Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an inveterate collector, both before and during his presidency. He collected models of ships, rare books, drawings, prints, stamps and coins. But it was the stamps that truly captivated him. By the time he passed away in 1945, he had amassed more than 1,200,000 varieties.
THE EFFERVESCENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT WITH FIRST LADY ELEANOR ROOSEVELT
As with many personal stamp collections, most of the items had minimal monetary value. Nonetheless, the year after his death, FDR’s collection was divided into four lots and auctioned for a total of $220,000. But for Franklin Roosevelt, the stamps represented a different kind of value.
Young Franklin D. Roosevelt started collecting stamps when he was eight year old, encouraged by his mother Sara Delano Roosevelt who had been a collector herself as a child. He focused on stamps from throughout the Western Hemisphere and from Hong Kong, perhaps influenced again by his mother. Many of Sara Roosevelt's stamps came from the Far East, because her father often traveled to that part of the world. Later in life, Franklin acquired his mother’s collection as a gift from her younger brother.
When FDR was a child, stamp collecting was considered a pastime for youngsters, not adults. But the future President never gave up the hobby, and as he became Governor of New York and then President, he brought visibility and cache to stamp collecting that captured the hearts of Americans. In addition it was a way for the President to relax. In fact, when the public learned about President Roosevelt’s intense interest in collecting, they started sending him covers and stamps to augment his collection.
STUNNING PIECE OF PRESIDENTIAL FROM THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION COLLECTION
As a child, F.D.R. used stamps to learn about the world. Instead of filling the pages of his stamp albums with items, he would position just one or two on a page and then add notes about the event or person portrayed on the stamp. Some historians believe this gave him knowledge and insight about international history and geography that strengthened his political capabilities in later years.
While Franklin D. Roosevelt collected many other items as President such as miniatures of dogs, donkeys and other animals, his main passion continued to be stamps. After taking office as President in 1933, Roosevelt discovered Herbert Hoover had also been a stamp collector, though not quite as passionate about it as FDR. But Roosevelt was happy to continue a tradition established by Hoover with staff at the Department of State. Interestingly envelopes from international communications were always sent to the Oval Office, so the President could look them over.
Like his predecessor, FDR added some of the stamps to his personal collection. The extras were packaged by his secretary and sent as presents to American children who had written letters to the President.
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT'S 1933 INAUGURATION DAY
Roosevelt’s former campaign manager, James A. Farley, became his first Postmaster General, and while Presidential tenure, Roosevelt helped design more than 200 stamps for the post office. Working with stamps also provided entertainment and respite while Franklin Roosevelt was convalescing after being stricken with polio, and he is well-known for having said, “I owe my life to my hobbies – especially stamp collecting.”
Because of Roosevelt’s widespread popularity, many nations around the world issued stamps depicting the American President. One, issued by Monaco in 1947, mistakenly showed a drawing of him with six fingers. An unusual circumstance!
In some ways, you could say Franklin D. Roosevelt single-handedly transformed stamp collecting from a children’s amusement to a scholarly and engaging hobby for all ages – a unique and enduring Presidential legacy.
HISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR - RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX
World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired pieces of official White House China from American Presidents ranging from President George Washington all the way up to President Bill Clinton. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical memorabilia has been his sole focus for more than three decades. His collection is, perhaps, the largest privately-owned collection of White House China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.