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32c Tree Planting single

National Postal Museum
mint

32c Solar Energy single

National Postal Museum
mint

32c John Muir single

National Postal Museum
This Celebrate the Century Issue stamp depicts preservationist John Muir and Yosemite Valley, California. He was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and an advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States and the National Park Service. He was the founder of the Sierra Club.

United States; Scotland; Yosemite Vallery; California; John Muir; preservationist; conservationist; naturalist; author; wilderness; forest; nature; landscape; National Park Service; Sierra Club

32c Grand Canyon single

National Postal Museum
mint

32c Earth Clean-Up single

National Postal Museum
mint

32c Centennial of Klondike Gold Rush single

National Postal Museum
KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH, CENTENNIAL

32-cent mint single

Issued August 21, 1998

32c Beach Clean-Up single

National Postal Museum
mint

32c "Kindred Spirits" single

National Postal Museum
AMERICAN ART

"Kindred Spirits" by Asher B. Durand

32-cent mint single

Issued August 27, 1998

30c brown American Buffalo single

National Postal Museum
mint; perf 10.5 x 11

30c Vatican Gardens single

National Postal Museum
On May 31, 1933, Vatican City issued a set of eighteen stamps consisting of six different designs and a wide range of postal values, including special delivery stamps.

Four of the stamps, Vatican Scott numbers 24-27, depict the Vatican Gardens and the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. This design includes the 30-centisimi (chocolate and black), 50-cent (chocolate and purple), 75-cent (chocolate and lake), and 80-cent (carmine and rose) values. The Vatican Gardens date from the pontificate of Nicholas III (1277-1280). These vertical stamps measure 2.5 x 3 cm.

Engraver F. Schrinbock designed the stamps. The Italian State Printing Works, Rome, produced the stamps using the recess printing process. Perforations measure 14 x 14. The stamps contain the Crossed Keys of St. Peter watermark. The inscription Poste Vaticane appears on all eighteen stamps in this set.

The Vatican withdrew the stamps from sale on February 28, 1947.

References:

"Vatikanstaat" in Michel Europa Katalog, band 3, Sudeuropa, Unterschleissheim, Germany: Schwanberger Verlag GMBH, 2008.

"Vatican City" in Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue, part 8, Italy and Switzerland, 7th edition. Stanley Gibbons, Ltd: Ringwood, Hampshire, England, 2010.

"Vatican City," in Scott Standard Stamp Catalogue, volume 6, Sidney, Ohio: Scott Publishing Company, 2006.

James Lees-Milne, Saint Peter's: The Story of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome (Boston: Little Brown & Company, 1967), 117, 119-121, 216-222, chapters 6 and 8.

Filippo Coarelli, Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide, translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2007), 354-356.

30c American Buffalo single

National Postal Museum
mint; perf 11

305-Million-Year-Old Fossil Helps Unravel the Spider's Evolutionary Web

Smithsonian Magazine

Decades ago, amateur fossil hunter Daniel Sotty was exploring a fossil bed in Montceau-les-Mines in eastern France when he came across what looked like a tiny spider fossil. When researchers examined the find, however, they realized it wasn’t a spider at all. Now, this 305-million year-old spider look-alike is helping scientist learn how our modern 8-legged web-spinners came to be.

“When I first saw it, I was unsure what kind of arachnid it was,” University of Manchester paleontologist Russell Garwood, who worked on the fossil tells Brian Switek at National Geographic. “The legs and entire front half of the body [were] buried in the rock.”

When Garwood’s team, who recently published their results in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, performed a CT scan and examined the 3-D model of creature, they realized it was unlike other invertebrates. “This fossil is the most closely related thing we have to a spider that isn't a spider,” Garwood tells Jonathan Webb at the BBC.

Dubbed Idmonarachne brasieri after Idmon, Arachne the weaver’s father in Greek mythology, the invertebrate has eight legs and fangs like a spider. But the creature has a segmented abdomen and was probably only able to squirt silk globs as opposed to the delicate threads of modern spiders.

The reason? Idmonarchne​​ lacks an organ called a spinneret, which spiders use to direct the silk and weave elaborate webs.

Idmonarchne is similar to other ancient spider relative known uraraneids, which likely used its sticky silk to line burrows or wrap up their eggs. “[Idmonarchne] falls along the line of evolution towards true spiders,” arachnologist Jonathan Coddington of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History tells Switek. “[It] implies a fairly neat set of transitions to true silk production.” 

“The earliest known spider is actually from the same fossil deposit—and it definitely has spinnerets,” Garwood tells Webb. “So what we’re actually looking at is an extinct lineage that split off the spider line some time before 305 million years ago, and those two have evolved in parallel.”

But because the specimen is only 0.6 to 0.8 inches long, Garwood had to make sure that the spinnerets hadn’t simply fallen out. So he sent the specimen the Diamond synchrotron, a specialized scanner in England that can pick up tiny details. The results did not show any holes where spinnerets could have been.

