The hardest part about collecting paper is that, when you really start looking back at different eras in printing and illustrating, the images all begin to look priceless.
Look at this stamp I picked it up off an attic floor. I didn’t know what to make of it. Using a magnifier, also found in the attic, I could make out the words on either side of the portrait.
Confederate States of America.
One small web search and I discovered that it was indeed a stamp printed during the Civil War and the value is around $700 dollars. Not bad for just looking around in an attic, right? Digging deeper I found a specialist Trish, who has been collecting all kinds of CSA stamps cancellation mark, etc for some time. I reached out to her mainly because I knew that these kinds of stamps are rare - rare that they would just show up on an attic floor for yours truly to find. The first thing Trish wanted to know? Was it gummed?
Seeing the discoloration on the back I concluded that, yes, this was a gummed stamp. Interestingly, this was the first test to see if it was worth the big bucks. The non-gummed version is very common among collectors and worth about $7.
The next test was the one that usually kills all hope of early retirement in these finds…Is there any kind of odd color or cancellation mark? …..No!
Well, that ends the game right there. Although, because it passed the first test and because the quality is pretty good, the stamp (Scott catalogue # 230e93) is worth about $16. Now, that is not bad for the fact that it only cost me a deep knee-bend and some time at the computer to make $16 - but, I'm not a dealer, so I never will see that money.
The real lesson came when I found out that the stamp collection I had the opportunity to inspect, but didn’t have the knowledge or the time - likely had several more of these stamps and possibly the really coveted ones. It was sold early in the sale to someone who did know what they were buying. Rats!
You can learn more about CSA stamps by visiting Trish, here.