U.S. Postal History Symposium videos online

More than a dozen seminars presented as part of the U.S. Postal History Symposium this October are now available for free viewing online.

All 15 presentations, each touching on this year’s theme, “Postal Innovation of the Classic Era: Evolution Leading to Modernization,” can be accessed via learning.stamps.org. Free registration with the American Philatelic Society, another one of the event’s sponsors, is required. Once you’re logged in to what the APS calls Collecting & Connecting Central – or “C3a” – you can find the videos by clicking “Video/Resources.”

“Back in 2006, the idea for a Postal History Symposium was first conceived when the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum partnered with the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) and the American Philatelic Society (APS),” said Scott Tiffney, director of information services with the APRL, one of the event’s sponsors along with the APS, National Postal Museum and United States Philatelic Classics Society.

“It was then that the idea of a symposium, focusing on postal history research, was born,” added Tiffney, who co-chaired a seminar at the 2018 British North America Philatelic Society Convention – BNAPEX – in Québec.

Links to select papers from the first through the ninth symposia are available via the research section of the National Postal Museum website.

“The topics vary widely from postal transportation to the imagery on stamps, from the post during military conflict to its role in commerce,” said Elliot Gruber, director of the National Postal Museum.


Among this year’s seminars is a 20-minute keynote address highlighting postal innovation in the classic era by Scott Trepel, the president of New York’s Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries.

“When we talk about a postal system, we’re really talking about a business enterprise, and like most businesses, there are three fundamentals—logistics; customer service; pricing and payment,” said Trepel, who’s an award-winning philatelic researcher and author. “And if you think about it, every decision and aspect of the business fits into one of these basic categories.”

Logistics relates to infrastructure and staffing requirements, and in regards to the postal system, this could be the number of delivery vehicles and their routes or the location of post offices, Trepel said.

Customer service is “responsive to the needs and the demands of the public and market,” he added, “so offering services such as city delivery, rural delivery, registrations, special delivery mail—these are all part of a customer service experience.”

Lastly, pricing and payment is established through “careful cost analysis, and the payment methods are designed for the customers’ convenience and to boost sales,” Trepel said.

“A big question for the government was, ‘Is the post office subsidized government operation, or was it to be run like a business where it’s expected to break even?’ And these days, this is very much in the public news. Are taxpayer dollars supposed to pay for everything, or should they break even like any other business—or make a profit?”

To meet these fundamental needs, the postal service ushered in countless innovations, many of which were covered in detail throughout the recent symposium.


In addition to the Postal History Symposium seminars, the C3a also features:

  • 13 seminars from the APS Virtual Stamp Show;
  • another 15 seminars with topics ranging from “How to Hinge Postage Stamps” to “Celebrate the Season with Stamps” and “Traits Common to Collectors“;
  • a nine-video series entitled “Ways of Collecting”;
  • 17 videos for club leaders, teachers and collectors of all ages;
  • nearly 20 videos highlighting APS member benefits and the APRL;
  • a searchable glossary of more than 100 philatelic terms; and
  • nearly two dozen philatelic activities.

Additional C3a videos and resources are also available to APS members.

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