The 1893 Columbians
4¢ - Ultramarine, dull ultramarine or deep ultramarine
No postmark with gum (MH): $6-$18
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $35-$80
Issued: The 4¢ was officially issued on January, 1st 1893, a Sunday, and at Post Offices the following day. There are a couple of examples postmarked, one in Boston and one inNew York, N.Y., on January 1st, 1893.
Plate Size: Sheets of 100 subjects (2 panes of 50)
Printer: The American Bank Note Company, thereafter, with one exception of the Overun stamps of 1943 all stamps have since been printed by the Bureau of Engraving
Color: Ultramarine, dull ultramarine, deep ultramarine and the color error, blue. See below for details of the color error.
Common use: The stamp often paid the double weight, first-class mail rate. It was also frequently used, in combination with other stamps, to pay for foreign destination rates.
What you should look for
Occasionally postmarks from states that had tiny amounts of mail in this year can add to the value. This is particularly true of Alaska and the Territories. For a list of the number of stamps issued by each state in the year ending 30th June 1894 click here.
The Inspiration for the Design
The vignette depicts the Fleet of Columbus, the flagship of Christopher Columbus, the Santa Maria is prominent in the center. The origin of the image is Gustav Adolf Closs’s 1892 painting “Die Schiffe des Columbus” (The ships of Columbus).
Varieties to look for
The Blue Color Error
The stamps color is normally ultramarine. #233a is the Scotts # for the color error of this stamp. The stamp was printed with the blue ink used for the 1¢, instead
of the ultramarine of the 4¢ value. Two sheets, #D17 and #D18 were purchased whole, the plate numbers from these sheets still exist. There were other sheets printed and sold as postage, these appear occasionally appear at auctions at a hefty premium over the standard #233. The color error was caused by when the printers erroneously used the ink designated for the 1¢ issue.
There are 15 to 20 used examples.
The Three Leaf Variety
A fairly common variety, it marginally adds to the value of the stamp.
The Essay's and Proofs
Despite the popularity of the Columbian series there are very few essays and proofs on the market, the most common of which is the 4¢ value.
Much as we collect stamps today, others collect items from the Columbian
Exposition, sitting in this back garden is one of the original ticket booths
from the Exposition.