An idle pastime becomes a record holder in Boys Town, Nebraska.
With the advent of e-mail in modern society, stamps and other traditional mail paraphernalia are slowly phasing out of use.
While the use of the stamp is slowly fading out of existence, there's still nothing quite like looking at a giant ball of the sticky postage in front of a framed sunburst mural that is also made of stamps, to really get a stamp collector's blood pumping. The gigantic ball measures at 32 inches in diameter, weighs about 600 pounds and is estimated to have over four million canceled stamps. The origins of this quirky anomaly date back to 1953, when a group known as the Boys Town Stamp Collecting Club started to consolidate the less valuable stamps using a golf ball as a base.
Born from Boredom
The motivation behind the activity is unknown, but Mary Haurd, manager of the Boys Town Visitor Center, suspects that the origin of the project is not all that mysterious, the stamp collectors were just bored.
The stamp ball grew steadily until 1955 when it caught the attention of the writers at Ripley's Believe It or Not, a syndicated newspaper column at the time. Soon, people from all over the country went to gaze at the giant sticky sphere. It was at about this time that the Boys Town Stamp Collectors lost interest in their pet project.
The stamp ball still resides in Boys Town, at the same size it was in 1955. You would think that such an artifact of the past would be in a case or behind velvet ropes, but the stamp ball is open for any curious onlooker to view, and even poke at a little, just don't peel off any of the stamps.
Know Before You Go
The stamp ball can be found on the west side of the city. Take US Hwy 6/Dodge St. exit at 137th St. Drive south into Boys Town and take the first left on Flanagan Blvd. The Ball is in the Leon Myers Stamp Center, which is part of the Boys Town Visitors Center.
Content originally created for Atlas Obscura.
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