National Postal Museum Acquires Rare Stamp Collection

Press Release

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum has received a well-known stamp collection from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Harry L. Jefferys collection, which includes an inverted Jenny and numerous other philatelic rarities, was bequeathed to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in 1948 by insurance executive H.L. Jefferys. It has been in storage at the Institute for decades.

The Franklin Institute recently determined that the collection no longer supports its mission of science and technology-based education and negotiated an agreement for the collection to be transferred to the National Postal Museum.

The Harry L. Jefferys collection consists of U.S. stamps, covers, proofs and essays and is particularly strong in the 1851-1857 issue. The collection includes full panes of the one-cent and three-cent 1851 issue and the twelve-cent 1857 issue, as well as scarce positions of the one-cent 1851 issue, including positions 7R1E and 99R2. The collection includes a three-cent 1851 issue with double impression and a four-cent Schermack Type III coil single. Also included are several printing errors, including plate position No. 2 of the 1918 inverted Jenny airmail stamp.

“We are honored to include these new additions in our ever-growing collection,” said Cheryl Ganz, curator of philately at the National Postal Museum. “Items such as the intact panes of the 1851 and 1857 issue are quite rare, and the double impression of the three-cent 1851 issue is one of only three known copies—it is the one cited by Carroll Chase in his famous study of classic U.S. stamps.”

The National Postal Museum has developed a comprehensive conservation treatment and re-housing plan for the collection. Portions of the collection will appear in the upcoming national stamp collection display and also will appear on Arago, the museum’s online collection information system.

This acquisition continues the National Postal Museum’s tradition of making significant but previously difficult-to-access philatelic collections available to a large and diverse audience.

“We are pleased to announce this significant acquisition,” said Allen Kane, director of the National Postal Museum. “The Jefferys collection will fill numerous gaps in the museum’s national stamp collection and enhance the visitor’s experience at the National Postal Museum and online.”

The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., in the Old City Post Office Building across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information visit the museum’s Web site at

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