THE ARAB WORLD PHILATELIST, 1978 - 1982
Thirty years ago this year I published the Premier Volume of my ARAB WORLD PHILATELIST. It was not until I started to write this introduction that I checked the date and found that it had been back in 1978 that I decided to try publishing something that would fill a void that existed at that time. Until Mervin Chaplin did his JOURNAL OF ARABIAN PHILATELY, that survived for two issues, there weren’t any philatelic publications that covered the whole of the Arab World. A few specific journals were published by highly specialized groups that largely had their base in England and the areas of interest were former English colonies, or areas controlled by them. I copied Mervin's format as it was easy to read and easier to publish.
In retrospect, I was very naive about such undertakings, and happily so, or I wouldn’t have attempted it. In 1978 the general public did not have computers, which meant the project was definitely a “kitchen table top” project. When I say it was done by cutting and pasting, that is exactly what was done. That explains why some of the pages and items are crooked on the page. All illustrations had to be photographed and put in a format with a specific number of dots (Like the photos in newspapers) that would copy before I took it in final form to the printer to make the plates he used on his printing press. That meant a business that did that type of photography was involved. Next, the photos had to be cut and pasted onto the pages. In many instances a special background that would show as black behind the photographs had to be used. The color was actually red and I would purchase sheets of the material and cut it to size and past it onto the page, and then the photos on top of it. Since the color blue would not show when copied by the printer in making the plates for the pages, I could write things on the page in blue pencil if there were special instruction I wanted to give him.
All text was typed on an electric typewriter and since I wanted the sides to be even, I had to put extra spaces between words to make it even. The bold headings were done with a product everyone used at the time. One would buy sheets of the letters of the alphabet (Available in various forms and sizes) that one placed on paper and then rubbed them from the back so they would transfer to the paper. Once used they could not be reused. I also became very adept at spotting little items that could be used to fill blank spaces so the pages would not appear too boring to view. Some of these items were the lines of bars found on return envelopes from businesses.
Some contributors would send rough articles that I would have to rewrite, or put in a presentable form. Others were excellent writers and their articles were eagerly sought after and welcomed. Bruce Conde was notorious for writing paragraphs and putting a final period at the end of one of them. Bruce and I corresponded for years before he passed away. Several years after his death, I was contacted by someone who had seen a reference on my website to Bruce, and he allegedly represented an organization investigating Bruce’s tie to the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico. The person wanted to know what my relationship with Bruce was. I had never heard any reference to Bruce with Trotsky over the years and told the person such. That was the last I heard from them and the last I have ever heard regarding Bruce and Trotsky.
After picking up the printed copy of the journal I had to address it and mail it to a handfull of people that were interested. Numerous philatelic groups all wanted free copies and I fell for that at first but soon realized I would never recoup the money invested if I continued. It was never a money-making project and never intended to be such. Eventually I resorted to sending it out on approval and virtually everyone purchased it and wanted future issues. One individual would always write and ask me to send it on approval but always returned it. I am certain he copied it and then returned the original. He was dropped from my lists after a few issues.
The postage costs were constantly increasing and that, plus many collectors giving up collecting at the time, caused the demise of the project. There were times when I had to sell items from my collection to meet my printing and postage bills. Many of the readers contributed items to an auction I ran to try to raise money to cover costs. Their generosity made it possible to put out a few more issues. Through the project I was able to meet some fantastic people, learn a great deal about the field and even won a medal from the APS (American Philatelic Society) for my efforts. It was through the urgeings of my friend Les Winick, the well known stamp collector and author, that I entered copies of several of the issues.
Thirty years Later I thought collectors would be interested in seeing what was done when much of the interest in the philately of the Arab World was in it’s formative years. Only six different issues were published and they are listed here.
Please do not write to the advertizers in the magazine as some of them are now deceased and others are no longer in business. Remember that these were produced about thirty years ago. I have no way of getting in touch with any of the advertizers, nor the authors myself, other than searching the Internet to see if they are still in existence.