Getting to Know the Postmaster General’s Collection

As we announced last week, more than 100 philatelic items from the Postmaster General’s Collection are now up for auction on eBay. Noteworthy items of historical interest include:

The Postmaster General’s Collection began in the 1860s as a modest set of Post Office Department files filled with records and a small sampling of stamps, and continues to evolve today. Now, thousands of stamps later, the archive has become a one-of-a-kind stamp collecting resource with unusual, rare, and unique holdings.


A stamp collector’s prize, the Nature of America Limited Edition Collectors Set is a rare find! Click the image for details.

The 30,000 items consist of two distinct elements: stamps and original stamp artwork and includes many pre-production items, including proofs (quality control samples) and essays (either rejected or not finalized stamp designs), black and white models, and uncut press sheets (typically six to eight sheets of stamps from a single sheet that is not perforated for individual stamp removal).

Early proofs were made from the original steel dies on which stamp designs were engraved. The dies were then pressed onto transfer rolls which were used to create the plates for printing stamps. Later with lithographic printing, designer or production prints were mounted to replicate the earlier die proof standard. Many of these were autographed for approval by the Postmaster General when they were created.

The stamp collection also contains many rare and unique items, including full sheets of early high denomination stamps, experimental paper issues, die proofs (quality control samples) of the inverted Jenny airmail stamp, and mail postmarked on the moon. Very few of these items have been seen by the public.

The stamp art collection originated in 1942 and includes the original art commissioned by the Post Office Department and U.S. Postal Service for more than 3,000 U.S. postage stamps. The collection includes original artwork by Norman Rockwell and hundreds of other artists who have volunteered to create the art that would be used in miniature form on U.S. stamps. In addition to the approved artwork, the collection includes thousands of concept designs as well as many preliminary sketches. For the Elvis Presley stamp, for example, more than 50 original designs were submitted by various artists to the Postal Service for consideration.


A truly rare collectible set, the Emancipation Proclamation Stamp and Poster Set Signed by PMG and Artist will be coveted by stamp and history enthusiasts alike! Click the image for details.

This special auction of items from the Postmaster General’s Collection will end at 3 p.m. on Monday, September 23. Don’t let this unique opportunity to own a piece of history pass you by. Head over to eBay and add something unique to your collection today.

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About USPS Stamps

The Postal Service™ is proud of its role in portraying the American experience to a world audience through the issuance of postage stamps and postal stationery. Each year the Postal Service issues commemorative stamps reflecting subjects of national significance and appeal. More than 160 years of stamp development has yielded an incredible archive of imagery and commentary reflecting American culture and society. Even in this fast-changing world, stamps are still a versatile and convenient method of postage. And stamp collecting is a lifetime hobby that is fun and educational for all ages. Stamp collecting is easy to start without a big investment. It is also a great way to learn about the world and its many wonders, opening the door to an exciting universe of history, science, geography, the arts, technology, and sports. Our mission is to provide universal service that is prompt, reliable, efficient, affordable, and self-sustaining. Throughout its history the Postal Service has grown with the nation, binding it together by ensuring that everyone, everywhere, has the same ability to communicate regardless of technological change.