Posts Tagged ‘stamp collecting’

Arizona’s Liberty Bell

July 2, 2010

Just one of Arizona museums many memory trips in its celebration of its centennial as a state is its Liberty Bell. The 2,080-pound bell was one of fifty-three replica liberty bells cast by a French foundry in 1950. During that year, U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snyder presented them to each of the forty-eight contiguous states and five territories to promote a U.S. savings-bonds drive. As part of that program, the Arizona bell was paraded throughout the state from May 15 through July 4, 1950. Representatives from the Treasury Department’s Savings Bonds Division conferred with officials of the various States, Territories, and the District of Columbia to make arrangements for turning over the bells. The arrangements included plans for the organization of proper ceremonies to mark the occasion. The replica Liberty Bells are identical in size, weight, manufacturing process, legends and markings, and tonal quality, with the original Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Each bell with its mounting stands about six feet high is twelve feet in circumference around the lip, and seven and one-half feet around the crown. 

            Local Savings Bonds volunteer organizations in the various states arranged for receptions and tours for the bells. The donors of money and material for the Liberty Bells included the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, Kennecott Copper Corporation, Phelps-Dodge Corporation, American Smelting & Refining Company, the American Metal Company, Ltd. and the Miami Copper Company. The Ford Motor Company supplied forty-nine red, white and blue trucks which took the bells on the tour of the states. The United States Steel Corporation’s American Bridge Company provided the standards, stays and hardware for mounting the bells on the trucks. Individual truck operators within the States paid the salaries of the drivers. Standard Oil Company of New Jersey contributed the oil and gasoline required by the trucks.

            Fifty-three bells were cast for the Bond Drive, however, it appears that three more were cast, according to the remarks that Secretary of the Treasury Snyder made at a luncheon in Independence on November 6, 1950 when the Bell was presented to Independence, Missouri. Snyder states that, in addition to the fifty-three bells made as part of the original project, he arranged to have the bell made that General Douglas MacArthur presented to Japan (#54), he presented another bell to the town of Annecy, France (#55) where the bells were cast, and he presented a bell from the people of Annecy to Independence, Missouri (#56). The bells were cast at the Sons of Georges Paccard Foundry in Annecy-le-Vieux, France, in 1950.  The bell that was given to Independence, Missouri by the people of Annecy was dedicated on November 6, 1950, and President Harry S Truman was present for the dedication. After the Truman Library was built (1957) the Bell was moved to the Truman Library grounds and rededicated in 1959. The inscription accompanying the Liberty Bell on the grounds of the Truman Library reads


           Arizona Capitol Museum, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, Arizona 85007, Tel: (602) 926-3620, Fax (602) 256-7985, Web Site:

The Franklin Auto Museum

May 1, 2010

Get ready to take another trip down memory lane by traveling into Arizona Museums: A Journey into Arizona’s Memory. We are going to get into one of those new fangled contraptions the automobile and visit the Franklin museum. Mr.

 Hubbard wanted to preserve “a small but delightful window into our past one that excites the imagination, especially of younger viewers, and helps people understand how things change and how things that may no longer be practical for today’s conditions, yet can be worth preserving for their beauty. Few things do this as well as the automobile.”   — Thomas H. Hubbard, April 12, 1992

Hubbard, who died on January 2, 1993, left Tucson a legacy of Franklin cars and automobile history. Born January 3, 1925, in Worcester, Massachusetts, he graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1943, and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1947. He worked for the Magma Copper Company until 1952. Two years later he restored his first car, a 1909 Reo. He restored several cars for the late William Harrah, founder of Harrah’s casinos and developed a sizable Franklin collection of his own. At present the Franklin Auto Museum houses the 1909 Reo, twenty-three Franklins and a 1957 Porsche coupe. Work is proceeding on restoring his home and will eventually display Hubbard’s vast collection of Native American Archaeological artifacts and his splendid collection of Arizona paintings and furniture, which he inherited from his aunt.

The H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company built the most successful American direct air-cooled cars from 1902 to 1934. These cars engendered a loyal following and many owners preserved them long after production ceased. While restoring classic-era Franklins, Hubbard obtained and preserved the original factory Franklin blueprint collection so he could assure the authenticity of his restorations and also create a Franklin car which never saw production. The 1932 Series 16 V-12 was to have represented the crowning achievement of the Franklin automobile but just before production was scheduled the company fell into receivership and the production of the V-12, which Hubbard considered the ultimate Franklin, was altered. The V-12 Phaeton in the museum which Hubbard created from the drawings is one of a kind.

The Franklin automobile fell on hard times during the Great Depression of the 1930s, along with many other fine luxury car manufacturers. The emphasis for the Tucson collection of Franklin cars is on the finest classic automotive styling. All the major body types are represented from the exclusive “Town Car,” in which a liveried chauffeur sat outside, to the sporty “boat tail,” coupe, and including a 7-passenger open touring car with “jump seats,” a convertible coupe with a rumble seat, a sporty model called a “Speedster,” which is styled to look like a convertible sedan, a “Club Brougham” in the V-12 series which is the most handsome of these V-12 cars and of which only 200 were built in all body types. Five of the Franklins are open 4-door body types with dual windshields, that is, windshields for both front and rear seats, but with four completely different arrangements for the rear windshields.

