2004 Award Recipients

Eight people posing together at a gala
Front row, left to right: Roger Brody, Accepting the award on behalf of George Brett, Tom Alexander and Barbara Mueller; back row, left to right: National Postal Museum Curator Wilson Hulme, Allen Kane, Director of the National Postal Museum, Postmaster General John Potter, Smithsonian Institution Deputy Secretary Sheila Burke and National Postal Museum Council of Philatelists Chairman Guido Craveri.

George Brett

George Brett (1912-2005) was widely regarded as the greatest living authority on United States stamp production. For over 60 years he wrote groundbreaking research on U.S. stamps. Brett was the author of over 500 reports, articles and books. A great teacher and a living legend in the field of philately, Brett was unanimously voted "Chairman Emeritus" for the United States Stamp Society in 2000.

2004 Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award Recipient
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Video of acceptance speech by Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award Recipient George Brett.

George Brett : The world of philately has been my world since I was a schoolboy in Iowa over 80 years ago, who literally pasted row after row of 2 cent reds in a castoff(?) booklet without benefit of hinges.

And Washington, DC was the scene of my greatest contributions to the study of the production of rare postage stamps.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing was my favorite haunt.

There I learned to know generations of directors, engravers, and plate printers.

Yet I never dreamt of such a facility as the National Postal Museum housed in this magnificent building.

I remember well the opening night in the summer of 1993.

And I value the years I spent on the Council of Philatelists.

Yes, through the years I have received many philatelic honors, but all pale in the light of the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award.

But I never lost sight of the role that postage stamps have played in the conduct of the larger operations of the postal service.

In fact back in the '30s, I had a job with the Railway Mail Service.

So I have personal experience with role mail has played in the development our nation.

After World War II service with the Department of the Navy in the Canal Zone, I earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Chicago and joined the US Geological Survey here in Washington, for the rest of my career, eventually being added to the Role of Honor of the Survey.

I hope the Postal Service can continue to be the valued hometown representative of the Federal Government to all the people, and that the Museum continues in its educational endeavors serving new generations of philatelic enquirers such as I once was.

As a new high school graduate, I hitchhiked to Washington to visit the late, great Hugh McLellan Southgate of the Bureau Issues Association, now the US Stamp Society, which I joined in 1930, and fortunately of which I am now the oldest living member.

Thank you NPM for this wonderful award.

Tom Alexander

Tom Alexander has been described as the ultimate philatelic research scholar. His writings include numerous articles and books, including the authoritative United States 1847 Cover Census and two works in a series of National Postal Museum philatelic research publications. He is presently co-authoring a publication on recently rediscovered Post Office Department records relating to the production of U.S. postage stamps from 1847 to 1910. In addition to his many writings, he has volunteered thousands of hours of his time to organized philately.

Barbara Mueller

Barbara Mueller (1925-2016) is one of American philately's most distinguished writers and editors. Over the last 50 years she made major contributions to philately, editing and writing publications for audiences that range from novice collectors to specialists. She is one of the most honored philatelists in the hobby and was the first woman honored with the prestigious John N. Luff Award by the American Philatelic Society in 1956.

The 2004 Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award Recipients were honored Saturday, May 22, at a Gala Dinner hosted by the National Postal Museum. The recipients were selected by the museum's Council of Philatelists, a 25-member body of US and International dealers and collectors.