Approach I: The New Classicism
At the beginning of the 20th century, a new phase of classic collecting became significant. It was plating, and its leading practitioners were American. Plating developed out of the earlier French ‘scientific philately’ school. One of the earliest of the ‘platers’ was Charles Lathrop Pack (1857-1937) (figure 74), whose collections of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were bought by King George V in 1912.
Two years earlier, Pack was the first American to send exhibits to be shown before the Royal Society of England: his New Zealand and Uruguay. His plating of Brazil’s 100-reis issue of 1894-97 was presented in 1912 as a challenge to show that a collection costing less than a penny a stamp could garner a gold medal, which it did.
It represented a realization of the anti-ostentation trend and the new focus on the common.
Pack owned many rarities including the famed ‘Pack strip’ of the interpanneau 30 and 60 Brazilian “bull’s eye” stamps as well as the tête-bêche pair of the Uruguay ‘suns.’ His Victoria ‘Half-Lengths’ plating work of 1923 won the English Crawford award, the German Lindenberg medal and the New York Collectors Club medal. It was the foundation upon which J. R. Purvis (born 1903) later built his plating of the same subject published in 1953. Purvis’s work also won the same awards.
Although an easier project, it was not until 1922 that Charles Nissen published a plating of England’s ‘penny black’ while H. Osborne’s plating of the two-pence blue was not completed until 1946. The die 1 ‘penny stamps’ (204 plates plus six reserves) were not completed until Brown and Fisher’s 1984 publication of their Volume V on this issue.
Following the 1926 international exposition, a small group of Indian students, including Desai and N. D. Cooper, got together in 1927 to undertake the project of p1ating the 1854 issue of India.
Another American pioneer in plating was Dr. Carroll Chase (1878-1960) who began work on another common item, the U.S. 3-cent 1851 stamp in 1907, although he had been a collector since 1885. His preliminary work was published in 1909; by 1919 he had completed the plating of the 3-cent imperforate plate I. Simultaneously he had developed a major interest in the U.S. 1847 issue and authored the most serious early work about it in nine issues of the 1916-1917 Philatelic Gazette.
Prior to the U.S. entry into World War I, Chase enlisted in the French army in 1917 as a surgeon, and after the war he had to sell his holdings of the 1847 issue to finance his reentry into medical practice. He had also concluded it was nearly impossible to plate the issue. Between 1922 and 1926 Chase published a series of studies on the plating of the 3-cent 1851; and in 1929, having rewritten and revised these, he brought out his seminal 3-cent 1851 book. The plating studies of the 3-cent 1851 led in 1948 to the creation of the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society.
In 1926 Elliott Perry (1884-1972) published a plating of the 10-cent 1847 issue in The Collectors Club Philatelist. He worked with Senator Ackerman’s holding of 1847s, part of which was from the Chase dispersal. It was one of the major feats of U.S. plating.
It was John J. Klemann’s Philatelic Gazette that also published the Confederate plating work of Bertram Poole (1880-1957), which was partially based upon earlier studies by Major Evans and Charles B. Corwin (a pioneer collector who died in 1897). Corwin was the first collector to pay more than $1,000 for a single stamp, which he did when he purchased the F. DeCoppett 2-cent British Guiana ‘cotton reel,’ ex-Caillebotte, for $1,010 in 1893. DeCoppett had paid £70 for it in 1888, and it went to F. W. Hunter at Corwin’s death.
The Confederate plating studies continued under Klemann (1879-1955), a major New York dealer, and Edward Knapp (1878-1940), a railroad lawyer whose cover collection dispersal in 1941 was the first major cover auction since the Seybold sale. In addition to work on the general issues, Knapp plated the 5-cent New Orleans Postmaster Provisional. More recently work was done on plating the 10-cent Confederate frameline by Robert Wiseman, the 5-cent blue by Leonard Hartmann, and the 2-cent and 20-cent greens by myself.
Dr. Chase’s plating of the 1-cent 1851 plate I early was sold in 1925 to stockbroker Stanley B. Ashbrook (1882-1957), who had published a small pamphlet on the 1-cent. In 1938, financed by Saul Newbury, Ashbrook published his major two-volume opus on the 1-cent. Having bought a small 1-cent collection from Ashbrook in 1952, Mortimer Neinken (1896-1984) became fascinated with this stamp and authored a revised plating in 1972. In 1960 he had revised the Ashbrook/Perry work on plating of the 1855-59 10-cent stamp, and he also published a plating of the 12-cent value.
Another important pioneer in this field of new classicism was C. W. Bedford (1884-1932). His series on ‘Shift-Hunter Letters’ in the 1920s and 1930s was the direct predecessor of Loran C. “Cloudy” French’s 1979Encyclopedia of Plate Varieties on U.S. Bureau-Printed Postage Stamps, which was dedicated to Bedford.