Finding Guides

The Museum has created research guides for collections that are frequently accessed or that have additional research potential. These guides provide concise descriptions of the scope and content, provenance and list of materials for each collection.


Forty-five handwritten communications between the printing firm Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson, the Postmaster General and Assistant Postmaster Generals and others relate the history behind the production, sale and use of the first federal stamps.
Finding aid for the Panama Canal Zone Post Office collection consisting of correspondence, newspaper and journal articles, government documents, stamp design files, photographs and other illustrations. The files cover the history of the Panama Canal Zone Post Office from 1904 to 1999.
Catherine Lemmon Manning
Catherine Lemmon Manning (1881-1957), the first woman outside the sciences to achieve the title “Assistant Curator” at the Smithsonian, tended the National Philatelic Collection for nearly thirty years.
The George W. Brett Papers and Documents Collection consists of 100 banker’s boxes of material ranging from handwritten research notes, copies of historical documents and others, and an extensive collection of his philatelic correspondence.
The Hugh McLellan Southgate Papers and Documents Collection consist of 26 volumes totaling over 6,900 pages of information. Southgate was an important collector and student of the Bureau Issues of the United States. He was a founder and first president of the Philatelic Plate Number Association.
Lipsner's career as First Superintendent of the United States Air Mail Service and his personal collection of documents, photos and other items from that time are summarized here.
This collection of over 4,000 pages will make available to historians and collectors official documents relating to the production of United States postage stamps from 1847 to 1910.
This collection includes the first list of mail salvaged from the wreckage to reach philatelic hands. Postal officials typed the lists in 1937 as they prepared the disaster mail to be processed and delivered to the addressees.


Wove paper with a stamp and Japanese cancelations
L. W. Christenson donated the specialized 4-volume specialized collection of Japan the 1-sen blue postage stamp of 1872 in 1960. There are a total of 1,156 objects in these volumes.
Perforated Type a with CENTAVOB errors
On March 31, 1960, Mrs. Margaret Tittmann donated the collection to the Smithsonian Institution. It was catalogued as 5,413 objects. Included are stamps issued between 1913 – 1914, with many types, varieties and usages. It is one of the Museum’s finest international collections.
Chilean stamp, 1853
This significant international collection was donated by Bernard Peyton to the Smithsonian national philatelic collection.
Letter from Carpintero, Pedro P. Rivera to Senor Don Jose A. Oyague
The Bernard Peyton Collection consists of 13 volumes of stamps, proofs, essays and covers from Peru from 1779 - 1897.
The Col. Hans Lagerloef Specialized Collection of the Aguinaldo Revolutionary Stamps consists of one album of stamps, essay and covers on 45 pages and one cream box with six folders of stamped documentary paper (papel sellos) from 1898-1900.
Horizontal Coil Ireland Scott 58
The collection was donated in two parts to the museum by Francis A. Shafer. Two albums were donated in 1960 and one in 1964.
Lokhvitsa’s 1911 No. 48, three-color hectography emergency issue
George H. Kaestlin, one of three remarkable philatelists to join the Rossika membership rolls, was a quiet collector, building his collection without exhibiting it or authoring articles for Rossika, nor joining the Rossica Society after WWII.
In April 1926, the Survey Department, a government agency in Cairo, took over the printing of Egyptian stamps. One sheet of each stamp printed by the Survey Department was sent to the Royal Collection.
French postal markings go back a long way before the French Revolution. At the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, postal markings had long been standardized and the Revolution soon showed itself in postal history.
Irregular block of eight 10-centavos showing the bottom row of three stamps are sideways on the sheet.
Stamps of Colombia from 1859 to 1910 including the states of Bogota, Antioquia, Bolivar, Boyacá, Cundinamarca, Panama, Santander and Tolima.
The John M. Taylor Specialized Collection of Uruguay covers the specialized early issues from 1858 – 1901, mostly singles, some postal history and Back of the Book Official overprints.
The name ‘John Heinmuller’ is famous among those studying early airmail. Heinmuller was an aero-philatelist and a past president of the American Air Mail Society. He officiated for the 1927 Lindbergh transatlantic flight and other pioneer flights.
1888 First Commercial Postage Stamp used on a letter
This specialized collection includes two albums of the first issues of Taiwan (Formosa) and three albums of the Chinese Treaty Ports of Chefoo, Foochow, ChinKiang, ChungKing, Hankow, IChang, Kewkiang and Nanking, and the HaiNan – Samah Land Post and Wei-Hai-Wei Courier Post.
75-cent surcharge on $1 ultramarine and black with “O S” official overprint
Most of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s holdings of Liberian philately are not organized as such. Rather, they are scattered throughout multiple collections transferred by the U.S.
This collection of early Chinese die proofs, engraver's models, ink drawings and essays from 1912 to 1928, was donated in 1963 by Robert Hopkins. Hopkins was the son in-law of William A Grant, one of two Americans responsible for establishing the Chinese Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Medio Centesimo de Balboa, Panama stamp
This series of the Republic of Panama stamps was issued late 1906, early 1907. It was Panama’s first portrait series and was engraved and printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Company of New York. The ornate frames and colors of each value differ, but the portraits in the center of all are black.
The collection was donated in two parts. The first gift, made in 1953 by Irvin Hermanoff, William Winokur, Seymour Winokur, and Lawrence Hollander, consisted of 8 volumes. Two years later, Hermanoff and the Winokur brothers made a second donation.
The Specialized Collections of El Salvador consist of three volumes of the John M. Taylor Collection, three volumes of the Charles S. Hamilton Collection, the J & H Stolow Album of the First Airmail Issue, and two volumes from the Michel Postal Stationery of the World Collection.
Letter from Puerto Cabello mailed on November 22, 1867 with large numeral 2 cancel
The specialized collection of Venezuela was anonymously donated on October 1, 1976 and on December 22, 1961. The first two albums include the early issues of Venezuela (Scott 1 – 20) and their overprints (Scott 40 - 48). These albums also include reconstructed rows and full sheets.
Rejected Essay for the design of the first New South Wales stamp
Mr. B.H. Homan of New York, New York, donated this 46-page album of New South Wales proofs to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History and Technology on December 19, 1957.


