Virtually any collector of U.S. stamps will own at least a few Prexies, the definitive stamps that were issued in 1938 and remained in use until the 1950s. The series of stamps got its moniker because it honors all former United States presidents who had died by the time of the stamps’ issue.
The United States Stamp Society’s Prexie Era Committee explains on its Web site how each value in the series was most commonly used. Some of the stamps had denominations that did not cover a specific postal rate, and solo usages of those can be difficult to find.
The Web site also contains information about other stamps in use at the same time as the Prexies.
The Prexie Era Committee Web site’s layout is very basic and not particularly visually appealing, but the info on how different stamps were used makes it a valuable resource. If you collect U.S. stamps from that era, it’s a Web site worth bookmarking.
Do you know of any other Web sites that provide data on how particular stamps were most commonly used?
Modern first day covers (FDCs) are for the most part a dime a dozen, but if you go back a few decades you can find pieces with a bit of value. This first day usage of the 14¢ American Indian stamp is a fine example.
Postmarked on the morning of May 1, 1923—the first day the 14¢ American Indian stamp was available to the public—this FDC was mailed at a time when FDC collecting still hadn’t captured the imaginations of most philatelists.
The cover is addressed to Frank Wood of Worcester, Mass. A backstamped return address indicates one Kenneth Salzman of Milwaukee, Wis., was responsible for the cover’s mailing.
This is not a common FDC by any means, but can be found for sale on the Internet or from dealers who specialize in material from the 1920s. Examples postmarked in Muscogee, Okla., on the first day of issue are far scarcer, and correspondingly more difficult to locate.
The 14¢ American Indian stamp doesn’t turn up on cover particularly often, but examples are out there if you can wait around for a bit. Finding one used with a commemorative stamp, however, is a trickier proposition.
That’s what excites me about this example of Scott No. 695 (perf. 11×10½) on cover with Scott No. 793 in what appears to be a completely legitimate commercial usage of the stamps.
The return address indicates H. Rodda of Whittier, Calif., mailed the envelope to Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company agent George E. Lackey, in 1937. The cover was postmarked on the reverse in Whittier on April 23, and in Detroit on April 27.
The first-class postage rate at the time of mailing was 3¢, meaning 15¢ went to pay the registration fee.
The only explanation I have for why a commemorative was used is the 4¢ stamp picturing William Sampson, George Dewey, and Winfield Schley was issued in March 1937, just a month before the cover was mailed. It was at the time a “new” commemorative, one that easily could have been in the Whittier post office’s regular stock.
Have you seen any other examples of the 14¢ American Indian used with commemorative stamps?
You may have missed it during the holidays, but the USPS has announced its 2010 commemorative stamp program. It includes a diverse mix of topics and over five dozen different designs.
For the most part, those designs are underwhelming, perhaps because many of the stamps continue ongoing series, and thus don’t look particularly new.
One pleasant exception to that is the 64¢ Monarch butterfly stamp. The USPS says the stamp is intended for use on large greeting cards, but it will pay postage on any one-ounce piece of first-class mail to which the non-machinable surcharge applies, either because of size or stiffness.
The Abstract Expressionists issue also looks interesting because the pane of 10 will include stamps in several different sizes. Finding a complete set of these stamps used for everyday business purposes will no doubt be a challenge.
Do any of this year’s announced commemorative issues strike your fancy?