At the 1936 Third International Philatelic Exhibition in New York City, two brothers—Leo and Samuel August—were just beginning to ride the wave of the burgeoning subsidiary philatelic hobby of first day cover collecting.They had only recently started in the stamp business and thought that, since a souvenir sheet was to be issued at TIPEX— and since they were to to have their Washington Stamp Exchange at Booth 48—they might produce some cacheted covers to be turned into FDCs at the show.
Those TIPEX first day covers made by the August brothers are, today, known as August Cachets—precious forerunners to the world famous line-engraved, intaglio printed Artcraft cachets which were introduced by their firm at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. By the late 1940s, the Augusts’ company had become a giant in the hobby—the world’s largest producer of cacheted FDCs and a marketer of an imaginative, colorful line of albums and philatelic products that are still sold today from the Washington Press’s headquarters in New Jersey. (Now headed by Michael August.)
Leo August is a legendary figure in first day cover collecting. He and his older brother Samuel became stamp dealers in 1933 as the Washington Stamp Exchange in Newark, N.J. During the next half-century they sold more first day covers and cachets than any other company.
In 1955, Leo August helped found the American First Day Cover Society, providing both moral and financial support during its formative years. In 1956, their firm produced the “official” cacheted covers for FIPEX, the Fifth International Philatelic Exhibition in New York City.
In 1958, the Augusts established an annual first day cover award “for furthering the interests of the hobby.” In 1980, the AFDCS bestowed Honorary Life Memberships on both brothers. The Leo and Samuel August Memorial Award for best topical FDC exhibit is presented annually by the AFDCS.
Leo August was a generous benefactor to the National Postal Museum in Washington, D. C. and established a number of exhibitor awards for national and local stamp shows. In his will, he made a large bequest to the American Philatelic Research Library.He received the Luff Award in 1990 for Outstanding Contributions to Philately and was named Man of the Year in 1997 by the ASDA. Upon his death, Leo August became memorialized in the American Philatelic Society Hall of Fame.
[Editor’s Note: We are indebted to the Hall of Fame Committee of the American Philatelic Society for part of the above information.]