Garwood tells The Guardian that’s what really separates Idmonarchne from the long reign of modern spiders. “The key innovation of spiders is the spinnerets,” he says, “and that is probably responsible for their massive success.”

300 years and counting: A new look at New Orleans and “Creole cuisine”

National Museum of American History

Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding this year, New Orleans is a city whose culture and cuisine have captivated the American imagination for generations. Given the way authors and travel writers have described the city as a place steeped in French and Spanish traditions, it is not all that surprising that Americans have come to associate New Orleans primarily with European cultures. New Orleans’s history, though, is not only tied to countries like France and Spain. Like any major port, New Orleans has been influenced by a diverse group of migrants coming from all parts of the globe. The presence of those disparate cultures in New Orleans, however, makes it difficult to define “Creole” New Orleans, a title that has become a cultural catchall despite its distinct and traceable plethora of influences.

Scan of book. Left page shows photograph of The General Beauregard Home in New Orleans. Right page has text and title, “New Orleans For the Tourist”“New Orleans for the Tourist,” 1909. Courtesy of Warshaw Collection of Business Americana—Geographic, Louisiana, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Defining "Creole" is not a new dilemma. Even in the 19th century, visitors and residents of New Orleans struggled to define its culture and identify its primary influences. Travel writer Lafcadio Hearn acknowledged in 1877 that New Orleans “resembles no other city upon the face of the earth, yet it recalls vague memories of a hundred cities.”

Composite of four images, all showing streets and buildings in New OrleansNew Orleans: “The Crescent City.” Courtesy of Warshaw Collection of Business Americana—Geographic, Louisiana, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

After living in another river city, Cincinnati, Hearn settled in New Orleans from 1878 to 1888, where he wrote about all aspects of urban life, but seemed particularly entranced by the city’s food scene. Eventually, he compiled what is popularly consider the first Creole cookbook, La Cuisine Creole (1885)—one of the first published works that identifies the food of New Orleans as “Creole cuisine.” After spending years in New Orleans, observing the people that frequented its food markets, restaurants, and taverns, he endeavored to define the city and its food culture for American audiences. According to Hearn, “‘La Cuisine Creole’ (Creole cookery) partakes of the nature of its birthplace—New Orleans—which is cosmopolitan in its nature, blending the characteristics of the American, French, Spanish, Italian, West Indian, and Mexican.” He also identified a set of dishes he saw as part of the canon of Creole cuisine, including gumbo and jambalaya, both of which were heavily shaped by West African and Caribbean culinary traditions.

New Orleans’s cookbook culture took off after the publication of La Cuisine Creole, resulting in the publication of hundreds of cookbooks. Although Hearn acknowledged the cultural potpourri of New Orleans’s food scene, many of his contemporaries did not. At the turn of the 20th century, early Creole cookbooks glossed over or omitted entirely the contributions of people of color, thereby depicting New Orleans as a product of European culture rather than one equally, if not more so, influenced by West African, Caribbean, and Latin American cultures. So enduring was this vision of Creole cuisine as an unchanging relic of a European colonial period that it is hard for Americans to imagine the city’s cuisine as it truly is: fluid and in constant evolution, and connected to a vast cultural web that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico around the globe.

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, diverse people and cultures have reshaped the city’s food culture. By 1900 Sicilian migrants had integrated themselves into the city’s local food culture and economy—serving as food vendors in the city’s public markets and introducing stuffed artichokes and muffaletta sandwiches to the Crescent City. As a result of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese refugees migrated to New Orleans in the 1970s, acquainting New Orleanians with pho and banh mi, which have now become staples of the city’s food scene. Since Hurricane Katrina, migrants from Central and South America have been a crucial part of the labor force rebuilding the city; it is now common to find restaurants offering piping-hot pupusas and arepas. These largely unrecognized, yet present, food cultures are very much alive in New Orleans’s food scene today.

Chef Alon Shaya seated at a tableChef Alon Shaya. Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, New York. Photo credit: Rush Jagoe.

Within this environment marked by flux and fusion, chef Alon Shaya’s long celebrated career in New Orleans skyrocketed to national fame in 2015—not by making gumbo and jambalaya, but by making borekas and shakshouka—dishes featured at the restaurant bearing his name, SHAYA, and in his cookbook, SHAYA: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel (2018). Like that of New Orleans, the cuisine of Israel is perhaps best described as a melting pot. In his cookbook, Shaya notes that Israeli cuisine draws influences from many regional food cultures, and in his own words states, “Israeli cuisine is a gumbo, a melding of many food cultures.” Israel is a nation whose food cultures was fused through the processes of immigration, marrying flavors from Germany, Bulgaria, Yemen, France, Spain, Turkey, Morocco, and Greece, among other countries, with an existing and vibrant Arab food culture. Shaya’s personal history is bound up in this process. His grandparents immigrated to Israel, and he emigrated from the country to the United States as a child, taking with him memories of fried eggplant and lamb kebabs. In New Orleans he revived flavors from Israel, embracing the fluidity of New Orleans’s food scene to establish what would become a James Beard Award-winning Israeli restaurant in the heart of Creole New Orleans.

