Harlan W. Miller: Philatelic Printer by Harlan L. Miller. 8½ by 11 inches, 114 single-sided pages, comb bound, card covers, self-published, Lawrence, Kansas 2005.

 

            The son of the legendary philatelic journal printer was stimulated to write this biography of his father by American Philatelic Research Library Director Gini Horn and APS Historian Herb Trenchard. The result is a lovely and loving profile of the man who was responsible for printing SCC’s The Posthorn for forty year, and also the journals of the Society for Czechoslovak Philately, the France and Colonies Philatelic Society, and the APRL among many others.

            In addition to stamp journals, Harlan Miller also printed many other hobby publications. Over the years he was involved in printing nearly fifty stamp journals alone. Through the eyes and memory of his son Harlan we learn what it was like for him and his sister to grow up in a print shop dealing with second hand equipment, the smell of ink and hot lead, stuffing envelopes, and carrying the packages and mail bags to the post office.

            The biography progresses with a string of anecdotes. Letters from Pat Herst and other philatelic friends as well as articles about Harlan Miller that appeared in the philatelic press, are reprinted to help tell the story of this hard-working printer and his involvement with our hobby. Miller even printed a few cachets of his own for first day covers and special events.

            In his later years Miller entered “semi-retirement” by reducing his workload from 14-hour days and 6-day weeks. An interview in 1987 in a local newspaper recalled that he was still using “an ancient Linotype” and a 50-year old printing press. Harlan Miller died in 1989 at the age of 74, possibly earlier than might be expected since he was exposed for years to the fumes of molten lead.

            The following year his old print shop at 821 Vermont Street in Lawrence, Kansas and some adjacent buildings were lost in a fire. The family was able to rescue a few philatelic items that suffered smoke and water damage. It was a sad ending to the story of a legendary printer of hobby publications.

            However, we have his son’s engaging biography of his dad that captures the dry sense of humor and the many accomplishments of the printer who was so devoted to his business. Harlan L. Miller donated a copy of his father’s biography to the SCC Library.

 

Alan Warren