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The National Postal Museum’s “Alphabetilately: A to Z” uses the alphabet to illustrate various aspects of philately, or stamp collecting, but collectors should avoid following the example of the letter B, for “bisect”: In the 19th century, folks got twice the value out of stamps by cutting them in half. Today, the practice is illegal. And while we’re accustomed to seeing motifs like the Liberty Bell and American flag in the top right corner of envelopes today, postage was once used to advertise everything from coffee to witch-hazel. Maybe the stamp-as-advertising will make a comeback: It’d be one way to make a dent in the U.S. Postal Service’s projected $6 billion deficit this year.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW 10 A.M. TO 5:30 P.M. DAILY TO OCT. 29. AT THE NATIONAL POSTAL MUSEUM, 2 MASSACHUSETTS AVE. NE. FREE. (202) 633-5555.