"Good Old Days" -- Rarities Cheap
so often (too often, in fact), someone finds an old dealer's price list
or a stamp catalog published in pioneer
days and in perusing the prices dashes off an article for the
philatelic press, frequently embroidered with nonsense that wasn't in
the list, such as "Superb" condition, etc., words totally unknown to
the older collectors in relation to stamps. Likely something
is featured such as the Brattleboro provisional, of 1846, priced in the
neighborhood of $5, as against today's Scott listing of
$1,250. Wild fancy zooms from there.
The leading stamp dealer in the United States, in ancient days, was John Walter Scott, in New York. Here is what "J. W." had to say about the Brattleboro in his monthly magazine, the American Journal of Philately, October, 1871. He said that 5,000 of the Brattleboros had been printed, then added, "These stamps are fearfully scarce, and are held at prices far above the pockets of ordinary collectors." This was only twenty-five years after the use of the stamps! For a realistic guide to the "great rarities" that were being offered for a pittance in the old days -- the "rarities" were seldom in stock -- look over the advertising columns. Those are the stamps the dealers actually had for sale.
- George B. Sloane
October 12, 1957
Posted August 1, 1999
Editor's Note: In the 1997 Specialized the Brattleboro was priced at $8,000 and $17,500 on cover.
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