A food dish in a skilletShakshouka, eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, featured in SHAYA: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel. Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf Publishers. Photo credit: Rush Jagoe.

This month, Shaya will be our guest chef for “Cooking Up History,” where we will be discussing his professional career and personal connections to Israeli cuisine and how he was integral in bringing these traditional foods to the attention of both New Orleans and the nation. His program will be an opportunity for the museum to commemorate New Orleans’s tricentennial by exploring one in an amazing array of culinary cultures that have shaped the city’s culinary scene. This program will also be an opportunity to revisit Lafcadio Hearn’s definition of Creole cuisine and discuss the ways in which New Orleans’s food culture has evolved since the publication of La Cuisine Creole in 1885 because of innovators like Shaya.

Ashley Rose Young is the historian of the American Food History Project at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. She is also the host of “Cooking Up History,” a live cooking demonstration at the museum’s demonstration kitchen. During these programs, Young and a guest chef prepare dishes and discuss their history and traditions.

Posted Date: 
Sunday, March 11, 2018 - 14:30
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3-Stringed Instrument

NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
FROM CARD: "MADE OF PINE. THE BODY IS CIRCULAR, THE BACK AND BELLY ARE BOTH FLAT AND OF THIN WOOD. THE SIDES ARE VERTICAL, OF A BENT PIECE OF WOOD. THE NECK IS RATHER LONG, THE FINGERBOARD ON THE SAME PLANE IS THE BELLY. IT HAS 5 GUT FRETS. THE HEAD IS BENT BACK FROM THE NECK AND FITTED WITH 3 VERTICAL TUNING KEYS. THERE IS ALSO A HOLE IN THE SIDE OF THE NECK 10-1/2 IN. BELOW THE NUT WHICH MAY HAVE BEEN USED WITH A SHORT STRING, BUT IT IS PLACED ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE NECK. THE TAIL PIECE IS A SHORT STRAP OF LEATHER. IT IS PIERCED WITH FOUR HOLES FOR STRINGS. THE STRINGS AND BRIDGE ARE MISSING. THE BODY IS SIMILAR TO THE CHINESE MOON GUITAR, WHILE THE NECK RESEMBLES THAT OF THE BANJO, THE UPPER END OF WHICH IS BROKEN."

3-D Map to Digitize Part of Carlsbad Caverns Down to the Millimeter

Smithsonian Magazine

Several years before Carlsbad Caverns was established as a National Park in 1930, a mineral examiner by the name of Robert A. Holley was dispatched to survey the famed New Mexico limestone cave system carved out of acidic water.

After one month of study, Holley left humbled. "I enter upon this task,” he wrote, “with a feeling of [no] temerity as I am wholly conscious of the feebleness of my efforts to convey in words the deep conflicting emotions, the feeling of fear and awe, and the desire for an inspired understanding of the Divine Creator's work which presents to the human eye such a complex aggregate of natural wonder in such a limited space."

Things have changed since Holley’s day. Now, Adrian Hedden at the Carlsbad Current-Argus reports, the National Parks Service is working with the University of Arkansas’ Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies to use a light-detection and ranging tool known as LiDAR to create a 3-D map that will detail the nuances of the namesake cave “down to the millimeter."

According to a press release by the University of Arkansas, researchers made three trips back in January and February to begin scanning everything visible from the 3.5 miles of developed trail inside the Carlsbad Caverns, including the most-popular trail, the Big Room, the “largest single cave chamber by volume in North America,” according to the NPS. The ambitious project, which started in 2015, is slated to wrap by the end of this year.

Alongside the mapping work, a team led by Kimball Erdman, an associate professor at the University of Arkansas, is also creating a cultural landscape inventory (CLI) of the Carlsbad Caverns' modern history. A CLI is an interdisciplinary document whose purpose is to "identify cultural landscapes in the national park system and provide information on their location, historical development, characteristics and features, condition, and management."

“We’re looking at the ways in which humans have interacted with this environment in the past 100 years,” says Erdman in a statement. “With this the National Park Service can take the next steps for restoration, rehabilitation, or whatever needs to be done.”

Native Americans have known about the existence of the cave system—which includes some of the best-preserved fossils of ocean life from the Permian Era, back when a barrier reef formed there millions of years ago as part of an inland sea—for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. But national recognition only came to the site in the 1920s, two decades after a cowboy named James “Jim” Larkin White stumbled upon it in 1898. It was first declared a national monument by President Calvin Coolidge in 1923, following Holley's survey. Two years later, the first wooden staircase was built to allow visitors to access the caverns.

