National Postal Museum
- Four stamps honoring the opening of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum with historic items, images, and themes from US stamp and mail history
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: National Postal Museum
Value: 29¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue: July 30, 1993
First Day City: Washington, DC
Quantity Issued: 150,000,000
Printed by: American Bank Note Company
Printing Method: Offset, Intaglio
Format: Pane of 20 (Horizontal 4 across, 5 down)
Perforations: 11 x 10.9 (Bickel reciprocating stroke perforator)
Tagging: Prephosphored paper (taggant added to tan offset ink)
Why the stamp was issued: To commemorate the opening of the Smithsonian National Postal.
About the stamp designs: Due to its subject matter, this set of stamps went through an extensive design process before the final versions were chosen. They also went through two different designers, beginning with Lou Nolan and ending with Richard Schlecht. After many rounds of back and forth with the postal service, Nolan said “I had worked on it for a long time… I had submitted quite a few designs to them, and they would come back with more ideas, try this, try that, and I don’t know – I just didn’t think I was satisfying them… I’ve enjoyed doing what I’ve done; let somebody else have a try at it.” When Schlecht was chosen as his successor, Nolan said, “There were no hard feelings at all. I’ve known Dick (Schlect) for years. He’s a wonderful artist, and I have all the respect in the world for him. He has a different technique. I was tickled to death at how the stamps turned out.”
Schlecht himself said of the designs, “It was the most complicated set of stamps I’ve done… Everybody was kind of out of breath by the time it was over. The hard part was just nailing down all those concepts and making sure we covered everything, and then having to satisfy the Postal Service and the museum people and other folks involved. It just took a while to work all that out and run it by everybody and let everybody have their input.”
First Day City: This stamp, along with the rest of the National Postal Museum set, was issued in Washington, DC, at the opening of the museum. Four First Day of Issue cancellations were available: two standard handstamps, one pictorial cancellation labeled “National Postal Museum Station” picturing a boy dropping a letter in a mailbox, and the fourth labeled “Ice Cream Station” picturing a bitten ice cream bar surrounded by ice and the words “Good Humor Ice Cream.” While the ice cream cancellation may seem strange, Good Humor Ice Cream was at the National Postal Museum opening and has been an avid supporter of the Smithsonian Institution, including donating to its archives in 1992.
History the stamp represents: The National Postal Museum opened its doors to the public on July 31, 1993. The museum is devoted to housing the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps. Fascinating interactive exhibits tell the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service.
In 1692, King William II of England gave Thomas Neale the right to provide the American colonies with a postal service, marking the birth of our first national postal system. When Benjamin Franklin became deputy postmaster general in 1753, the postal system was in desperate need of change. In an effort to improve the frequency and reliability of mail delivery, Franklin made numerous adjustments, including replacing riders on horseback with stagecoaches.
As the nation’s boundaries grew, stagecoaches continued to transport mail and passengers across the country. Concord coaches appeared during the 1820s and were used well into the early 1900s. The coach on display at the National Postal Museum traveled a route between White River Junction and Woodstock, Vermont.