Main content

Sanford Sorkin philately collection


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Sanford Sorkin is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School (1963) with an interest in collecting stamps and other items of philatelic value. The collection was assembled from a variety of sources and includes items collected by Sorkin himself as well as his father. It focuses on 19th and 20th century items sent through the United States Postal Service, with a few exceptions. Postal services, including that of the United States, have used various forms of markings to record dates, location, and payment information relating to a given piece of mail. Postmarks indicate date and location, while adhesive postage stamps, which were introduced in England in 1840 and the United States in 1842, indicate pre-payment of a letter. Both postmarks and adhesive stamps have become items of interest for collectors and philatelists--those who study postal history. In addition to the United States government's Postal Service, some competing private mail services have existed in the past. One letter in this collection preserves stamps from one such mail service--Blood's Penny Post, which was formed by Daniel Otis Blood in 1845 and served the Philadelphia area until 1862.

The collection consists of various sets of items that Sorkin collected more for their stamps and other evidence of early postal service than for their content. The materials are largely unrelated to one another aside from their philatelic interest. They are arranged into four series: Abraham Liddon Pennock correspondence, Collected correspondence, Collected documents, and Collected ephemera.

The Abraham Liddon Pennock correspondence contains 27 letters to or from Abraham dating from 1851 to 1857. The letters are largely business related and are addressed either to Abraham at his home in Upper Darby, PA or to "Pennock and Bros." in Holmesburg, Philadelphia, PA. A few letters are from Abraham to his sons. One letter (from May 29, 1854) is stamped by Blood's Penny Post, which was a local private mail service that ran from 1845 to 1862.

The second series consists of a set of miscellaneous correspondence, arranged alphabetically by correspondent's last name. Collected for their philatelic value, these are a collection of largely unrelated letters. The contents of a few letters are of special interest and include: one business letter from civil engineer to Benjamin Henry Latrobe, architect of the United States captiol; one example of a "crossed letter" (sent to Isaac Reinhardt for Ann Reinhardt); and one letter sent from Samoa to London (via Sydney, Australia) in 1837 that describes the Samoan people and customs as observed by Peter Turner.

The third series consists of miscellaneous documents, arranged alphabetically by subject, including a notice relating to the postponed auction of Mrs. (Mary Todd) Lincoln's clothes, and the articles of association of the "Rough and Ready Club" that pledges support for the presidential campaign of Zachary Taylor.

The final series contains collected ephemera saved for their stamps and postal related information, arranged alphabetically by subject. Items include envelopes, postcards, tradecards, and a mailed pamphlet containing a handwritten message. Some envelopes, including the Stephen Elliott items as well as those in the "censor" folder, have been marked as having been examined by a censor. Researchers will find the largest number of items sent to a single person or family within the Adolf Pasterz and Jennings family folders.

Gift of Sanford Sorkin, 2015.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Ben Rosen
Finding Aid Date
2015 July 8
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

Request to View Materials

Materials can be requested by first logging in to Aeon. Then, click on the ADD button next to any containers you wish to request. When complete, click the Request button.

Request item to view
Abraham Liddon Pennock correspondence, 1851-1857.
Box 1 Folder 1

American Exchange Bank (New York City) to F.E. Skinner, 1850 September 19.
Box 1 Folder 2
Bush, Alfred W. to Harris and Brown, 1847 December 11.
Box 1 Folder 2
Coolidge, Carlos to George F. Houghton, Esquire , 1849 May 26.
Box 1 Folder 2
Curtin, E. C. to C.J. Pollard, 1857 March 11.
Box 1 Folder 2
Daniel, Thomas (and Sons) to Harmon Hendrick , 1828 November 18.
Box 1 Folder 2
"Eliza" to Susan C.W. Jenks , 1846 May 27.
Box 1 Folder 2
Fremoulet, A. C. to J.B. Clement [in French] , 1880 April 21.
Box 1 Folder 2
Graham, George to land office in Zanesville, Ohio , 1828 April 29.
Box 1 Folder 2
Humbuston, Charles to Redwood Fisher, 1817 June 12.
Box 1 Folder 2
London Missionary Society, 1960 July 20.
Box 1 Folder 2
Moore, J.B. to Charles C. Moore, 1846 August 17.
Box 1 Folder 2
Morris, Ellwood to B.H. Latrobe, 1851 August 7.
Box 1 Folder 2
Prevost and Co. to Hoyt and Sweetlane, 1815 October 16.
Box 1 Folder 2
Reinhardt, Isaac ("for Ann Reinhardt"), undated.
Box 1 Folder 2
Rodriguez, [Aristotle], 1848 March 17.
Box 1 Folder 2
Stewart, Mary to Mrs. E. McAllister, 1829 June 30.
Box 1 Folder 2
Taws, Lewis to George W. [?], 1839 May 4.
Box 1 Folder 2
Theisen, A.H. to Low and Wallace, 1806 October 30.
Box 1 Folder 2
Turner, Peter, 1837.
Box 1 Folder 2
Warrington, P. to Redwood Fisher, 1817 May 14.
Box 1 Folder 2
Zuckerman, J. and L. to S.W. Collins, 1853 August 24.
Box 1 Folder 2

Affidavit presented to the court of Luzern County attesting to the service of Jeremiah B. Deuel in the War of 1812, 1851.
Box 1 Folder 3
Lincoln, Mrs. [Mary Todd] (notice of the postponment of the sale of her clothes), undated.
Box 1 Folder 3
Mt Tabor Weekly Chronicle of Hopkinton, NH (manuscript copies of vol. 1, no. 1 (1842 January 18) and vol. 1, no. 2 (1842 January 26)), 1842.
Box 1 Folder 3
Rough and Ready Club (articles of association by the Whigs of Wilkes-Barre; mentions Zachary Taylor), undated.
Box 1 Folder 3
Songs (manuscript lyrics for "Hurrah for Old Zachary Taylor" and a song beginning "The Pope he leads a happy Life"), undated.
Box 1 Folder 3

Censor ("Opened by U.S. Censor," envelopes only), 1942.
Box 1 Folder 4
Elliott, Stephen envelopes and letters, 1918-1919.
Box 1 Folder 5
Envelopes [some with letters in folder 7], circa 1850-1920.
Box 1 Folder 6-7
Frose, James B. postcards, circa 1870-1890.
Box 1 Folder 8
Hester family postcards, 1907-1912, undated.
Box 1 Folder 9
Jennings family postcards, envelopes, and tradecards, 1906-1931.
Box 1 Folder 10
Pamphlet "The Ship I Sailed On" with handwritten message, 1958.
Box 1 Folder 11
Pasterz, Adolf postcards and envelopes, circa 1910-1930.
Box 1 Folder 12
Postcards, 1915-1943.
Box 1 Folder 13
Tradecards, undated.
Box 1 Folder 14

Print, Suggest