsonian Institution has chosen to honor these three impressive philatelists. Each has contributed, in unique ways, to the betterment and promotion of stamp collecting — one of the greatest and most enjoyable hobbies in the world.”

Hotchner has been a collector since age 5, with wide-ranging interests that include numerous country and thematic studies.

Selections from “World Rarities and Uniquities,” his 400-page exploration of the breadth and depth of philately, have been shown in numerous courts of honor at American Philatelic Society, World Series of Philately and international shows.

Hotchner is a competitive exhibitor and an accredited philatelic, literature and chief judge who has headed juries at numerous national and international shows.

As a member of the United States Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee from 1998 to 2010, Hotchner helped select more than 1,700 U.S. stamps and steadfastly championed subjects that he felt highlighted American cultural, historical and scientific achievements.

Hotchner was a member of the National Postal Museum’s council of philatelists during 2002-17 and was named to emeritus status on his retirement from the council.

He served the APS for 16 years in numerous capacities, including the board of vice presidents (1991-93), director at large (1994-97) and president (1997-99). He has served on the boards of more than 20 other organizations, including Stamps for the Wounded, which introduces wounded veterans to philately as a form of occupational therapy.

Hotchner’s reputation as a writer, editor and researcher has been established through thousands of columns and articles published in a wide number of philatelic magazines.

These include feature articles for Linn’s Stamp News, where his U.S. Stamp Notes column has appeared in virtually every issue for the past 32 years; U.S. Stamp News; Philatelic Exhibitor, which he edited from 1986 to 2010; and American Stamp Dealer & Collector.

Hotchner has received the United States Stamp Society’s Walter Hopkinson award (1984), the Luff award for outstanding service to the APS (2004), the Collectors Club’s Alfred F. Lichtenstein memorial award for distinguished service to philately (2005), the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors’ Bernard Hennig award for excellence in judging (2008), the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society’s distinguished philatelist award (2008), the St. Louis Stamp Expo’s Elizabeth C. Pope award for lifetime contributions to philately (2013), and the APS Charles J. Peterson lifetime achievement award for philatelic literature (2013).

He was elected to the APS Writers Unit 30 hall of fame in 1999 and invited to sign the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 2017.

Sundman is a lifelong stamp collector, second-generation professional philatelist and tireless promoter of stamp collecting. He became general manager of Mystic Stamp Co. in 1974 at the age of 19 and was named president in 1980.

From paper catalogs to a mobile phone app (application) called “This Day in History” launched in July 2015, Sundman’s marketing has popularized stamp collecting and made it accessible to beginning collectors.

In 1985, he purchased stamps from the partial pane of the U.S. 1979 $1 Rush Lamp and Candleholder invert (Scott 1610c). He later discovered that the sheet was originally purchased by employees of the CIA, making worldwide news.

In 1998, Sundman purchased the only privately held example of the U.S. 1¢ Z Grill (Scott 85A), which he later traded for the unique plate number block of the 1918 24¢ Jenny Invert (C3a). He exhibited these rarities frequently at stamp shows, helping to boost attendance and garner positive press coverage for philately.

He assisted the American Philatelic Research Library in recovering one of the Jenny Invert stamps (position 76 from the discovery pane of 100) from the McCoy block of four that was stolen in 1955, offering a reward for its return in 2014.

He joined the National Postal Museum’s council of philatelists in 1995 and was elected chairman in 2004, a position he held until 2021. He endowed the museum’s annual Maynard Sundman lecture series in 2000, along with his older brother David, to honor their father.

Sundman was a major sponsor of the National Postal Museum’s William H. Gross Stamp Gallery. He also has presented numerous items to the National Philatelic Collection, including the famed 1979 $1 CIA Invert he played a key role in discovering.

Sundman became a trustee of the Philatelic Foundation in 2006 and has served as its secretary and vice chairman.

He has sponsored more than 8,000 new APS members and received the society’s Luff award for outstanding service to the APS in 2010.

He is a member of the Club de Monte-Carlo and was elected a fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London in 2019. In 2007, he co-authored with Janet R. Klug (1950-2023) 100 Greatest American Stamps.

Trepel began his philatelic career right out of high school, working for Stanley Gibbons and Christie’s/Robson Lowe in New York City. He joined the Siegel auction firm as a partner with its founder, Robert A. Siegel, in 1992.

As president of Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, he has organized innumerable famous name sales and held the gavel for numerous record sales, including the Jenny Invert plate block for $2.97 million in 2005; the Brazil Pack strip for $2.185 million in 2008; the Hawaii 2¢ Missionary cover for $2.242 million in 2013; a mint, never-hinged Jenny Invert graded extra fine 90 for $1.593 million in 2018; and the 1¢ Z Grill for $935,000 in 1998.

Trepel’s auction catalogs incorporate a high level of research, including census data and historical background for the items offered, garnering philatelic literature awards. He also has published numerous research articles in well-respected philatelic journals and edited the 1869 section of the Chronicle of the U.S. Classic Postal Issues for many years.

He co-authored with Ken Lawrence Rarity Revealed: The Benjamin K. Miller Collection for the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and the New York Public Library, which owns the Miller collection. He has also self-published books on the City Despatch Post and the Pony Express.

For his research work in U.S. philately, the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society has awarded Trepel the Carroll Chase cup on four separate occasions: 1989, 1994, 2003 and 2006. He has also won the society’s Mortimer L. Neinken (1987) and distinguished philatelist awards (1996).

More information about the Nov. 4 gala, including information on purchasing tickets to attend the event, is available on the museum’s website.

The Smithsonian philatelic achievement award medallion is a 3-inch, gold-plated bronze disc depicting a sunburst with eight straight and eight wavy rays.

Derived from the family coat of arms of James Smithson, founding benefactor of the Smithsonian Institution, the sunburst became the Smithsonian’s official seal on June 3, 1966, and is incorporated into the official flag flown by Smithsonian facilities and Smithsonian-sponsored expeditions throughout the world.

The sunburst is a universally recognized symbol of enlightenment and learning that links the Smithsonian’s history with its future.

The medallion is suspended from a grosgrain neck ribbon in Smithsonian blue and yellow.

The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of stamps and philatelic material in the world.

It is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, D.C., across from Union Station. The museum is open daily (closed Dec. 25) from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit online or follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram,Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter