Charles Esterly Severn

Charles Esterly Severn

Charles E. Severn was a highly successful and widely acclaimed stamp editor and philatelic businessman—whose publishing business not only produced periodicals, but various philatelic literature. Most of his philatelic career took place with Mekeel’s Weekly Stamp News, first published by Charles H. Mekeel in 1891. Severn began his connection with the paper in 1894 as its Chicago correspondent. At that time the paper was owned and operated by Charles Mekeel’s brother, I.A. Mekeel.

In 1898, I.A. invited Severn to become the editor and made him a part-owner. Severn remained the editor of Mekeel’s for the rest of his life. The corporation bought Redfield’s Weekly, one of its rivals, to obtain its superior printing facilities for Mekeel’s. In 1898, the Boston correspondent for Mekeel’s, Willard O. Wylie, was invited to join the corporation, sharing the editing chores. From then on, the professional lives of Severn and Wylie were intertwined. Shortly thereafter Mekeel’s bought another competitor, the widely read Weekly Philatelic Era, run by W.W. Jewett. Wylie was made the editor of the Era and it continued successfully. When I.A. Mekeel died in 1913, the paper was offered for sale, and in 1915, the Severn-Wylie-Jewett Corporation bought it. Severn, president of the corporation, continued as editor, columnist and feature writer. During his long tenure, Mekeel’s was the weekly philatelic journal of record in the hobby of stamp collecting. Under Severn’s leadership, a series of important philatelic monographs of various subjects was published.

Severn had been a member of the Chicago Philatelic Society since 1887, and held many posts. He was named an honorary Life Director in 1912. After his death, his wife, Eveleen Severn, who had long been his collaborator, succeeded him as president of Severn-Wylie-Jewett Co. Charles Severn was one of the original group of philatelists who signed the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921.)

[Our thanks to the American Philatelic Society for much of this information, and to Herbert Trenchard, author of this biography.]