From the Dec. 19, 1947 edition of the Gazette:

Before a crackling hearth in the cold winter evenings at Oak Bluffs, Benjamin H. Kidder sorts his collection of more than a million stamps. During the spring and summer months Mr. Kidder’s activities as a painter and the whirl of the outdoor season conspire to keep him from his hobby. But when the long days wane and nights come quickly to the Vineyard he takes down his albums and prepares to mount the stamps he has acquired throughout the year.

Some of the collectors of the Martha’s Vineyard Stamp Club are specialists in first day covers, Canadian stamps or those of the United States. Mr. Kidder, however, ranges the field. “If it’s a stamp,” he says, “it interests me.” It was evident from the loving way he displayed his collection that Mr. Kidder was genuinely fond of his bright sheets of paper in a way that only a philatelist would understand. He was not so much concerned with their monetary value, though in certain cases this is considerable, but in their age, their beauty, size, the long distance they had travelled, their completeness and the way they stand out on a page.

Mr. Kidder’s devotion to stamps stems from the time when as an eight year old boy he lived with his uncle in Florence, Mass., while his father and brother were touring the world. As their letters arrived from Turkey, Germany, Palestine and Egypt, young Benjamin’s imagination was fired with the strangeness of the postage stamps his father’s letters bore. His uncle prompted him to begin to save them and mount them in an album. From that day forward Mr. Kidder’s collection has never ceased to grow.

Another member of the Martha’s Vineyard Stamp Club, who seems to have the perfect job for a philatelist, is Albert E. Holmes, postmaster at Oak Bluffs. Although he may not be as well situated as the late President Roosevelt to direct the design and issuance of stamps, Mr. Holmes can see an awful lot of stamps in a day’s work and he is always in a good spot to tell his friends of future issues and also garner for them the choice corners of the sheets with the numbers and mysterious markings on them so highly prized by the collectors.

Mr. Holmes is a stamp collector of fairly recent date, and he now specialized in first day covers and stamps of the United States. He first was bitten by the collecting bug on Jun 20, 1946, when the elaborate envelopes were prepared and marked to commemorate the first air mail flights from Oak Bluffs to Nantucket from Hyannis, incidentally the first air mail flights from the Vineyard.

To give an idea of the enthusiasm of stamp collectors, Mr. Holmes told of receiving requests for these first day covers six months before the flight was scheduled to take place. Before the day arrived well over a thousand requests for them had been received. All this furore was a great surprise to Mr. Holmes, but before long he was doing the same sort of thing himself. He now corresponds with postmasters in all the large cities of the United States to get special envelopes from them with their autographs written across the bottom. “They may be busy fellows,” said Mr. Holmes, “but they always take time out to do these little courtesies.”

When Mr. Kidder and Mr. Holmes get together for a chat about stamps the conversation is charged with postmarks, dates, cachets, issues, duck stamps, cancellations, and Scott’s catalogue — all rather bewildering to one who is not initiated in the rules of the sport. Mr. Holmes draws heavily on Mr. Kidder’s experience in the lore of stamps, while Mr. Holmes repays him by filling his orders for two complete sheets of every new stamp issued by the Postmaster General.

When questioned about the amount of money these purchases involved both will answer firmly that stamps are a wonderful investment. Unlike stocks or bonds, they said, stamps may always be sold for their face value, and as is usually the case, the value of a stamp increases with its age, particularly if it is drawn from the proper corner of the sheet and shows a large amount of white space at the edges. To prove his point Mr. Holmes mentioned the three Graf Zeppelin stamps which might have been bought when they were issued for $1.65 and now cost in the neighborhood of $200. He also mentioned a common garden variety three cent stamp which appeared on almost every letter during the war, yet which now costs five cents simply because most of them have disappeared from circulation.

One of the most remarkable items in Mr. Kidder’s collection is an album which his father kept as a young man. In this album, under the heading, Luxembourg, painstakingly written in old Mr. Kidder’s hand, was the smallest stamp in the world, a tiny bit of paper easily covered by placing a little finger on top of it.

The Martha’s Vineyard Stamp Club is particularly anxious to enlist new members, said Mr. Kidder. The only qualifications you need to join, is an interest in swapping stamps and stories.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox