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Small World: Eschelman & Mr. Zip PDF Print E-mail
Friday, May 16, 2014 8:24 PM

It really is a small world. On Monday of last week I met with a gentleman named Tom Curtin who is moving to Delaware County from the Cleveland area. The reason he contacted me was because we have a mutual friend who suggested I might be able to assist him in getting acclimated to the area. Interestingly enough, that mutual friend is pictured in the very first display of the museum. For those of you who have not been to the museum, there is a large panel eight feet high and 16 feet wide which provides an informative greeting and outlines the purpose of our museum. The backdrop on these panels is a Revolutionary War scene from the Bloody Bridge of Concord Massachusetts and as such sets the stage for the beginnings of the American mail system. On the panel is a life-size picture of our mutual friend, Mr. Richard Wiggin in his Captain’s uniform as a member of the Lincoln Minuteman Company.

We chatted for a while and then he mentioned his daughter Abby Curtin who recently completed her graduate work in Museum Studies. The name seemed rather familiar to me but I couldn’t remember why. It didn’t take long for the conversation to reveal that connection with Abby. I am continually doing research on all aspects of Postal History and ironically, I had read a research paper that was done by Abby when she had an internship at the National Postal Museum in D.C. The subject was the launching of Zip Codes and the various aspects of the good ol’ Mr. Zip Campaign.


Today I received a phone call from a gentleman, Matt, in Baltimore Maryland. He was looking for information about one of the unique items in the museum. In the area with the Capital Theater backdrop is a 1959 Eschelman three-wheeled vehicle. Matt was in the process of restoring a 1959 Eschelman and he needed pictures from all sides of the vehicle to help him in his restoration project. He indicated he had invested a significant period of time trying to research this vehicle but his efforts did not bear fruit. I promised to send him some pictures of our delivery vehicle and asked him to do the same for us. One thing that intrigued me was he is only aware of our two vehicles and was unable to locate any others. I always knew ours was rare but I never dreamed we would presently have the only one that has been restored.

In our museum we are fortunate to carry another rather unique item. Those of you who have toured the museum may have seen the exhibit on precancel stamps. Although you might think this is an unusual hobby, there is even a Precancel Society that maintains a discussion group in yahoo groups on the web. In many ways precancelled stamps were the precursor to bulk mail. These stamps were sold usually with two bars across them; one on the top and bottom of the stamp and in between you would find the city and state of origin. If you look at the printing plates that were used, the majority of them would cancel a sheet of 100 definitive stamps.

As I pointed out in previous articles, it wasn’t until 1893 that the US Post Office Department issued commemorative stamps which were sold in sheets of 50. We have a precancel plate designed for a sheet of 50 images that was used by the Dayton Ohio Post Office. According to a friend of mine from Dallas Texas, he cannot find any other reference to a 50-image plate anywhere.

Over the next year, we will be completing a comprehensive inventory of every item in our possession. From the looks of our collection, this is going to be a daunting task. But alas, it must be done. Several years ago we had an Eagle Scout project that included taking pictures of most of our items at that time. Our collection has grown exponentially since then and we were unable to keep the list current. We are looking for volunteers that can help with this project. In addition we have been working on an audio tour we can load on to We have completed about 50% of this project and hope to have it polished and ready for distribution by the end of June. The script of the tour will greatly enhance the knowledge of our museum tour guides and make it considerably easier. Since we are only using tour guides on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., we are hoping to find a few new individuals that would be willing to work 2 or 3 Saturdays a year. If you are interested, please call me at (419)303-5482. Mark your calendars for Friday July 25th when the Museum of Postal History will be hosting a “Christmas in July” party. More details to follow. Until then….

Last Updated on Friday, May 16, 2014 9:07 PM

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