Objects displayed in the museum's various exhibits document the history of the U.S. postal service and showcase the beauty and lore of stamps. Thousands of objects are on display in the museum, each offering visitors a chance to see "the real thing."
"Inverted Jenny" Block of Four
One of the most iconic and recognizable stamp errors ever discovered is the 1918 24c "Inverted Jenny" air post stamp. In 1918 the Post Office issued its first air mail postage stamp, to promote the newly established air mail service. A special 24c stamp was prepared, depicting the "Curtiss Jenny" biplane in the center in blue, surrounded by a red frame. One sheet of 100 stamps was discovered with all of the stamps within the sheet having had the blue biplane in the center printed upside down.
From the original sheet of 100, only six blocks of four still exist - four of which are contained within the William Gross collection. He has loaned one of these spectacular blocks of four, the unique left sheet margin block of four (positions 41-42/51-52) to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.
Loan from William H. Gross.
World’s Rarest Stamp
The 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, the world’s rarest postage stamp, is now prominently displayed in the museum’s William H. Gross Stamp Gallery for a three year period (June 4, 2015 — September 4, 2018).
Please check with the museum in advance of your visit for specific exhibit dates.
Loan from Stuart Weitzman.
Stamp Act of 1765 Proof
In 1765 the British Parliament passed an act commonly called The Stamp Act that infuriated American colonists. Resisting the Act was the first incremental step on the road to the American Revolution. Cries of “taxation without representation” and attacks on stamp agents led to the repeal of the Act on March 18, 1766.
Amelia Earhart's Flight Suit
This famous female pilot broke flying records in the air, and while on the ground she shared her stamp and cover collection. You can see relics from both parts of her life displayed here, on the touch screen interactive and in the adjacent cases. The flight suit kept her warm and safe on her adventures. The envelopes with special cancels, carried aboard those flights, instantly created a collectable desired by stamp experts. They pre-paid for the envelopes flown aboard her plane which she would postmark with the dates of the flight.
John T. Jackson's Distribution Case
On April 1, 1891 John T. Jackson became the postmaster of Alanthus, Virginia. When he began his career, the twenty-nine year old was greeted with threats from those unwilling to accept an African-American in that position. He remained in his job for 49 years, retiring in 1940.
Mr. Zap Puppet
The Elwood P. Zap puppet had a brief career. His character appeared at a series of five professional conferences in 1979 to teach employees and business mail representatives about postal crimes, safety and security. The programming around the puppet represents one of the Postal Inspection Service's many educational initiatives.
Discover these items and many more at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, where there is always something new to see and learn.