General Stamp Collecting

Collecting History: 125 Years of the National Philatelic Collection

Curator of philately Daniel Piazza speaks about the National Postal Museum’s newest exhibit, Collecting History: 125 Years of the National Philatelic Collection. Though the National Philatelic Collection contains incredible objects and rare artifacts, there are a few famous examples of the philatelic material that got away. Piazza shares these “philatelic fish stories” as well as described some of the things you *will* find in the collection.

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Secret Marks on Classic U.S. Stamps

Do You Know Where to Find Secret
Marks On Classic U.S. Stamps?

As stamp collectors, we love to have the “inside” story.  It’s fun to know things about stamps others would certainly overlook.  The Bank Note stamps on this page, with their “secret marks,” are great fun for us.  Identifying these sought-after classic stamps can be as easy (or difficult) as finding a tiny design difference intentionally placed there by the stamp printer.  Without these hidden design elements, it would be extremely difficult to properly identify these stamps.  But, aided by the proper information, you’ll be able to identify them like a pro!

Secret Marks Used By Printer to
Distinguish Look-Alike Stamps

On May 1, 1873, the Continental Bank Note Company received the government contract to produce U.S. stamps.  Continental took over some of the materials the former stamp printer, the National Bank Note Company, had used to produce the stamp issue of 1870-71.  These goods included dies and plates.  So with the exception of inks and paper, Continental was producing the same exact stamps.

Officials at Continental wanted a way to easily distinguish the stamps they produced from the ones National had manufactured – possibly because there had been complaints about stamp quality in the past.  So “secret marks” were introduced on the 1¢ through 15¢ stamps.

It’s Great Fun Exploring these Old Stamps –
Compare Them Side-By-Side!

The following illustrations give you the inside scoop on secret marks and their locations, as well as other helpful identification tips.  To really explore these stamp designs, you’ll want to have a good magnifier.  It will make working with these stamps much easier and much more rewarding.  You’ll love the detail…these stamps are beautifully engraved.

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Roger Brody’s Second Purpose

Roger S. Brody, a specialist in early twentieth century U.S. stamps, was introduced to the world of stamp collecting at the age of ten, when he was given a general world-wide album filled with a smattering of stamps. His interest eventually led to collecting regular issue and commemorative united States and British North America postage stamps, with particular interest in color varieties. Continue reading

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100 Greatest American Stamps

Don Sundman and Janet Klug
Discuss the 100 Greatest American Stamps

Enjoy listening as Don and Janet Klug introduce the stamps selected as the “100 Greatest American Stamps.”  And when you’re done, order a copy of the book for yourself!


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Most Frequently Asked Questions

Our Customer Service Representatives talk to hundreds of collectors each day.  Often, the callers have questions like these.  So we’re sharing the answers to these common questions here, hoping you find them helpful. Continue reading

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Lincoln, Slavery and the Civil War

Watch Eliot A. Landau Present His
Award-Winning Lincoln Exhibit

Now you can watch a video of Eliot Landau presenting his award-winning Lincoln, Slavery and the Civil War exhibit at the National Postal Museum’s 7th annual Maynard Sundman Lecture. Landau combines philately and genuine artifacts to explore Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, the Civil War, and African American history.

His collection tells the story from a unique – and personal – perspective using objects such as letters, an abolitionist newspaper, photographs and genuine shackles worn by a slave. The discussion is entertaining, thought provoking ­– and personal for Landau.  Landau fought for desegregation and equal voter registration rights in the south before serving as Justice Thurgood Marshall’s law clerk.  He’s also an author who has contributed to Linn’s U.S. Stamp Facts: Nineteenth Century, the Encyclopedia of U.S. Stamps and Stamp Collecting, and several stamp-related articles on Lincoln.

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Part Two

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