The National Postal Museum was established through a joint agreement between the U.S. Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution in 1993.
Located in the former main post office for Washington, it has a great collection of philatelic items.
In the mid 1800s the United States Postal Service was just starting up, and they had competition from private postal services – in a way they have come full circle losing much of the market to Fedex and UPS.
The museum had a nice collection of the various improvements in delivery, as well as a couple of the more unusual. This mailbox was stuck inside a cruise missle and fired on June 8th, 1959. It did reach it’s target, but was done only once because of the immense cost.
The museum has an amazing collection of stamps and letters. The one below is one of the earliest known U.S. Postal stamps from 1847.
A couple of survivors. This letter survived the Hindenburg fire and crash.
This is one of the few letters sent from the Titanic. The writer, George Graham of Canada wrote this brief letter and mailed it before reaching Cherbourg, the last stop before going trans-atlantic. The letter reached it’s destination – unfortunately George did not, dying in the accident.
An actual Pony Express delivered letter. Despite all of the publicity over the last 150 years, the Pony Express operated for about a year and a half.
There are a number of other small items including letter carrier badges from around the country.
One section detailed what goes into the design of a stamp.
The Postal Service has always celebrated famous Americans, including musicians.
Throughout the museum were various mailbox displays.
A number of the displays highlighted foreign mailboxes.
The 6 story atrium featured a number of aircraft that were used in the early days of air mail.
Also on display is a full size mail rail car. Imagine sorting the mail bumping along at 60 MPH.
Benjamin Franklin was, among other things, the First Postmaster General. He was well qualified as he was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia by the British Crown Post in 1737, as newspaper publishers often were appointed postmasters.
The Postal Museum is a great place to spend a few hours – well worth the time. And as most Smithsonian Museums, it has free admission.