The Spellman Museum's philatelic collection is estimated at 2,000,000 items. The stamp and cover collection includes a representative, worldwide stamp collection; individual items of rarity and curiosity; representative specialized collections of a particular stamp, set of stamps, or area of postal history; topical and thematic collections; collateral collections related to philately, stamp design, production and use, and the development of postal and telegraph system.
During 2003, the Spellman Museum received a lifetime collection from the family of the late John E. Giles of Weston. Mr. Giles was long a supporter of the Museum, having
chaired the 1970 Founders Day event commemorated by the large plaque in the foyer.
Giles had a general worldwide collection but a particular interest was Zeppelin aerophilately. His collection included the worldwide stamps issued for use on regular
and special flights of the German airships Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg as well as stamps issued to commemorate the airships and their place in the development of
flight. Portions of the Giles collection are being shown in a new exhibit on Zeppelins in the main gallery, scheduled to run through the summer.
The Soviet Union issued four stamps for use on mail from Leningrad and Moscow carried on the polar flight of the Graf Zeppelin in July 1931. The designs
depict a polar bear watching the Graf Zeppelin flying over the Russian icebreaker Malygin.
The Spellman Museum recently received as a gift two collections belonging to the late John S. Stark of Cincinnati, Ohio--"Luminescent U.S. Stamps" and "The Ohio
Presidents." These are significant additions to the Museum's comprehensive collections of United States stamps, postal stationery, and postal history. In addition,
they are excellent examples of original philatelic research and creativity and add to the museum's educational resources. Portions of both collections have been on
exhibit recently at the museum.
In 1965, John S. Stark wrote in his introduction to Luminescent U.S. Stamps, "This collection was assembled initially as reference material for research into the
luminescent properties of certain U.S. stamps. The technique for photographing stamps as they appear when viewed with ultraviolet light was developed and refined as
a result of this research. The photographs mounted herein are original and some were reproduced in philatelic publications. Many of the specimens are original 'finds'
and have appeared in print as such." A comprehensive series of articles in the S.P.A. Journal co-authored with Alfred G. Boerger was based in part on specimens from
this collection and led to a handbook published in 1971.
The term "tagged" is used to indicate stamps given special properties so they can be read by automated canceling and sorting machines. Between 1938 and 1955, Fritz
Van Marie, Director of Engineering at Marchand Andrieesen, in the Netherlands, designed and built experimental machines to arrange mail and cancel stamps automatically.
Specially prepared stamps were required to activate these machines. This test stamp was made from laminated paper having an aluminum foil center ply that interrupted
a short wave radio beam to trigger the machine. TRANSORMA was an acronym from TRAN(sport) SOR(t) M(archand) A(ndrieesen).
In 1959, Great Britain and Canada experimented with light sensitive machinery and luminescent tagged stamps (stamps that glow when exposed to ultraviolet light),
and now most stamp tagging is of this type. Tagged stamps may be either fluorescent (glow under UV light), phosphorescent (have an afterglow when exposed to UV light),
or both. Chemically treated stamp paper, printing inks, and overprints have been used to make luminescent tagged stamps.
The year 2002 marks the 75th anniversary of the first solo non-stop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris by Charles A. Lindbergh.
Following his historic flight, Col. Lindbergh made extended Goodwill Tours of the United States and Latin America. On January 7, 1928,
Costa Rica was the first of several Latin American countries to issue a stamp honoring Lindbergh during his tour. The surcharge was
printed on the 12c Christopher Columbus stamp, part of a set commemorating the First Pan-American Postal Congress of 1923.
The Kingdom of Kabul first issued stamps in 1871. Early designs featured a tiger's head, symbolizing the name of Amir Sher
(tiger) Ali. From 1871 to 1892 the date of the Moslem year also appears. This 1874 abasi denomination stamp was lithographed
locally and bears the Muslim year transcribed as 1291. Afghan stamps of the period were issued without gum and imperforate.
When used, they were cancelled by cutting or tearing a piece from the stamp. Before 1928, when Afghanistan joined the Universal
Postal Union, Afghan stamps were valid only for use within the country itself. Mail traveling to other countries needed the
addition of Indian stamps.