Apfelbaum’s Corner – Volume 33

Common sense is all that is required to quash some of the sillyisms of stamp collecting. A case in point is embraced in the collection of the United States Columbian issue of 1893. Of the dollar values, the $1 was issued in the largest quantity (55,050); the $4 in the smallest (26, 350).

Many of these stamps were used for postage and were thus lost to collectors by destruction. Of the used examples that were saved, many were heavily cancelled or damaged in the mail.

The unused specimens that collectors of that day saved were placed in their collections with hinges, as was the custom then and is still today among many philatelists. The only dollar Columbians that were not so treated were the small number that were duplicates of the day and were purchased with the idea of being useful for future trading. During the more than 20 year period when the stamps sold below face value, much of the duplicate stock was sold to business houses and was used on registered mail and parcels.

Now, some ninety years later, it is rare indeed to find any completely sound Columbians in an unused condition. In all that expanse of time it is estimated that stamps of this issue would have been in at least 16 different collections! To expect to find any of these stamps with full original gum and never having been hinged is to expect a miracle. If, in the entire world there are 500 such stamps, it would be amazing. Certainly many exist with the old gum washed off and new glue applied. We are not, however, referring to such stamps.

Despite the history of the issue, within a recent week, eight different collectors turned down dollar Columbians in our retail department because they had been hinged!

Of course, the price that never-hinged, full original gum Columbians should carry would have surprised these shoppers. If you consider the history of the Columbians and the mathematical probabilities for obtaining perfect unused specimens you can probably estimate their value. To have such perfect stamps readily available at popular prices would mean developing a stamp fixing process to make possible what cannot exist without tampering.