Nov
10

Today in Smithsonian History: November 10, 1958

Mrs. Edna Winston, wife of Harry Winston, presenting the Hope Diamond to Secretary Leonard Carmichael (center) and Curator George Switzer on November 10, 1958

Mrs. Edna Winston, wife of Harry Winston, presenting the Hope Diamond to Secretary Leonard Carmichael (center) and Curator George Switzer on November 10, 1958

November 10, 1958 The Hope Diamond is presented to the Smithsonian by Harry Winston, a New York gem merchant. The stone was acquired by Winston in 1949 from the estate of Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean, who received it from her husband, Edward B. McLean, in 1911. The diamond’s known history dates to 1830 when David Eliason, a noted gem dealer, sold the stone to Henry Thomas Hope. Learn more about the diamond’s history here.

With his years of experience in shipping jewelry all over the world, Winston had chosen to have the diamond delivered by registered mail. He told a reporter for the Washington Post that “ . . . [registered mail is] the safest way to ship gems. . . . I’ve sent gems all over the world that way.”

The diamond was placed in a box, wrapped in brown paper, and sent by registered mail, traveling down from New York in a Railway Post Office train car. In Washington, it was immediately taken to the City Post Office (the building that now houses the National Postal Museum), where it was picked up by postal carrier James G. Todd.

The wrapper for the package containing the Hope Diamond is part of the collection at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum.

The wrapper for the package containing the Hope Diamond is part of the collection at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum.

Todd drove the package to the National Museum of Natural History. The diamond was handed over in a ceremony including Leonard Carmichael, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and Mrs. Harry Winston. The transfer was completed when Carmichael signed the receipt for the registered package. The price paid for shipping the gem, valued at $1 million at the time, was $145.29, most of that for package insurance.

The Hope Diamond in the setting designed by Cartier prior to the sale of the Hope to Evalyn Walsh McLean in 1912. (Photo by Chip Clark)

The Hope Diamond in the setting designed by Cartier prior to the sale of the Hope to Evalyn Walsh McLean in 1912. (Photo by Chip Clark)

Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives


Posted: 10 November 2017
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