The Value of the Stamp



$5 - Black or grayish black
Scott #245

Value

Used: $450-$600
No postmark with gum (MH): $750-$1,250
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $1,800-$3,250

A quote from "The Stamp Collector" magazine in 1920

"That the Postal Department made a great profit from this issue is more than probable. The stamps were bought in huge numbers by speculators and held for a rise which did not mature. Consequently, the various values, especially the high ones, are frequently offered for sale in a mint condition under face value. As an investment, none should be considered when unused."

Statistics

Issued: The $5 Columbian was officially was issued on January, 1st 1893, a Sunday, and at Post Offices the following day. The earliest known use of the $5 Columbian is the 6th January, 1892.


Earliest date of use January 6th

Plate Size: Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100)

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

Watermark: None

Quantity Issued: 27,350 (of which 21,844 were sold)

Color: Black or grayish black.

Usage: The $5 Columbian is often seen on its own on covers, mostly for philatelic use, it is rarely seen in combination with other values. It is often seen with the registered fee cancel.

Interesting Fact: At the time, there was no $5 postal rate and as such the stamp was pointless. It was commonly believed that the stamp was issued for collectors to acquire. This resulted in a huge hue and cry from the stamp collectors, most of whom could not afford the princely sum of $5 to buy this stamp, and thought that the post office was trying to wring money from them. This protest became even louder when the USPS did the same thing with the Trans-Mississippi series and issued a $2 value.

In the end the stamp sold very well and the price tripled very quickly based on speculation. As in all speculation, what comes up comes down and by 1895 they were being dumped, even at prices below face. One side effect of this dumping is that it depressed the demand for the $5 bureau issued this year, making this stamp far more scarce than the $5 Columbian.

245 cover

245 cover

The Inspiration for the Design

The source for the design was the 1892-1893 Columbian Exposition Half Dollar designed by Olin L. Warner who based his design on a medal that had been struck in Madrid.


What you should look for

As with all the values of this issue, look for Columbian Expo cancels or on a Columbian Expo cover, they increase the value of the stamp or cover. Any stamp is more desirable with a clean cancel, preferably a town cancel, heavy cancels can detract from the value and are common on this value.

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.

Varieties to look for

The color ranges from grayish black to black. The stamps is not prone to fading. There are the occasional double transfers.

245 Exposition Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Any Columbian stamp with an exposition cancel
carries a substantial price premium. None more so
than #245. There is only one example, last sold
at auction for $5,000

The Essay's and Proofs


Photos mounted either side of vignette
Thick white card

Large Die Proof (252P1)
die sunk on 226 x 150mm card

Plate Proof on India (245P2)

245 P3
India plate proof on thin card

245-P4 US stamp proof

245 P4
India plate proof on card block


In 1993, on the 100th anniv. of the Columbian stamp
the post office issued a Commemorative Stamp Panel
for all the demoniations, the $5 panel is shown above