Notes from the Past

Bureau Will Gum Your Farleys

If you have any sheets of the imperforate Farley re-issues, you may have them efficiently,
officially and genuinely gummed by the simple expedient of returning them to the Bureau of
Engraving and Printing, Washington, D. C., with a remittance sufficient to cover return
postage and registration.  This is made clear in a recent letter from Ramsey S. Black, 3rd
Asst. Postmaster General, to James H. Obrig, President of the Bureau Issues Association,
who, on behalf of the Association, had made inquiry as to the Department's attitude in the
matter.  Mr. Black replied: "It is the understanding of this office that the Director of the
Bureau of Engraving and Printing is in a position to accept full sheets of this imperforate
issue for gumming even at this late date and there would be no objection to such procedure
on the part of the Department."  The correspondence was prompted by revived publicity on the
specially gummed examples of Harold L. Ickes.

In recent weeks several collectors and dealers have returned imperforate sheets to the
Bureau and the stamps have been returned fully gummed, that is, with an exception which may
apply to all: that while the Bureau gummed all the National Parks imperforates, and also the
1¢ and 3¢ National Park souvenir sheets, they returned ungummed the Century of Progress
souvenir sheets, and, I believe, the Wisconsin and Mother's Day imperforates.  They are not,
of course, gumming the perforated Newburgh or Byrd stamps, and will accept no small souvenir
panes or broken sheets.  In making this exception, the Bureau contended Ickes had only the
Parks issues gummed, and no others.

The newly gummed stamps are now being offered by dealers and you will be able to acquire
them without difficulty, if you think the gummed varieties are any better than the ungummed.
But I feel that at last a definite quietus is clamped on all further discussion and alleged
claims of fabulous valuations which had previously, again lately, been attached to the Ickes
sheets.  No acceptable logic was ever advanced to justify a claim that the Ickes stamps,
with gum, are any better than the ungummed material released to collectors at large on March
15, 1935.  The claim that "the lines of the engravings are clearer and sharper" on the Ickes
stamps was never anything more than ballyhoo.  The Ickes stamps were supposedly impressions
from the plates when brand new, but so were the regularly perforated "first day sale" stamps
and if you compare the latter with the later imperforate re-issues, you'll find no evidence
to support the "sharper engraving" theory -- or myth, if you prefer.

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
December 21, 1940
Posted October 23, 1999

Editor's Note:  Sloane later corrected the address for returning stamps to be regummed to the Post Office Department rather than the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

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