Hyde Park on the Hudson

The new movie Hyde Park on the Hudson is the first mainstream movie in years in which stamps and stamp collecting play a major part. The movie is about Roosevelt in the late 1930s at his summer home in Hyde Park, and Roosevelt is portrayed as a person to whom his stamps are very important. He shows his collection to his future mistress, to the visiting King George VI, and seems to go to his stamps for succor during his most stressful times in the movie.
FDR’s stamp collection was of the more ordinary kind. In the movie he takes a large magnifying glass and seems to enjoy looking at stamp designs without enjoying any of the more esoteric aspects of the hobby. The stamps shown in his collection are common and of the sort that would have been available in any 1930s packet of stamps (except for a director’s mistake in showing in the collection Belgian stamps that weren’t issued until after WW II). This view of Roosevelt as a novice collector is historically accurate. Roosevelt enjoyed his stamps at the most visceral level. After his death in 1945, his collection was sold by the great stamp auction firm of H. R. Harmer, Inc. It was surprising how commonplace and ordinary his collection was. Other than stamps and presentation pieces and Proofs and Essays that had been given to him by foreign postal agencies, Roosevelt’s collection was very ordinary. The collection realized a great deal of money when it was sold, largely because it was the ex-President’s, and people wanted to put part of his collection into theirs. But as a collection itself, the stamp collection of the most important philatelic president in our history was nothing to write home about.
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