Michael Laurence, our featured speaker for November, delivered a delightful presentation on “Using Cover Census Data in Philatelic Research.” Michael first reviewed a history of U.S. cover censuses, noting that these studies first focused on great rarities (ninety cent issues) and then moved on to the 1847 and 1869 stamp issues. He then noted that any good cover census requires four essential elements: chronology (based on rigorous data); comprehensiveness (scans or photos are essential); sortability (spreadsheets make it easier); and image accessability (electronic scans are best).
Speaking specifically about his own cover census of the ten cent 1869 issue, Michael noted that out of a total census of about 1,300 covers, around 7% reflected unique combinations of the ten cent stamp with other stamp issues. He also noted that about 15% of all covers reflected usage of the ten cent stamp from abroad! In addition, about 65% of all ten cent 1869 issue covers have only a single stamp on the cover. Michael then showed scans of many fascinating and exotic covers.
Following his presentation, Michael displayed about 20 exhibit pages of fabulous covers, each one representing some form of unique usage, either as a combination of stamps or in respect to a destination. It was quite an impressive display!