Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pipe Organ Stamps

"Pipe organ" is a recognized topic of the American Topical Association, a resource for stamp collectors. The organization provides for collectors who accumulate stamps according to the image portrayed, not necessarily by country of origin. New topics are continually be added to the list developed by ATA. One of the primary ways this occurs is by an interested collector developing a list of the stamps he or she believes should be included.

The pipe organ check list produced by the American Topical Association was developed in 1995 by Walter Felton. When I got back into collecting, I joined ATA, got a copy of the list and went to work. I was collecting US and other countries in addition to my topics (organs, ballet, musical instruments, fire and rescue apparatus {for my kids}). I eventually met (via letter and email) another collector, Judy Stewart, who shared my interest and together we set about updating the check list and adding to it. We completed that in February 2004. Our revision is the one still in use by the ATA. Since we completed the list, there have been several additions; at some point I suppose we'll try to update again, but my ATA membership has lapsed.

Finding stamps on the pipe organ topic is not easy. It's a fairly small niche and stamp dealers are not always overtly interested in the narrow needs of topical collectors. One has to scour a lots of bins to find what one is after. On the other hand I work with a new issue dealer in Maryland who keeps new issues from around the world. They keep me apprised of new issues in the "music" area in general and organs (and my other topics) also. I have found a couple of European dealers who can help with stamp-related material: first-day covers, and stamps on piece (still on the original envelop). Also a little word of mouth goes along way: I heard of the newest organ set from Great Britain via an organist colleague there who was researching an article for an organ journal. With Mark Jameson's help I scored a copy of the journal his article appeared in and a set of the stamps!

Pipe organs on stamps was the topic of an article in the ATA Journal in 1965, written by A.G.K. Leonard. I had an article published there in the Sept-Oct 2004 issue. I also had a short article published in The Baton, the journal of the Philatelic Music Circle in the Summer 2004 issue. More recently Mark Jameson has published the first of what will likely be a series of articles in the Journal of the Organ Club in Great Britain. An article on British cathedral organs appeared in late 2009, and an article for early 2010 will deal with the multi-year, multi-set series of stamps from Luxembourg.

The list of organ stamps developed in 1995 ran to about 100 items. Additions made by me and Judy Stewart make the total about 120 and I personally have added another few stamps (still need to collaborate with Judy to make these official) that brings the total a little higher.

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