Arago: Exhibits


Acknowledgements and Table of Contents

Post Office Interior - Columbian

To fill the exposition’s postal needs, the Post Office Department operated a fully functioning branch, located in the Government Building, where the first sheets of Columbians were displayed. Besides its regular postal operations, which patrons could observe through a glass wall, the branch featured exhibits that dramatized advances in U.S. mail service juxtaposed with those of various other postal services from around the world. The legendary post office dog Owney made an appearance at the branch and received a tag bearing an image of Christopher Columbus. The exhibits featured unique historical items such as Benjamin Franklin’s ledger from 1775-1776 and the record book of the Dead Letter office, 1778-1789. Visitors found the Dead Letter Office display particularly fascinating for its assortment of curiously addressed envelopes and undelivered mail matter including a pickled ear, a jar of centipedes, a letter written on a shirt cuff, and a box of snakes.

This “Featured Collection” revisits the story of Christopher Columbus’s journeys to the New World as told through the nation’s first commemorative stamps, the 1893 Columbians. It includes images of the American Bank Note Company’s die proofs, both original and the 1915 Panama-Pacific reprints, inspired by famous nineteenth century famous artworks. In addition, it includes full sheets of stamps, unique imperforate pairs, unusual examples of mail, and outstanding Columbian rarities from the National Stamp Collection of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

This display also features rarities from special exhibitions in the museum, including from Columbus’ Voyage of Discovery: The Columbian Series of 1893, March 8, 2001—March 15, 2002, (courtesy of Dr. Edward and Joanne Dauer) and Rarity Revealed: The Benjamin K. Miller Collection, Part I, May 27, 2006—October 1, 2007, (courtesy of The Benjamin K. Miller Stamp Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations).

Special thanks are extended to Dr. Edward and Joanne Dauer, Harry Hagendorf, James Lee, Scott Trepel, and John M. Hotchner.

Table of Contents

1. The Nation's First Commemorative Stamps: Introduction

2. Table of Contents and Acknowledgements

3. Postmaster General John Wanamaker

4. Columbus Realizes His Dream

5. The Quest for Royal Acclaim

6. Columbus and the Court

7. Columbus Vindicated

8. 1-cent and 2-cent Sheets

9. 3-cent and 4-cent Sheets

10 5-cent and 6-cent Sheets

11. 8-cent and 10-cent Sheets

12. 15-cent and 30-cent Sheets

13. 50-cent and 1-dollar Sheets

14. 5-dollar Rarities

15. John Wanamaker's Unique Imperforates

16. Error, Printers' Waste, and Excess

17. Columbians in the Mails

18. Creating a Rarity

19. Revisiting the Columbians, 1915

20. Modern Commemoratives