Sunday, August 8, 2010

Library of Congress Mail Exhibit

A good chunk of my time for the last several weeks has been putting together a 10 frame (160 page) philatelic exhibit on the Library of Congress and its mail which I call "America's Library - The Library of Congress". The exhibit will be displayed at the American Philatelic Society's StampShow 2010 in Richmond, Virginia on August 12-15. This is the largest stamp show in the United States. I've been exhibiting various aspects of my postal librariana collection at national level stamp shows since 2003. My most recent exhibits have been a ten frame exhibit entitled "America's Public Libraries and Their Forerunners", a six frame exhibit entitled "America's Presidential Libraries and Museums", a four frame exhibit entitled "America's Libraries - The Stamp", and a three frame exhibit entitled "America's Philatelic Libraries and Museums". I've been planning the Library of Congress exhibit for some time and this year I finally got around to doing it. The exhibit begins with a "Historical Overview", continues with "Library Mail", moves on to "Copyright and the Library of Congress", continues with "Library Services", then comes "Library Collections", followed by the "1982 Stamp", and concludes with "Bicentennial Celebration". There are close to 300 postal and other paper artifacts in the exhibit ranging from an 1814 postal wrapper with a notation "particulars of burning of Washington by British" to souvenir first day covers from the Library's bicentennial. From both a library history and postal history perspective the most meaningful aspect of the exhibit are the large number of examples of outgoing and incoming library mail over the history of the Library especially after 1870. One interesting aspect of incoming Library of Congress mail after 1901 is the required date stamping of all mail. A Mail & Delivery Division sorted and delivered all mail. At one point there were as many as five deliveries a day. Some examples of the date received hand stamps are shown above. If you're in the Richmond area later this week, drop in and take a look.

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