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Judith Kaplan
Cachet Maker Biography
 Women's History Series - NOW-NY

Judith Kaplan Honored In Feminist Tribute.
"Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975"
Click
HERE to read the book review!

Click HERE to view and purchase all the
NOW-NY First Day Covers available at
Knottywood Treasures.


Judith Kaplan and husband Warren.
Judith and Warren Kaplan - 2002

      A chance gift of a Susan B. Anthony cover for Scott 784 started a first day cover empire, the inspirational Women's History Series for NOW-NY, of over 170 FDC's spanning five years, and a very unique Women's History collection. The recipient of that cover was Judith Kaplan.

      In the mid 1960's Judy and her husband Warren formed a part time first day cover business "TIPEX", named after the souvenir sheet (Scott 778) of which they had accumulated a very large inventory. They dealt mainly in the classics, early cachet makers, and hand painted cachets. Judy and Warren operated TIPEX full time from 1974 to 1980 and it became the largest retailer in the world specializing in U.S. FDC's. TIPEX was closed in 1980 when they moved to Florida.

      Judy was a feminist from as far back as she could remember. She was also an early member of the founding chapter of the National Organization for Women, NOW-NY, and served as its treasurer. It was at this time she decided to do a series of covers on women's history for the organization.

      In 1976, Judith Kaplan contracted Mike Burke who was making his own first day covers under the name America Covers. For the first cover she had approximately 1,000-printed offset in red on white stock. The next 12 were in various colors of print and envelope colors. Thus began the Women's History Series of First Day Covers. Judy's main goals were to promote knowledge of the achievements of Women, to lobby the U.S. Postal System to issue more stamps commemorating women's contributions, and to raise money for the New York Chapter of the National Organization for Women. (NOW-NY)

      The idea for the series grew out of her interest in and collection of women's history. She originally intended the project to be a team effort, but as with many volunteer efforts, the person with the most interest (Judy) did it all.

NOW #3

      The NOW-NY series began with the August 18, 1976, issue of Scott 1699 Clara Maas (NOW # 1 Clara Maas). For the next five years, Judy designed, researched, picked the subjects, and did the write-ups for more then 170 different limited edition FDC's. Judy notes: "So little of the history for these women was known and locating photos of these women was even more difficult then the research. There is currently much more women's history available then when my research was being started, but much still remains to be researched and written about."

      The same format and offset printing technique was used for the next 12 cachets. Beginning with the 14th issue in the series, Judy contracted with Ray Novak in 1977, (Colorano "silk" cachets - see Ray Novak's biography on Knottywood Treasures website) to start producing them for her beginning with Colorano #'s 1706-9 & 1709A, Pottery. (NOW # 14-18 Sacajawea) Beginning with Scott 1704 Princeton (NOW # 9 Hannah Amett) she also started inserting biographical card inserts into the first day covers.

NOW #18

      In concept, the series aimed to relate the subject of each and every U.S. new issue to a person or event in women's history. The Photography stamp, for example, was used in this series to commemorate Margaret Bourke White (NOW # 64); a pioneer magazine photographer (Fortune and Life) whose striking photos of World War II battlefields, world leaders, and social realism became a part of the American culture.

NOW #64

      For the Lindbergh stamp, the series selected Amelia Earhart (NOW # 19); for the Statue of Liberty stamp, the series selected Emma Lazzrus (NOW # 54); whose words are embedded on the statue.

NOW #54

      The Women's History Series was not limited to women or United States stamps. For the Dr. Papanicolaou stamp (NOW # 58), honored the developer of the "pap" smear himself. On the Decade of Women (NOW # 125) first day cover, U.N. stamps were used.


Judith Kaplan and Liz Holtzman.
Judith Kaplan shows Liz Holtzman, member of Congress, the Women's History Series. Judith is the originator and cachet director of this unique series.
NOW #58

NOW #125

      Many of the NOW-NY fdc subjects were later made subjects of U.S. stamps, making the Women's History Series first day covers "forerunners" of the U.S. stamps. They include Edna St. Vincent Millay (NOW # 48), Emily Bissell (NOW # 6), Babe Didriksen (NOW # 13), Molly Pitcher (NOW # 26), Helen Keller (NOW # 88), and Rachael Carson (NOW # 143), among others.

