September 2, 2014

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Curator's Corner — The Columbians PDF Print E-mail
Friday, April 18, 2014 8:54 PM

Those of you who know me well are aware that there is usually a good explanation for the things that I do that at first glance, don’t always appear to make sense. A good example is coming up in June – our trip to Chicago. We did a short weekend trip to Chicago in December of 2012 and we had a fabulous time. So why go back? Those who have traveled on our tours of American cities have not only enjoyed the entertainment values but they have learned aspects of our culture, our roots and how American life has evolved over time.

This trip is no different. There is a direct tie to our museum and the study of postal history, as well as architecture and their fabulous park system. Of course, we’ve thrown in some excellent places to eat, a rip roaring time at Tommy Guns Garage, a special trip to the Field Museum, lake and riverboat cruises and a little time for shopping and gambling. Just as a note: we still have seats available for our trip where we will have luxurious accommodations at a Hilton Garden Hotel (complete with a great breakfast). If you have questions, please give me a call and you too, can be entertained. My number is 419-303-5482.

So where is the hook? You don’t need to be a stamp collector to know a bit about stamps. We have talked in numerous articles about different types of stamps and stamp markings. In 1893, the Columbian Exposition was the event that put Chicago back on the map (sometimes called the Chicago World’s Fair). Why did it need such a big event to put it back on the map? Remember Mrs. O’Leary’s cow and the big Chicago fire in 1871 which destroyed most of Chicago? Over 46 countries actively participated in this six month extravaganza which boasted about its attendance of over 27 million people. In just one day, a record was set by 716,881 visitors. The fair encompassed over 200 buildings and covered more than 600 acres. The Chicago World’s Fair included large fountains, canals and lagoons, moving walkways, and followed the Beaux Arts principals of design. For a limited time, the Field Museum has developed an entire set of exhibits that highlight this amazing event. It should prove to be a highlight of our trip.

The fair influenced the entire world with its exhibits, the music and the midway which included carnival rides. Shown for the first time was a 264-foot-high wheel that suspended 36 cars able to hold 60 people each. The wheel was the creation of George Ferris hence the name ferris wheel. Mr. George C. Tilyou was inspired by aspects of the midway which he incorporated into his creation of the first amusement park – The Steeplechase at Coney Island, NY.

But for the Post Office Department, this was the inauguration of the very first commemorative stamps and picture postcards. This group of 16 stamps included designs that followed a progression of events surrounding Columbus’s life. The inspiration for these ornately engraved stamps came from famous paintings covering Columbus’s journey from obtaining Queen Isabella’s jewels to his third voyage to the New World.

The stamps ranged in price from 1 cent to $5.00 so the complete set cost $16.34, a rather large sum of money in 1893. In today’s dollars, that cost would exceed $400. Prior to this event, the only postcards that were available were those produced by the government and had the postage affixed to a blank card. At the exposition, the Post Office Department sold 10 different cards with pictures stemming from the exhibits. A series of four envelopes or preprinted  postal stationery was issued along with the stamp set. This series included 1-cent, 2-cent, 5-cent, and 10-cent values depicting the heads of Columbus and Lady Liberty.

We are looking forward to hosting the Delphos Jefferson High School prom in a newly renovated upper floor. Now with the new bathrooms and access to water, it will be quite easy to handle events from 10 to 200. See us for your next event – we even have event planners standing by to help you with every aspect. Call us – 419-303-5482.


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