Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover is franked with the green-yellow 3d Roo on Map of Australia stamp (S.G. 37, narrow crown watermark) postmarked BRIGHTON/ VIC, the date is not legible, but most likely is dated ca. 1915. I is addressed to Charles Lathrop Pack Esq, Lakewood, New Jersey. United States of America. A manuscript “via San Francisco per Ventura” has been added (Figure 1).

“Charles Lathrop Pack was one of the United States’ most distinguished philatelists who built outstanding specialized collections based on detailed research on stamp issues and their printing. Most notable was his collection of Victoria, which led to his highly acclaimed book ‘Victoria: The Half-length Portraits and the Twopence Queen Enthroned’ published in 1923. For this book he received the 1923 Crawford Medal from the Royal Philatelic Society London, and the 1926 Lindenberg Medal from the Berliner Philatelisten-Klub. In both instances, he was the first American to receive these rewards. He also received the First Award of Merit given by the Collectors Club of New York.”

“Pack had many other world-famous collections, most notably New South Wales, New Zealand, Canada, Cape of Good Hope, Spain, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. The latter was especially notable for the plating studies of the early issues. Pack’s New Brunswick and Nova Scotia collections were bought by King George V in 1912. Pack received many honors from philatelic societies throughout the world, and was one of the original group of philatelists who signed the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 1921” – all the above quotes from the American Philatelic Society Hall of Fame 1941. A photo of Charles Lathrop Pack is shown in Figure 2.

It has been said that nobody could match the Vanderbilt’s wealth, but many tried and few tried harder than the Packs. George Pack founded the family timber empire in 1856; his son George Willis Pack took over in 1875 and amassed an enormous fortune; and, George’s equally ambitious son, Charles Lathrop Pack turned his father’s substantial investments into even greater wealth. He became a timberman, a forest conservationist, and a pioneer in forest education, with many published books. He was one of the five wealthiest men in America prior to WW I.

A brief biography of Charles is as follows: b. May 7, 1857 in Lexington Michigan, son of George W. and Francis Pack, lived in Lakewood N.J., married Alice Hatch 1886; Republican; Forester; President American Forestry Association 1916-20; Economist; Director, Seaboard National Bank, N.Y.; Founder Cleveland Trust Co.; died June 14, 1937. In addition he was accustomed to mixing with the American elite, for he is shown leaving the White House after a conference with President Hoover (Figure 3).

At the beginning of the 20th century, a new phase of classic stamp collecting became significant, namely positional plating, and its leading practitioners were Americans, and Pack was one of the earliest. The very same Victorian Colony’s early stamp plating that he wrote about have been modified by the great Australian philatelist, J.R.W. Purves in 1953, (as recorded by the present-day authority of Geoff Kellow in The Stamps of Victoria 1990).

Pack was the first American to send exhibits to the Royal Society of England, from his New Zealand and Uruguay collections. His plating of Brazil’s 100- reis issue of 1894-97 was presented in 1912 as a challenge to show that a collection costing less than a penny a stamp could garner a gold medal. Pack owned many rarities including the tête-bêche pair of the Uruguayan “suns” and the famed ‘Pack Strip’ of the interpanneau 30 and 60 Brazilian “bulls-eye” stamps (Figure 4).

Addendum:  A fine registered multicolored cover with 6 Victorian stamps was sent from the Melbourne stamp dealer Howard Davis to Charles Lathrop Pack, Philatelist at Cleveland, Ohio (redirected to him at Lakewood, N.J.) with a SOUTH MELBOURNE/ SE 27/ 09/ VIC postmark.  The total postage of 8d paid 2x the regular rate plus 3d for the registration (Figure 5). 

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