Details about various attractions, such as the “underground lunchroom” that sits 750 feet below the surface, as well as information about how various natural features in the National Park were named will also be included in the inventory.

According to the NPS, the mapping project and historical survey will serve as a guide for the National Park Service as it manages both natural and developed environments in the caves. It is expected that the NPS may also use the work to earn the caverns a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

3 people in horse-drawn cart in the snow

National Museum of American History
Tintype showing a snowy forest and three people, a man and two boys, riding in a cart drawn by a single dark horse; tintype is framed in decorative copper metal and glass.

The NMAH Photo History Collection (PHC) has over 3000 tintype photographs dating from the beginnings of the process in 1856 to the present. ‘Tintype’ was coined and became the favored name.

Tintypes in the PHC are found in albums, the Kaynor Union Case collection and as individual photographs. The original tintype process patent was assigned to William and Peter Neff in 1856. William Neff died a short time later, but his son Peter, who named the process Melainotype, continued on with his work. The earliest tintypes in the PHC are a group of more than thirty Peter Neff Melainotypes, some of which date back to 1856 and contain notes written by Peter Neff. Shortly after the Melainotype, Victor Griswold introduced a very similar process on thinner, lighter iron plates and called them Ferrotypes. The PHC has tintypes ranging from rare large images between 5”x7” and 10”x12”down to small images cut to 6mm diameter to fit jewelry. The Melainotypes are between 1/6 plate and 4”x5” in size and many have indistinct images. There are also unexposed Melainotype plates including a pack of 1/6 plates and large whole-plates with four decorated oval borders that were designed to be cut into smaller quarter plates after exposure.

The great majority of tintype photographs are studio portraits, including the very popular ‘Gem’ size (about ¾” x 1”). Almost every gem tintype in the PHC is an individual head and shoulders portraits, the only exceptions seen being a full length portrait and a head and shoulders portrait of a couple. Most of these gem portraits are in small gem albums designed to hold two to six gems per page. However, several gems are mounted on cartes-de-visite (CDV) size cards and set in specifically designed album pages. Some of these CDV mounted gems are in elaborate miniature frames attached to the card. The tintypes larger than gem size show a greater variety of subject matter, but still with a main focus on individual portraits, this is especially true of the smaller 1/16 and 1/9 plate images. Outdoor tintypes are rare. Of the few in the PHC, the most common outdoor subjects noted are people standing in front of their homes and photographs of people proudly standing with, or sitting on, their horse or horses and buggy. One of the largest tintypes is a 9”x 7” outdoor view of a row of townhouses with a couple standing on one of the balconies. There is also an outdoor tintype of men fishing along with another of their days catch.

One common subject in tintype photography, as noted in text books, is the civil war soldier. The durability of the tintype meant that photographs taken in the field could be sent home. However, this category of tintype is not well represented in the PHC, with less than thirty noted due to the fact that the majority of the Smithsonian’s Civil War tintypes are located mainly in the Military History Collection. Most of the PHC examples of Civil War tintypes are in the Kaynor collection of cased images.

A few of the tintypes in the PHC are hand colored. This coloring varies from light tinting of faces and hands to heavy overpainting that obscures the underlying tintype image. A number of the tintypes (about 30) depict people with the apparatus of their occupations. Some are posed studio shots and others appear to be photographs of people at their place of work. Among the occupational views are images of a doctor, grocery deliveryman, weavers, fireman, ice delivery man, craftsman, cobbler, shoe shiners, mail carrier, surveyor, pipe liners and other tintypes of people wearing work clothes and posing with tools. These include a unique full-length gem tintype of a man in work apron with a saw.

3 lire Basilica of St. Clement single

National Postal Museum
Vatican City issued a set of twelve stamps on March 7, 1949, featuring images of Roman basilicas. The set includes the interior or exterior of eleven basilicas, most dating to the 4th century; one stamp depicts Pope Pius XII. This set is considered one of Vatican City's most beautiful and architecturally significant issues.

The 3-lire (deep violet) stamp shows the interior of the Basilica of St. Clement, dedicated to the fourth pope (ca. 92-99).

The 1-, 3-, 5-, and 8-lire stamps are vertical in design; the other issues are horizontal. The 100-lire stamp is perforated 14 x 14. All other stamps are issued in two different perforation measurements, 14 x 13.5 and 13.5 x 14. The vertical stamps measure 3 x 4 cm. The horizontal stamps measure 4 x 3 cm. All issues are watermarked with the Crossed Keys of St. Peter. All designs are inscribed with Poste Vaticane, the name of the basilica, and the postal value.

Corrado Mezzana designed the set, with engraving by M. Canfarini. The 100-lire value was printed by recess printing; the other stamps were printed by photogravure. A total of 300,000 sets were printed. The stamps were withdrawn August 31, 1957.

