The Jazz Era
Jazz was originally a Creole word meaning to speed up, certainly an appropriate characterization of the fast, frenetic activity associated with the period between World War I and the Depression. Jazz also had a syncopated beat that is very like the sound of the steam engines that brought southern blacks to St. Louis, Memphis and New York. Eight states and Washington saw a net migration of 414,000 between 1910 and 1920, with a further gain of 714,000 during the next decade. The biggest gainers were, in order, New York Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Missouri, Indiana and Washington, D.C.
As a national music, ragtime was somewhat older, having come to national and international attention at the great Chicago midway, known as the Columbian Exposition of 1893. However, it had much less of an impact than jazz on the national and international scene since it was subsumed by jazz. Ragtime was more influential in giving us dances such as the turkey trot, grizzly bear and bunny hop (1907-1914) with the Charleston coming about 1922. It was the rage of Europe by 1924 as delivered by the elegant Josephine Baker in Paris.
However, the first American dance form to achieve international recognition was the ante-bellum cakewalk of the 1850s, a high-strut step by slaves mimicking their masters’ social promenades. It took off in the 1890s and received international validation in 1904 by the Prince of Wales. Both Claude Debussy and Louis Gottschalk wrote cakewalks.
Although it arrived later, jazz was the first music to be accepted as quintessentially American, both in the United States and abroad. It was black America’s first great culturally accepted contribution internationally. The great art centers of the African Sahel and Benin cultures had reached international prominence around 1910, when artists such as Picasso modeled their work on Dan masks (Picasso’s seated woman and portrait of Gertrude Stein) and Geh masks for the origin of cubism. Modigliani used the Dogon horsemen concepts for his long-necked women.
At the same time that jazz began to represent America in the l920s, there was a major flowering of black American culture known as the Harlem renaissance. This movement was as well-accepted internationally as African art influences, and it generated a sense of assurance and self-pride among black Americans. The Harlem renaissance was not Afro-centric but rather island-centric in nature. Its artists did not adopt the pastels and designs found in both West African villages and fabric, but rather the bright vibrancies of island culture found in Trinidad, Jamaica and Haiti. In dance, Harlem’s Savoy ballroom saw the Lindy hop introduced in 1928. It was the original jitterbug dance that swept the popular dance world during World War II and evolved (in half time) into the 1970s ‘hustle,’ then into ‘hip hop.’ It was a dominant dance for almost two-thirds of a century worldwide!
At the same time that American blacks were gaining self-assurance through the cultural achievements of the Harlem renaissance, there was a recrudescence of the anti-black Ku Klux Klan, which was reactivated in 1915. The new KKK made its first major public statement by a cross burning on Stone Mountain, GA in 1915. Its rise was sparked, in part, by the popularity of D.W. Griffith’s highly successful film, Birth of a Nation. This 1915 film used Thomas Dixon’s 1905 novel The Klansman as a source, the book that first introduced the concept of cross burning.
Initially focused upon the ‘insubordination’ of blacks, the Klan soon broadened its focus to immigrants, Jews, Catholics and the role of women. It proposed to purge America of impure, alien influences. These were anything that challenged the Klan’s version of traditional American values. It opposed labor unions, drunkenness, immigrants, irreligion and sexual promiscuity. It worked to support prohibition, racial homogeneity and compulsory Bible-reading in school. It sought to punish divorce, contraception and other anti-family values. It became a political power endorsing and electing candidates, particularly in the midwest and south, and by 1924 had a membership of some four million, about as many as voted for the ‘Bull Moose’ party in 1912.
The super-patriotism of World War I helped the Klan to rise with its push for ‘American values.’ German music, language and culture were under attack. Sauerkraut was renamed ‘liberty cabbage,’ the Metropolitan Opera refused to perform any German music during the 1917-1918 season and the Boston Symphony’s conductor was deported for criticizing the musical quality of the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ which was not yet our national anthem. The 1917 draft act permitted conscientious objectors, but they were harshly dealt with; 500 received court-martials with 142 resulting life sentences and 17 death penalties (not carried out). Several thousand anti-war protesters were deported without formal trial under the Alien Act of 1918. Eugene Debs, who had won over 6% of the popular vote in 1913, was given a ten-year jail sentence for an anti-war speech.
