Benjamin Lipsner, born in Chicago in 1887, stands out as one of the key figures in early airmail history. His philatelic interests reflect the significance of aviation in his life. His donation to the Smithsonian Institution, now held at the National Postal Museum, included over five hundred aero philatelic covers, twelve scrapbooks, and assorted biographical materials.
Lipsner’s interest in mechanics drew him to Chicago’s Armour Institute, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. During WW I, he served as a captain in the Army Signal Corps, the aviation division of the United States Army. At the time, the army maintained and flew the planes used for the nation’s embryonic airmail service, and Lipsner supervised mechanical upkeep of the planes. He retired from the army when airmail service transferred to the Post Office Department in August 1918. He was soon assigned superintendent of the POD’s airmail operation. In December of 1918, Lipsner embarked upon a career in the private aviation industry, serving as an engineer for several oil companies and airlines.
Benjamin Lipsner died in 1971. His estate donated Lipsner’s aero philatelic collection to the Smithsonian in 1982. The collection is now part of the holdings of the National Postal Museum, and can be explored using the following Finding Guide: The Benjamin B. Lipsner Airmail Collection
Mary T. Sheahan, National Postal Museum