1912 5¢ Pan American (P12) #399
The Golden Gate
5¢ - Blue or dark blue
20,000,000 - Perf. 12
Scott #399 - 1912
No postmark with gum (MH): $12-$27
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $30-$90
The Essay's and Proofs
Designer's model, wash frame
Mounted on thick card
The original design was of the Panama Canal, this was
switched to the 2c design and the 2c design became the
Essay for the vignette (399E)
The Golden Gate, San Francisco, 1912, source photograph for the vignette design
The vignette for the stamp was designed in 1912. Where is the Golden Gate bridge? It did not start construction until 1933
The name Golden Gate has nothing to do with the gold rush of 1849. It was named the Golden Gate because it reminded
John C. Fremont (a sea captain at the time) in 1846 of the Golden Horn near what was then Constantinople (Istanbul).
To be accurate he gave the straits the Turkish name "Chrysopylae" of which the direct English translation is 'Golden Gate'. It is just as
well that the English translation found favor, can you imagine pronouncing the Chrysopylae Bridge?
John Fremont does not have the honor of being the first to sail through the straits, that belongs to the Spanish sea captain, Juan de Ayala back in 1775.
History does not record what he named the straits at the time, however it did record what he named the island in the bay behind the straits, he called it the Island of the Pelicans
or in Spanish "Isla de Alcatraces", you can guess what the name of this famous island is today.
The Panama Pacific Exposition
The stamp was designed in anticipation of the upcoming Panama Pacific Exhibtion, held in 1915 in San Francisco.
The Expo was named the Panama Pacific Exposition ostensibly to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal and the 400th
anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific by Vasco Núñez de Balboa.
The primary purpose of the exposition was to show the world that San Francisco was back in business after the 1906 earthquake.
The 5c stamp was issued on December 26th, 1912, part of a set of four.
The city went overboard with exposition, and was to be, in relative terms, one of the most expensive and profitable in history.
The Tower of Jewels
Encrusted with over 100,000 Novagems to make it sparkle in the sunlight
and at night by spotlight
Before demolition the jewels were removed from the tower and
sold to the public, boxed, at $1 each
The exposition was a commercial success and as result efforts were made to save as
much as possible, unfortunately most of the buildings were temporary in nature, including
the tower. Furthermore almost all the Expo was on leased land and the owners expected to have their land back.
Much of the exposition was built of plaster and wood. The Palace of Fine Arts
was left to decay by the lagoon, only to be demolished in 1930, since then four replica's
have been built in its place.
The Palace of Fine Arts as it looks today
The Palace of Fine Arts as it looked then
A 1915 photograph of the Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is seen to the left of the Exposition and the Tower of Jewels in the center.
It was two and half miles in length.
The Exposition lit at night
An Australian cover with an Exposition cancel used for the redirect, note that the cancel was in use prior to the Expo.