Philatelists have always referred to items they don’t want or need, or which are in specialty areas that they don’t respect as “garbage”. But there is one rare philatelic item that has a trashy past and is called the “Garbage Card” or “full face McKinley”. After President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, the Postal Service decided to honor him by issuing a current rate postal card with his portrait on it. Several designs were submitted and the approved design with a portrait of the President’s portrait straight on (the so called “full face”) was printed. When the President’s widow saw the card, she objected to the likeness and the printing. In deference to her, the card was pulled and a 3/4 portrait card was issued. A box of 500 of the original cards was accidentally issued, probably because they had been ordered with preprinted addresses and had been removed from the main group of cards that were scheduled for destruction. These cards were imprinted with the return address of a garbage scow company and were intended to be given to the scow’s skippers to fill out after hauling their load of trash out to sea and dumping the trash in the ocean (yes, they did that over a hundred years ago too, which should make for a well aged layer of trashy sediment off our continental shelf). Most of the box of 500 were used before it was discovered that they had been issued in error. Several hundred of the cards are known used and a much smaller number are known unused but still preprinted with the address and the trash drop information. The few completely mint cards that are known (without any preprinting) are Proofs. The “garbage card” which is a major Scott number postal card catalogs only $3250 which, considering it’s rarity, is only because of it’s status as a postal card which are far less collected than postage stamps. If it were a regular issue stamp and was as rare it would sell for five or ten times as much.

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