Photos from the Vault

In valuable postcard and stamps, collectors can discover the history of Hearst Castle

Woody Frey, left, signs postcards with ‘Will’ Hearst III in 1988.
Woody Frey, left, signs postcards with ‘Will’ Hearst III in 1988.

William Randolph Hearst was the ultimate collector.

At one point, it was estimated that the media magnate was buying half of the high-grade antiques available on the market. Castle ceilings, tapestries, paintings, suits of armor, Greek vases and Egyptian sculptures were among the items crated and sent to San Simeon.

The collector likely would have been pleased with the U.S. postage stamps that refer to his collection. At least two stamps mention the world-class art museum that is Hearst Castle.

On Sept. 20, 1988, 300 card and stamp collectors gathered when a Hearst Castle postcard was issued with artwork by San Luis Obispo artist and Cal Poly professor Robert Reynolds.

William “Will” Hearst III, Hearst’s grandson and then-publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, was on hand to sign the postcards that sold for $2 each as a successful fundraiser for Friends of Hearst Castle. The face value of the card? Fifteen cents.

In 2009, the Castle’s 17th-century painting of Madonna and child by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi (1609-85) — also known as Sassoferrato — was featured on a U.S. Postal Service Christmas-themed stamp.

The Postal Service paid $1,000 to use the image. You can see the original painting in a third-floor sitting room in the new wing on the “Designing the Dream” tour at the Castle.

William Randolph Hearst purchased the painting at a New York gallery in 1926.

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