The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum
has announced the donation of the Travers Papers from the Jack Rosenthal family. The Travers Papers consist of hundreds of typed and handwritten pages, an unpublished manuscript and related post office documents from the Third Assistant Postmaster General Arthur Travers’ files (1840-1910.) The donation also includes 13 rare essays on stamp designs that were never issued.
Travers was the key figure in the story of the preservation of the principal records about the production of early postage stamps. Travers was a trained lawyer, but his affection for stamp collecting led him to seek employment at the Post Office Department, where he would later be appointed to the third assistant postmaster general and chief clerk. Travers became familiar with the mass of historic data regarding the department, which was inaccurate. This led him to create a book on the production of the early U.S. postage stamps, using the official records as his base. Travers prepared a document titled, “United States Postage Stamps: A Compilation of the Official Historical Records,” also known as the Travers Papers.
Travers’ work in assembling the documents was overshadowed when he was indicted in 1911 on charges of having sold rare “blue paper” stamps from Post Office Department stocks to a Philadelphia stamp dealer. Although never prosecuted, Travers admitted to the sale, paid a fine and lost his job. The documents were eventually rediscovered and sold at auction in 1993 to Jack Rosenthal, a noted philatelic collector, stamp designer and former chair of the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee. Eager to find a repository for future scholars, Rosenthal and his sons Michael, Robert and Richard, selected the National Postal Museum for this donation. The collection will be available to researchers after conservation work and preparation of a finding guide. The donation was made in honor of Tom Alexander and in memory of Wilson Hulme, in recognition of their research efforts.