Supporting the rise of the Klan were the events of 1919. In that year there was a wave of strikes, 3,600 involving over 4-million workers. They culminated in the September Boston police strike, which brought Coolidge to national prominence, and the U.S. Steel strike of the same month, which left 17 strikers dead. These strikes reverberated against the radical bombings of June 1919 which had triggered Attorney General Mitchell Palmer’s ‘red scare’ campaign. This campaign saw the arrest of some 6,000 on New Year’s Day, 1920, but netted only three pistols of the radical’s supposed ‘arms caches.’ The year also saw a wave of book bannings, dismissals of ‘radical view’ university professors and a July race riot in Chicago that left 38 dead, 537 injured and over 1,000 homeless. All together, 120 people died in race riots in the summer of 1919. Lynching also peaked that year with seventy victims, some of whom were war veterans.
A major black response to the rise of the Klan was Marcus Garvey’s Black Nationalism movement. Garvey (1887-1940) created the Universal Negro Improvement Society (UNIA) after he came to the U.S. from Jamaica in 1916. It claimed to have 4 million members, and probably had somewhat over I million. In the critical year of 1919, Garvey formed the New York newspaper, Negro World, started the Black Star shipping line known to Liberian philatelists and founded the Negro Factories Corporation to support independent black businesses. Conflict with other black leaders and prosecution in 1923 by J. Edgar Hoover led to his imprisonment in 1925 and deportation in 1927. The Klan’s power peaked, just before the Scopes trial of 1925, when the Democratic Party split evenly over whether to denounce it by name in their platform. Financial squabbles over the highly profitable sale of ‘regalia,’ internal power struggles and several sordid scandals discredited some of its most important leaders. By 1929 it was devolving toward extinction. However, the ‘issues’ it pushed remained active for years and are even reviving today.
Another major shift during the jazz era was the role of women. Women won the vote in 1920 following a campaign modeled on the British suffrage movement, which involved militancy, hunger strikes and police brutality. The U.S. 1920 election that saw Harding gain the White House attracted about eight million more votes than the 1916 election. Significantly the Republican vote increase was also just about eight million, suggesting that women overwhelmingly used their new franchise to bring a Republican victory.
Two inventions of the 1870s — the telephone and the typewriter — were responsible for impelling women into the labor market, by creating jobs as telephone operators and secretaries. From less than two million workers in 1870, female employment rose to more than five million by 1900 and almost 11 million by 1930, including two million female clerical workers
During World War I some two million Americans went to fight in France, with 1.2 million participating in the Meuse-Argonne offensive alone. Most were native-born who had never previously experienced a foreign culture. They reveled in the dance halls of Montmartre, the bars of the Left Bank student quarter of Paris and the omnipresent French bistro. When they returned home, they brought back a taste for bohemianism that sparked the Greenwich Village culture in New York, as well as a liking for brandy and bistro food such as french fries
It has been stated that the key intellectual interests of the jazz era were not economic and social problems but rather those of religion, morality, aesthetic values and psychology.
A good deal of this emphasis can be traced to the overseas influence. The wartime experience also led to a wave of American expatriates such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and his circle during the postwar era. These expatriates were following the pre-war footsteps of Mary Cassatt and Gertrude Stein. The new French influence upon American culture helped give the jazz era a sense of both frenzy and frivolity that has been well noted..
Communications were also ‘jazzed up’ following the war. Daily newspaper circulation had risen from 758,000 in 1850 to 8.4 million by 1890, when the introduction of comic sections and the great newspaper war between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst jacked it up to more than 15 million by 1900. It was the era of ‘yellow journalism,’ a phrase to which Hearst gave new meaning before his expulsion from Harvard for donating chamber pots to his least-favorite professors. Daily newspaper circulation reached 28.8 million in 1914, 33.7 million by 1921 and 42.0 million at the close of the jazz era in 1929. The newspaper, a long-term child of the postal system, had now become the dominant means of obtaining news, replacing the letter. The accompanying daily comics broke out of the print medium as the era closed with the popular success of the song ‘Barney Google and his Goo-goo-googly eyes,” which became an early radio hit
Figure 80. Rudolph Valentine (1895-1926) silent film’s ‘great lover,’ came from Italy in 1913 and broke into movies with Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Sheik in 1921. 30,000 fans mobbed his funeral in 1926.
Wired communication such as the telephone had already reached critical social mass by 1918 with 50-million calls daily. It rose to almost 85-million daily calls by 1929. As noted earlier, this shift began to strip the personal aspects of the message from the mail system. Both businesses and families increasingly communicated by telephone rather than by letter.
