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Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History April 21, 2014

Posted by flashbuzzer in History.
Tags: , , , ,

I recently visited the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History in Weston. This museum is dedicated to philately.

Here are three nuggets that I gleaned from my time at the museum.

1. The first adhesive postage stamp was Great Britain’s Penny Black; it was first issued on May 1, 1840 and became valid for postage five days later. That stamp featured an image of Queen Victoria that was based on an engraving by William Wyon. The Canton of Zurich issued the world’s second adhesive postage stamp; that stamp was priced at four and six rappen, where the four-rappen stamp was used for local mail and the six-rappen stamp was used for canton-level mail. The Canton of Geneva issued the world’s fourth adhesive postage stamp; that stamp was priced at five and ten centimes, where the five-centime stamp was used for local mail and the ten-centime stamp was used for canton-level mail.

2. At the outset of the Civil War, the postage service in the Confederacy remained under the nominal control of the United States Post Office Department. On June 1, 1861, the Confederate Post Office Department officially replaced the U.S. Post Office Department in that capacity; John Reagan served as the Confederate postmaster general for the duration of the war. Confederate stamps featured portraits of prominent Southern leaders including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Jefferson Davis. During the war, all mail from the North to the South passed through City Point, Virginia, while all mail from the South to the North passed through Fort Monroe, Virginia. Mail between the warring sides – except for letters from prisoners of war – was restricted.

3. People have employed a wide variety of mail delivery systems. For example, the Pony Express was established between St. Joseph, Missouri and San Francisco; riders would change horses every 25 miles, and riders would be replaced after traveling for 75 miles. The Pony Express was phased out after the introduction of a transcontinental telegraph system. Also, islanders on Niuafo’ou used biscuit tins to transport mail to/from passing ships. In addition, underground networks of pneumatic tubes were used to transport mail at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour in cities such as London and Paris. About 600 letters could fit into a single pneumatic tube.

I enjoyed learning about Cardinal Francis Spellman, who helped establish the museum; interestingly, he made a personal appeal to President Eisenhower to add the phrase “In God We Trust” to U.S. postage stamps in 1954. The museum had a large collection of stamps from various countries in 1964 that mourned the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The museum staff was also quite friendly and helpful.

My only quibble with the museum is that the bathroom was rather dirty.

Overall I enjoyed my time at the museum, and I would definitely recommend it to history buffs who are exploring the Metrowest area.



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