Beginning Nov. 5, the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum will display the second and final part of “Rarity Revealed: The Benjamin K. Miller Collection,” an exhibition of extraordinary stamps and other philatelic materials on loan to the National Postal Museum by The New York Public Library.
The second part of “Rarity Revealed” will showcase Benjamin K. Miller’s complete collection of U.S. stamp issues from 1894 to the 1920s, a period when the Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced U.S. postage stamps. This portion of the collection includes exceptional coil and vending machine stamps, stamp varieties and perforation and printing errors. Among the objects on display will be one of the famous “Inverted Jenny” stamps—a misprinted 24-cent airmail stamp issued in 1918.
With more than 25,000 stamps, the Miller collection contains more objects than could be shown at one time in the National Postal Museum’s philatelic galleries. In keeping with the National Postal Museum’s commitment to providing its visitors with opportunities to “access the inaccessible” from the world of philately, the museum opted to display as much of the Miller collection as possible in two parts rather than omit important material.
The first part of the exhibit, which contains materials issued between 1847 and 1894, will be on view through Oct. 1. The second part will be on view through Jan. 12, 2009.
Donated to The New York Public Library in 1925 by Milwaukee attorney Benjamin Kurtz Miller (1857-1928), the Miller collection was the first complete collection of U.S. stamps ever assembled. It has been called the “crown jewels” of U.S. stamp collecting for its variety, depth and rare holdings.
A companion book to the exhibit authored by esteemed philatelic researcher Scott R. Trepel can be purchased online or by calling (202) 633-5525. The book contains nearly 400 color images on more than 150 pages.
The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. It comprises four research centers and 85 branch libraries in Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items, including materials for the visually impaired. In addition, each year the library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs.
The Smithsonian National Postal Museum
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 postalmuseum.si.edu.
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