November 10, 1958 in New York history

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66 years ago on November 10th, 1958

New York jeweler Harry Winston donates the Hope Diamond to the Museum of Natural History by mailing it to Washington D.C. via registered mail

The jewel carries centuries of mystique and is valued at $200–$250 million today, but was mailed to D.C. for $2.44 in postage, with a total cost of $145.29 including the registered mail package insurance.

The current 45.52 carat blue diamond traces its history to the year 1666, when the diamond appeared in its much larger, cruder cut version and entered the international gem market. After being stolen from the collection of royal Crown Jewels during the French Revolution, the larger stone was likely recut in an attempt to disguise its identity, with the smaller recut stone becoming the Hope Diamond.

The diamond passed between various gem merchants and socialites, eventually being purchased by New York diamond merchant Henry Winston in 1949 as part of a large gem collection. Winston would be persuaded to donate the gem to the Smithsonian, and on November 8, 1958, the gem was postmarked in New York and sent to Washington D.C. in a brown paper package marked "Fragile". The package was also marked to be delivered on November 10th, it was picked up at the post office delivered to the museum the following Monday, November 11th, by postal worker James G. Todd. Although the diamond has long been rumored to bring bad luck or to carry a curse, it successfully arrived at the museum and has safely remained in the museum's collection ever since. Interestingly, the rumors of its curse may be due to the diamond's unique feature of emitting a faint red glow after it has been exposed to ultraviolet light rays, causing the blue stone to appear otherworldly.

Hope Diamond USPS postage — photo via Smithsonian National Postal Museum


More events from November 10th in New York History

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Library of Congress  •  New York Times  •  BBC  •  Wikipedia

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Record High: 74°F in 2020
Record Low: 25°F in 2017

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