Mystery: Alexander Hamilton, a Missing Painting, and a 1957 U.S. Postage Stamp

Alexander Hamilton, a 1957 U.S. postage stamp, and the American Philatelic Society and one of its editorial contributors are all part of a mystery story published today in the New York Times.

Charles Posner is an emeritus professor at the University of London’s Institute of Education. His articles about U.S. commemorative stamps of the 1950s have been appearing in print, online, and now in book form through APS publications the past two years.

Posner was recently researching a 3-cent stamp issued in 1957 that features a profile of Hamilton and Federal Hall. The profile shown on the stamp is based on a painting by someone named John Weimar, Posner said. The painting was once held and exhibited at New York City Hall. But while researching the painting, Posner said no one at New York City Hall today could account for it.

His inquiries led City Hall officials to search for the painting, and further led to curators questioning whether the obscure Weimar existed or could it be confused with a painting by John Trumbull, the famous painter of many historical figures and scenes.

One thing is for sure. The original painting is nowhere to be found.

New York Times arts reporter James Barron shares the whole tale, including interviews with Posner and City Hall officials in his story published today. Barron also is author of a recent book about the world’s most valuable (and famous) stamp, The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World.

Hamilton, of course, is of the iconic 18th-century Founding Fathers of the United States and recently became the hottest ticket on Broadway thanks to the hit musical that bears his name. And now, he’s subject an art mystery.

Nominations Open for Annual First-Day Cover Writing Award

Nominations are being accepting through May 1 for the Philip H. Ward Award for Excellence in First Day Cover Literature, presented annually by the American First Day Cover Society. All works published in 2016 are eligible.

All articles published in First Days, the society’s journal, are automatically considered. Additional literature can be submitted to the Ward Award Committee chair, Mark Goodson, 202 W. Temperance Street, Ellettsville, IN 47429, or by e-mail to bgdsn@comcast.net.

The awards are presented each year at Americover, the annual show and convention of the AFDCS. Americover 2017 will be held August 11 to 13 in Independence, Ohio.

The award is named in honor of Philip H. Ward (1890-1963), a distinguished Philadelphia stamp collector, dealer and journalist who was a pioneer in the field of first day covers. The award was instituted in 1964.

Dorothy Knapp: Philately and Family, a book by Douglas S. Weisz, a well-known first day cover dealer, received first place in last year’s contest.

More information is available through the society’s website, www.afdcs.org/newsblog.html.

Back issues of First Days are available for $4 each postpaid within the U.S. from Jeffrey Bennett, 1601 River Farm Drive, Alexandria, Va. 22308. A searchable electronic archive of every issue of First Days from its inception in 1955 through 2014 is available on DVD for $79 postpaid. Society members can download back issues since 2011 for free on the AFDCS website.