Another mass communication medium, the moving picture, began the Americanization of the rest of the globe starting in the jazz era. The early pictures of the 19th century quickly developed into the ‘nickelodeons’ of the early 20th century. By 1905 films such as the Great Train Robbery were on the screen, and by 2925 major feature films such as Birth of a Nation were making box office records. A major advance occurred in 1926 when the first talking pictures were released. A whole new era began then, dominated by American films and American film stars. American ‘movie stars’ became icons both in the United States and abroad, while the movie sets generated new social aspirations around the globe. Despite the Great Depression, American movie receipts topped one billion dollars by 1939.
Marconi had developed ‘wireless’ communications in 1896 and, on April 30, 1897, J. J. Thompson reported the electron, the first fundamental particle, taking advantage of Röntgen’s 1895 discovery of the existence of X-rays. This provided part of the experimental base and intellectual impetus that led to radio, television, radar, modern computers and the revelations of quantum mechanics. By 1902 Lee De Forest was working on the concept of radio and in 1907 developed his ‘audion’ tube. Crystal detectors had already been developed in 1906, and by 1912 both the spark transmitter and crystal receiver were available. The year 1914 saw the development of the three-electrode vacuum tube.
The first trans-oceanic radio station was established in 1914 at Sayville, Long Island (now chiefly known as one of the jumping-off points for summer visitors to Fire Island beaches), while in 1916 the City College of New York began a series of domestic radio broadcasts heard in a 100-mile radius around the city. When Americans entered World War I, the government took over radio development and all the patents, which were widely dispersed. At the war’s end both control and patents were released and radio could expand. Significantly, the first public broadcast of U.S. election returns took place November 2, 1920, announcing Harding’s election and the ‘era of normalcy.’ It was the same year the Home Department Stores of Pittsburgh began advertising the sale of radio receivers to the public.
The radio ‘craze’ got under way in February 1922, at which point there were only 60 radio ‘sets’ in America. The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) had been formed the year prior. By 1924 there were some 3,000 manufacturers of radio parts and 300 manufacturers of radio sets. Every American male of high school age began to create his own crystal-set receiver.
By the critical year of 1927, there were some 700 radio stations and the government had to begin assigning broadcast frequencies. AT&T’s New York City WEAF station was selling ads in the new medium. CBS was formed that year and NBC the prior year, so that radio broadcast networks were established. By the close of the jazz age, radio was a multi-million dollar industry although only 13,750 families reported having ‘radio sets’ in the 1930 census. Future events were already being forecast, for the first successful facsimile (FAX) machine was developed by RCA in 1924, while the first TV broadcast experiment took place on September 27, 1927. Radio was to have a significant impact on stamp collecting in the 1930s and even more so on society as a whole. The impact of TV and FAX machines would take longer.
Another area that was ‘jazzed up’ was transportation. New car sales rose from slightly less than 1-million to 4.4-million cars annually by 1929 as personal transport began to replace the railroad. In 1927 auto transport was about 55 million vehicle miles; the figures quadrupled to more than 206 million vehicle miles by 1930, closely split between urban and rural travel. The American
Figure 81. ‘The Ruling Passion’ s both stamp collecting and auto touring for two you Jazz Age men. Cover illustration for The Stamp Collector’s Magazine, ed. R.C. Bach of Nassau Street, N.Y.
frontier ‘tinkering’ tradition continued with young males working with the early automobiles produced by Buick, Cadillac, Dodge, Ford, Packard and others, particularly after Ford’s 1907 introduction of precision-part, mass-production assembly lines. Bus travel records also exploded from 404 million passengers annually at the beginning of the era to 2,622 million by 1929, as bus companies developed to take advantage of the newly built road systems.
With the rise of personal car transport, rural communities were less isolated; while in the cities the era of urban sprawl was about to begin. These developments meant that many rural post offices were no longer needed, with the result that some 5,484 were closed between 1918 and 1930, although overall postal services, as measured by the number of stamps issued, remained fairly static.
There were two transportation mode shifts that began during the jazz era at the same time automobile development was reaching adolescent growth. One shift was the substitution of the diesel locomotive for the steam engine on America’s rail lines beginning in 1925. The second was the rise of civilian aircraft as a practical mode of transport.