NOW #26 NOW #88

      The series evolved. The first twelve cachets were offset printed. Thereafter, they were "silk" cachets produced by Colorano. The first eight issues produced by Judy were announced in a press release that announced the first day cover and included biographical information about the subject. A copy of the press release was mailed to subscribers or given to purchasers. Starting with number nine, the biographical information was printed on a "filler card" enclosed with the cover.

      The back of each cover contained a serial number. For the first twelve, approximately 1,000 of each were produced. When the silk cachets began, 1,000 to 1,500 were made. Many of the later issues were done in quantities of 750 only.

          COMBOS, line pairs and special cancels

      There are a few special cancels, line pair regular issues, and combination first day covers (combo's) that were produced within the series. These were all produced in very limited amounts and are almost impossible to acquire and are rarely seen on the secondary market.

NOW 2A - Mary Goddard with Philadelphia Freedom                 Train cancel. (50 produced)
NOW 3A - Susan B. Anthony with dual cancels
NOW 5A - Emily Bissell triple (3 Christmas stamps on                 one cover)
NOW 8A - Julia Ward Howe with 7.7c Saxhorn line                 pair
NOW 11A - 1623 Flag and Capitol 1623C 10 X 10 perf
NOW 11B - 1623 Flag and Capitol 1623C 11 X 10.5 perf
NOW 11C - 13c 1623 Flag and Capitol and 1590                   Capitol singles
NOW 19A - Amelia Earhart combo (50% of the 1,000                   covers produced were combo's)

      By the 1990's Judy's collection of the history of women was voluminous and consisted not only of her Women's History inventory but also other women's history FDC's, stamps and postcards, autographed letters and numerous other materials she had acquired to fill her need for knowledge and reference for the fdc series.

      Increasingly she felt that, while as a private collection it was hers to enjoy, it should be seen and enjoyed by others interested in learning and studying the achievements of women.

      In 1981 Judy sold the rights to the Women's History Series to Mike Mellone of Stewartsville, New Jersey. There were more then 170 different subjects produced at the time the Series was sold. Mike, however, did not continue the series.

      In 1991 Judy after much thought, negotiation, and anguish donated her entire collection to the Central Florida Community College Foundation. The Central Florida Community College owned and displayed the large collection for over 10 years, including the Women's History Series. Judy repurchased the entire collection in 2004.

      Judy hasn't forgotten her passion for promoting women's history; she is currently a Director and Secretary of the National Women's History Museum, which will be located on the Mall in Washington, DC shortly. She is also a Director of the Veteran Feminists of America, a non profit organization of the women and men who were actively involved in advancing women's rights and in the feminist movement of the 1960's through the 1980's.

      Judy looks back on her collecting and FDC dealer days with many fond memories.






Judith Kaplan and Betty Freidan
Judith Kaplan discusses the progress of feminism with Betty Freidan at the 10th anniversary of the New York Chapter of the National Organization for Women of which Freidan is the founder. Freidan wrote "The Femine Mystique" which changed the concept for women overnight.

Judith Kaplan and Gloria Steinem
Judith Kaplan showing the Women's History Series to Eleanor Holmes Norton, chair-designate of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. On the right of the picture is Gloria Steinem, publisher of MS Magizine. Both Norton and Steinem collect the Women's History Series as do Liz Holtzman and Betty Freidan.

I want to thank Judy Kaplan and Ray Novak for their insight and memories relating to this unique series of first day covers.
Permission was granted from the authors and magazines of the following articles used as reference:
©The American Philatelist, The magazine of the American Philatelic Society, October 1985, Volume 109 #10, article, "FDC Series Gives Birth to Museum" by Judith Kaplan.
©First Days, The journal of the American First Day Cover Society, April 15th 1998, Volume 43/No.3 article, "The Kaplan Era: History in the making - TIPEX and the NOW-NY Women's History Series" by Richard A. Monty.
© Knottywood Treasures 2005-2006-2007-2008