Art Buzz February 7, 2012: Spellman Museum of Stamps displays mini works of art, history



Travel: Spellman Museum of Stamps displays mini works of art, history

Inside the Spellman Museum, the world’s first stamp is on display, an 1840 1-cent stamp with the image of Queen Victoria.


For The Patriot Ledger

In 2012, the U.S. Postal Service commemorates the centennial of the gift of more 3,000 cherry blossom trees from the city of Tokyo to the city of Washington D.C., with these two beautiful stamps.

Many people pay attention to stamps only when the postage cost increases.

That’s too bad, according to stamp lovers, who say these tiny graphic designs chronicle what’s important: individuals, history, the arts, nature, science, sport, even abstractions like love.

“We take them for granted, but they’re miniature works of art and give people a glimpse into the past and the present,” said George Norton, curator of the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History at Regis College in Weston, Mass.

There’s no better proof of that than the museum, which has rotating stamp displays about love, snow sports, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and even owls, inspired by the release of the final “Harry Potter” film.

“There is virtually no topic or theme that I can’t create an exhibit around,” Norton said. “Name your interest, and we can show you stamps.”

What’s in a stamp?

The wide range of interests is one reason why the old-fashioned pleasure of stamp collecting has not gone the way of the Pony Express. While stamp collecting is not as popular as it was, an estimated 22 million people collect U.S. stamps as a hobby and/or investment, according to the Postal Service.

President Dwight Eisenhower collected, and his stamps are part of the Spellman collection. An estimated 200 million people worldwide collect stamps. And there’s plenty to collect. About 7,000 new stamps are released each year from around the world, Norton said.

Getting your face on a stamp affirms that you are a national treasure. In the Postal Service 2012 Stamp Program, baseball star Ted Williams, film director John Huston, dancer Isadora Duncan and poet E.E. Cummings are all honored. So, too, are significant moments in American history. Two of the prettiest stamps are the Cherry Blossom Festival Centennial and the Love stamp, a yearly release since 1973. Other 2012 issues recognize a cause, such as heart health, or an art, such as bonsai….READ MORE