Combined with the rise of an automobile economy, the shift to diesel engines marked the change from the previously coal-based economy to a petroleum-based one, the economy we know today. It meant a major geopolitical and economic shift over the coming decades away from the Pennsylvania coal mines to the new oil fields of Texas, whose arrival was marked by the Spindletop gusher. Overseas the shift marked the beginning of the significance of the Middle East oil fields, just then being discovered.
Initially the development of civilian aircraft had more philatelic impact. Before the war, aviation was experimental, as denoted by the pioneer Garden City airmail flights on Long Island. Wartime developments gave impetus to the importance of aircraft. immediately following the end of the war, the military took over and established a nation-wide airmail system. In turn this was fairly rapidly replaced by civilian craft. Civil aircraft production went from 48 planes annually in 1921 to 5,414 by 1929, primarily because of the development of contract mail (CAM) flights. Night flights began in 1925 and civilian contracts in 1926. These early flights received a good deal of publicity, as did Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic hop in 1927.
Both of these changes in transportation mode had philatelic consequences. Railroad philately became a more interesting topic, more widely pursued, particularly as there were now thousands of railway mail agents who had both interest and money. Additionally there now was a growing group of general railroad ‘buffs’ who collected everything from car models and signal lanterns to timetables. Youngsters taken to see the first new diesels were impressed by them; some even became collectors of railroadiana. The introduction of the new airmail stamps coincided with the rise in the number of women at work. These women had newly-gained discretionary income as well as new role models in the early female pilots. The result was that airmail philately became the first philatelic area where women collectors moved to the forefront.
The jazz era saw a continued increase in the base of potential collectors. Over the preceding two decades, Fred Melville’s ongoing campaign for junior collectors was bearing fruit. At the same time, there was an addition of about 4 million white collar workers who would be most likely to be attracted to the new classicism, topicals and cover collecting that typified American century collecting in its early days.
Two well publicized events helped draw many of these new white collar workers into the stamp collecting hobby. First was the publicity in 1918 surrounding the discovery of the 24¢ airmail invert (C3a) by 29-year old William Robey at the Washington, D.C. post office and its subsequent sale. This discovery, and the profit thereon, made many who read or heard of it believe it was possible to garner large riches through stamp collecting even when buying at the post office. At the same time, the business use of strange-looking private perforated stamps such as the Schermacks combined with the publicity surrounding the coil waste finds and the imperforate Harding rotary press stamps triggered America’s well-known gambling instincts and focused them upon stamps as a possible get-rich-quick scheme. The Florida land schemes and the Irish sweepstake promotions of the 1930s appealed to the same instincts.
Another major publicity story involved the 192 1-3 Ferrari dispersal. In this case, the story that the King of England bad been outbid by an American, Arthur Hind, for the British Guiana penny magenta was featured in papers around the world. It helped eliminate any stigma remaining that suggested stamp collecting was a childish pursuit. Ferrari owned about 90% of the world’s philatelic rarities; the release of these onto the auction market meant the new middle-class collectors could afford a few choice items for their own holdings.
Although the number of real purchasers at the Ferrari sales was comparatively small, American collectors were prominent among them. The possibility of anyone owning a world-class rarity invigorated collecting in general. The fact that the great U.S. collection of Clarence H. Eagle was also dispersed in 1923 didn’t hurt. In addition to early classics, the Eagle holding was notable for strength in the 1869 and subsequent banknote rarities.
The New York International Exhibition
of October 1926 brought together most of the
major philatelists of the jazz era (along with
the leading dealers). Heading the collector
community was exhibition president Charles
Lathrop Pack who was rivaled only by Alfred
- Lichtenstein as the outstanding U.S. collector of the first half of the American century. Pack was assisted by fourteen collector vice presidents. Of these only J.H. Calder of Canada and A. H. Wilhelm are not illustrated in
Fig. 82. Souvenir seal of the 1926 International Philatelic Exhibition, available in four colors.
in figure 83. Calder exhibited the Canadian 1859 issue among others. Wilhelm, a U.S. collector, served on the next two U.S. exhibitions (1936 and 1947) as a juror but exhibited at none of them. Five collectors who were not vice presidents are also shown on the next page. These include Thomas W. Hall of England, representing the Royal Philatelic Society who exhibited Peru and Colombia, and Alfred Lichtenstein who won the show’s grand award with his Uruguay holding. He also showed British North America collections, including a gold medal Canadian pence holding, Western covers, Swiss classics.
Figure 83 Vice Presidents and exhibitors at the 1926 International.
