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Malcolm C. Dizer and "History in Philately"

Malcolm C. Dizer (1886-1978) was a British-American philatelist who assembled a number of specialized postage stamp collections under the general topic of "History in Philately".  They are an excellent example of the use of postage stamps to preserve collective memory.

According to an autobiographical essay published in The Lamp (house organ of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, later known as Esso Oil, and now known as Exxon-Mobil; September 1951, Dizer began his work life as "European sales representative for a large American firm".  He retired from that position, but in 1943, desiring to contribute to the war effort, joined the US Merchant Marine, serving as purser on troop ships crossing the Atlantic.  He also served with as an aide to Bernard Baruch on the War Industries Board.  Later, he worked for Esso as a licensed purser-pharmacist's mate on oil tankers.  He retired from Esso in 1951 at the age of 65 -- on which occasion he published his autobiographical essay.  He lived in the Tudor City development in New York City, at 320 E. 42nd St. (Apt. 2604).  Photo on left from the Lamp; on right from westpix.com.au.

Before the war, Dizer had begun to send handmade Christmas cards to his friends.  For 1936, he included a set of stamps depicting King Edward VIII and his abdication message.  That was the beginning of the "History in Philately" series.

In the 1951 essay, Dizer notes that he had already prepared seven such "booklets", or souvenir albums, including the following. 

Click on images to link to PDFs of the albums themselves.

Abdication of King Edward VIII (1936, revised 1961)

Ken Stiles' New York Times column announced the publication of the 1961 edition of Dizer's Edward VIII album (December 24, 1961).

Famous Americans (1940)

A special edition of the Famous Americans album, in a custom binder, including a first day cover and a complete mint sheet of 70 each stamp, and described as "unusual and rare", was sold by Kelleher Auctions (Sale 626, Lot 1903, October 2011) for $1,298.

Cornerstones of American Liberty (1941)

Occupied Nations (1943)

At the same 2011 auction (Lot 1904), Kelleher sold a special edition of the Occupied Nations set, also in a custom binder, including a complete mint sheet of each stamp, for $236.

US Armed Forces in World War II (1948)

National Literacy Campaign in Liberia (1950)

Silver Jubilee of King George VI (1951)

No link available.



Subsequent to 1951, Dizer produced limited editions of many additional sets (some listed in a price list dated May 1, 1965):


Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (1953)

Announced in Stamps, a hobbyist newspaper, June 20, 1953, which described it as "One of the most attractive volumes ever to be offered the philatelic public", and states that Number One of the limited edition of 500 copies was to be presented to Queen Elizabeth herself, and Number Two to Winston Churchill, who was then prime minister.  The announcement further notes that "Mr. Dizer is well known to many of our readers, for we have had stories concerning him from time to time....  He has a gift for producing inspiring mementoes (sic) of historical philately, and... we feel that this one is the 'masterpiece' of them all." 

The album was described by Ken Stiles in his New York Times column, "News of the World of Stamps" (June 7, 1953) as "one of the most elaborate philatelic albums ever published".

No link available

Royal Tour of Queen Elizabeth II (1954)

A companion volume to the Coronation album.

Stiles also announced the Royal Visit album (October 24, 1954), asserting that "these two 'History in Philately' books are destined to become prized items in future collections".

No link available

Statue of Liberty and "In God We Trust" Issues (1954-1958-1960)

As an immigrant, the Statue of Liberty probably appealed to Dizer; this was also the first stamp to contain the new motto, "In God We Trust.

According to the brochure cover, the first edition of the Statue of Liberty brochure was apparently "designed and produced in 1954 at the behest of the Postmaster General (Arthur E. Summerfield).  The second edition was "augmented for release March 22, 1958 in honour of the gatherings in Cleveland of the Garfield Perry Stamp Club and The American Philatelic Society". 

George Eastman Centennial (1954)

Peaceful Uses of the Atom (1955-1958-1962)

Royal Visit to Canada and the United States (1957)

To prepare this album, Dizer took a leave of absence from his job to follow Elizabeth and Philip through Canada, collecting postmarks on the actual days they visited various cities.  Similarly, Dizer was a passenger on the last voyage of the Queen Mary, collecting stamps and postmarks from each of the ship's ports of call. 

