National Postal Museum Announces Revenue Stamp Auction Date

Press Release

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum announced that an auction to sell a portion of the museum’s deaccessioned surplus revenue stamps will be held Saturday, Feb. 12, at the Four Seasons hotel in New York City. Approximately 35,000 copies of the most valuable revenue stamp varieties from the museum’s collection will be sold. Matthew Bennett International, an auction house based in Baltimore has been contracted by the Smithsonian Institution to conduct the auction.

The National Postal Museum eventually will release an estimated 7.4 million revenue stamps. Approximately six million stamps will be released unmarked; the first 35,000 of these stamps will be offered at the Feb. 12 auction. In addition, approximately 1.4 million stamps will be released in a marked format to clearly distinguish them from the unmarked copies. The marked stamps primarily consist of high value varieties, which, if sold in large quantities unmarked, would almost certainly flood the market and devalue the stamps.

“It is important for people to know that the museum will not release any additional unmarked copies of the revenue stamp varieties being sold in this auction,” said Ted Wilson, the museum’s registrar.

Approximately 7.8 million obsolete revenue stamps were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution from the Internal Revenue Service between 1954 and 1978. The Smithsonian Board of Regents approved the deaccession, or removal of more than seven million revenue stamps from the national collection in January 2004. Proceeds from the sale of 7.4 million of these stamps will be used to enhance the national philatelic collection. The National Postal Museum will retain approximately 250 copies of each revenue stamp variety and will donate additional copies to a number of other museums and organizations.

“The sale of the duplicate revenue stamps is a major milestone for the National Postal Museum,” said Wilson Hulme, the museum’s curator of philately. “It will allow the museum to refine and improve the national philatelic collection and provide many new collecting opportunities for philatelists and the general public.”

For more than 55 years, Matthew Bennett International, Inc. has been distinguished as a leading auction house in both United States and international philately. Matthew Bennett has divisions in the United States, Switzerland and Hong Kong. For more information, go to

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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