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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

The College Pump

Stamps of the Ivy League

March-April 2004

"Your wooden arm you hold outstretched to shake with passers-by."

Isn't it time that the Postal Service honors Brown and Cornell?" asks Thomas A. King '82, M.B.A. '87, a stamp collector in suburban Cleveland who works in the insurance industry. King sent Primus a packet of stamps featuring other Ivy League institutions to answer his own fair-minded question. High time.

Harvard has a 56-cent stamp based on the iconic statue of his nibs by Daniel Chester French, a stamp issued on the 350th anniversary of the College in 1986. If one wishes to stretch the connection, and King does, one includes the 1925 one-center showing George Washington on Cambridge Common taking command of colonial forces, some of whom were quartered in Harvard buildings.

A 1956 stamp depicts Princeton's Nassau Hall, named for King William III, Prince of Orange and Nassau. "The largest academic building in the colonies, Nassau Hall housed the entire College of New Jersey [later named Princeton] for almost 50 years," King points out. A 13-cent 1977 stamp reproduces Charles Willson Peale's Washington at Princeton. "Peale fought in the battle of Princeton under Washington," King reminds us. Nassau Hall is just visible behind the general.

Columbia's bicentenary inspired a light blue, 3-cent, 1954 stamp picturing its classical Low Memorial Library by McKim, Mead & White. Penn is honored by a black-and-blue 18-cent stamp with a drawing of Joseph Wharton, released in 1981, King reports, on the hundredth anniversary of a proposal by Wharton that the trustees create a school of business. Yale gets a nod on a 1970 stamp, part of a four-stamp series to commemorate the centenary of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It shows, but doesn't identify, a piece of the Jurassic section of the 110-foot-long dinosaur mural in Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History.

"In 1969 the Post Office issued a stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward," King writes. "Founded in 1769 under a charter granted by King George III, Dartmouth was the last American institution of higher learning to be established under colonial rule. In 1815 the New Hampshire legislature declared the 1769 charter invalid and established a separate governing body. The trustees challenged the action and insisted upon the continued existence of Dartmouth as a private institution." Statesman, orator, and Dartmouth alumnus Daniel Webster argued winningly before the court, "It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those who love it."

Dear Postal Service, from those who love Brown and Cornell...

 

If only I hadn't...: President Franklin D. Roosevelt '04, LL.D. '29, had great rapport with Lyndon Johnson, then a young congressman. In Master of the Senate, book three of his monumental political biography The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Robert A. Caro, Nf '66, writes that, "The President would tell Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes that Johnson was 'the kind of uninhibited young pro he would have liked to have been as a young man' — and might have been 'if I hadn't gone to Harvard.'"

~Primus V

 Stamps courtesy of Thomas A. King