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SMITHSONIAN EXHIBIT TAKES COLLECTORS TO NEW HEIGHTS

"Stamps Take Flight" but come to Earth for all to see in a magnificant display of stamps with an aviation theme now showing at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.

This special exhibit entitled "Stamps in Flight" depicts airplanes and aviation materials, such as stamps, original art and artifacts to illustrate the creative processes and printing techniques behind American stamps.

Materials from the extraordinary Postmaster General's Collection and other sources tell the story of several carefully selected stamps, each representing a major stamp printing method from engraving to holography. Visitors to the exhibit will learn how printing techniques led to the famous 1918 "Inverted Jenny" stamp, in which a Curtiss "Jenny" airmail plane was printed upside down relative to the surrounding frame.

Other highlights of the exhibition include the 4-cent stamp celebrating John Glenn's 1962 orbit of the Earth designed and printed in complete secrecy in case the mission failed, and the only known surviving piece of mail from the first official U.S. airmail delivery in 1859 aboard the hot-air ballon Jupiter. A mail pouch the Apollo 15 astronauts took to the moon is also on display.

Ever since the 1860s, the Postmaster General's Collection has been a Post Office reference -- not long after the first U.S. stamps were issued in 1847. The "Stamps in Flight" exhibit also includes materials from the U.S. Bureau on printing and engraving, plus U.S. Air Force and the Postal Museum itself.

The National Philatelic Collection was established at the Smithsonian in 1886 with the donation of a sheet of 10-cent Confederate postage stamps. Generous gifts from individuals and foreign government agencies and occasional purchases have increased the collection to today's total of nearly 6 million items.

From 1908 until 1963, the collection was housed in the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall. In 1964, the collection was relocated to the National Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History) and its scope expanded to include postal history and stamp production.

If you are visiting the nation's Capital, we recommend a stop at the National Postal Museum and its "Stamps in Flight" exhibit. It will be on view through March 2007.

The museum is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, in the old City Post Office building across from Union Station. The museum is open daily (except Dec. 25) from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For more information you can call, toll free, (800) STAMPS-24.