09/20/2013 (P1736)
Contact: Ken Martin

Local Historic Object is Named One of Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts

The earliest known U.S. Presidential Free Frank, held by The American Philatelic Society, featured in online campaign, launching today

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Bellefonte, PA – September 19, 2013 – The American Philatelic Society will be featured in a six-week online campaign to save Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts. An innovative experiment in nonprofit crowdfunding and community building, the campaign launches today and continues through midnight of November 1. The public is encouraged to support the conservation of the earliest known U.S. Presidential free frank through voting, sharing and donating at PATop10Artifacts.org/free-frank.

U.S. Presidents are provided free franking for their postal mailings.  This privilege was first offered to George Washington when he became President in April 1789.  In May 1789, he used this folded letter sheet for correspondence to the Hon. James Warren (1726-1808), a member of the Sons of Liberty who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill and was Paymaster General of the Continental Army.  Washington signed it “President/U.S.” and it was mailed just weeks following his inauguration, making this artifact the earliest recorded documented use of this Presidential privilege. Following moisture damage from Super Storm Sandy (the document was stored in a bank vault in New Jersey at the time), the owner donated it to the American Philatelic Society national for display in their Museum, headquartered in historic Bellefonte, PA. 

Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts, a statewide initiative created by the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) – the largest nonprofit conservation center in the country – began in January with a statewide call to nonprofit institutions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to submit artifacts demonstrably in need of conservation. An independent review panel of collections care professionals chose the top 10 artifacts from 60 submissions, based on their historical and cultural significance and need for conservation.

“Our goal with this campaign is to showcase the state’s historic treasures and the need to preserve and protect our heritage for future generations,” says Ingrid Bogel, Executive Director of CCAHA. “We’ve created this program to give institutions a new platform through which to share their stories and to give people a chance to show their support by voting as many times as they’d like, sharing their favorite artifacts with friends through social media and supporting the conservation of these artifacts with online donations.”

Voting begins on Thursday, September 19 and ends on Friday, November 1 at midnight. At the conclusion of the campaign, institutions that meet their fundraising goals will begin the conservation process, and the artifact garnering the most votes will be named the winner of The People’s Choice Award. For the full list of Top 10 Endangered Artifacts visit PATop10Artifacts.org.

Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and by The Beneficial Foundation. The project is part of CCAHA’s Save Pennsylvania’s Past initiative, a multi-year, statewide effort to protect and preserve the millions of objects and historic artifacts that shape the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s history and define our nation.

How to Support Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts

  • Vote – Click to vote for the institution or artifact you are supporting – there’s no limit on the number of votes you can cast.
  • Share – Click to share your vote on Facebook and Twitter via PATop10Artifacts.org
  • Support – Send a donation of any size to help conserve these historic treasures

Your donation is 100% tax-deductible and will be received by the institution you have donated to at the end of the voting period. All donations, regardless of initial funding goal, will go toward the preservation of the artifacts. Each vote, share, and individual donation will count as one point toward the overall score for the People’s Choice Winner. Voting begins at 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 19 and will end at midnight on Friday, November 1. The People’s Choice Award winner will be announced on Monday, November 4.

About the American Philatelic Society

With nearly 32,000 members in more than 110 countries, the APS is the largest, non-profit organization for stamp collectors in the world.  Founded in 1886, the APS serves collector, educators, postal historians and the general public by providing a wide variety of programs and services.  For more information, please visit www.stamps.org

About the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts

The Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) is the country's largest nonprofit conservation facility serving cultural, research and educational institutions, as well as individuals and private organizations. Its mission is to provide expertise and leadership in the preservation of the world's material culture. CCAHA specializes in the treatment of works of art and artifacts on paper, such as drawings, prints, maps, posters, historic wallpaper, photographs, rare books, scrapbooks and manuscripts, along with related materials like parchment and papyrus. CCAHA also offers digital imaging services, on-site consultations, educational programs and seminars, fellowships and emergency conservation services. Learn more at ccaha.org.

About Save Pennsylvania's Past

Save Pennsylvania’s Past is a statewide effort to preserve the millions of objects and historic artifacts that shape the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s history and define our nation. Now in its second year, this two-year initiative is preparing collections care staff to address the challenges threatening Pennsylvania’s world-class collections through training programs and online resources.

As Save Pennsylvania’s Past project leader, CCAHA has partnered with a creative coalition of arts, cultural, educational, government, and historic organizations from all across the state: the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC), PA Museums, and LYRASIS. The initiative is supported by an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Connecting to Collections Statewide Implementation Grant and by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.


Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from The Beneficial Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Beneficial Bank.