Mauritius and the Cape of Good Hope. Also shown are J. Brace Chittenden (1864-1928), whose specialty was Austria and Lombardy Venice which he exhibited in 1926. However, his greater fame rests upon his reorganization of the Collectors Club of New York where he was president for three terms and his development of its library. It was Chittenden who persuaded Theodore Steinway, a topical music collector and philatelic patron, to purchase the great Victor Suppantschitsch classic library. While Chittenden built membership from 70 members to over 700, Theodore Steinway (l883-1957), his close friend, worked with Lichtenstein to purchase the present Collectors Club building. Steinway was also a founder of the Philatelic Foundation. Another vice president, Ferrars H. Tows, was an important Hawaii collector. His holdings were sold in 1949-50 by Carl Pelander Auctions.
Last, but not least, of the additions to figure 83 was then Collectors Club president, Charles Curie, who showed 19th century world-wide. His collections were sold in the spring of 1939 in London. A fairly early condition collector, Curie also had rarities ranging from the Scinde Dawk Indian issues, British Guiana cotton reels to the Canadian Port Hood provisional in his Empire holdings. Among the U.S. items was the ex-Thorne l0¢ 1847 bisect on piece, a 24¢ 1869 invert, Pan-American inverts, the Columbian 4¢ color error and the Hawaiian 5¢ on 13¢ surcharge. His general foreign included the Moldavian bulls, the 1843 Geneva double eagle and the Spanish 1855 two reale color error on piece.
The new classicists were well represented by Pack, Dr. Carroll Chase, Abraham Hatfield (who was an early plater of the 5¢ New York) and Henry Gibson’s (1885-1987) 1847 exhibit of Elliott Perry’s l0¢ plating. Among the leaders of the new topical movement were vice presidents George Walcott, Senator Ackerman and Theodore Steinway. The father and son team of Joseph and Steven Rich participated by exhibiting South Africa and Korea, while Karl Hennig showed four frames of World War I German submarine mail.
Among the cover exhibitions were Harold Brooks’ Confederates, Emerson’s non-competitive U.S. covers, Hammelman’s World War I covers and Joseph Steinmetz’s bisect cover holding. Dr. Warren Babcock showed his supplementary mail cancellations (mostly off-cover). John A. Hall showed steamboat packet covers.
Vice president Charlton Henry of Philadelphia showed British West Indies items, while New Jersey’s Joseph Frelinghuysen showed patriotics, carriers and essays and proofs. Arthur Hind (1856-1933) of Utica showed rarities, general U.S., Spain and Mauritius while Colonel Green (1868- 1936) showed his holding of envelopes (ex-Worthington and E.H. Mason) as well as revenues. Alfred Caspary (1878-1955) showed patriotics, carriers and Confederates. New Jersey’s state senator E.R. Ackerman (1863-1931) showed the 24¢ banknotes, 30¢ vermilion, state departmentals, match and medicines, and Westerns in his U.S. exhibits as well as Great Britain used abroad.
Among the non-vice presidential well known collectors, Henry Gibson (1885-1987) showed his 1847 and India collections, Colonel Hans Lagerdorf (1880-1952) of Sweden showed world rarities, Scandinavia and Hong Kong. H.P. Atherton showed his U.S. 2¢ blackjacks, Admiral Frederick Harris (1875-1945) showed Ceylon, Edward Knapp (1878-1940) showed his Confederate provisionals. Saul Newbury (1870-1950) of Chicago showed first issue Brazil and Shanghai. H.P. Lapham showed New York provisionals, Steve Rich showed telegraphs, A.W. Flistrup showed the I0¢ 1851-7 U.S., E. Tudor Gross displayed the l¢ 1861, Michael Miller of Baltimore showed Canada, John Rausch showed the 2¢ Columbians, J.W. Sampson of New York showed the 7¢ vermilion, Dr. V.M. Berthold showed Salvador and Clarence Hennan showed Netherlands while Henry Needham showed U.S. locals.
Figure 84. Great collectors of the Jazz Age.
