“In 1996, I did a presentation on black history for my grandkid’s class and during my research I read that black people were not featured on stamps until April 7, 1940. It was Booker T. Washington on a 10-cent stamp,” says Madelyn Johnson, owner of New Again Nail Spa & Boutique in Houston. That revelation sparked Johnson’s interest in stamp collecting — or philately — and today her collection contains more than 100 stamps featuring African Americans. “I had to search for all of the stamps,” she says. “I went to stamp shops, stamp shows, and used online resources.” Her collection also includes first day covers, postcards, commemorative stamps, and miniature sheets.
“I learned everything on my own and made many mistakes,” she says. “I did not know that the misprints were worth more than the original stamps. Stamps that may have the perforation down the center instead of the ends could be worth thousands of dollars. They are called errors and believe it or not, I have actually thrown some away.” Her most prized stamp is also her most valuable: Washington crossing the Delaware, issued May 29, 1976. “If you look really hard, you will see a black soldier sitting in front of Washington rowing the boat,” says Johnson. Another notable part of the collection is the stamp featuring the beauty industry’s Madam C. J. Walker. “She invented products for black hair care and became the fi rst female self-made millionaire in the United States,” she says.
“Stamps are tiny pictures of history; they are art and they are valuable".