The album was described in Kent Stiles in his New York Times stamp column, "News of the World of Stamps" November 22, 1957 ". 

Both the column and the album are reproduced in the Canadian Postal History Corner blog (July 4, 2010).

Link to
Postal History Corner

Tributes to the Flag (Alaska and Hawaii Statehood) (1960)

Dag Hammarskjold (1963)

No link available

William Shakespeare Quadricentennial (1964)

Two separate albums for UK and US stamps, and colonial and foreign issues.

Stiles also noted the publication of Dizer's Shakespeare album, describing Dizer's "unusual stamp albums on national and international themes" ("The World of Stamps", New York Times, August 23, 1964).

Pope Paul VI Visit to the United Nations (1965)

Nobel Peace Prize to UNICEF (1965)

Winston Churchill (1965)

Final Voyage of the Queen Mary (1967)

Link to "Philatelist Laments Mary Trip End", transcript of a newspaper article by Bill Duncan in the Long Beach Independent (12/05/1967), detailing some of Dizer's adventures in securing stamps and postmarks for this cover, courtesy of Richard and Sue Tennant (Sue's father, Captain John Treasure, was the last Master of the Queen Mary).

John F. Kennedy (1967)

Christmas Stamp (1968)

Early American Flags (1968)

David Lidman, Stiles's successor in the "Stamps" column in the New York Times, described Dizer's "Early American Flags" album as a "quite unusual presentation".

Sir Francis Chichester (1969)

350th anniversary of the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth (1971)

Lidman's last New York Times notice concerning Dizer announced the Pilgrim album (January 3, 1971), praised the "handsome picture portfolios he creates of historic events and their philatelic remembrances."

No link available

Many of the individual brochures, or early versions of them, were bound in a loose-leaf album embossed "History in Philately" by Malcom C. Dizer.  The album also reproduces "My Second Career" Dizer's 1951 article from The Lamp, which is the major source of biographical information (and contains a photo of Dizer).

Dizer sometimes produced cacheted first day covers separate from his albums. Some examples:

Apollo Moon Landing (1969)

Link to the website of Chris Calle, whose father designed the stamp.

Link to the website of Chris Calle

Christmas Stamp (1972)

An example of Dizer's practice of employing postage stamps in his Christmas greetings.

Dizer self-published The Old Order Changeth Yielding to the New, a history of United States postal rate changes (the title comes from Tennyson's Idylls of the King"), as announced by Ken Stiles in "News of the World of Stamps", September 21, 1958). 

In addition, Dizer produced a limited-edition album of United Nations stamps and postal stationery, with a custom album in blue embossed Postage Stamps of the United Nations in silver -- a project endorsed by Reidar Tvedt, Chief of the United Nations Postal Administration.  In a letter to Dizer dated January 25, 1955, and included in the album, Tvedt expressed "great regret" that Dizer had "decided against production of a United Nations Album", further noting that "the UN Postal Administration has a particular interest in seeing the Album completed".  The circumstances of this letter are unknown.  It is not clear whether this album was intended to be the official UN collection, a replica of the official collection, or the prototype of a consumer album to be offered to collectors through the UNPA or the United Nations Bookshop and similar venues.  Dizer produced annual supplements to this album at least through 1969.

Link to the entire UN album.

Throughout all this activity, two basic themes can be seen: an intense patriotism, toward both Britain and the United States; and intense idealism, especially concerning the United Nations. 

Malcolm Dizer's "History in Philately" series was a labor of love, and must have put him to considerable expense. 

 Note: A classified advertisement published in the American Philatelist (e.g., January 2011), seeking additional information about Dizer yielded a few responses from other collectors who held one or more Dizer items, but no additional biographical information

Dizer's albums do appear occasionally for sale on venues such as eBay.

Most of the items illustrated above were donated in 2016 to the American Philatelic Research Library (Bellefonte, Pennsylvania), an arm of the American Philatelic Society, where they may be viewed in person.


This webpage last updated 09/27/2016.