On the professional side, figure 85 shows a baker’s dozen of dealers who contributed significantly to the 1926 International. Heading the list was John Luff (1861-1938) who first entered philately in the 1 890s but quickly became the dean of the hobby when he returned to New York in 1893 to join the Scott firm, becoming its president in October 1903, although he left Scott soon after
Figure 85. A baker’s dozen of the professionals of the jazz era.
to join the Stanley Gibbons firm and did not rejoin Scott until about 1927. Luff’s formidable reputation as the dean of American philately rested upon his extensive reference collection of stamps and his classic work, Postage Stamps of the United States, published in book form in 1902. The reference collection is deposited today at the Philatelic Foundation and still used there. Luff helped found the Collectors Club of New York in 1896 and served two terms as president; he was also president of the American Philatelic Society 1907-9. That society’s Luff award honoring him was established in 1940.
Also on the 1926 executive committee was Julius C. Morgenthau (1858-1929). Originally from Mannheim, Germany, Morgenthau’s family came to America in 1872. He earned a Heidelberg Ph.D. in archeology but failed to find suitable employment as a teacher and became a haberdasher in Chicago. He met Eustace B. Power at the Chicago World’s Fair with whom he formed the Chicago Stamp and Coin Company. He had been a stamp collector sometime earlier, buying from P.M. Wolsieffer, a veteran Chicago dealer of the period. Around 1898 he came to New York and bought the wholesale-retail business of the late Henry Gremmel and ran it until 1905 when he became an auctioneer exclusively. Like Luff, Morgenthau was a founder of the Collectors Club and became close to the club secretary, J.M. Andreini, whose collections he sold beginning in 1905. He also got the early sales of the William Thorne collection and became the leading U.S. auctioneer until his death. In 1917 Lichtenstein gave him the George Worthington portions to sell that Lichtenstein did not wish to retain. The Morgenthau firm was acquired by Scott in the 1930s and Morgenthau sales sputtered on but the fizz was gone.
A third key dealer member of the executive committee was Charles I. Phillips (1863-1940). He became head of Stanley Gibbons, Ltd. in 1884 during Gibbons’ lifetime and acquired the firm in 1906. Phillips remained a managing director of Gibbons into the 1920s, although he sold off the American operation in 1911 to Eustace B. Power (1872-1939) and moved to the U.S. about this time and become an independent New York dealer. Power had come to the U.S. in the 1890s and worked for Morgenthau before joining Gibbons. He is best known for his Philatelic Horse Sense pamphlets put out in the 1920s and 1930s which is a classic analysis of early U.S. issues.
Phillips helped form the Avery and Duveen collections among others. He was also an early supplier of stamps to King George V and Ferrari and served as auction agent for the German Reichsmuseum. He was selected to handle the Hind dispersal in the 1930s although that did not come off. He also authored, somewhat self-servingly, a number of articles about important collectors. For the 1926 show he exhibited 15 volumes of US departmental stamps as well as frames of classic Denmark, Serbia and the first issue of Ecuador.
A fourth key dealer, J. Murray Bartels (1872-1944) served on the directing committee. A direct descendant of Washington’s grandfather, Laurence Washington, Bartels became a stamp dealer in Alexandria, VA in 1892, moved to Washington in 1897 when he purchased the C.F. Rothfuchs firm and moved again to Boston in 1901 before settling in New York in 1911. There he founded the Philatelic Gazette as his ‘house organ’ but promptly sold it to the Nassau Stamp Company although he remained a contributor. One of his philatelic coups was obtaining the Bissell correspondence, which was dispersed into major collections such as Gibson, Needham, Ackerman and Matthies. In 1916 he acquired the famous 1869 1¢ ‘running chicken’ cover for one dollar and it sat under his glass counter for years with a $10 price tag before Ackerman purchased it.
At the 1926 International, Bartels exhibited Nesbitt entires as well as collections of D.W.1. and Venezuela. He was considered an expert on envelopes and his catalog, modified by Thorpe, is still basic today. Bartels is also famous, or infamous, for having his name on the Troughton vs Bartels case. This case is the precedent for the view that an offer of 10% or less of value is fraudulent when a knowing buyer deals with an ignorant seller. It is the reason many stamp professionals decline to make a first offer but insist you should state what price you want first.
The revered J. Walter Scott firm was represented on the 1926 International show committee by Hugh M. Clark (1886-1956). This former Chicagoan had joined the Scott firm in 1912 at a time it was under the control of the same parties as owned the Boston based New England Stamp Company. In 1914, when Charles Hatfield took over the New England company he installed Clark as its manager. Clark eventually found his way back to New York to work with John Luff and ended up purchasing the Scott firm in 1935. He operated it until 1946, at which time ill health forced his retirement.
