Notes from the Past

How Many 5¢ '47s? - Part I

On several occasions recently I have visited stamp societies at which thirty to fifty adult collectors were present.  Upon inquiry I found that while most of them collected U. S. stamps, very few had a copy of the first U. S. general issue postage stamp in their collections.  When the question was asked at one meeting only six hands were raised; at another meeting only one hand was raised.

Twenty years or more ago, when 5¢ 1847s could be bought in quantity around 40¢ each, an attempt was made to acquire the visible supply.  As the stamps were taken off the market the price gradually rose and the buyers continued to purchase, eventually paying a dollar or more per stamp.  The transaction extended over several years and about 1917 the accumulations was broken up and came back on the market.  In the lot were 1,400 ordinary copies, many pen-cancelled, which sold at $1 each.

This so-called "corner" is of interest because altho it never became an effective corner, it did embrace a large part of the known supply of the 5¢ stamp.  Few finds of considerable importance have since been made.  The largest perhaps were three which totalled about 250, many of the stamps being not at all fine.  Probably it would be difficult, if possible, to demonstrate that since 1917 as many as 1,000 copies not previously in collections or dealers stocks have turned up.  Several of the more active stamp hunters have turned up large quantities of 3¢ 1851 and other stamps, but altho they have spent large sums in advertising. the number of 5¢ 1847 they have obtained from original correspondence has been practically negligible.

(To be continued)
- Elliott "Pat" Perry
Pat Paragraphs
Published 1981, Bureau Issues Association
Posted February 29, 2000

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