History of the CSA Catalog and Handbook
August Dietz, Sr. published The Postal Service of the Confederate States of America
in 1929. It is the scholarly work referred to by generations of
students to this day. In 1931, Dietz published the first actual
catalog that bore his name, a small volume of 320 pages that was
followed up with a supplement in 1932 of 80 pages. Subsequent editions
were issued in 1937, 1945, and 1959. The most recent edition was
published in 1986 and a new edition has not been issued since.
Mr. Dietz, born in Prussia, moved with his parents to
Richmond in 1871 and began collecting as early as 1880. An engraver
trained in lithography and typography, Mr. Dietz understood the
printing processes necessary for the preparation of the various
Confederate postage stamps.
With his in-depth knowledge of printing and interest
in Confederate postal history, it has long been speculated that Dietz
obtained some of his information directly from the postmasters,
printers and/or clerks that had firsthand knowledge of many of the
actual philatelic items used during the Civil War. This has been
verified by current Editor-in-Chief, Trish Kaufmann, who has some of
the original correspondence between postmasters and Mr. Dietz in her
files. By 1896, Dietz was the editor of The Virginia Philatelist,
a monthly stamp magazine printed in Richmond. In March 1901, he
started his own company, the Dietz Printing Company in Richmond.
In 1924, as an avid researcher and collector, he
began writing informative articles on the subject of Confederate
postal history to aid the increasing number of Confederate collectors.
In subsequent years, he operated his printing firm with his son,
August Dietz. Jr. as Business Manager, and published The Southern Philatelist (1924-1929), The New South Philatelist (1929-1933), Stamp and Cover Collecting (1933-1936), and Stamp and Cover Collecting Review (1937-1939).
Each of the publications on which he worked contained
articles related to Confederate philately, including new finds,
plating research, illustrations of postal markings, and answers to
questions from collectors. He also wrote several reference books on
Confederate philately, including the 1929 treatise, The Postal Service of the Confederate States of America.
That book, often referred to as "The '29 Dietz," included most of the
information printed in his earlier publications. Today, August Dietz
Sr. is considered the Father of Confederate Philately. A short
biography of August Dietz Sr., appears in the September 1900 (Vol. IV,
No.1) issue of The Virginia Philatelist.
By mid-1934, a small group of serious Confederate
collectors was beginning to emerge. In February 1935, Dr. Marye Y.
Dabney, another enthusiastic Confederate collector and friend of August
Dietz, wrote to Mr. Dietz and suggested that an organization be formed
for the more intensive study of Confederates, the exchange of
relevant data, and the dissemination of acquired knowledge. The name
of the organization suggested by Dr. Dabney was the Confederate Stamp
Alliance, a name that has continued to this day. The idea quickly
caught on and Mr. Dietz welcomed each new member and conferred upon
him or her the honorary title of Colonel. In October 1948, the
membership reciprocated and bestowed on him the first honorary title of
The Berlin Philatelic Club bestowed the Lindenberg Medal
on Dietz in 1938, and he received the first Luff Award in 1940 for
Exceptional Contributions to Philately, and the Lichtenstein Medal in
1955 from the Collectors Club of New York. On September 26, 1963 Dietz
died in Richmond, Virginia and he was inducted into the APS Hall of
Fame in 1964.
Confederate States of America Catalog and Handbook of Stamps and Postal History