References:

Vatikanstaat," in Michel Europa Katalog, band 3, Südeuropa, Unterschleißheim, Germany: Schwanberger Verlag GMBH, 2008.

"Vatican City," in Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue, part 8, Italy and Switzerland, 7th edition, Ringwood, Hampshire, England: Stanley Gibbons, Ltd., 2010.

"Vatican City," in Scott Standard Stamp Catalogue, volume 6, Sidney, Ohio: Scott Publishing Company, 2006.

Filippo Coarelli, Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide, translated by James J. Clauss and Daniel P. Harmon, Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2007.

David Hugh Farmer, Oxford Dictionary of Saints, 5th edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

3 boys on bicycles

National Museum of American History
Outdoor tintype showing three boys on high-wheeled bicycles in a field with buildings visible in the background; corners are clipped.

The NMAH Photo History Collection (PHC) has over 3000 tintype photographs dating from the beginnings of the process in 1856 to the present. ‘Tintype’ was coined and became the favored name.

Tintypes in the PHC are found in albums, the Kaynor Union Case collection and as individual photographs. The original tintype process patent was assigned to William and Peter Neff in 1856. William Neff died a short time later, but his son Peter, who named the process Melainotype, continued on with his work. The earliest tintypes in the PHC are a group of more than thirty Peter Neff Melainotypes, some of which date back to 1856 and contain notes written by Peter Neff. Shortly after the Melainotype, Victor Griswold introduced a very similar process on thinner, lighter iron plates and called them Ferrotypes. The PHC has tintypes ranging from rare large images between 5”x7” and 10”x12”down to small images cut to 6mm diameter to fit jewelry. The Melainotypes are between 1/6 plate and 4”x5” in size and many have indistinct images. There are also unexposed Melainotype plates including a pack of 1/6 plates and large whole-plates with four decorated oval borders that were designed to be cut into smaller quarter plates after exposure.

The great majority of tintype photographs are studio portraits, including the very popular ‘Gem’ size (about ¾” x 1”). Almost every gem tintype in the PHC is an individual head and shoulders portraits, the only exceptions seen being a full length portrait and a head and shoulders portrait of a couple. Most of these gem portraits are in small gem albums designed to hold two to six gems per page. However, several gems are mounted on cartes-de-visite (CDV) size cards and set in specifically designed album pages. Some of these CDV mounted gems are in elaborate miniature frames attached to the card. The tintypes larger than gem size show a greater variety of subject matter, but still with a main focus on individual portraits, this is especially true of the smaller 1/16 and 1/9 plate images. Outdoor tintypes are rare. Of the few in the PHC, the most common outdoor subjects noted are people standing in front of their homes and photographs of people proudly standing with, or sitting on, their horse or horses and buggy. One of the largest tintypes is a 9”x 7” outdoor view of a row of townhouses with a couple standing on one of the balconies. There is also an outdoor tintype of men fishing along with another of their days catch.

One common subject in tintype photography, as noted in text books, is the civil war soldier. The durability of the tintype meant that photographs taken in the field could be sent home. However, this category of tintype is not well represented in the PHC, with less than thirty noted due to the fact that the majority of the Smithsonian’s Civil War tintypes are located mainly in the Military History Collection. Most of the PHC examples of Civil War tintypes are in the Kaynor collection of cased images.

A few of the tintypes in the PHC are hand colored. This coloring varies from light tinting of faces and hands to heavy overpainting that obscures the underlying tintype image. A number of the tintypes (about 30) depict people with the apparatus of their occupations. Some are posed studio shots and others appear to be photographs of people at their place of work. Among the occupational views are images of a doctor, grocery deliveryman, weavers, fireman, ice delivery man, craftsman, cobbler, shoe shiners, mail carrier, surveyor, pipe liners and other tintypes of people wearing work clothes and posing with tools. These include a unique full-length gem tintype of a man in work apron with a saw.

3 String Double Bass

National Museum of American History

This Double Bass was made by Abraham Prescott in Concord, New Hampshire., around 1831-1833. It is a three-string instrument in pieces, not assembled. It has a four-piece table of pine; back of American maple in two pieces with a small wing in the upper left bout, bearing fine irregular horizontal figure; ribs of plain slab-cut maple inlaid into a channel cut in the table and back; neck, pegbox and scroll of plain maple, with three mechanical tuners, opaque reddish-brown varnish. This instrument has an original printed label:

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
ABRAHAM PRESCOTT
MANUFACTURER AND DEALER IN
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
OF EVERY DESCRIPTION,
NEARLY OPPOSITE THE AMERICAN HOTEL,
Dickey, Print. CONCORD, N.H.

and three mechanical tuners bearing the composite brand stamp:

A. PRESCOTT
CONCORD
NH

This three-string instrument is unrepaired and retains all original features and fittings except the bottom block. The instrument is in viol shape with a flat back, sloping at the shoulder. The upper and lower f-hole wings are not completely cut out, so the ends of the wings remain connected to the table.

