Henry E. Harris

Henry E. Harris

We are proud to pay tribute on two pages in this issue of ASD&C to a pioneer and giant in the stamp dealing business whose broad influence is still being felt today. Virtually every stamp collector, age 0 and older, at some time encountered H.E. Harris & Company of Boston—whether through their widely advertised approval service or through use of one of their stamp albums or catalogues.

Henry E. Harris started in the stamp business in his bedroom in 1916 at the age of 14 and, by the time he had turned 25, more than 50 people were working for him in his offi ces in a large downtown Boston offi ce building. By age 35, Harris was operating out of his own seven-story building and warehouse and his business was clearly the largest stamp fi rm in the entire world. No other company came even remotely close—then or since.

Harris won international applause from the philatelic community for his action in the famous “Thatcher Ferry Bridge” case. His quick action in November 1962 prevented Canal Zone postal offi cials from fl ooding the market with deliberate misprints of the October 12, 1962 Canal Zone stamp issued for the opening of the Thatcher Ferry Bridge over the Panama Canal. With the APS acting in support, Harris eventually won his law suit against the Canal Zone government in 1965. He prevented it from reprinting the “missing bridge” error; the three sheets in its possession were transferred to government institutions. Harris received the Luff Award in 1966 for Exceptional Contributions to Philately.

We are indebted to the American Philatelic Society website for part of this story and the excellent photo of Harris shown above.