The Benjamin K. Miller Collection Extends Stay at the National Postal Museum

September 23, 2010
News Release

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is extending its long-term loan agreement with The New York Public Library for the Benjamin K. Miller Collection. The collection has been called the “crown jewel” of U.S. stamp collecting. When the entire collection was assembled, it was considered the only complete collection of U.S. postage stamps and included the rarest of all U.S. stamps, the 1-cent Z-grill of 1868, as well asthe 3-cent 1910-11 “Orangeburg Coil” pair, the 1918 inverted Jenny airmail stamp and the earliest known use of the 1851 Franklin carrier.

Miller became a serious collector after purchasing the inverted Jenny airmail stamp in 1918 for $250. He was able to acquire material from several prominent collections, including the Carroll Chase collection of carrier stamps and the William Stevenson collection of grills. Miller donated his stamp collection to The New York Public Library in 1925, where it was displayed for many years. Miller continued to add to his collection until his death in 1928.

After a theft at the library in 1977, the collection was removed from exhibition and placed in storage. Unavailable to the public for nearly 30 years, in 2006 the library loaned the collection to the Postal Museum, where it was featured in two exhibitions.

“We are very happy to continue our partnership with The New York Public Library by extending this loan,” said Allen Kane, director of the museum. “It has beautiful pieces of philately, which will enhance the museum’s collection and the visitors’ experience.”

“We at The New York Public Library are very pleased to collaborate with our colleagues at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum who have done a superb job of providing public access to the many rare and intriguing items in the Benjamin K. Miller Collection,” said Paul LeClerc, president of The New York Public Library.

Currently, a portion of the Miller collection is displayed in 50 pull-out frames in the Rarities Gallery. The extended agreement will enable the museum to display other rare material from the collection in the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, which is scheduled to open in 2012. The new gallery will feature the largest and most significant display of philatelic material even undertaken by the Smithsonian. In addition to the Miller collection, the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery will exhibit material from the Postmaster General Collection, rarities from the William H. Gross Collectionand the Smithsonian’s National Stamp Collection.

The National Postal Museum staff is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of stamps and philatelic material in the world. The museum is located at 2 Massachusetts Avenue N.E., Washington, D.C., across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). For more information about the Smithsonian, call (202) 633-1000. Visit the museum website at

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