National Postal Museum Announces the First International Symposium on Analytical Methods in Philately

Press Release

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum and the Institute for Analytical Philately Inc. will jointly sponsor the First International Symposium on Analytical Methods in Philately Nov. 12 – 14 at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.

―This International Symposium—to our knowledge the first ever held—offers an opportunity for interested philatelists and scientists to get together, share their work and help set the course for future forensic analyses in the philatelic arena,‖ said David Herendeen, president of IAP. ―Our close working relationship with the National Postal Museum is a huge plus because it allows philatelists to use state-of-the-art equipment for their advanced research efforts.

A call for symposium technical papers has been issued by IAP, and approximately 10 will be accepted. Each paper should address the manner in which forensic analysis has been applied to solving a philatelic dilemma. Both the study of stamp characteristics (color, ink chemistry, paper, gum, etc.) and postal history papers are welcome. It is preferred that papers address methodology rather than a simple study or ―expertization‖ of material, which does not advance the state of the art in methods with broad applicability. In addition to two days of technical presentations, there will be a half-day workshop offering hands-on experience with the museum’s forensic equipment. Featured equipment is a Foster & Freeman VSC 6000, a Bruker Tracer III-SD X-ray Fluorescence spectrometer and a Bruker FT-IR (Fourier transform infrared) spectrometer.

―Since the early 1940s, scientific equipment has been used in philatelic studies—for example, an exploration of color variations of the U.S. 1861, 3-cent,‖ said Thomas Lera, research chair at the museum. ―This symposium will bring together researchers from around the world to share their methodologies, highlight new technologies and provide long-term, wide-ranging benefits to all aspects of philately.

The keynote address will be given by David Beech, head of philatelic collections at The British Library, London. Bruce Kaiser, chief scientist at Bruker Elemental, Utah, will be the featured speaker.

The symposium venue will support limited attendance, and advanced registration is required.

Interested participants can learn more by visiting a special page hosted on the IAP’s website:

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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