US Stamps

By Charles Snee

Book details Spellman Museum postal history symposium

November 25, 2014 09:00 AM

On May 2, the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History in Weston, Mass., hosted a symposium to celebrate the museum’s 50th anniversary.

Six papers were presented, each dealing with a different aspect of early American postal history.

From Indian Trails to the Birth of a Nation brings these papers together in a compact publication that is available for purchase from the museum.

In the preface, Nancy B. Clark, president and chair of the museum, highlights the importance of studying this fascinating aspect of the nation’s history.

“With this publication you can join us as we celebrate 50 years of appreciating the fascinating history and culture implicit in philatelic endeavors and add to your knowledge from the symposium’s papers,” Clark states.

Timothy P. O’Connor discusses the earliest postal systems in North America, beginning in the 1670s and continuing through the 1750s.

The postal history of colonial Boston is a specialty of Mark Schwartz. His considerable knowledge is evident throughout his paper, which is amply illustrated with many covers and supplemented with tables that summarize the key postal rates during different periods.

“Blockade Run Mail during the American Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783” is the title of Steven C. Walske’s presentation. He traces an important aspect of the war, for which he states that no more than 50 letters are documented to have survived.

Ed and Jean Siskin trace the development of the U.S. Post Office, and Steve Walske teams up with Robert Abensur to tell the story of letters carried aboard the French Royal Packets of the New York Line during 1783-93.

In the final paper, Yamil H. Kouri Jr. explores Spanish colonial mail in six territories that are now part of the United States: Louisiana, East Florida, West Florida, Texas, New Mexico and Alta California.

If you are interested in the beginnings of American postal history, From Indian Trails to the Birth of a Nation will get you off to a solid start.

Softbound copies at $45 (hardbound, $60) are available from the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History, 235 Wellesley St., Weston, MA 02493.

Information about the museum’s hours of operation and admission fees can be found on the website