2nd Pochta

National Air and Space Museum
2nd Pochta, 1875. Advertising, relief print/letterpressposter with text describing attractions at St. Petersburg, Russia Zoological Gardens. Events include orchestra, electric lights, illuminated garden, outdoor fair, gypsy singing, Hungarian and Russian songs, army choir, and gas balloon ascension by aeronaut, Alexander Shperling. Text surrounds block print of balloon, the 2nd Pochta, basked with flags and four passengers. On right side, a grappling hook hangs from pulley.

The Birth of Flight: NASM Collections

The invention of the balloon struck the men and women of the late 18th century like a thunderbolt. Enormous crowds gathered in Paris to watch one balloon after another rise above the city rooftops, carrying the first human beings into the air in the closing months of 1783.The excitement quickly spread to other European cities where the first generation of aeronauts demonstrated the wonder of flight. Everywhere the reaction was the same. In an age when men and women could fly, what other wonders might they achieve.

"Among all our circle of friends," one observer noted, "at all our meals, in the antechambers of our lovely women, as in the academic schools, all one hears is talk of experiments, atmospheric air, inflammable gas, flying cars, journeys in the sky." Single sheet prints illustrating the great events and personalities in the early history of ballooning were produced and sold across Europe. The balloon sparked new fashion trends and inspired new fads and products. Hair and clothing styles, jewelry, snuffboxes, wallpaper, chandeliers, bird cages, fans, clocks, chairs, armoires, hats, and other items, were designed with balloon motifs.

Thanks to the generosity of several generations of donors, the National Air and Space Museum maintains one of the world's great collections of objects and images documenting and celebrating the invention and early history of the balloon. Visitors to the NASM's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport can see several display cases filled with the riches of this collection. We are pleased to provide visitors to our web site with access to an even broader range of images and objects from this period. We invite you to share at least a small taste of the excitement experienced by those who witness the birth of the air age.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Present at Creation:

The NASM Collection of Objects Related to Early Ballooning

The invention of the balloon struck the men and women of the late 18th century like a thunderbolt. The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph-Michel (August 26, 1740-June 26, 1810) and Jacques Etienne (January 6, 1745 - August 2, 1799), launched the air age when they flew a hot air balloon from the town square of Annonay, France, on June 4, 1783. Members of a family that had been manufacturing paper in the Ardèche region of France for generations, the Montgolfiers were inspired by recent discoveries relating to the composition of the atmosphere. Joseph led the way, building and flying his first small hot air balloons late in 1782, before enlisting his brother in the enterprise.

Impatient for the Montgolfiers to demonstrate their balloon in Paris, Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond, a pioneering geologist and member of the Académie Royale, sold tickets to a promised ascension and turned the money over to Jacques Alexandre-César Charles (1746-1823), a chemical experimenter whom he had selected to handle the design, construction and launch of a balloon. Charles flew the first small hydrogen balloon from the Champs de Mars, near the present site of the Eiffel Tower, on August 27, 1783. Not to be outdone, the Montgolfiers sent the first living creatures (a sheep, a duck and a rooster) aloft from Versailles on September 19.

Pilatre de Rozier, a scientific experimenter, and François Laurent, the marquis D'Arlandes, became the first human beings to make a free flight on November 21. Less than two weeks later, on December 1, 1783, J.A. C. Charles and M.N. Robert made the first free flight aboard a hydrogen balloon from the Jardin des Tuileries.

A wave of excitement swept across Paris as the gaily decorated balloons rose, one after another, over the skyline of the city. Throughout the summer and fall of 1783 the crowds gathering to witness the ascents grew ever larger. As many as 400,000 people - literally half of the population of Paris -- gathered in the narrow streets around the Château des Tuileries to watch Charles and Robert disappear into the heavens.

The wealthy and fashionable set purchased tickets of admission to the circular enclosure surrounding the launch site. Guards had a difficult time restraining the crush of citizens swarming the nearby streets, and crowding the Place de Louis XV (now the Place de la Concorde) and the garden walkways leading toward the balloon. People climbed walls and clambered out of windows onto roofs in search of good vantage points.

"It is impossible to describe that moment:" wrote one observer of a balloon launch, "the women in tears, the common people raising their hands to the sky in deep silence; the passengers leaning out of the gallery, waving and crying out in joy… the feeling of fright gives way to wonder." One group of spectators greeted a party of returning aeronauts with the question: "Are you men or Gods?" In an age when human beings could fly, what other wonders might the future hold?

