1901 Pan American 4¢ - #296
THE ELECTRIC CAR
4¢ - Deep red-brown and black or chocolate and black
Scott #296 - 1901
No postmark with gum (MH): $15-$35
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $35-$100
4¢ - Deep red brown and black
Scott #296a - 1901
Special Printing - Center inverted
Fewer than 97 exist, almost all have disturbed gum
Used: none known
No postmark with gum (MH): $1750-$30,000
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $72,500-$100,000
Issued: Introduced on May 1st, 1901. Earliest documented use is the same date, example shown below. The 4¢ invert, unlike the 1¢ and 2¢, was an intentional invert, the bureau even produced samples of the invert. The specimens command high prices, the word specimen was printed in four different colors.
Plate Size: Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100).
Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving
Watermark: Double lined USPS watermark.
What you should look for
Probably the work of an engraver working for a Canadian Bank Note company these countefeits are exceedingly rare and valuable, selling at Seigels for $2,600
Unlike the 2¢ with its prolific vignette shifts, decent vignette shifts on the 4¢ are hard to come by, no doubt because there were forty times more of the 2¢ issued.
The Inspiration for the Design
This series celebrated modern transportation. The theme for the 4¢ stamp was the automobile. The choice of subject being a Krieger, a car that was one hundred years ahead of its time.
The choice of a Krieger is interesting, you will see it pictured in front of the US Capitol, Washington DC. A scene that one would think was contemporary. At the time it would have been an artist's rendition of the future. It would be a full two years between the design of the stamp and the introduction of the Krieger. The designers had to rely on a photograph of the prototype. They were in luck, the final production version only differed in that the rear canopy was made of leather instead of the solid metal that the prototype had, and the roof rack was dropped. The latter modification was adopted after one of the test drivers was bopped on the head by luggage whilst conducting a braking test.
The Krieger, like the Prius of the early 21stC, was a front wheel drive electric-gasoline hybrid car and had power steering. A gasoline engine supplemented the battery pack. Between 1890 and 1910, there were many hybrid electric cars and four wheel drive electric cars. Electric cars were more expensive than gasoline cars and electrics were considered more reliable and safer. There are three surviving Kriegers today, two in the US and one in Ontario, Canada (a US example is shown below).
Varieties to look for
This stamp was occasionaly bisected for use as a 2¢. Normally bi-sected stamps command high prices. Not so in the case of #296. The cover below sold for $675.
The Portuguese Ministry for the Colonies was originally supplied with 25 Specimen stamps. They overprinted the specimens with the "Ultramar" overprint, meaning "overseas", the stamps were distributed to the various colonies.
The Essay's and Proofs