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The Fourth Postal History Symposium

5 cent stamps with Benjamin Franklin and George Washington

“Postal Reform” Reform
October 30 – November 1, 2009
American Philatelic Center, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania



The introduction of postage stamps in 1840 represented a complete overhaul in the organization and operating principles of the British Post Office. The subsequent rapid introduction of stamps to nearly every country in the world before the end of the 19th century is tangible evidence of the worldwide adoption of similar post office reforms. The 2009 Postal History Symposium brought together collectors of classic stamps with scholars, academicians, and public historians of postal reform and post office operations to examine these highly collectable cultural objects through the lens of the post office reforms that gave rise to them.

The Symposium was held in conjunction with U.S. Classics 2009, the national philatelic exhibition hosted by the U. S. Philatelic Classics Society. Panels were interspersed with opportunities to view award‐winning exhibitions of classic stamps and postal history. On Friday evening, October 30, 2009 there was a reception and the keynote address was delivered by Richard John, professor of history and adjunct professor of communication at the University of Illinois, Chicago. His publications include Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse. The U.S. Philatelic Classics Society’s banquet for Classic 2009 was on Saturday evening.

Located 15 miles from State College, Pennsylvania, the American Philatelic Center is home to the 40,000 member American Philatelic Society, the largest stamp collecting organization in the nation, and the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) dedicated to supporting and advancing postal and philatelic scholarship.

Conference co‐chairs were David L. Straight, Virginia L. Horn, and Thomas Lera.

Sponsored by American Philatelic Society, American Philatelic Research Library, Smithsonian National Postal Museum