Contact: Image Use

The National Postal Museum does not currently maintain photographic material as a collection and does not directly supply image files for non-accessioned objects.

For images of objects accessioned in the museum’s permanent collection, researchers may consult Rights and Reproductions for further information.

Images of Historic Photographs

Historic photographs on the museum’s website and social media accounts are published at the only available resolution and size. Images that do not have a credit line on the museum’s online platforms should be credited: National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution. All images with credit lines to individuals and organizations should be credited as such and permission from the copyright owner may be required for use. Researchers may download images, however, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine rights and use permissions that might pertain to images on the museum’s online platforms and objects in the collection. Other sources for historical images of the U.S. postal system include: Library of Congress, National Archives, as well as other libraries, museums, archives, news organizations and commercial outlets.

U.S. Stamp Images

The U.S. Postal Service holds the copyright of all U.S. stamps issued after December 31, 1978. As such, the museum cannot give permission to use images of post-December 31, 1978 issued U.S. stamps. Permission should be obtained from the U.S. Postal Service Licensing Department. Also, the USPS has high-resolution scans available of most U.S. stamps.

For USPS contact information and other questions, please visit the USPS website at: U.S. Postal Service Licensing Department

The United States Postal Service’s policy is that formal, written permission is not required to use images of stamps that were issued prior to January 1, 1979.

When using pre-1979 stamp images you must still follow the reproduction guidelines which are as follows:

Illustrations may be in color or in black and white, and may depict philatelic items as uncanceled or canceled. When depicting uncanceled items in color, illustrations must be less than 75% or more than 150% in linear dimension of the size of the design of the philatelic items as issued. Color illustrations of canceled philatelic items and black and white illustrations of uncanceled or canceled philatelic items may be in any size.

In many cases, particularly with older stamps including those released before 1979, the U.S. Postal Service does not have information about other potential third-party ownership interests. In these cases, you would be solely responsible for identifying and obtaining permission from any other third parties that may have an ownership interest in the image.

For additional information and to obtain stamp image files please contact the U.S. Postal Service Licensing Department

International Stamp Images

Permission for use of international stamp images (non-USA) should be obtained directly, before use, from the entity, or entities, to whom stamp copyright belongs.

Download Free Historic Photo Images

View the museum's digital image collection, People and the Post, on The museum requests that National Postal Museum images be used with full attribution to National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution.


For Rights and Reproductions information, please visit: Rights and Reproductions

Questions can be addressed to: