Arthur Salm, born in Cologne in 1904, escaped Germany in 1938 with his wife Erna, soon after Salm’s release from Dachau concentration camp under the pretense of checking a load of steel for his family’s steel firm, which the Nazis had confiscated. The couple fled immediately to Amsterdam and, by 1940, to Chicago, where Erna’s uncle lived. In Chicago, Salm established a successful import business.
After the war, he and Erna reestablished ties with friends in Germany, and Salm traveled there often to research the Thurn and Taxis postal system. His collection of Thurn and Taxis postal documents was among the world’s finest. The Thurn and Taxis postal system, which linked cities within the Habsburg Empire, dates to the fifteenth century.
Arthur Salm began collecting stamps in 1910, when an aunt presented him with a gift of stamps and an album. He eventually specialized in the stamps of Germany. He exhibited his exquisite collection titled German Imperial, Bishops’ and Courier Mail, 1500-1794, in the Court of Honor at Ameripex 86 international stamp exhibition. He also facilitated an exhibition of rarely seen material from the private collection of Prince Johannes of Thurn and Taxis.
The National Postal Museum received five donations from Arthur Salm between 1970 and 1975, before his death in 1988. The donations include gems from Thurn and Taxis, postal items from the German protectorate Saar, and many other treasures from Germany.