Begun in 1953 by D.O. Barrett, the founder and first curator of the Boy’s Town Stamp Center, the Boy's Town Stamp Ball was intended as a promotional novelty to lure crowds to a Davenport, Iowa, stamp show that relocated to Omaha in 1954.
To construct the solid ball, the first stamps were wound around the core of a golf ball for stability. From there, the globe grew steadily with the leadership of one of Boy’s Town’s citizens, Arthur Mason and the work many other boys in the project, using large multiples of common stamps soaked from packages “and a lot of Boy’s Town seals.”
In 1955, when the ball finally reached 32 inches in diameter, Barrett contacted “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not,” a syndicated newspaper feature which at the peak of its popularity was read daily by about 80 million readers. After Ripley’s featured the stamp ball in one of its nationwide illustrated weekly pictorials, people came from all over to Nebraska to see the ball – and they have been coming to Boy’s Town ever since.
According to a Boy’s Town video about the ball available online, “They finished the ball with a final layer of stamps that had been donated in damaged condition, carefully layering them to hide their poor condition and present an attractive exterior.”
With that, now containing 4,655,000 stamps, the 600 pound ball was finished. In fact, according to one Internet wit, “The best part of the display is the little sign that reads:
DO NOT STICK STAMPS
ON THE STAMP BALL!"
The Leon Myers Stamp Center at 13628 Flanagan Blvd, Boys Town, NE 68010 is a museum and office located in the Boy’s Town Visitors Center. The Stamp Center promotes stamp collecting among youth and adults, and supports Boys Town programs by selling donated stamps. Now entering its 102nd year of service to children, Boys Town is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit recognized by the IRS, and all donations to Boys Town are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS regulations.