Leo and Samuel August

Leo August
Samuel August

Leo                         Sam

In 1933, Leo and Sam August opened a stamp shop in Newark, at the corner of Washington and Market Streets. Before the end of the decade, they were the founders of the Washington Press, now based in Florham Park, N.J., which produces Artcraft envelopes and albums for stamp collectors---and a host of other products. But more than anything else, the August brothers are responsible for the huge popularity of the first day cover collecting wing of philately and an organization they founded and which is still flourishing.

Leo and Sam began to refine the idea of mass-producing their specially designed envelopes and broke into the philatelic mainstream in 1936 when they were named official designers for a souvenir cover at TIPEX, the Third International Philatelic Exhibition at the Grand Central Palace in New York City. Their role endured through the decades for every international show held in the United States since then, through the Pacific 97 show in San Francisco in 1997 and Washington 2006 last year. Their firm has been a major force in first day cover production throughout these years.

The early August Brothers cachets were produced on a letterpress, but in 1939 the brothers began making engraved designs of a much higher quality and copyrighted them as Artcraft envelopes. They set a new standard in first day cover cachet design that has rarely been imitated.

For the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, the brothers expanded into stamp albums, publishing a series of color White Ace pages designed to display the stamps that had been issued by many countries to celebrate the fair. The Washington Press now publishes albums for the stamps of the United States and many other countries, and albums used by collectors of stamps celebrating a single topic, like space  exploration. As the business expanded, it moved to Maplewood, N.J., and then to Florham Park in 1980.

The August brothers were founders of the American First Day Cover Society and were instrumental in the start of the Cardinal Spellman Philatelic Museum, in Weston, Mass. In addition, their philanthropy throughout the hobby is legendary—including a large donation to the American Philatelic Society.