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(Do you mean the Nan Gerding fanzine Spectator or Ed Meskys' SAPSzine?)

The Spectator Amateur Press Society is the second oldest extant fannish APA. (Only FAPA and VAPA were earlier, and of them only FAPA survives.) Founded in 1947, its membership limit has varied over the years (occasionally as high as 40) but is currently (2020) still active and restricted to 25. Its activity requirements (6 pages on entry, and 6 every 6 months thereafter) are more stringent than those of FAPA, the oldest fannish APA. Its OO is The Spectator.

SAPS has no fixed body of rules, the OE being omnicompetent except insofar as custom and the threat of revolution limits him; he is the only functioning officer, taking care of treasury, membership roster, constitutional interpretation, and mailing management. An Emergency Officer is designated to take over in the event of the OE's death or disenchantment; in long-ago times, the first place in the annual Pillar Poll award carried the titular presidency with it (with all other members being vice-presidents), but conducting this poll was abandoned in the '90s. In addition to the OE and the EO, SAPS currently has one other designated official position, the KOTT ("Keeper of the Traditions").

It had its 300th mailing in July 2022. As of fall 2021, the members were: Elinor Busby, Leigh Edmonds, Gordon Eklund, Andy Hooper, Robert Lichtman, Pat Weber, Timatha Weber, Wally Weber, Rocky Willson, and OE Burnett Toskey, and they were seeking new blood.


Originally, SAPS was brainstormed at a tendril-session at Joe Kennedy's (who later became noted poet X. J. Kennedy), where many members of the Spectators ("a kind of New Jersey version of the Futurian Society, only without Social Consciousness") were present. Ron Maddox, who was to be the first OE, coined the name Spectator Amateur Press Association, but then Lee Budoff had the inspiration to change the last name to Society so the initials would spell you-know-what.

Maddox put out only the first mailing, getting out of the job by moving to Ethiopia. Others present at that meeting were Ron Christensen, Lloyd Alpaugh and George Fox (who went on to write best-selling thrillers [Amok] and screenplays [Earthquake] -- and one of his novels and two short stories were edited by Kennedy and published in 2002).

It was phenomenally successful -- in 1960 it had 33 members and for it its 50th mailing 32 of them produced 817 pages, the largest apa ever at the time. (It would have had all 33, but Ray Schaffer's contribution arrived a few hours after the issue 50 was mailed. A few years later in 1963, the SAPS treasury was running a surplus, so Bruce Pelz, the OE at the time included a new dollar bill (with consecutive serial numbers) in one issue.

In the early '80s SAPS came close to going out of existence, getting down to 14 members and tiny mailings. Then Art & Nancy Rapp took over the OE position and began recruiting energetically. Many of the "new" members were older fans who'd been active in SAPS during its heydays of the '50s and '60s, and the mailings got large and energetic (although never as large as the mailings in the '60s).

As of mailing #150 in early 1985, SAPS had distributed 40,873 pages (plus oddments that didn't count as pages). The 50th mailing included extra copies of Walter Coslet's fanzine 'Tator that Coslet had saved since mailing #1 in which he'd also ran it.

In 1988, Seattle area fan Burnett R. Toskey was elected OE and has held the position ever since (although he moved to the Los Angeles area in 2012). Sadly, many of the mainstays of SAPS have passed away over the past decade, and the membership roster as of 2016 was down to 9 out of a possible 25. Many of the present members live in and around Seattle.

Historically, SAPS exhibited a predilection for fan humor of the lighter and broader sort, and during its early years maintained a tradition of sniping at FAPA ("SAPS is the fan club FAPA would be if FAPA dared") which, significantly, was more or less abandoned during periods when SAPSzines' quality begins to approach the FAPA standard in earnest. In these latter days, FAPA is largely ignored.

Contributors: Robert Lichtman, 2013.

Contributors and APAzines over the years:[edit]


Dates Issues Editor Notes
1948 Lloyd Alpaugh (“Alpaugh is Ghod”)
October 1950 13 Walter Coslet
January-October 1951 14-17 Dick Eney
January-July 1952 18-20 Walter Coslet
October 1952-June 1953 21-24 Gordon Black
September 1953-June 1954 25-28 Wrai Ballard
September 1954 29 Nan Gerding
30 Walter Coslet Nan Gerding was forced to drop fanac for a time and turned the club over to Coslet, who issued a program of such a rigorous nature that a blitzkrieg developed and Karen Andersen threw him out. A number of oneshots were published during this battle...
Coslet’s OEship represents the change of editors calling for a change in the volume number of the Spectator. Thus Volume 11 is represented by this period, tho no mailings came cut, and no issue of the Spectator was published, during Coslet’s quasi-mixed-up-incumbency. Ali publications during this Jammerzeit were postmailed, thus disqualified.
March 1955-March 1956 31-35 Karen Anderson #32: Karen had gotten the office from Coslet by a blitzkrieg. In that mailing she circulated a ballet which led to her election; this is the first bundle circulated by her as elective 0E rather than autokrater by right of conquest.
January 1958 42 Nancy Share
1958 F. M. Busby
April 1960 51 Burnett Toskey
July 1960 - April 1961 52-55 Dick Eney
July 1961 - January 1966 56-74 Bruce Pelz
April 1967 79 Wrai Ballard
July 1968 - April 1969 84-87 F. M. Busby and Elinor Busby
1972 - Aoril 18, 1974 -107 Jim Webbert and Doreen Webbert
1976-79 Meade Frierson (started around 1976, resigned 1979)
1980-81 Nicki Lynch
1988-91 Burnett Toskey

Publication 1947
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