An Immersive Highlights Tour
"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. Let’s move on and have a closer look.
"Inverted Jenny" Block of Four
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.
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.
Here we have a 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.
The Hope Diamond has had many homes. It is believed to have originated in India, and is known to have been cut from the French Blue (Le bleu de France), presented to King Louis XIV. In it's original form, the diamond was very likely admired here, in the Palace of Versaille.
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.
On April 3, 1860, a lone rider left on horseback from the gates of one of the nation’s most historic landmarks, the Pikes Peak Stables in St. Joseph, Missouri. Carrying saddlebags filled with our nation’s hopes and dreams, the Pony Express riders traveled 2,000 miles west to Sacramento, California. These brave young souls raced against nature’s cruel elements and rugged terrain in an attempt to unite a country separated by distance. Today the stables continue to stand as a tribute to the legend and legacy of the Pony Express and its enduring era.
- Pony Express National Museum St. Joseph, MO
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.
This restored screen wagon was used to transport mail between Winchester, Virginia, Martinsburg, West Virginia, and Hagerstown, Maryland. It was built by the Terre Haute Carriage & Buggy Company, which secured the exclusive contract to build screen wagons from the Post Office Department in 1897.
As mail volume continued to grow in the late nineteenth century, the Post Office Department began using mail wagons to carry pouches and sacks full of mail between railway stations, post offices, and occasionally between towns. The Department contracted with companies that provided their own wagons for carrying the mail. Mail security became an issue with these wagons, most of which used canvas covers over the side that could easily be ripped by potential thieves.
To provide greater security, the Department began using wire-caged mail wagons in the late 1880s. While the mail was being moved, a lock secured the back doors of each mail wagon. Because of this design, the wagons were quickly nicknamed 'screen wagons'.
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.
Cardboard VR Tour compiled by
Marc Bretzfelder, Smithsonian Office of the Chief Information Officer
Discover these items and many more at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, where there is always something new to see and learn.