Ernest A. Kehr

Ernest A. Kehr

Recently I sent an e-mail to our erudite editor suggesting that my old friend Ernest A. Kehr be considered for nomination to the ASD&C Hall of Fame.

I was asked to come up with any element of Ernie’s life where he was into stamp dealing. The answer had been right in front of me all the time and I didn’t realize it. We’ll get to that in a bit.

Prior to meeting Ernie for the first time on a Wednesday afternoon long ago, we had corresponded a few times. The first occurring on the appearance of one of my very first philatelic articles when he graciously welcomed me to the ranks of philatelic writers.

Ernest Anthony Kehr (September 10, 1911 – November 13, 1986) New York City. Kehr was one of philately’s most distinguished spokesmen. He became hobby news editor of The New York World-Telegram in 1935, and then stamp and coin editor of The New York Herald-Tribune from 1939 until the newspaper closed in 1966. He continued as stamp columnist for Newsday until his death.

Over a 40 year period, Kehr presented more than 2,000 radio and television programs promoting philately. He wrote several popular books of which The Romance of Stamp Collecting (1947) was a philatelic  bestseller, and was the hobby’s standard for new collectors for decades. In 1964 he founded The Philatelic Press Club (later known as The International Philatelic Press Club), and was chairman emeritus when he died.

Ernie frequently wrote on the current state of philately in the Collectors Club Philatelist. Kehr received numerous honors: He was an Honorary Fellow of the Collectors Club of New York and was awarded its Lichtenstein medal in 1974; he signed the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1975; and, he received the APS Luff Award in 1976 for Exceptional Contributions to Philately. In 1991, the APS established the Ernest A. Kehr award for excellence in the promotion of Youth Philately.

Kehr distributed tons of philatelic materials to Veterans’ hospitals as head of Stamps for the Wounded and, as a newspaperman, probably wrote more words in support of philately than any other person in history.

Let us get to the supportive facts of an element of Ernie’s life where he was into stamp dealing.

I re-read Nassau Street once a year because I enjoy it so much and it provides rejuvenation for me, so to speak. I always know what’s coming next but who wouldn’t after 50 readings? Yet the fact that Ernie Kehr was a stamp dealer had always escaped me when reading Pat’s magnum opus; that is until the other day on my 51st reading of Chapter Six.

Pat mentions that he was about to open an office on Nassau Street when he read an interesting advertisement in the Saturday New York Sun. Gimbel Brothers, the well-known New York department store, wanted someone to work at their stamp counter during the week and conduct their stamp club on Saturdays.

Pat got the job and Mr. Minkus explained his duties. Each weekday he was to be at the counter selling stamps, answering questions and advising. Saturday he would conduct the stamp club.

Pat says that he worked at Gimbel’s one week due to the fact that he was advised to discontinue doing business for himself so as to avoid any conflict of interest. He goes on to tell us that he “was succeeded by my good friend and fellow author, Ernest A. Kehr.”

This, my friends, is sufficient evidence to me that we can consider Ernest Anthony Kehr a stamp dealer—for not only did he become part of the dealing community at a time long ago, he was an unceasing supporter and friend of countless stamp dealers. Here is a quote from Ernie Kehr that is suitable for all collectors of these wonderful bits of paper to take heed to:

“The person who can accurately forecast future stamp values has not yet been born, but the genuine collector who builds his albums carefully along true philatelic lines rarely fails to enjoy a cash profit when he or his estate decides to sell.”