Sunday, January 1, 2012

Collecting History: 125 Years of the National Philatelic Collection

Where: National Postal Museum

When: through January 9, 2012

The National Philatelic Collection is the oldest intact national stamp collection in the world.  Early on in the collection's existence, philately was not considered a discipline, and stamps were collected in a haphazard way.  That changed when, in the early 1900s, the Smithsonian received gifts of two very large collections of stamps.  In 1913, they hired a Government Philatelist, who had an office in the Arts and Industries Building.  Catherine Manning, the longest serving curator of the collection, broadened the collection to include foreign stamps.

Also on display are stamps indicating payment of the tax on marijuana.  Yes, pot used to be legal in this country (you  learn something new every day), but it was heavily taxed in order to discourage use.

The collection moved in 1969 from Arts & Industries to American History (or History & Technology, as it was called then).  In 1993, the Postal Museum was opened, and the collection has resided there ever since.

Verdict: If you are interested in stamp collecting, by all means check out this exhibit.  Otherwise, there are numerous shows closing in January, and you may want to spend your time seeing other things.

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