The balloons had an enormous social impact. The huge, seething crowds were something new under the sun. The spectators who gathered in such huge numbers were just becoming accustomed to the idea of change. The old certainties of their grandparent's world were giving way to an expectation that the twin enterprises of science and technology would provide the foundation for "progress."

The balloons sparked new fashion trends and inspired new fads and products. Hair and clothing styles, jewelry, snuffboxes, wallpaper, chandeliers, bird cages, fans, clocks, chairs, armoires, hats, and other items, were designed with balloon motifs. Party guests sipped Créme de l' Aérostatique liqueur and danced the Contredanse de Gonesse in honor of the Charles globe.

The Americans who were living in Paris to negotiate a successful conclusion to the American revolution were especially fascinated by the balloons. It seemed only fitting that, at a time when their countrymen were launching a new nation, human beings were throwing off the tyranny of gravity. The oldest and youngest members of the diplomatic community were the most seriously infected with "balloonamania."

"All conversation here at present turns upon the Balloons…and the means of managing them so as to give Men the Advantage of Flying," Benjamin Franklin informed an English friend, Richard Price. Baron Grimm, another Franklin acquaintance, concurred. "Among all our circle of friends," he wrote, "at all our meals, in the antechambers of our lovely women, as in the academic schools, all one hears is talk of experiments, atmospheric air, inflammable gas, flying cars, journeys in the sky."

Franklin noted that small balloons, made of scraped animal membranes, were sold "everyday in every quarter." He was invited to visit a friend's home for "tea and balloons," and attended a fête at which the duc de Chartres distributed "little phaloid balloonlets" to his guests. At another memorable entertainment staged by the duc de Crillon, Franklin witnessed the launch of a hydrogen balloon some five feet in diameter that kept a lantern aloft for over eleven hours.

The senior American diplomat in Paris purchased one of the small balloons as a present for his grandson and secretary, William Temple Franklin. Released in a bed chamber, "it went up to the ceiling and remained rolling around there for some time." Franklin emptied the membrane of hydrogen and forwarded it to Richard Price so that he and Sir Joseph Banks might repeat the experiment. The delightful little toy was thus not only the first balloon to be owned by an American but also the first to reach England. Both Franklins were soon supplying little balloons to friends across Europe.

Sixteen year old John Quincy Adams also took note of the small balloons offered for sale by street vendors. "The flying globes are still very much in vogue," he wrote on September 22. "They have advertised a small one of eight inches in diameter at 6 livres apiece without air [hydrogen] and 8 livres with it. .. Several accidents have happened to persons who have attempted to make inflammable air, which is a dangerous operation, so that the government has prohibited them."

There was a general sense that the colorful globes marked the beginning of a new age in which science and technology would effect startling change. The results and the implications of the revolution in physics and chemistry underway for over a century were largely unknown outside an elite circle of privileged cognoscenti. The balloon was unmistakable proof that a deeper understanding of nature could produce what looked very much like a miracle. What else was one to think of a contrivance that would carry people into the sky?

If human beings could break the age-old chains of gravity, what other restraints might they cast off? The invention of the balloon seemed perfectly calculated to celebrate the birth of a new nation dedicated, on paper at any rate, to the very idea of freedom for the individual. In the decade to come the balloons and the men and women who flew them came to symbolize the new political winds that were blowing through France. While some might question the utility of the "air globes," flight was already reshaping the way in which men and women regarded themselves and their world.

Of course most citizens of Europe and America were unable to travel to see a balloon. They had their first glimpse of the aerial craft through the medium of single sheet prints. In the late 18th century it was difficult and expensive to publish anything more than the roughest of woodcuts in newspapers or magazines. In an effort to share the excitement with those who could not attend an ascent, to let people know what a balloon looked like, and to introduce the brave men and women who were taking to the sky, artists, engravers and publishers flooded the market with scores of single sheet printed images. Ranging from the meticulously accurate to the wildly fanciful, these printed pictures were sold by the thousands in print shops across Europe.

The business of producing and marketing such images was nothing new. In Europe, block prints from woodcuts had been used to produce book illustrations and single sheet devotional or instructional religious images since the mid-15th century. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, the technique was used to produce multi-sheet maps, bird's eye images of cities, and other products. In the early modern era, etching and engraving techniques enabled artists from Albrecht Dürer to Rembrandt van Rijn the opportunity to market copies of their paintings. .

In the 1730's. William Hogarth inaugurated a new era in the history of English printed pictures when he published his, "Harlot's Progress," a series of single sheet images charting the downfall of a young woman newly arrived in London. Other sets, including "Marriage à la Mode," appeared in the decade that followed. Other artists used the medium of the etching or engraving to reproduce portraits and offer examples of their work for sale.

