Although the title – Smithsonian Contributions to History and Technology, No. 56: The Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposia: select papers, 2010-2011, the latest volume for the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press- is a lively collection of papers that examine postal history. Rarely do scholars of postal organizations and systems meet and discuss their ideas and research with scholars of philately. In an attempt to bridge this gap, the National Postal Museum and the American Philatelic Society hosted the first Winton M. Blount Postal History symposium on 3-4 November 2006 to bring together these two research groups to discuss postal history. The first volume Smithsonian Contributions to History and Technology, No. 55, The Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposia: Select Papers, 2006–2009 was published in 2010 as is still available.
The 2012 publication covers the next two symposia. The 2010 theme was “Stamps and the Mail: Images, Icons and Identity.” Stamps, as official government documents, can be treated as primary resources designed to convey specific political and esthetic messages. Other topics and themes for the symposium were stamp design's influence on advertising envelopes and bulk mailings, censorship of stamps as propaganda as used on letters, and the role of the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee or organizations that generate the designs. The 2011 symposium was held at the American Philatelic Center in conjunction with the United States Stamp Society's annual meeting. The United States Stamp Society is the preeminent organization devoted to the study of U.S. stamps. It is a nonprofit, volunteer-run association of collectors to promote the study of the philatelic output of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and of postage and revenue stamped paper produced by others for use in the United States and U.S. administered areas. The theme of the symposium was “How Commerce and Industry Shaped the Mails.”
The 135-page, soft bound, full color volume is available free from the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press – click on the Ordering Link and follow the instructions for sending an email request at the bottom of the page; be sure to request Smithsonian Contributions to History and Technology, No. 56 (or No.55 if you want the first volume). Or you may download the full text as a pfd file.