Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hope Diamond via USPS: Fragile, Registered, Insured

Did you know that when Henry Winston, the prominent American jeweler and gem dealer, donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian in 1958 he mailed it from NYC to Washington, D.C. via USPS First Class Mail? I mean, couldn't someone have driven that thing down?! Here's the play by play, courtesy of the Postal Museum website:

"With his years of experience in shipping jewelry all over the world, Winston chose to have the diamond delivered by registered mail. He told a reporter for the Washington Post that “ . . . [registered mail is] the safest way to ship gems. . . . I’ve sent gems all over the world that way.”

The diamond was placed in a box, wrapped in brown paper, and sent by registered mail, traveling down from New York in a Railway Post Office train car. In Washington, it was immediately taken to the City Post Office (the building that now houses the National Postal Museum), where it was picked up by postal carrier James G. Todd. Todd drove the package to the National Museum of Natural History. The diamond was handed over in a ceremony including Leonard Carmichael, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and Mrs. Harry Winston. The transfer was completed when Carmichael signed the receipt for the registered package. The price paid for shipping the gem, valued at $1 million at the time, was $145.29, most of that for package insurance."

Severen and I are flying to D.C. for a few days this weekend and I'm planning to see both the Hope Diamond (Natural History Museum) and the original USPS package (Postal Museum) while we are there. If I can only make it to see one of them . . . . I might just choose the package!!

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