Stampcharts for Israeli and Topical Judaica Postage Stamps

(5/2008; revised10/2009)

 

Geoffrey Horowitz and David R. Blumenthal

 

Introduction

 

In April 2002, Mr. Sol Singer, a successful Atlanta businessman, generously donated to Emory University The Sol Singer Collection of Philatelic Judaic which he had lovingly built over forty years. Housed in the Emory Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, this remarkable Collection comprises three parts: every stamp issued by the state of Israel through the mid-1990s, most of them in multiple formats (“series 1”); twenty volumes of stamps featuring Jewish themes on stamps around the world (“series 2”); and a complete set of stamps issued by the Jewish National Fund (“series 3”). (For more general information on the Singer Collection and some samples, see the website.)

            In the spring of 2007, Levi Stewart and I undertook, first, to examine the Collection by creating an essay entitled, “Women in Israeli and Topical Judaica Philately.”  The article set forth our method of creating “stampcharts” and, then, presented the data that Levi had assembled. Second, we set about filling in the Israeli part of the Collection, bringing it up to the present in four formats and subscribing to future issues.

            In the spring of 2008, we decided to organize the Collection into a searchable database and, so, we created “The Emory Stampchart for Israeli and Topical Judaica Postage Stamps” and, then, “A General Stampchart for Israeli and Topical Judaica Postage Stamps” (see below).

In additon, four students undertook further research on four themes: anti-Israel stamps, the holocaust, Jewish classical artists, and Jewish sports figures and events. The students, first, excerpted all the stamps on their themes from the Emory collection, Israeli and topical Judaica. They, then, added stamps discovered from other, non-Emory sources. Finally, they put their data into the “Stampchart Template” (see below), thus creating stampcharts, each of which has two tabs: one for Emory and one for non-Emory data. These stampcharts were, then, analyzed, conclusions drawn, and the whole formulated into essays. To aid the students in their work, we also updated part of our topical Judaica collection.[1] We present the results of the students’ work as follows:

 

• Geoffrey Horowitz, Anti-Israel Featured in Israeli and Topical Judaica Philately

 

• Evan Kassimir, Sports Events and Athletes Featured in Israeli and Topical Judaica Philately

 

• Kyung Lee,A Holocaust Stampchart for Israeli and Topical Judaica Philately” and

 

Saryn Levy, “Jewish Painters Featured in Israeli and Topical Judaica Philately.”

 

We wish to thank the staff of the Emory University Woodruff Library, particularly Ms. Naomi Nelson; Ms. Mary Jo Duncanson of the Tam Institute of Jewish Studies; and those who corresponded with us to expand our knowledge on various themes in topical Judaica stamps, especially Gary Goodman, president of the Judaica Topical Association and editor of Judaica Topical News, without whose cooperation and support we could not have done our research.

 

“The Emory Stampchart for Israeli and Topical Judaica Postage Stamps”

 

            During the spring of 2008, Goeffrey Horowitz and I undertook to design and compile a stampchart for the Israeli and topical Judaica stamps contained in the Singer Collection. We present that stampchart here.

            The first step was to design the rubrics by which to classify a stamp collection such as, but not limited to, the Singer Collection. We decided on the following eighteen rubrics:

Basic

Country of Issue

Date of Issue

Scott Catalogue number (or other catalogue number)

IPS (Israeli Philatelic Service) number (for Israeli stamps only)

Content

Title  (usually from one of the catalogues)

Description (usually from one of the catalogues)

Additional Information (usually provided by us)

Internet Links (provided by us)

Categories (the purpose of this is to provide searchable categories)

Category A

Category B

Category C

MARBL Categories (provided by the Library cataloguers)

Philatelic

Format

Denomination

Color

Locators

Volume (in the Singer Collection)

Sequence (within each volume of the Singer Collection)

Non-Emory Source (for stamps added to the stampchart not in the Singer Collection)

All this was created on an Excel spreadsheet called the “Stampchart Template.”