By the late 18th century, Thomas Rowlandson, James Gillray and other English artists made considerable fortunes producing sporting prints and satirical images offering biting commentary on the shortcomings of the political and social leaders of the day. Rowlandson was said to have "etched as much copper as would sheathe the British navy." In order to publish his prints and caricatures while they were still newsworthy, Rowlandson worked rapidly. He would water color the first impression, then send it to refugee French artists employed by Rudolph Ackermann, one of his favored publishers, who would color each of the prints before they were hung up in the shop window. In the 1780's a typical print seems to have sold for a shilling, the price being sometimes included on the print itself.

The appearance of the balloon in 1783 provided artists, engravers and publishers in England, France, Germany and Italy a new subject for their efforts. As the wave of balloon enthusiasm swept across the continent, the production and sale of images depicting the great flights and daring aeronauts flourished. In addition to illustrating the birth of the air age, print makers made use of balloon motifs in comic images satirizing political events or social trends.

In the 19th century new lithographic techniques and the advent of improved presses and smooth paper, led to a revolution in the ability to mass produce images. Balloons remained a common subject of interest to readers, and ready material for satire in the talented hands of artists like Honorè-Victorine Daumier.

Today, the balloon prints produced by 18th and 19th century artists remain as a priceless window into the past. They enable us to share some sense of the excitement that gripped those watching their fellow beings rise into the sky for the first time. Engraved portraits tell us something of the appearance, and even the personality, of the first men and women to fly. Satirical prints utilizing balloon motifs help us to understand the impact that flight on the first generations to experience it.

The National Air and Space Museum owes its collection of balloon prints to the generosity of several leading 20th century collectors. The bulk of the prints in our collection come from Harry Frank Guggenheim (August 23, 1890 - January 22, 1971).. The son of industrialist and philanthropist Daniel Guggenheim and his wife Florence, Harry Guggenheim enjoyed multiple careers as a business leader, diplomat, publisher, philanthropist, and sportsman.

Aviation was the thread that tied his diverse activities together. A graduate of Yale and Pembroke College, Cambridge University, he learned to fly before the U.S. entered WW I and served as a Naval aviator during that conflict and as a Naval officer during WW II. In the mid- 1920's, he convinced his father to establish the Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics, which had an enormous impact on aeronautical engineering and aviation in the U.S.

A collector of everything from fine art to thoroughbred horses, Guggenheim began to acquire aeronautica during the 1920's, gradually focusing his attention of aeronautical prints. His collection had grown to be one of the most complete in the world by the 1940's, when he loaned his prints to the New York museum maintained by the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences. When the IAS dissolved its museum in the 1950's, Guggenheim donated his own collection to the National Air and Space Museum.

The NASM collection of aeronautical prints also includes items donated by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and by a number of other private collectors, notably Constance Fiske in memory of her husband Gardiner Fiske, who served with the U.S. Army Air Service during WW I and with the USAAF in WWII; Thomas Knowles, a long-time executive with Goodyear Aircraft and Goodyear Aerospace; and Bella Clara Landauer, one of the great American collectors of aeronautica.

There can be little doubt that William Armistead Moale Burden was one of the most significant contributors to the NASM collection of furnishings, ceramics and other objects related to ballooning and the early history of flight. . Burden began collecting aeronautical literature and memorabilia during the 1920's, while still a Harvard undergraduate. Following graduation he rode the post-Lindbergh boom to prosperity as a financial analyst specializing in aviation securities. His business success was inextricably bound to his enthusiasm for the past, present and future of flight.

By 1939, Burden was reputed to have built a personal aeronautical library second only to that of the Library of Congress. He loaned that collection to the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences, an organization that he served as president in 1949. In addition to his library of aeronautica, Burden built a world-class collection of historic objects dating to the late 18th century - desks, chairs, bureaus, sofas, mirrors, clocks, ceramics and other examples of material culture -- inspired by the first balloons and featuring balloon motifs. After a period on display in the IAS museum, William A.M. Burden's balloon-decorated furnishings and aeronautica went into insured off-site storage in 1959. A member of the Smithsonian Board of Regents, Mr. Burden ultimately donated his treasures to the NASM, as well.

Thanks to the efforts of these and other donors, the NASM can share one of the world's finest collections of works of art and examples of material culture inspired b y the birth of flight with our visitors. We are pleased to extend the reach of our collections to those who visit our web site. Welcome, and enjoy.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

2c Warren G. Harding trial color proof

National Postal Museum
Trial color

The only TC is a 610TC in green. This appears to be blue or ???. Neither does it fit under the proof section.

2c National Parks Grand Canyon single

National Postal Museum
mint; perf 11

2c Grand Canyon plate proof

National Postal Museum
Certified plate proofs are the last printed proof of the plate before printing the stamps at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. These plate proofs are each unique, with the approval signatures and date. For postal scholars these plates provide important production information in the plate margin inscriptions, including guidelines, plate numbers, and initials of the siderographer, or person who created the plate from a transfer roll.

Plate No.21254

Denomination: 2c

Subject: View of Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Color: red
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