Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum to Display “Holy Grail” of Philatelic Collections

Press Release

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum and The New York Public Library announced a collaboration that will allow the library’s Benjamin K. Miller philatelic collection to be seen publicly for the first time in more than thirty years. The announcement was made by George Fletcher, the Brooke Russell Astor Director for Special Collections at The New York Public Library, at the close of the 2004 Smithsonian’s Philatelic Achievement Awards gala dinner.

Benjamin Kurtz Miller (1857-1928), a retired attorney living in Minneapolis, assembled what is arguably the most extensive collection of United States postage stamps issued prior to 1925 when Miller donated his collection to The New York Public Library. He continued to add to the collection until his death in 1928. The stamps were kept on public view in the library for more than 50 years. More recently, for reasons relating to security and fragility, the collection has not been available for research or viewing.

“It would not be an exaggeration to say the Miller Collection is the philatelic equivalent of the Holy Grail,” Wilson Hulme, Curator of Philately at the National Postal Museum, says, “This is an extraordinary collection that includes such philatelic gems as the One-Cent Z-Grill, the rarest of all U.S. stamps.”

During the past year, the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum and The New York Public Library have been working together to make this important collection available for public viewing at the National Postal Museum which has the environmental safeguards, the expertise and the appropriate security measures to enable selected parts of the collection to be shown to a large public.

The exhibit is slated to open in mid-2006 to coincide with “Washington 2006,” an international philatelic exhibition.

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum is devoted to the engaging history of the nation’s mail service and to showcasing the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world. Its five exhibition galleries present America’s postal history from colonial times to the present, while its collections contain prestigious U.S. and international postal issues and specialized collections, archival postal documents and three-dimensional objects. The museum is located at the corner of First Street and Massachusetts Avenue N.E., next to Union Station and is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas Day. Admission is free. For more information, visit

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