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Maynard Sundman Lecture Series

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum's Maynard Sundman Lecture Series was established in 2002 through a donation by his sons, David and Donald. The Sundman lectures feature talks by authors and expert philatelists on stamps and stamp collecting.

The 15th Sundman Lecture
Dr. Glen Sample Ely: The Texas Frontier and the Butterfield Overland Mail, 1858-1861

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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Dr. Glen Sample Ely

In 1857, the U.S. Postmaster General awarded a $600,000 annual contract for the nation’s first transcontinental mail service from St. Louis to San Francisco. The contract went to the Overland Mail Company. Company president John Butterfield was the namesake of this 2800-mile mail route, which became known as the Butterfield Overland Mail. The Overland Mail Road was the nineteenth-century equivalent of the modern interstate highway system, stimulating passenger traffic, commercial freighting, and business. Many of the people living and working on the frontier during this period had connections to the mail line. Indeed, one cannot talk about the antebellum western frontier without also discussing the U.S. Post Office and its economic imprint upon the region. Dr. Glen Sample Ely spent a quarter century documenting 740 miles of this famous mail route from the Red River to El Paso. Ely’s engaging presentation will not only feature fascinating little-known postal history, but will also take the audience on a journey aboard a Butterfield stagecoach for a firsthand look at America’s rowdy frontier and those who shaped it.

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The Texas Frontier and the Butterfield Overland Mail, 1858-1861

Dr. Glen Sample Ely is a Texas historian and documentary producer. He earned his Ph.D. in history from Texas Christian University. Ely’s work has won The Award of Excellence in Preserving History from the Texas Historical Commission as well as Gold and Silver Wilder Awards from the Texas Association of Museums. His first book, Where the West Begins: Debating Texas Identity, was published by Texas Tech University Press in 2011. His latest book, The Texas Frontier and the Butterfield Overland Mail, published by University of Oklahoma Press, has won twelve awards and honors to date. Earlier this year he was inducted as a Fellow to the Texas State Historical Association in recognition of his “distinguished published works” and “exemplary scholarly activity.”

Maynard Sundman

photograph of Maynard Sundman
Maynard Sundman

Maynard Sundman's love of stamp collecting began in 1927. As a child, Maynard was fascinated by these tiny bits of paper and all the history and culture they held.

At 19, Maynard started a mail-order stamp business with $400 he had saved, operating out of his parents' home in Connecticut. After serving in WWII, he founded his second firm, Littleton Stamp Company, with his wife, Fannie Kasper Sundman.

The company branched into coins for collectors in the 1950s. In 1974, the Sundman family purchased Mystic Stamp Company of Camden, New York. Maynard's son Donald is president and his son David, is President of Littleton Coin Company in Littleton, New Hampshire.

Previous Lectures

James Barron

The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World

The museum welcomed Mr. James Barron, who published the book titled The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World. Through the stories of those who have...
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Paul Lee

Parks, Postmarks and Postmasters: Post Offices within the National Park Service

Speaker Paul Lee was born in West Virginia in 1944. After earning degrees from Wittenberg and James Madison universities, he became a high school biology teacher and held summer jobs in Rock Creek, Shenandoah and...
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Chris West

A History of America in Thirty-six Postage Stamps

Chris West, the author of A History of America in Thirty-six Postage Stamps, explored America's rich philatelic history. From George Washington's dour gaze to the charging buffalo of the western frontier...
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Chris West

A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps

Chris West, the author of "A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps" explored his country's recent history through its most fascinating, beautiful, and eccentric postage stamps. From Queen Victoria's...
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Sally Andersen-Bruce

The Art of the Stamp

The 2012 Sundman Lecture focused on the art, process, and philosophy of contemporary stamp design. It featured speakers from the stamp designing and collecting community, including Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee member...
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Robert Odenweller

The Philately of New Zealand: Innovation Born of Necessity, 1855-1955

Robert Odenweller is a researcher, writer, and mentor. His research has produced the seminal works The Postage Stamps of New Zealand: 1855-1873 The Chalon Head Issues, and...
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Charles Verge

The First Canada-US Joint Issue: The 1959 St. Lawrence Seaway Commemorative and its Famous Invert

Historian Charles Verge, is past-president of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada and the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors, curator of the...
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Eliot Landau

Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War

Eliot Landau’s award-winning philatelic exhibition Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War was on display at the Postal Museum. Landau’s exhibition combined philately, ephemera, and...
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Janet Klug

100 Greatest American Stamps

Mystic Stamp Company president Don Sundman and American Philatelic Society past president Janet Klug talked about their new book, 100 Greatest American Stamps. In this lively...
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Scott Trepel

The Miller Collection and The Era of Private Bank Note Company Stamps 1842-1892

Writer, researcher and auctioneer, Scott Trepel, guided the audience on a tour of the classic era of U.S. philately, displaying examples from The New York Public Library's legendary...
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Roger S. Brody

Second Purpose

Roger S. Brody, a specialist in early twentieth century U.S. stamps, was introduced to the world of stamp collecting at the age of ten, when he was given a general world-wide album filled...
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Michael Sefi

The Royal Philatelic Collection: An Inside View

Michael Sefi has been the Keeper of the Royal Philatelic Collection at Buckingham Palace in London since January 2003. He was previously the Deputy Keeper of the Collection...
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David R. Beech

The Legendary Grinnell Missionaries

David R. Beech, Curator of the British Library Philatelic Collections, became interested in philately at the age of nine and had the usual general collection before specialising in...
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Guido Craveri

The 1847's: America's First Stamps

At the age of eighteen Guido Craveri became the youngest collector to win a FIP gold medal. Today he is Chairman Emeritus of the National Postal Museum's Council of Philatelists...