The printed registered cover with the pre-printed violet 4½d KGV head stamp (‘A.C.S.C. RE 13′ issued 1925 has been uprated with the red 1½d KGV head stamp and both have been cancelled with a GLEN INNES/ ( — )/ N.S.W postmark. The front also has a transit REGISTERED/ F/ 27 JA 28 B/ SYDNEY N.S.W. as well as a double oval transit NEW YORK, N.Y./2-21/1928/ REGY DIV. postmark. It is addressed to Mr J.J. Edson, Hubbard Memorial Hall, Sixteenth & M. Streets, Washington D.C., U.S.A. (Figure 1).

The reverse has the identical Sydney and New York transit postmarks as well as double circle purple WASHINGTON, D.C./ FEB/ ( )1/ 1928 reception postmark. There is an additional double circle postmark, clearly dated 22/ 1928, presumably also in Washington. The handstamp ‘45218′ was repeated on the front and reverse (Figure 2).

This cover gave no hint as to where research of Mr. J.J. Edson of Washington would take me, and in fact Edson was not found, but Humber Memorial Hall was much more enlightening. In 1888 a select group of men had been invited to attend a meeting, the invitation read as follows:

Dear Sir,

You are invited to be present at a meeting to be held in the Assembly Hall of the Cosmos Club, Friday evening, January 13, at 8 o’clock, for the purpose of considering the advisability of organizing a society for the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge.

Very respectfully yours,
Gardiner G. Hubbard, A.W. Greely, J.R. Bartlett,
Henry Mitchell, Henry Gannett, A.H. Thompson

On that auspicious night in 1888, 33 prominent men in Washington, D.C.’s scientific and intellectual circles convened to form the National Geographic Society. Gardiner Greene Hubbard, National Geographic’s first president, was a lawyer and businessman, but he was also a scholar, philanthropist, and patron of science. He understood that if the new Society were to succeed in its mission of “increasing and diffusing geographic knowledge,” it could not rely solely on the deeds of its explorers. It must also depend on individuals able to sustain those efforts—individuals, from all walks of life, willing to help shoulder the burden so that, as Hubbard explained, “we may all know more about the world upon which we live.”

Gardiner Hubbard, National Geographic’s first president also helped found a school for the deaf and promoted the experiments of his son-in-law, Alexander Graham Bell. Acknowledging in his introductory address that he was neither “a scientific man, nor…a geographer,” Hubbard stated, “By my election you notify the public that the membership of our Society will not be confined to professional geographers, but will include that large number who, like myself, desire to promote special researches by others, and to diffuse the knowledge so gained, among men, so that we may all know more of the world upon which we live.”

Gardiner Greene Hubbard continues to be remembered as the founding father and guiding spirit of the organization at Hubbard Memorial Hall, Washington, D.C. headquarters. Gardiner Greene Hubbard’s picture is shown in Figure 3.

Nine months after the Society was founded, the first National Geographic magazine was published. A studious, scientific journal with a nondescript, dull-brown cover, it bore no resemblance to the color-illustrated periodical it would come to be. On its first two pages, however, was an announcement stating the mission that was to guide the Society and its magazine for the next century and beyond. A picture of the National Geographic’s Volume 1, No. 1 is seen in Figure 4.

I acknowledge that the text and Figures 3 and 4 of this paper was taken from the Society’s website.

Addendum (September 2009):  Another cover sent to the National Geographic Society has a red  1.5 pence KGV Head stamp with a CHILLAGOE/ 19 JA 27/ QUEENSLAND postmark and multiple tax markings as well as a red 5 cents US postage due stamp.  The reverse was not seen (Figure 5).

Addendum (April 2010):  This new cover identifies John Joy Edson as the Treasurer of the National Geographic Society and his name has been seen as such in their magazine, but surprisingly no real information about him has been found to date,  The cover was sent from Sydney to him care of the Society per S/S Ventura.  The blue 3d KGV stamp has been cancelled with a roller SYDNEY 2/ 12 DEC/ 6 PM/ 1930/ NSW with a vertically placed POSTED IN (OV)ERSEAS BOX G.P.O.  The reverse was not seen (Figure 6).

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