As Scott catalog editor, Clark was responsible for the new catalog number system introduced in the 1940 edition. He also added a number of new albums to the Scott line. In 1937, Clark published Luff’s Postmaster Provisionals and reissued and re-edited Luff’s 1902 masterwork. Both had emendations and corrections, not all of which came from Luff’s notes. Two sidelights of interest in Clark’s career: in 1916 he was the first dealer to sell stamps to Colonel Green, while in 1933, at the depth of the Depression, he purchased the ex-Klein C3a airmail invert block for $12,000, a remarkable price for the time.
When F.W. Hunter formed the Nassau Stamp Company in 1894, one employee hired as a secretary was a future major dealer, John A. Klemann (1897-1955). In 1899, Klemann acquired the capital stock of the company and in 1900 brought his brother, Jacob J. Klemann Jr., into the firm. John eventually became the leading American dealer in proofs and essays as well as a major student and dealer in Confederate philately. J.J. Klemann was interested in airmails. Once the Klemanns had purchased the Philatelic Gazette from Bartels, John served as managing editor while J. J. was editor. At the 1926 International, J.J. exhibited first flight covers as well as the Rouen issue airmail stamps. Apparently another of his interests was the pakua cancels of China. It was J. J. Klemann who made the classic ‘low-ball’ bid for the Robey sheet of the C3a airmail inverts that Phillip Ward topped.
One of John A. Klemann’s coups was the acquisition of the “Lord corner’ of several thousand copies of the 1847 issue which he did in 1916. He was also critical in the exposure of the Grinnell Hawaiian missionary fakes when he had second thoughts about his acquisition after selling them. John was the real philatelist of the two brothers and showed a number of exhibition studies over the years. When the Philatelic Foundation was first organized he served on its expert committee, although he ha d retired as a dealer in 1939. His remaining philatelic holds were sold in the early 1940s by Eugene Costales’ auction firm and that of Harmer, Rooke.
The Economist Stamp Company, owned by Edward Stern (1880-1953) was another important supply source for jazz age philatelists and its handstamp is found today on many items. In 1921, Stern had been offered the famed revenue holdings of Clarence Eagle with the proviso it be sold as a bloc. He was unable to do this, but later was able to sell the Eagle match and medicine holding to Colonel Green. Another important jazz era deal took place in 1924 when Stern purchased the bulk of the Waterhouse collection New York provisionals which were then at auction. These were placed into Henry Lapham’s collection and were exhibited there in 1926. Stern also handled the famous 7R1e strip of the 1¢ 1851 issue that eventually ended up in Saul Newbury’s hands.
A Hungarian-born dealer, Eugene Klein (1878-1944)arrived in Philadelphia shortly before he began to hold stamp auctions there. His first series of auctions (1911-1914) ended when he sold his business to Empire Auctions. However, Klein soon got back into the auction business and held over 150 auctions by the mid-1940s. Klein had seriously considered a musical career and was deterred by Henry Gibson, with whom he shared practice hall space. Along with the other major Philadelphia dealer of the period, Philip Ward, Klein was heavily dependent upon the purchases of Henry Gibson and Wharton Sinkler. In 1912, Klein was able to purchase privately the famed 10¢ block of six and place it with Gibson. The block eventually found its way into the Ward holding and from there was acquired by the New Orleans firm owned by the Weills. They placed it with Ryohei Ishikawa as one of the gems of his collection. Klein sold at least one of the varied Gibson collections in 1923, while he sold the Joseph Steinmetz collection through six sales in 1920-1930. In 1940 he sold the great Wharton Sinkler blocks of four holding, a large number of which went to Ward. Klein was founder and president of the American Philatelic Congress.
Philadelphian Philip Ward (1890-1963) sat along with Klein on the 1926 show directing committee. Scion of a wealthy Washington D.C. family, Ward started collecting at age six. One of his most famous holdings began when he was thirteen and successfully solicited Grover Cleveland for a letter. Ward’s presidential frank collection was exhibited at the 1926 International and it and his ‘aristocrats’ of philately were his two favorites. A fairly extensive Ward biography can be found in the Linn’s published More of the World’s Great stamp Collectors authored by Dr. Stanley Bierman.
