US Stamps

Janet R. Klug, 1950-2023

Jun 19, 2023, 11 AM
Janet R. Klug, who died June 16 at the age of 72, was an accomplished exhibitor and the 2014 recipient of the Luff award for outstanding service to the American Philatelic Society, which she joined in 1978. Image courtesy of the APS.

By Charles Snee

Janet R. Klug of Pleasant Plain, Ohio, the first woman to serve as president of the American Philatelic Society and a former chair of the United States Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, died June 16 with her beloved husband, Russ Klug, at her side. She was 72.

News of Mrs. Klug’s death reverberated in philatelic circles as friends and colleagues reflected on her zest for life and stamp collecting, infectious smile and love of singing.

Mrs. Klug, who embraced the hobby when she was 6, has been described as a lifelong stamp collector who never met a stamp she didn’t like.

“Collecting stamps and letters from bygone days is a way for me to connect on a very personal level with people and events from those times,” Mrs. Klug once said. “History is not just about famous people and events. It also encompasses ordinary people doing ordinary things, overcoming the challenges that happen in their lives, surviving, and thriving.”

She joined the APS in 1978 and was a devoted member until her death. She served as secretary of the APS board of directors from 1997 to 2001 and was a member of the society’s board of vice presidents from 2001 to 2003. She was president of the APS, the nation’s largest club for stamp collectors, from 2003 to 2007.

During 1999-2003, Mrs. Klug was chair of the APS Committee on Accreditation of National Exhibitions and Judges, which determines the qualifications for World Series of Philately shows and those who judge exhibits at shows. She had been an APS-accredited judge since 1991.

She also gave her time to other APS committees in the areas of awards, finance, chapter activities and long-range planning, and she was instrumental in the development of the Campaign for Philately that focuses on increasing contributions to the APS and the American Philatelic Research Library.

Mrs. Klug’s influence extended to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in the nation’s capital, where she served as vice chair of the museum’s council of philatelists during 2003-07 and chair from 2009-14.

Beginning in 2010, she also had a say in selecting the subjects that would appear on United States stamps when she was appointed to CSAC. She took over as chair of the committee in 2014 and remained in that role until 2019.

Her appointment came at a rather contentious time because committee members were upset about what they said was the committee’s reduced role in the U.S. stamp-selection process.

“It is true when I say I never met a stamp I didn’t like,” Mrs. Klug said in an interview published in the Feb. 3, 2014, issue of Linn’s Stamp News.

“That means collectors can expect that the new CSAC chair is passionately involved in stamp selection, and will love every new stamp the USPS issues — even the ones other collectors may not like.”

Mrs. Klug frequently attended first-day ceremonies during her time on CSAC, including the Sept. 22, 2013, ceremony marking the issue of the $2 Jenny Invert pane of six (Scott 4806).

She was also a regular presence at stamp shows, both in the United States and overseas.

She wrote a memorable review of her first international show, London 1980, that is available for reading on Linn’s website,

She and her husband had only one day to spend at the show.

“I learned a lot about international stamp shows during my premier visit to one,” she wrote. “The most obvious lesson was that one day was not nearly enough. It takes about that much time to find your bearings within very large and crowded facilities.”

She recalled feeling overwhelmed by “what seemed to be miles of frames containing the most fabulous exhibits.”

Her review provided a number of useful recommendations, such as spending at least three days at an international show and wearing comfortable shoes.

“Janet was a remarkable woman and a tireless believer in the APS and stamp collecting,” APS executive director Scott English said in a June 17 obituary published on the APS website,

“She represented the best we have to offer any stamp collector, and I hope we can continue her legacy of warmth and friendship for years to come,” English said.

In 2019, Mrs. Klug was honored by the National Postal Museum as a recipient of the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement award, along with Harp Helu and Charles F. Shreve.

She was inducted into the APS Writers Unit hall of fame in 2010 and received the Luff award for outstanding service to the APS in 2014.

From 1998 to 2003, she wrote a column titled Starting Point for the American Philatelist, the monthly journal of the APS. She also contributed to Stamp Collector and Global Stamp News.

During her philatelic career, Mrs. Klug published articles and books on myriad subjects. Her first book, The Catalog of Tin Can Mail Cachets of the Tonga Islands, was released in 1984.

She and Don Sundman co-authored 100 Greatest American Stamps in 2007, and her Smithsonian Guide to Stamp Collecting was published in 2008.

She never forgot beginning collectors and often wrote with them in mind. Her columns in Linn’s, such as Stamps Down Under, were engaging, thoughtful and well researched.

The 1992 American Philatelic Congress Book included her research on the Queen Salote definitive (regular-issue) stamps of Tonga, and “Picking Up the Pieces: The Aftermath of Hiroshima” was published in the Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposia Select Papers, 2006-2009.

Mrs. Klug was also a highly accomplished exhibitor and won numerous national and international awards. Her specialties included Australia, Malaya, Samoa, Tonga, British Pacific and military postal history, the Australian occupation of Japan following World War II, Ohio postal history and many others.

Among her memorable exhibits are “The De La Rue Engraved Definitives of Tonga, 1897-1953”; “Australian Occupation of Japan, 1946-1952”; “Terror in the Jungle: Counter-Insurgency during the Malaya Emergency 1948-1960”; “I’ll be Seein’Ya: Five Years as Prisoner of War in Stalag VIII-B, Samoa’s Hut Definitives”; and “The 2d Queen Salote Definitive Stamp of Tonga 1919-1953.”

Cheryl Ganz, former chief curator of philately at the National Postal Museum and an expert on zeppelin mail, fondly recalled a charming episode from her decades-long friendship with Mrs. Klug.

“Janet and I once shared a room at a show hotel,” Ganz told Linn’s. “We were each in our bed with the lights out.”

It didn’t take long for Mrs. Klug to tap into her vast catalog of tunes.

“She started singing the West Side Story soundtrack,” Ganz recalled. “I sang it with her. For years after, we sang one of the songs as we met.”

One of my first encounters with Mrs. Klug came during my early years with Linn’s, when I was sent to cover the Sandical show, then held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, Calif.

At one point, I was with her and fellow accomplished philatelist Ann Triggle (1935-2018) when a trigger in our conversation prompted the singing of a few show tunes and other familiar ditties. From that point on, whenever I saw her, we would (well, mostly she would) break into song.

I will miss her charm, radiant smile, delightful sense of humor and kind encouragement.

Following visitation June 21 at Evans Funeral Home in Milford, Ohio, Mrs. Klug will be laid to rest June 22 at St. Louis Catholic Church in Owensville, Ohio.

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