Edwin H. Brennecke, USCS #H-122
Edwin “Ed” Brennecke was born in 1898 and was an early USCS member, recruited by T.M. Holcombe in June 1933. Ed was a resident of Chicago, Illinois and a charter member of the Admiral Moffett Chapter #6. He served as the chapter’s Secretary and meetings were usually held at his home.
In the March 1935 USCS Election, he received 85 votes for one of the five “Directors at Large” offices. Brennecke came in eighth in the balloting. This election resulted in many leaving to join the American Naval Cancellation Society, including several of the elected USCS officers. Even York Briddell, who had been elected a Director, resigned. Ed filled one of the vacancies for the 1935-1936 term, became Vice President (1936-1937 term) and the fourth USCS President (1937-1938 term).
His President’s Message (FEB 1938 Log) spoke of Alex Hesse (USCS #168) being elected ANCS President. It appears that Hesse had written in the rival ANCS Navigator “Treat all cover collectors the way you wanted to be treated. Do not hold it against the collector if he is not a member of our Society, but may be a member of the USCS or any other society.”
Brennecke reached out with the olive branch. He replied in kind with the following: “We are cover collectors, whether of one Society or the other, our aims are identical. There are many times when one Society can help the other. A USCS member can help an ANCS member, and vice versa. There should be a feeling of comradeship among collectors at all times…..Al, your hand has been gladly accepted and feel assured that the pressure I place there, is that of friendship, and that alone.” It must have been a pleasant relief to have the sniping end.
There had been some rather nasty feelings between USCS and ANCS members during this period. Sometimes cover sponsors or cachet directors refused to service covers of the rival organization and sent back requests. Some naval covers bear the scars of the rivalry, as on a cover to Decatur Chapter was typed message referring to the fact that the collector hoped he would get a cacheted cover.
Ed published the U.S. Historical Cover Catalog, a reference book in sections with listings of covers done by different authors i.e. Admiral Byrd Covers, edited by Edward Horwitz, has a listing of all Byrd Expedition covers. The 1934 edition has seven pages devoted to Admiral Byrd, while the 1935 edition has one page with additions and corrections. Two other sections are devoted to listings of USS RELIEF and Naval Covers.
Brennecke was described as a tall, spare man and sported one of the first crew cuts in the Society. His obituary (AUG 1977 Log) states that both Ed and his wife, Natalie were retired telegraphers by trade and lived out their lives on a small farm in Indiana that they had bought during the Depression.
After World War II, Ed began the USCS sales service, selling the collections of deceased members for their families, calling the sales service “Quotation Sheets”. The 1967 USCS Election bio stated that since retiring, Ed was able to spend 60 hours per week on the Quotation Sheets. The 1975 USCS election biography stated “…since 1950 I have acted in behalf of our members so that when the time comes and we lose one of our members through illness or accident, our Society can give them the protection they deserve as members by helping them to receive the best remunerations for material that many have made no arrangements for.”
He served as a USCS Director from 1959 until his death in June 1977. He was a member of the “USCS Flying Circus” along with Howard C. Koeppen, Alfred Dowle and Francis Boylan. They traveled to all of the USCS conventions and visited USCS chapter meetings spreading the word and encouraging the hobby of collecting naval covers Edwin “Ed” Brennecke was inducted into the USCS Hall of Fame in 1992.
By Steve Shay (#L-10,821)