Notes from the Past

New 30 Airmail Stamps Discounted on Nassau Street

Postmaster Albert Goldman announced that 155,733 of the new 30-cent trans-Atlantic airmail stamps were sold at the New York, N.Y., post office on the first day of issue, May 16th, and that 54,158 first-day covers were cancelled there.  Within five hours after the stamps were placed on sale at the window, mint copies of the stamps were being sold along Nassau Street at a discount of 10 per cent from face value.

That will probably read like a mystifying procedure, yet the stamps had been legitimately purchased at the post office, and the sellers were not actually losing money.  So we will go into the explanation.  In addition to the new crop of dealers who have blossomed forth on Nassau Street there has developed a fraternity of free-lancers who, like many of the Wall Street brokers, enter into transactions for the day's duration only, closing out every particular operation or deal before the day expires, beginning tomorrow with whatever offers the prospect of scalping a profit.  On the day the new 30-cent airmail stamps were placed on sale many of these lads purchased entire sheets of the stamps.  The plate numbers and position pieces were stripped out immediately later to be sold at a profit.  Next a quantity of first-day covers were put through the post office and these, too, disposed of at a nominal profit.  At the conclusion of operations, the left over stamps which, of course, could not be redeemed through Uncle Sam, and ordinarily would be difficult to dispose of for mailing purposes, were offered to Nassau Street dealers and sold at a discount.  

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
June 3, 1939

Posted August 15, 1999

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