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J. King Horner, executive, lifelong stamp collector


J. King Horner, retired chairman of the board of George W. King Printing Co. and a lifelong stamp collector who traded gifts of stamps with the company when he retired in 1969, died Friday of heart failure at his Towson home. He was 94.

Mr. Horner gave the company a set of Baltimore carrier stamps printed by his grandfather before the Civil War. The stamps were used to indicate that the fee for taking the letter to the local post office had been paid in the days before home delivery and corner mailboxes.

The company gave him a personal stamp it had engraved and printed, bearing his picture, his name and the firm's name.

In 1928, after working for commercial and investment bankers, Mr. Horner began working for an uncle who had started the firm. He served for many years as its president before retiring from that post in the mid-1960s.

His interest in stamps began much earlier, with duplicate stamps he was given by his second-grade teacher, a neighbor.

Before he sold his collection about 10 years ago, he won awards at exhibitions including international shows in London in 1952, New York in 1956 and Washington in 1966. His six awards in the last show included one that presented one of his grandfather's stamps in a display on U.S. postal history.

Denwood Kelly, a former president of the Baltimore Philatelic Society who shared his interest in Baltimore carrier stamps, yesterday described his collection as "rather eclectic but especially strong in British and British colonial stamps."

He described Mr. Horner as "a pleasant person who loved to go to stamp shows and talk about stamps but was not preachy or stuffy."

In 1966, Mr. Horner told of the loss and recovery of one of his stamps at the 1956 New York Show. The stamp was one of his complete set of 23 "Large Dragon" stamps printed in Shanghai, lost when workers dismantled the displays at the New York Coliseum.

"I was a sick pup. I thought I'd never see that stamp again," he said, but about six months later, he got word that it had been found on the floor by a collector from Cardiff, Wales, who said his research indicated it had to be Mr. Horner's stamp.

The stamp was returned.

His collection goes back beyond the first adhesive stamps to envelopes with hand written or stamped indications that the postage had been paid and even beyond the establishment of postal services. He owned a 1320 Italian letter, a 600 B.C. listing on papyrus of Egyptian citizens, and an Assyrian clay tablet.

Mr. Horner was a member of the Baltimore Philatelic Society and one of the founders of the American Philatelic Library in State College, Pa. He was also a member of the Box 414 Association.

Born in Baltimore, he was a graduate of City College and attended the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland law school.

Mr. Horner also was active in the Valley Presbyterian Church, 2200 W. Joppa Road in Riderwood, where services will be held at 11 a.m. today.

He is survived by his wife, the former Emma Brandy Carter; two granddaughters, Katherine Lee Page of Severna Park and Barbara Lynn Daue of Lutherville; and four great-grandchildren.

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