US Stamps

APS, APRL hold joint board meeting Nov. 3 in Bellefonte, Pa.

Nov 8, 2022, 11 AM

By Charles Snee

The American Philatelic Society and American Philatelic Research Library conducted a joint board meeting Nov. 3 at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pa.

The meeting took place one day before the Aerophilately 2022 show held Nov. 4-6 at the American Philatelic Center.

Minutes from the joint APS/APRL meetings held Aug. 24 and Aug. 27 in conjunction with Great American Stamp Show in Sacramento, Calif., were approved unanimously by both boards.

Scott Tiffney, director of information services and librarian for the APRL, provided an update on the library’s progress in several areas.

The library’s collection continues to grow and stands at 97,464 items as of early November. A total of 1,623 items have been added so far this year.

Tiffney said that 90 percent of the APRL collection is comprised of donations, which are received daily. The library is working to increase the percentage of donations that are added to the collection, he said. So far this year, 1,395 of the 5,235 donations received have been added to the collection.

Work continues on processing the massive Herb Trenchard donation of philatelic catalogs and other reference works, with nine and one-half of 24 pallets completed. Roughly 5,800 items have been processed, according to Tiffney.

The holdings in the APRL’s digital library also are growing, with 18 of 51 journals added. This represents 2,362 journal issues of the 5,325 available to add to the digital library.

Tiffney said additional permissions have been obtained for eight journals, four books and 47 exhibits.

In 2023, a digital librarian and an additional part-time employee will be hired to keep the digital library moving forward, Tiffney said.

Tiffney noted that the number of unique users of the digital library continues to grow, with 742 users per month thus far in 2022.

Tiffney said that various service fees for borrowing or scanning items will rise modestly in 2023.

He concluded by reminding those in attendance of the upcoming Dec. 8-9 Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., and mentioned that the theme for the 2024 symposium would focus on the 150th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union.

Scott English, executive director of the APS, reviewed numerous topics during his presentation.

He first addressed APS membership, saying that the society has lost 2,438 members from 2017 to 2021.

“Membership trends aren’t as bad as we think they are,” English said, noting that dues increases in 2003 (from $25 to $35) and 2008 ($35 to $45) contributed to membership losses.

“People react when you change the price point,” he said.

New member applications stand at 1,359 as of Oct. 31, and the goal for 2022 is to match the 2020 recruitment total of 1,590, according to English.

He highlighted the October APS membership promotion in partnership with the United States Stamp Society that offered a free copy of the Encyclopedia of United States Stamps and Stamp Collecting. This promotion brought in 182 new applications, the best month of 2022 thus far.

English reviewed APS finances through Sept. 30, which showed an operating net income of $7,300, $5,800 less than budgeted. “The good news is we’re doing OK on a cash basis,” he said.

Economic headwinds resulted in unrealized investment losses of $197,000 and a loss of $189,600 in contribution from net assets, according to English.

English cited three top financial performers: education, which was $70,700 better than budget; expertizing/reference collection, $20,000 ahead of budget; and shows/exhibitions, $15,700 above budget.

Weak performers included the American Philatelist, which was $49,800 below budget, and circuit book sales and internet sales, which were down from budget by $23,700 and $19,000, respectively.

The Campaign for Philately is doing well, English said, with $354,000 raised or pledged.

The 2022 Stamp Soiree at Great American Stamp Show pulled in $85,500, the highest total ever raised for this annual event. The proceeds were divided between APRL digitization efforts and the APS Collecting and Connecting Central Academy, also known as C3a.

The 2023 Stamp Soiree is scheduled for Aug. 10, 2023, in conjunction with Great American Stamp Show in Cleveland.

English said that six Vooys Fellows have fulfilled their $5,000 pledges to the APRL this year, bringing the total number of Vooys Fellows to 56.

Plans are moving forward for determining a location for Great American Stamp Show 2025, English said.

Following two rounds of solicitations, two possible locations are being considered: Las Vegas and Schaumburg, Ill., near Chicago. A formal proposal for this show will be sent to the APS board in November.

For Great American Stamp Show 2026, English recommended coordinating the show with the Boston 2026 World Expo that will be held May 23-30, 2026, instead of doing a stand-alone show.

According to English, the redesign of the APS website is expected to be completed in November. It will a better experience for users and have improved engagement tools for nonmembers, he said.

The partnership between the HipStamp online commerce platform and the APS StampStore is scheduled to launch in December. English said StampStore will still be managed by APS staff.

English then discussed challenges facing the hobby. Organized philately is overdeveloped and underfinanced, he said, and participation in stamp clubs and stamp shows continues to decline.

The digital world is “moving faster than we adapt,” he said.

Also of concern is the loss of institutional knowledge, with no clear plan for the next generation of dealers and experts.

English emphasized a younger generation of collectors who question the relevance of organized philately. “New collectors (think they) don’t need us,” he said.

To confront these challenges, organized philately needs to unite behind an initiative that has generated a fair amount of controversy since it was first announced in early October: a proposed merger of the APS and the American Stamp Dealers Association.

According to English, who called the ASDA “the canary in the coal mine” for the hobby’s health, the merger would promote the setting of transparent professional standards, build a community of ethical dealers, use knowledge to develop new dealers and experts, and provide better education for buyers on market trends and dangers.

English said that his proposal for a merger was first presented to the ASDA and APS boards in September. This was followed in October by a request from the APS for more detailed ASDA financial and membership information.

The ASDA responded in October by forming a committee to study the proposal.

English said that if conditions warrant, the APS board will vote to open formal negotiations with the ASDA.

A final plan for a merger would have to be approved by the ASDA board and membership and the APS board, he said.

The expected timeline for an approved merger would take six to 18 months, according to English.

He concluded with a brief mention of upcoming events. An APS membership survey is set to begin in November.

Events rolling out in January 2023 include the launch of the Year One Program, which will help APS members take full advantage of all the society offers during their first year of membership; a stamp show initiative featuring concerted efforts to promote shows; and the launch of a series of Ask Me Anything discussions with APS staff and other hobby personalities.

In February, the APS will conduct a membership review, English said.

Jeff Krantweiss, chief administrative officer for the APS, provided a brief overview of the 2023 budget for the APS and APRL. He emphasized that costs for the APS are being kept in line with 2022 figures. A decrease in net assets is being budgeted for the APRL. Income in 2023 from the rental spaces at the American Philatelic Center was kept on the conservative side, he said.

The 2023 APS/APRL budget was approved unanimously by both boards.

A proposal to form a joint capital fund received the unanimous approval of both boards. This source of income would be used for the maintenance and upkeep of the American Philatelic Center and for technology improvements. Overall, the joint capital fund would serve the needs of the APS and the APRL.

The APS board approved a proposal to hold U.N. Expo 2023, a one-time World Series of Philately show, at the American Philatelic Center in October 2023.

Last on the agenda was English’s review of some difficulties being experienced by the Aripex show. English recommended suspending the World Series of Philately status of Aripex in 2023, pending needed changes that will have to be made for reinstatement as a World Series of Philately show in 2024.

The APS board unanimously approved the one-year suspension.

The APS is the nation’s largest organization serving stamp collectors. Additional information and a membership application are available from the APS.

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