The museum includes Hubbard’s entire Franklin automobile collection; an extensive library of Franklin Company research materials; the Alice Carpenter Collection of Native American artifacts; an historical adobe home, museum and other buildings along with an endowment to preserve the facility in Tucson. The museum has published a handsome book documenting every Franklin automobile. Today, the Franklin Auto Museum is working with high school students who are involved in vocational education. A group of these students oversaw the moving of a Franklin automobile from the museum to the Tucson Airport where it is on display.

The Franklin Auto Museum is located at 3420 N. Vine Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719

Telephone: 520-326-8038 Web Site:

Grand Canyon: Kolb Studio

April 20, 2010

My book Arizona Museums: A Journey Into Arizona’s Memory has been designated as an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project. In this excerpt, the visitor will take a trip to the grand Canyon and visit the Kolb Studio Museum

            Nearly two decades before the creation of Grand Canyon National Park, two reckless brothers, Ellsworth and Emery Kolb wandered into the canyon. In 1904, the Kolb brothers began construction on this rambling, Victorian era building which has been restored to its original condition. It is not hard to believe that this haphazard structure jutting over the canyon was built without plans. A look outside gives visitors the feeling that they just might slide down the Bright Angel Trail. The Kolb brothers decided to earn their living by photographing tourists descending at Bright Angel trailhead.  By the time the tourists returned, the Kolb’s had photographs waiting for them. The Kolbs received worldwide attention when they filmed their 1911 trip down the Colorado River and delivered moving pictures of the Grand Canyon to awe-struck theater goers in 1912.. By 1915, their studio was a three-story structure which included living quarters for two families and a showroom for their prints. In their final addition in 1925 they converted the showroom into an auditorium to show their river trip movie, and added a new darkroom and lab space. Kolb Studio was now five stories and twenty-three rooms, teetering precariously over the canyon floor. Only the upper floor bookstore and second floor auditorium are open to visitors. Canyon-related art exhibits in the auditorium at Kolb Studio change every few weeks. Rangers conduct tours of portions of the living quarters during the winter.

Tucson’s Postal History Foundation

March 25, 2010

Early Mail Delivery

My book, Arizona Museums: A Trip Down Memory Lane, which will be published by the University of Arizona Press, has been designated as an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project. Arizona will  celebrate 100 years of statehood in 2012.  What better way to celebrate this event than to visit Arizona’s diverse museums which have documented our history in records and photographs. And now gentle reader take your first steps down memory lane. 

Tucson’s Postal History Foundation provides education, philatelic materials and research facilities, museum displays besides serving as a full service post office. The Postal History Foundation is a non-profit educational foundation; because of its use of stamps in the schools. The idea for a postal history museum originated with William L. Alexander when he moved to Tucson in 1959. Alexander caught the philatelic fever from his father, a banker, who collected stamps. In 1960 the Western Postal History Museum was established with office space at the Arizona Historical Society. Thirty years later it changed its name to the Postal History Foundation to reflect a larger worldwide scope, and in 1978, the Foundation moved into its own quarters. 

The Peggy J. Slusser Memorial Library is dedicated to lifelong philatelist, Peggy J. Slusser, whose parents, W. Blaine and Bessie I. Slusser, funded the facility. The library houses more than 25,000 books, journals, U. S. Post Office publications providing a rich source of Civil War literature, memorabilia and ephemera. Library exhibits include an extensive art collection, and Civil War photographs and memorabilia purchased by Peggy Slusser from the estate of General William T. Sherman’s daughter. Museum exhibits include a reconstructed turn of the century Naco, Arizona post office, with a beautiful glass, marble, brass and wood portion from the original structure. 

Through its education programs, the foundation offers free stamps and philatelic materials to schools. It provides speakers who are experts on stamp collecting, supplies postal history research materials and sells collectible stamps, and creates special educational displays. The museum’s research materials include postmarks from Arizona post offices beginning with the Territorial period, original Arizona postmaster signatures, photographs of Arizona post offices and postmasters, special cancels, books describing values of old stamps, federal documents, stamp catalogs from around the world, philatelic sales, and special collections from foreign countries. The Foundation acquires one stamp of each stamp design type ever issued.

The Postal History Foundation operates a stamp affiliated teaching program in the country, which began as a part of a therapeutic program for asthmatic children in 1964. Today its education services reach more than 8,000 children a year. Based on evidence that collecting and studying stamps, enhances and reinforces classroom lessons from kindergarten through junior high, educators at the museum developed specific lesson plans. Every child in participating classes receives stamps along with supporting materials to reinforce the lesson content. All of these services to the schools and the students are free.

Teachers may choose a set of stamps and paper folders for their classes or the Foundation staff will develop a program for them. Whether the focus is matching stamp designs for kindergartners or writing an essay in the sixth grade geography, the teacher can acquire an appropriate series of stamps. Every year hundreds of stamps are accepted by the Foundation’s volunteers, soaked from envelopes, sorted by subject matter, and filed awaiting use in the school program. 

Document, photograph and map archives are also available at the Foundation. Library archives  are not available for checkout, but they may be used at the library. Library contents are available on the web at This material includes official U. S. Post Office Department letters, circulars, notices, instruction, topographical reports, petitions and regulations from 1817. The archivists document milestones in Arizona’s postal history including the camel mail under Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale and Katherine Stinson’s transport of airmail on November 4, 5, and 6, 1915 from the Southern Arizona Fair Grounds to the back door of the Tucson post office. Don’t forget to have your postcards mailed home from this wonderful museum and post office.

Postal History Foundation 920 N. First Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719 Tel.: 520-623-6652

And now you have taken steps into the past with just one Arizona museum and there are many more to come.