National Postal Museum Opens 

U.S. #2779 pictures Ben Franklin, a printing press, mail rider, and Independence Hall.

On July 30, 1993, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum opened in Washington, D.C.

The history of the National Postal Museum (NPM) dates back 1886. It was that year that the National Philatelic Collection was first established with the donation of a sheet of 10¢ Confederate stamps. In the coming years, individuals, foreign governments, and American government agencies helped the collection grow through donations. Today it consists of more than 5.9 million items.

Between 1908 and 1963, the National Philatelic Collection resided in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall. Then in 1964 it was moved to the National Museum of American History.

U.S. #2779-82 pictures important figures from our postal history as well as items that can be found at the museum.

Realizing the need for a permanent home for the National Philatelic Collection, the National Postal Museum was established on November 6, 1990 as a joint project between the Smithsonian Institution and USPS. The former City Post Office Building, built in 1914, was selected as the site for the new museum.

U.S. #2779-82 FDC – National Postal Museum Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

The National Postal Museum officially opened to the public on July 30, 1993. Some 10,000 people visited the museum during that opening weekend. And four new stamps were issued there on opening day to commemorate the event. These stamps were a joint effort between the USPS, the National Postal Museum, and the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee. The museum director at the time said these “stamps were in effect like a miniature visit to the museum” because they picture several items that can be found there.

U.S. #943 was issued for the 100th anniversary of the Smithsonian Institution.

The National Postal Museum is home to one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive stamp collections. Fascinating interactive exhibits tell the colorful history of the nation’s mail service. Collections include postal stationary and postal history from before the first stamps were issued, vehicles that transported the mail, mailboxes, meters, greeting cards, Owney the postal dog, and lots more.

U.S. #4806 was issued to mark the opening of the William H. Gross Gallery in 2013.

In 1997, the National Postal Museum hosted an inaugural ball for Vice President Al Gore. That same year it received full states as a Smithsonian Institution National Museum. And in 2013, the National Postal Museum opened the world’s largest stamp gallery – the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, named for its main benefactor. The 12,000-square-foot facility houses some of the greatest stamp rarities and is a mecca for collectors around the world.

Click here to visit the National Postal Museum’s website and here for the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery site.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. For the first time I did not know anything about this topic. I will have to visit next time I am in Philadelphia

  2. Very interesting, but the second sentence of the last paragraph doesn’t really make sense unless you meant “status” instead of states.

    1. Thank you for the English lesson. However, these articles are meant as a brief understanding of he stamps involved. I guess you are perfect and never hit the wrong key on the typewriter. Get a life and stop being so judgmental.

      1. Don’t be so picky, Gene. The comment was only meant to clear up any misunderstanding that a future reader might have. By the way – to Mystic – I love your daily insights but the comment from reader Hoeft points out something that every writer should take into account before hitting the “send” button. Thai is to PROOFREAD!! It only takes a few extra seconds and can prevent comments such as these last three (mine included). Best wishes to all…

  3. For those of you who live in the Washington DC area, consider being a volunteer DOCENT at he postal museum. The Stamp Gallery os outstandiong. But museum is much more than stamps. Three planes hanging from the ceiling, a real railroad mail car, Owney the dog, an exhibit of the Pony Express, a stage coach all tell the story of the mail. They have an excellent training program to get you comfortable with being a tour guide. I was a Smithsonian Docent for 25 years after I retired, coming into the Postal Museum (right next to Union Station) once a week for the last 10 years. Go to on the following link for details.

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