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.

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