Stamp Collecting, History and Murray Hill Were Featured on the Collectors Club Tour
Sunday, February 5, 2017
By: Debbie Landey
A group of about forty Murray Hill neighborhood residents and non-residents were treated to a wonderful tour of the Collectors Club, on the afternoon of Sunday, January 22. The Collectors Club building, located at 22 East 35 Street, between Madison and Park Avenues, has been a New York City landmark since 1979.
The tour was led by K. David Steidly, PH.D., Secretary at the Collectors Club, a most knowledgeable and witty tour guide! It was organized by the Preservation & Design Committee of The Murray Hill Neighborhood Association as a fundraiser for its efforts in seeking landmark status for historic buildings in Murray Hill.
The five-story brownstone was built in the mid-nineteenth century and redesigned in 1901 by the firm of McKim, Mead & White, with Stanford White as the partner in charge. The architecture includes magnificent bay windows apparently inspired by those in New Zealand House in London. It was part of a row of six townhouses built at that time. Of the six houses, five remain. Thomas Clark, a distinguished collector of fine arts in the last decades of the nineteenth century, bought the house in order to live in close proximity to one of his main clients, J.P. Morgan who lived around the corner. The Collectors Club acquired this building as its permanent home in 1937 for a cost of approximately $40,000. Prior to this purchase, the Club had occupied several other locations.
The tour of the Collectors Club included its magnificent library, with its large collection of books which are available for research by scholars, historians, and philatelists. The Club is also home to historical documents including the original Charter by Benjamin Franklin designating the Deputy Post Master for New Hampshire. The collection also includes Franklin D. Roosevelt’s application for membership in the Collectors Club in 1926, when he was a 43 year old lawyer in New York. At that time membership was $10 for New York residents and $5 for those outside a fifty mile radius of the city.
Founded in 1896, the Collectors Club is one of the oldest existing philatelic societies in the United States. Its stated purpose is "to further the study of philately, promote the hobby and provide a social, educational, and non-commercial setting for the enthusiastic enjoyment of our common passion.” There were originally approximately 100 members, most from the US. The first female member was Mrs. Irving Glover, who joined in 1922.
The Collectors Club now has approximately 700 members. For those interested in stamps and the history surrounding them, annual membership for the Club is $225. Members meet twice a month and organize and attend lectures and events related to stamps and their history. The Library is open weekdays from 10am-5pm. The website is collectorsclub.org.
The tour ended with refreshments. Huge thanks to the Collectors Club for a wonderful Sunday afternoon, learning about stamps, history, the Collectors Club and the Murray Hill neighborhood!