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Monday, February 23, 2009

1893 Columbian Exposition Commemorative Postage Stamps Part II Of II

In continuation to the post on Friday…

Sixteen different pictures of Christopher Columbus were represented on these postage stamps. Each stamp had the dates 1492 and 1893 printed in the top corners. Critics did not like the variations in Columbus’s appearance on the various postage stamps and often pointed out the discrepancies. The denominations of the stamps were also a point of contention. At the time, First Class Postage was only two cents per ounce and you were only allowed to mail up to four pounds. So basically, the $2, $3, $4 and $5 stamps were completely useless. This made collectors even more frustrated because they were not able to find any of the higher denominations that had ever been cancelled, forcing them to buy them new for full value.

The complaints did not bother then Postmaster Wanamaker who encouraged customers to buy regular postage stamps instead. Despite complaints, they were very popular and collectors still bought the new type of stamps. At the end of the day, there were 2 billion Columbian Exposition stamps sold and over $40,000,000 made on these interesting stamps.

In today’s market, a used set would run you over $2,000 and a mint unused set would run you over $8,000. The United States Postal Service reproduced the set in 1992, in conjunction with the World's Columbian Stamp Expo '92 in Chicago. These were issued one year shy of Columbus’s 500th anniversary of his first American voyage.

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