The national collection illustrates and invites research into United States philately and postal operations. It contains prestigious postal issues and specialized collections, archival postal documents and three-dimensional objects that trace the evolution of the postal services.
The National Postal Museum is divided into galleries that explore America's postal history from colonial times to the present. Visitors learn how mail has been transported and the wondrous diversity of postage stamps.
The Museum supports a wide variety of interdisciplinary research projects which address topics of importance such as current and future postal operations, as well as philatelic and postal history. Our efforts are a resource and point of reference for research and wider investigation by historians throughout the United States and the world.
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
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.
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'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.
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