2016 Luff Award winners named

The American Philatelic Society (APS) has announced Cheryl Ganz; Robert Harris and Diane DeBlois; and Dennis Gilson as the recipients of this year’s prestigious Luff Awards.

Named after John N. Luff, APS president from 1907-09, the awards are given for meritorious contributions by living philatelists and are given annually at StampShow, which will be held Aug. 4-7 in Portland, Ore.


A 40-year member of the APS, Ganz is a Smithsonian Institution curator emerita following her retirement as the chief curator of philately at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and as lead curator of the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, the world’s largest postage stamp gallery. She currently serves as vice-chair on the U.S. Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, which selects subjects and approves designs for U.S. postage stamps. She has served the APS as a literature judge and on its Ethics Committee and has served as a board member of the Napex show.

Ganz is the 2016 recipient of the Luff Award for Exceptional Contributions to Philately.

Ganz has held many positions over the years in Chicagoland philately and aerophilately. She was president of the Chicago Air Mail Society (1984–85) as well as a board member (1982–91). She was literature chair for Ameripex ‘86, editor of the Chicago Philatelic Society News-Bulletin (1983–90), board member of the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors (1986–90), board member of the Chicago Philatelic Society (1988–91), former literature judge of the APS, literature exhibits chair of Chicagopex for many years, awards committee chair for the American Air Mail Society (1988–92), president of the American Air Mail Society (1992–93), and editor of The Zeppelin Collector. From 1994 to 1997, she was a board member of the Federation Internationale des Societes Aerophilateliques.

Her exhibits, research, writing, and speaking engagements often focus on her specialty of zeppelin posts and memorabilia worldwide, especially from U.S. airships, the 1933 Graf Zeppelin Chicago flight, and the Hindenburg. She was the first exhibitor to win a World Series of Philately grand award for a Display Division exhibit. She edited The Zeppelin Collector for 37 years and has been a contributor to the Michel Zeppelin specialized catalog. Her lifelong philatelic outreach at local, national, and international levels engages a vast spectrum of collectors from specialists to new audiences.

She has given talks, seminars, and presentations at many philatelic venues, including the Collectors Club of New York, the Royal Philatelic Society London, and the Blount Postal History Symposia. She has served as a role model for women in the hobby and is a charismatic promoter of the hobby using both the written and spoken word.

Ganz earned a PhD in U.S. history from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her books include The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair: A Century of Progress; and Every Stamp Tells a Story: The National Philatelic Collection. Her national exhibit publications include Delivering Hope: FDR & Stamps of the Great Depression; Fire & Ice: Hindenburg and Titanic; and Favorite Finds; Pacific Exchange: China & U.S. Mail.

Her more than 100 articles have appeared in the Jack Knight Air Log, German Postal Specialist, COMPEX Directory, The Chronicle of the U.S. Classic Postal Issues, The American Philatelist, Washington City Despatch, Collectors Club Philatelist, Airpost Journal, TellNetherlands Philately, The Philatelic Exhibitor, and New Jersey Postal History, and other publications.

Previous philatelic awards include the Alfred F. Lichtenstein Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Philately, Mortimer L. Neinken Medal, Carlrichard Brühl Medal, Wisconsin Philatelic Hall of Fame, AAMS Aerophilatelic Research Award, Lee Medal, Nicholas Carter National Service Award, Distinguished Philatelist Award, Elizabeth C. Pope Lifetime Achievement Award, FISA Gold Medal, Canadian Aerophilatelic Society Award, AAMS Presidents Award, Earl & Fred Wellman Literature Award, Gus Lancaster Award, George W. Angers Award, Chris Hunt Award, and Newberry Award for service to Chicagoland philately, and U.S. Philatelic Classics Society Distinguished Philatelist.


Harris and

Robert Harris and Diane DeBlois were named the 2016 Luff Award winners for Distinguished Philatelic Research.

Harris joined the APS in 1966 while in graduate school, and started a stamp club there. His first philatelic research article on the first postal card was published in Stamps in 1968. He became a full-time dealer in postal history and ephemera in 1973. When DeBlois joined Harris in 1979 as a writer and editor in other fields, she was most keen to have him restart the house publication of aGatherin’ — P.S. A Quarterly Journal of Postal History — and she took over as editor with Volume II in 1980. Her first major research article was on the Collins Overland Telegraph. This research journal continued more than 60 issues to 1993. In 2000, DeBlois and Harris accepted the editorship of the Postal History Journal, for which they won the American Philatelic Congress’s Diane D. Boehret Awards in 2004 and 2014. The couple, separately and together, have written on a broad range of subjects for other philatelic and collecting periodicals, and are both in the Philatelic Writers Hall of Fame.

