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William H. Gross Stamp Gallery

September 17, 2013

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum opens its new William H. Gross Stamp Gallery to the public Sunday, Sept. 22.

William H. Gross Stamp Gallery
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10c Washington on Pony Express Cover

10c Washington on Pony Express cover stamp

Image: Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

10c Washington on Pony Express cover, 1860. Loan from William H. Gross.
A Pony Express rider carried this cover, considered one of the most historically significant in U.S. postal history. Notice the notation on the front: “recovered from a mail stolen by the Indians in 1860.”

 

24c Curtiss Jenny

24c Curtiss Jenny stamp

Image: Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

24c Curtiss Jenny inverted block of four, 1918. Loan from William H. Gross.
This upside-down blue plane within a red frame is the most famous U.S. stamp and one of the world’s most famous printing errors. Only one misprinted sheet of 100 stamps was sold.

 

Amelia Earhart Solo Transatlantic Flight Cover

Amelia Earhart Solo Transatlantic Flight Cover

Image: Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Amelia Earhart solo transatlantic flight cover, May 20, 1932.
On her historic solo flight across the Atlantic, Earhart carried 50 pieces of unofficial mail—each postmarked before and after landing, cacheted, numbered, and autographed to document the record-setting event.

 

Amelia Earhart's Flight Suit

Amelia Earhart's Flight Suit

Photo: James O’Donnell

Amelia Earhart’s flight suit, 1920s.
Amelia Earhart wore this brown leather flight suit designed for female pilots. Fully lined with orange, red, and brown plaid flannel, it provided insulation from the elements while flying in an open cockpit or at high, chilly altitudes. The snap collar protected against drafts.

 

Apollo 15 Lunar Mail Cover

Apollo 15 Lunar Mail cover stamp

Image: Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Apollo 15 Lunar Mail cover, 1971. Postmaster General’s Collection. Loan from USPS.

Hindenburg disaster card

Hindenburg disaster card

Image: Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Hindenburg disaster card, May 6, 1937.
Under this panel is a piece of mail salvaged from the wreckage of the airship Hindenburg. The burnt card reached its address in a glassine with an official seal. At least 360 of the more than 17,000 pieces of mail on board the airship survived the disastrous fire.

 

July 4, 1776, John Hancock cover

July 4, 1776, John Hancock cover

Image: Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

July 4, 1776, John Hancock cover. Loan from George Jay Kramer.
This letter to John Hancock was handstamped in New York on July 4, 1776—birthday of the United States of America.

 

Letter Mailed Aboard RMS Titanic

Letter mailed aboard RMS Titanic

Image: Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Letter mailed aboard RMS Titanic, April 10, 1912.

Silk Road Letter

Silk Road Letter

Image: Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Silk Road Letter, 1390.

Swedish Feather Letter

Swedish feather letter

Image: Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Swedish feather letter, c. 1808.
“Feather letters” like this one appeared in Sweden from the mid-1700s to mid-1800s. The feather indicated that the letter needed to be delivered quickly, and the squiggly line is a kind of shorthand for Sweden’s national symbol: three crowns. It directed that the letter be sent through the royal mail.

 


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