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Collection Projects

Collection Management staff, volunteers and interns work to document, research and protect the museum's collection objects. Here is your chance to see what museum professionals are up to. Return periodically to learn about new projects.


Mass-digitization of the Sidney N. Shure Collection

Highlighting the National Postal Museum’s mass-digitization Sidney N. Shure project.

The Smithsonian Institution, through its Digitization Program Office is devoting a number of resources to mass digitization projects in the museums. As you probably know, the Postal Museum jumped on the digitization wagon several years ago, most notably with our online Arago (https://arago.si.edu) project that gives you close-up views of thousands of items in the museum’s collections. In September the museum took part one of the Smithsonian’s Rapid Capture digitization projects. Rapid Capture not only refers to the speed in which items are digitized, but also the speed in which those image are made available to the public. The team’s motto is: “from shelf to the public in less than 24 hours.” But don’t worry, speed does not mean a sacrifice of quality or care of the objects! The team employs industrial scale quality control that ensures every item—stamp, cover, or sheet, is safely and securely photographed at its best.

The museum’s entry into the Institution’s Rapid Capture project is Sidney N. Shure’s specialized philatelic collection of Israel and Palestine. Shure, an amateur-radio hobbyist in the early 1920s, created a company that became known as Shure Brothers Inc., internationally renowned for their microphones and other audio-electronic equipment.

Shure’s massive collection is staggering in scope. It includes an incredible assemblage of sheets and partial sheets fabulous for overprint study from the Palestine Mandate and a complete collection of the first Israel issues. There is extensive Holy Land material while the area was under Turkish control and volumes of related material from geographical neighbors and covering conflicts that took place in the region. Highlights include numerous covers from both world wars with censor and seal markings and a full sheet of Palestine Mandate #1 1pi. Shure tried to obtain extensive postal markings from every town in the region. Now all you need to see these magnificent pieces is the Internet.

Our staff organized this massive undertaking and in only five days, working with Smithsonian staff and contractors, imaged 3,550 album pages, for a total of 22,286 items. I invite you to wander through this digitized collection on the Smithsonian collections Search Center (http://collections.si.edu/search/). We are always working to bring philately and the history of the postal service to life for our visitors – in person and online. We realize that not everyone can visit the museum and welcome projects such as this as an opportunity to share our treasures with the world. Enjoy!

This issue of the “Director’s Column” by Allen Kane originally appeared in the December, 2015 issue of The American Philatelist.


Digitization of the National Certified Plate Proof Collection

In February 2008, the National Postal Museum received a major Smithsonian grant to digitize its certified plate proof collection. In this video the Smithsonian Channel tells the story from start to finish.

“Director’s Column” by Allen Kane, March, 2009 issue of The American Philatelist

Certified Plate Proofs on Arago.si.edu