Thursday, December 13, 2012

COLLECTORS CLUB, PHILATELIC HEADQUARTERS (c) By Polly Guerin

An elegant five-story brownstone nestled in the historic enclave of Murray Hill, at 22 East 35th Street, is often passed without a ruffle of interest by ordinary foot traffic, except if one is a stamp collector or the curious onlooker. Yet, if one pauses, as I often do to look at the exterior, I wondered, “What is this charming building doing here?” I had the opportunity recently to learn more about this storied place when I was invited by a club member to a holiday party.
HISTORICAL REFERENCE Standing in the shadow of the Empire State Building the Collectors Club, philatelic headquarters, is distinguished by its fascinating fa├žade. In 1902 the famous architect Stanford White completely redesigned the structure for an art dealer and collector, whose new home garnered lavish praise for its beauty and became a showcase for his art collection. Thanks to the generosity of Alfred Lichtenstein, one of the giants of early philately, it became the Club’s permanent home in 1938 and in 1979, it was designated an historic landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. A $1 million renovations in 2001 restored the famous windows and assured the interior/exterior of the Clubhouse would meet the needs of the club well into the future.
THE LIBRARY A treasure trove of documents, auction records, famous stamp collections, the Collector’s club boasts one of the most extensive philatelic libraries anywhere in the world. Beyond housing some of the rare pieces in philatelic literature, it is very much a ‘working’ library. Members can research or browse through thousands of philatelic publications, comprehensive groups of historical periodicals and extensive runs of priced auction catalogues. They also boast a Youth Stamp Club to encourage a new generation of collectors.
EARLY FOUNDERS In the Golden Age of stamp collection the Club was founded in New York City in the summer of 1896 as a way to “gather…all the societies, all the auctions and all the philatelic interests of the city.” It counted among its members leading, even legendary, names in philately. Founding members included John W. Scott of catalog and album fame, John Nicolas Luff, Hiram Deats, and Charles Mekell. Later members included such famous names as Alfred F. Lichtenstein and Theodore Steinway to name a few. One of the most famous honorary members was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who lived in the Murray Hill area at the time and also attended the Church of the Incarnation at the corner of 35th and Madison Avenue.

If you intend to visit: The Collectors Club is open Monday through Friday, 10am to 5pm; however, call ahead to make an appointment. (212.683-0559). The library and its support committee are available on Wednesdays, also from 10 to 5 pm. If you are interested in membership contact the Membership Secretary at collectorsclub@nac.net.

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Polly Guerin is an author/poet with four textbooks and 2 video productions as credentials as well as 4 books ready to be published. All my blogs are intended to become the basis for books to be published. PollyTalk From New York (c) is a current events blog about happenings in New York City. I have been PollyTalk columnist on the Internet, Big Apple News Network. AmazingArtDecoDivas blog features amazing women of notable character. I am on the board of the Art Deco Society of New York. The Fashion Historian blog gives pertinent insight into Polly's consummate knowledge about fashion history. Former professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Awaken Your Sleeping Beauty blog gives you pertinent information about holistic remedies for health, beauty, mind, body and spirit. I am on the board of the Edgar Cayce New York Center. I sing with the St. George's Choral Society and also serve on their Board. My little dog Colby is a rescue dog and I support animal charities. I hope you enjoy my blogs, please keep in touch.