Every Stamp Tells a Story

World of Stamps

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The World of Stamps exhibition in the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery

As visitors step into this introductory gallery, a display of oversized stamps and video monitors grabs their attention. Video images bring stamps to life and pique curiosity through questions that are answered as visitors explore the surrounding displays.

Visitors encounter the world’s first postage stamp—the 1840 Penny Black, with its profile of young Queen Victoria—and learn how it revolutionized communication. Stamp images—including the Nicaraguan volcano that influenced the location of the Panama Canal, Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the top–selling 1993 Elvis! stamp, and the stamp that helped raise almost $72 million dollars for breast cancer research—illustrate how stamps have shaped history and honored people and places worldwide.

What You Find May Surprise You

Since the first stamps appeared in 1840, these illustrated pieces of gummed paper have provided gateways to history, geography, biography, science, music, art, and more. Stamps represent every nation on Earth and reflect innovations in design, printing, and transportation.

There are stories for everyone in the world of stamps.

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World of Stamps exhibit.

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A Spider Press in the World of Stamps exhibit.

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A silent video showing the Spider Press in operation.

[Silent video]