Notes from the Past

Columbian 1893, 4¢ Blue Error

The 4¢ Columbian blue errors (Scott's No. 233a), were found in Cleveland, Ohio, late in 1893, by John V. Painter a wealthy Cleveland collector of the day who sold an distributed a number of the stamps among his friends, one of whom, George H. Worthington (later to become the world's most famous collector) purchased a corner-margined block of four for $200.  The balance of the stamps Painter is reported to have sold later to John W. Scott, the New York dealer.  The stamp was an error to the extent that it was printed in a blue rather than an ultramarine.  It is a very distinctive color, but the blue in my opinion was never the color of any of the 1¢ blue stamps, as it was for so many years erroneously described.

It has always been my belief that there was more than one mint sheet, and likely others were issued since the variety has been found used.  Some years ago the late Theodore E. Steinway showed me a used copy, somewhat thin, which years before he had peeled off a cover in family correspondence.  Several mint blocks exist.  The standard ultramarine runs to shades but there is one that I have found extremely scarce -- a very deep rich ultramarine, almost a blue, that is sometimes mistaken for the "blue error," until compared with the blue variety.  The Painter error sheet of the blues was from Plate D17.  In 1901, J. W. Scott was retailing the errors at $10 each.

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
January 25, 1958
Posted November 9, 1999  

Index of 507 Notes from the Past

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