One of the dealer exhibitors at the 1926 show was a relatively new auctioneer, Herman Toaspern (1893-1936). He only held his eleventh auction after the 1926 exhibit. He had been Bartels’ bookkeeper and was one of those Bartels boasted of turning into stamp dealers (Robert Laurence who held the Wolcott sale was another). At the show Toaspern exhibited patriotic covers and a number of covers today have the ‘Toasty’ handstamp showing they had passed through his hands.
The man whom John Boker termed the most important dealer in U.S. Classics, Warren H. Colson (1882-1963), exhibited a one frame exhibit of rarities but served on no committees. He began dealing around 1900 and only served 25-30 collectors as he favored a very low-key approach. However, his clients were such important ones as Worthington, Henry Lapham, Atherton, Coolidge and Hind. He was more focused upon the rarity of an item than condition. He also was reluctant to part with his gems; items a client rejected would go back and be buried in stock for decades. Colson is also known for a special form of mounting that enabled one to transfer a cherished piece from page to page without remounting it.
Two significant dealers who did not participate in the 1926 exhibit were the Burger Brothers of New York. Gustav (1867-1952) and Arthur (1868-1949) Burger were known for their prices, which were high or higher. .It was considered a feat in New York to be able to purchase one of their items and turn around and sell it at auction for a profit.
A number of jazz era professionals were best known for their philatelic writings. Among these was British author Frederick J. Melville (1882-1940). As a teenager, Melville promoted junior philately in English journals while learning enough to become an important expert. He continued his dedication to popularizing stamps, particularly to young collectors, throughout his life. The sale of the William Ricketts library in 1945 had over 35 monographs and pamphlets penned by Melville. These ranged from such subjects as his 1906 philatelic play, The Lady Forger, to works popularizing the value of rare stamps such as his piece on the Mayfair find in 1925, and his Origins of the Penny Post in 1930. Five monographs were devoted to U.S. philately while others highlighted Haiti, Siam, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Egypt, Niger, St. Helena, Sarawak and Tonga, as well as Great Britain. In 1918 he wrote A Soldier and His Stamps; in 1924 he wrote Boys’ Own Guide to Stamp Collecting as well as on the ‘Reel Stamps’ of England.
Melville’s American counterpart was Kent Stiles (1887-1951) whose syndicated columns appeared in many newspapers and periodicals of general interest. George E. Burghard (1874-1963), a specialist in Swiss and Hong Kong stamps, used the new medium of radio in the 1920s for pioneer talks on stamps. Another American philatelic journalist of the jazz era was Harry L. Lindquist (1886-1978) who edited the Collectors Club Philatelist during some of its most important years. He also ran Lindquist Publications which printed a series of philatelic handbooks in addition to publishing Stamps magazine. With the demise of the Philatelic Gazette, the most important popular stamp journals were A. V. Dworak’s (1879-1931) Philatelic Gossip which ran from 1915-1960, and the Charles H. Mekeel (1864-1921) publications. Mekeel began publishing in 1881, producing the American Journal of Philately from 1883 to 1895 and launching Mekeel’s Weekly in 1891. Charles Severn (1872-1929) took it over in 1897 and edited it until 1926. in 1927 Willard Wylie (1862-1945) took over and edited the journal from 1927 to 1940. Mekeel’s was a serious source of philatelic news in the teens and twenties.
Another important dealer/author was Elliott Perry (1884-1972). Perry did not participate in running the 1926 show, but he did exhibit a match and medicine collection in addition to the finest Sanitary Fair holding. This latter first reached public auction in May 1995, having been developed by Perry and his private treaty client for over 70 years. Perry made a jazz era splash with his unexpected plating of the 10¢ 1847 stamps, which plating had been published in the 1925 Collectors Club Philatelist. It was featured at the show in Henry Gibson’s gold medal exhibit. Perry made a different sort of splash in the 1930s with his Pat Paragraphs house organ. It was known for the excellence of its research as well as for the studies debunking Henry Needham’s work on locals and carriers, holding that collector up to ridicule as being both ignorant and a faker. There were other future journalists in the period, such as Delf Norona and Harry Konwiser (1880-1961), who did not become prominent writers until the 1930s. Herman Herst Jr. began collecting about the close of World War I but didn’t get into dealing until the Great Depression, and published his work on Depression era collecting, Nassau Street, in 1960.
The collectors and dealers at the 1926 International were basically celebrating, although they didn’t know it, the peak of some sixty years of profitable mutual exuberance about stamps. This was about to change as the lively fizz of the jazz era was overshadowed by the Great Depression. The world would look different after October 1929’s stock market crash.