The Eighteenth Maynard Sundman Lecture: The Origins, Birth and International Reach of the Postage Stamp through 1847

Susan Smith's picture
December 7, 2022
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, British History / Studies, Communication, European History / Studies, Government and Public Service

The Eighteenth Maynard Sundman Lecture:
The Origins, Birth and International Reach of the Postage Stamp through 1847

Tuesday, December 7, 2021
4:00pm EDT. Online, via Zoom

Admission to the lecture is free, but registration is required. Register here.

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum's Maynard Sundman Lecture Series was established in 2002 through a generous donation by his sons, David and Donald. The Sundman lectures feature talks by authors and expert philatelists on stamps, postal history, and collecting.

This year the museum will welcome James Grimwood-Taylor, M. A., R. D. P. whose two-volume International Postal Reforms won the 2021 Great Britain Philatelic Society President’s Prize and the Crawford Medal from the Royal Philatelic Society London for the most valuable and original contribution to the study and knowledge of philately published in book form. 

The talk – illustrated with a selection of items from Grimwood-Taylor’s collections – will briefly cover the origins of writing and of postal rates, before tracing the origins of postage stamps from their roots in the very first (Revenue) stamps of the 17th century. The ancient Sumerians, the Italian merchants of the 14th to 16th centuries, the 17th-century Anglo-Dutch revenue authorities, and the 18th-century Colonial American local Revenue stamps will all be included. The explosion of postal rates in the 18th and 19th centuries, fueled by the wartime-raising of taxes in Britain and its American colonies, and later the United States, lasted long after peace was declared. It led reformers, such as Rowland Hill and others, to campaign for the introduction of cheap postage and to study how such a dramatic change could be made financially and administratively viable; they turned for an answer to revenue stamps for a postage prepayment model. The talk will conclude with a look at First Issue covers of the U.S., Switzerland, Brazil, Finland, Indonesia, Russia, and Trinidad in order to take the story up to July 1847.

Contact Info: 

Dr. Susan Smith, Winton M. Blount Research Chair

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

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