Together, they are the 2016 Luff Award winners for Distinguished Philatelic Research.

As a team, DeBlois and Harris have engaged in long-term postal history research projects and expanded the field. The first catalog of aGatherin’ in 1975 was called “Ephemera” and they continued to emphasize the interplay of these documents of everyday life with postal history. They particularly focus on sourcing postal history from government reports.

They have taught six different courses on postal history at the APS Summer Seminar. They have also made joint presentations at the Postal History Symposia, co-sponsored by the American Philatelic Research Library and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum (as well as co-writing the follow-up papers):

  • “The Gold Mine of Official Register Data” (2006);
  • “1845 Cultural Nexus in Transportation and Communication” (2007);
  • “Morse Code V for Victory: Morale through the Mail in WWII” (2008);
  • “The Sunday Mail Controversy Paves the Way for Postal Reform” (2009);
  • “Hermes: Message and Messenger” (2010);
  • “It’s in the Bag — The Shape of Turn-of-the-Century Mail” (2011);
  • “Balancing the Books: Newspapers & the Postal Business of the Confederacy” (2012); and
  • “Newspapers in the Mail: Strategic Postal Unification of the British American Colonies” (2016).

Joint papers on postal history issues outside of the reach of the hobby have included:

  • “Early Network Theory & Practice in U.S. Postal Rates” at the Business History Conference, Le Creusot, France;
  • “The Pre-Victorian Internet: Economic, Physical Measures & Principles of the United States Postal System in the 19th Century” (2006) at the International Economic History Congress, Helsinki, Finland; and
  • “Special Post Offices; Local Economies & the Postal Network of the United States to 1860” (2012) at the World Economic History Congress, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

They also presented “Modeling Postal History with Postal Numbers” for the Second International Symposium on Analytical Methods in Philately, Chicago.

From 1999 to 2010, DeBlois served as director of the Ephemera Society of America for which she has also served as annual conference chair since 2005. From 2007 to 2012, they served on the research sub-committee of the Museum Advisory Council of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

The couple has a long-standing habit of exposing non-philatelic collectors to our hobby, particularly through the Ephemera Society of America. The ephemera society’s highest award, the Maurice Rickards Award, is shared for their continuing efforts of promoting understanding of the historical and cross-disciplinary importance of our objects through well-researched, readily accessible, writings. Robert has also won with Diane the 2008 the American Philatelic Congress’s C. Corwith Wagner Award (1995), as well as the 2008 Jere Hess Barr Award.



Dennis Gilson received the 2016 Luff Award for Outstanding Service to the APS.

Gilson started collecting worldwide and U.S. stamps when he was about 10 years old, stopped after high school for 12 years, and then resumed the hobby at age 30. He has been a member of the APS since January 1977 and also is a member of the American First Day Cover Society, the American Topical Association, the United States Stamp Society and his local stamp club, the Mount Nittany Philatelic Society, of which he is the treasurer.

Gilson is the 2016 Luff Award winner for Outstanding Service to the APS.

After successful military and post-military careers, he moved to State College, Penn., in July 2000 to become the project manager for the Match Factory renovation project. After completing Phases 1 and 2 of the Match Factory project and overseeing the move of the APS and American Philatelic Research Library to Bellefonte in May 2004, Dennis retired fully in January 2005 and became a volunteer for the APS and APRL.

Since 2001, Dennis has been a member of the American Philatelic Expertizing Service (APEX) Expert Committee. His area of expertise is primarily the U.S. Washington-Franklin issues of 1908-1922. Dennis recently completed a nearly two-year project to enable more than 54,000 APEX certificates to be placed in the APEX Certificate Archive on the APS website. These certificates are those with digital images, starting in late 2003 until the new APEX programming software became operational in mid-2014. All new certificates since that time are automatically added to the archive.

Since 2005, Dennis has taught the four-day APS Summer Seminar course on the Washington-Franklins (which he developed) seven times, most recently this past summer. He also has taken it on-the-road as a two-day course to San Francisco (Westpex in 2008), Washington, D.C. (Napex in 2010), and Minneapolis (Minnesota Stamp Expo in 2011).

Gilson currently spends three days a week at the American Philatelic Center, much of that time providing philatelic and scanning support to the Internet Sales Unit. He also proofreads The American Philatelist journal and provides support to other departments as needed. In addition to expertizing, teaching and other volunteer tasks, Dennis participates in an online stamp forum and has represented the APS at many stamp shows throughout the country. Dennis is especially proud to have received a Century Award Plaque for sponsoring more than 100 new APS members.

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