Owner Biography

Benjamin K Miller

Benjamin K. Miller
Benjamin K. Miller
According to the Arago website and other sources, Benjamin Kurtz Miller was born in 1857, the son of a Milwaukee lawyer and grandson of one of the first federal judges in Wisconsin. He joined his father’s firm in 1877 and later became a partner, retiring in 1906 to pursue personal interests. The firm continues today through its successor, the major U.S. law firm Foley & Lardner.

Benjamin K. Miller devoted considerable time to travel, research, and writing. He assembled libraries of fine and rare books on the law and political economy. He traveled to faraway places, visiting almost every country in the world. An avid big-game hunter, he also spent time in Africa, India, Alaska, and the American West, and he adorned his summer home in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, with his collection of trophy game heads.

In 1918 Miller bought one of the famous Inverted "Jenny" stamps. The purchase redefined his collecting interests: philately went from being one of his many hobbies to becoming his obsession.

Miller built his collection a little late in life at the age of 61. After purchasing the Inverted Jenny, he intensified his collecting, purchasing from up to thirty dealers. By the early 1920s, he neared his ultimate achievement: collecting one example of every U.S. postage stamp known in his day, including rare grills, special printings, all coil and vending machine examples, and back-of-book issues. He enjoyed plating stamps, seeking one copy for each position on a printing plate. His outstanding plating achievement was collecting the 1847 10-cent Washington, on and off cover. Only his death prevented him from discovering the one missing item from that study, position 61 from the right pane.

The collection was donated and displayed at the New York Public Library for more than 50 years. However it was locked away after a theft of some of the items in 1977. Even though a bulk of the collection was recovered (including the Inverted "Jenny") it did not come back on display.

The Miller Collection is currently on long-term loan to the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, where it is displayed to the public.

Positions Owned

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