Notes from the Past

Adams Express Poker Chip Stamps

Probably the earliest instances of postage stamps being made to serve as currency are the local stamps issued by Adams & Co.'s Express, of California, in 1854.  They issued several stamps, all in the denomination of 25¢, and as small coins were rare on the Pacific coast in the gold rush era, these stamps were frequently used for currency.  The 25¢ black stamp, Scott's #6202, was purposely printed on a thin, pink cardboard for this reason, and many thousands of them were sold and employed solely as currency.  This stamp also found widespread usage as a poker chip.  the company realized a large profit from their sales, and comparatively few were ever presented for redemption.  The California branch of the Adams Co. went into bankruptcy in October, 1855, as a result of a financial crisis in the west.
- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
December 14, 1935
Posted October 27, 1999

Editor's Note:  During the renumbering, this Adams & Co.'s Express stamp became 1L3.  Scott includes this note: "No. 1L3 was probably never placed in use as a postage stamp."

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