            The second step was to take the thousands of entries already catalogued by the Library staff on their own Excel spreadsheets and put them into our “Stampchart Template,” generating one spreadsheet with two tabs, one for the Israeli collection (“series 1”) and one for the topical Judaica collection (“series 2”). This proved to be more difficult that we had imagined: the formats for the dates differed; part of the Israeli collection was actually found in the volumes for the topical collection; and the sheer merging of these spreadsheets did not prove easy. Finally, the data gathered the previous year by Levi Stewart was integrated into the spreadsheet. This stampchart, entitled “The Emory Stampchart for Israeli and Topical Judaica Postage Stamps,” contains almost 10,000 (actually, 9995) lines of data which, when multiplied by 18 columns of rubrics, creates approximately 180,000 cells of data. The full credit for this work goes to Geoffrey Horowitz who patiently and very diligently worked with the data and with the University experts on Excel to produce this stampchart. We acknowledge, too, our deep debt to Ms. Ann Frellsen of the Library and her staff who meticulously catalogued these thousands of stamps, providing us with a database from which we could work.

            “The Emory Stampchart for Israeli and Topical Judaica Postage Stamps,” then, contains the entire Israeli and topical Judaica parts of the Sol Singer Collection of Philatelic Judaica in one spreadsheet with two tabs, both of which are set into the eighteen rubrics of the “Stampsheet Template.” The first tab of the stampchart is of the Israeli collection; it is sub-organized by date. The second tab of the stampchart is of the topical Judaica collection; it is sub-organized by country and, then, by date.

This stampchart reflects the state of the Collection as of May 2008 with the following caveats: (1) the Jewish National Fund part of the Collection (“series 3”)  is not included at all; (2) the stamps that were bought to complete and update the Israeli part of the Collection from its mid-1990s state (parts of it run to June 1999) have not been catalogued and, hence, do not appear on the stampchart at this time; and (3) most of the stamps bought to update the topical Judaica part of the Collection also have not been catalogued and, hence, are not included in the stampchart at this time. The Sol Singer Collection of Philatelic Judaica is, thus, somewhat larger than this stampchart indicates. Our hope is to integrate the newly acquired material as quickly as possible and then update the stampchart. Finally, (4) two Content rubrics of the stampchart (Additional Information and Internet Links), as well as the three Category rubrics (A, B, and C), are missing for the vast part of the stampchart because this work has simply not been done. On themes on which we have done research and written articles, we have filled in these rubrics; otherwise, they await further work.

 

“A General Stampchart for Israeli and Topical Judaica Postage Stamps”

 

            Having created the stampchart for the Emory Collection, we found that any stamp for which we had several formats (individual stamps, first day covers, tabs, etc.) appeared as a separate line in the spreadsheet. While accurately reflecting the state of our Collection, this was not useful for search and research purposes. So, we decided to eliminate all the duplicate formats and stamps, as best we could. At the same time, we decided to eliminate the sizeable collection of cancellations, openings and closings of post offices, souvenir sheets, and other ephemera, interesting though they are, so as to create a simpler database. Persons interested in these parts of the Collection – and they are fascinating in their own right[2] -- should consult “The Emory Stampchart for Israeli and Topical Judaica Postage Stamps” where a search will quickly uncover this data. This new work generated “A General Stampchart for Israeli and Topical Judaica Postage Stamps” that we are very proud to present here. This stampchart has all Israeli stamps on it (minus those not yet entered by us), as well as a good selection of topical Judaica stamps, including those found by our students through careful research (these sources are listed in the Locator rubric by name or as “non-Emory”). For Israeli stamps, one should always also consult the website of Israeli stamps that is maintained by the Israel Philatelic Federation (click English). Topical collections are, by their nature, individual; however, for topical Judaica stamps, one should stay in touch with the Judaica Topical Association.

            The format of “A General Stampchart for Israeli and Topical Judaica Postage Stamps” allows interested persons to search using any of the rubrics, as well as to search by key words and phrases. We hope, with this, to open the field of Jewish philately to the audience of the internet.

            We welcome comments on our stampcharts. We welcome articles written on philatelic Judaica that utilize our stampcharts. To facilitate this, we include our “Stampchart Template”. Correspondence should be directed to Professor David R. Blumenthal, Tam Institute of Jewish Studies, Candler Library, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA; or to his email address.



[1] We found, too, an interesting general article on Israeli stamps in Hebrew by Natan Zach entitled, “Proposed Research on the Topic of  Official Israeli Culture from a Philatelic Point of View,” IGRA: Almanac for Literature and Art, March 1990: 9-14.

[2] This history of the opening of post offices on the West Bank and Gaza after the Six Day War in 1967 is just one theme in this material that is a slice of history all by itself.