Allen Lee’s “Maps on Stamps” Collection, donated in 1977, is 26 albums illustrating all of the features and types of cartography found on postage stamps.
1959 First day cover, Vienna Philharmonic
The collection is a broad compilation of thematically organized stamps, covers, commemorative sheets, and more philatelic objects. Themes presented in the collection include composers, performers, musical instruments, festivals, and music industry. Dr.
Jascha Heifetz, Russian-born American violinist is associated with musical perfection. He became a U.S. citizen in 1925 and toured the world giving concerts. Heifetz’s specialized collection is about anything connected with music.
This collection is Malcolm MacGregor’s personally amassed collection of autographed stamps, covers, related correspondence, and ephemera.
The U.S. post office issued its first commemorative postage stamps for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, initiating a significant change in the postage stamp program.

United States

Artwork by Keith Birdsong for American Indian Dances commemoratives; very similar to the issued stamp.
As an art director for the U.S. Postal Service for more than 15 years, Carl T. Herrman designed more than 50 stamps and guided more than 250 stamp projects, including Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, and Comic Strip Classics.
The Eagle Collection was formed by Clarence H. Eagle in the early years of the twentieth century. The greatest strength of the collection lies in the essays and proofs of United States revenue stamps, especially the private die proprietary stamps.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse commemorative stamp artwork
The Howard H. Koslow Collection of modern U.S. stamp art consists of one box of forty-eight folders containing pre- and post-production materials for nearly every stamp Howard Koslow designed. The folders are arranged into three series.
National Air Mail Week May 15 – 21, 1938 poster
This collection is a specialized collection of National Air Mail Week cachets from May 15 – 21, 1938. It consists of approximately 7,350 objects arranged into thirty-five binders and organized alphabetically by state and town of origination.