Ultramarine, dull ultramarine or deep ultramarine
Subject: Fleet of Columbus
Number issued: 19,181,550
Scott #: 233
Issued: January 1st, 1893
$2 - £5
No postmark with gum (MH)
$7 - $10
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
$35 - $55
The Boston Post Office had the whole series (minus the 8¢) for sale on January 2nd, not waiting for the launch at the Expo the next day. As a result there are a few first day covers with the January 2nd date. Such an example is shown above, there are only four January 2nd FDC's known
Stamps with a Columbian Exposition postmark, or even better, on mail from the Exposition have a significant price premium. The latter can command prices in the $150 to $400 range.
Rare bisects - Fall 2011 Auction - $4,500 each
A Tudor Carrack, the Mary Rose, depicted on the 'Anthony Roll' circa 1530. There are no visual records of the Santa Maria, a Spanish Carrack, all paintings and depictions will be based on contemporary resources such as this.
A Tudor Carrack, the Mary Rose, as it is now. Visitors to the Mary Rose will get an idea of the size and nature of the Santa Maria, which at the time was a fast sailing ship.
A slightly later depiction of Carracks. A print by Frans Huys circa 1560.
A pane of 100 of #233, there are two panes to a sheet of 200
Although the sender could have placed a 5¢ stamp on this cover they chose to use a combination of a 1¢ and 4¢, thereby placing a stamp that complimented the depiction of the sailing ship in the advertisement for the Steamship Company.
#233a comes in three shades, blue, dull blue and bright blue. Below are three illustrations to compare the blue shades of #233a with the ultramarine shades of #233.
The images below show various shades of blue, depending on the color settings of your screen they may well show a different hue.
Care should be taken when assuming a stamp is #233a. It is a very rare stamp and will require certification to attest to its status as genuine. The 4¢ Columbian stamp that you have is 99.9% likely to be #233. The chances of it being #233a are the same as being struck by lightning…twice.
The simplest method is to compare the shade of your stamp to #233 as shown further down the page. However there are some exceptions where the color of #233 can closely resemble the color of #233a and only the eye of a trained observer can discern the difference.
#233a in the DULL BLUE shade vs the three shades of #233
#233a in the BRIGHT BLUE shade vs the three shades of #233
#233a in the BLUE shade vs the three shades of #233
#233a is the Scotts number for the color error of #233. #233a stamp was erroneously printed with the blue ink used for the 1¢ (#230), instead of the ultramarine of #233.
Two sheets, #D17 and #D18 were purchased whole, the plate numbers from these sheets still exist. There were other sheets printed and sold as postage, these appear occasionally appear at auctions at a hefty premium over the standard #233.
#233a was printed in the blue color of #230 in error. As a consequence the shades of #233 closely match those of #230, as shown in the illustrations below.
#233a in the DULL BLUE shade vs the three shades of #230
#233a in the BRIGHT BLUE shade vs the three shades of #230
#233a in the BLUE shade vs the three shades of #230
The stamps color is normally shades of ultramarine. #233a is the Scotts number for the color error of this stamp. The stamp was printed with the blue ink used for the 1¢ (#230), instead of the ultramarine of the 4¢ value.
Two sheets, #D17 and #D18 were purchased whole, the plate numbers from these sheets still exist. There were other sheets printed and sold as postage, these appear occasionally appear at auctions at a hefty premium over the standard #233. The color error was caused when the printers erroneously used the ink designated for the 1¢ issue.
An example of an ultramarine #233 which has been chemically treated to appear as if it is a blue #233a
A fairly common variety, it marginally adds to the value of the stamp
The vignette is from 'The three caravels of Christopher Columbus', 1885, watercolour by Rafael Monleon y Torres (1843-1900). The title of the painting is inaccurate, the Santa Maria was a carrack, the other two were caravels. The Nina and Pinta were actually nicknames of the caravels. The Nina (girl) was the Santa Clara and was the fastest of the three ships. The Pinta meant the Painted One, its true name has not been established. Both caravels sailed for another 45 years after the voyage with Columbus. The Santa Maria was shipwrecked on the journey, its location has not been found.
#233 was issued with the following plate #'s
D16 - 20
Essay on Card
Essay on Card
Dim dark yellow orange
Essay on Card
Plate proof on card stock
Large Die Essay on India
82 x 70mm card with full die sinkage
Large die proof die sunk on 110x101mm card
An American Bank Note Company set of proofs mounted on card and signed by the engravers
On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the Landing of Columbus the largest Exposition ever held on US soil was held in Chicago. The Post Office was determined not to miss out on this and proposed a series of stamps to commemorate the event. The purpose behind this was three fold
1) To encourage the purchase of stamps by the public
2) To stimulate the hobby of stamp collecting
3) To make a tidy profit
It was estimated that 3 Billion stamps would be sold and between September and the end of December 1892 work progressed on their production.
The Post Office's plan of their exhibition space at the Chicago Exposition
At the Exposition the Post Office was in the US Government Building and had been given a vast amount of display space. The display cases showcased stamps from the very earliest days of stamps to 1892 both in the US and around the world. Postal cards were sold in every building and of course one could purchase the new Columbian series stamps.
The US Government building at the World's Columbian Exposition
The Post Office Dept. informed all post offices that they would not be able to order the new series on an 'as needed' basis as was the normal procedure. Instead they would be sent an amount the powers to be deemed sufficient. Plus the department would not accept any returns and they would not be issued any other stamps until they had run out the new series. This caused much complaining by the post office owners, complaints were coming in that these stamps were too big, being twice the size of current issue (this was done to accommodate the expansive designs).
The Post Office display space at the World's Fair
The post offices need not have worried. The stamps proved to be immensely popular. So much so that Post Offices refused to sell the higher values for fear of running out. The price of these skyrocketed as a result. Companies instructed their offices to use the higher values on internal parcels so they could benefit from their sale when delivered to their branch offices. US travellers in Europe were accosted for them, they were even traded on bourses.
And then like all bubbles, it collapsed. Before you knew it the $5 stamps were being sold at a steep discount. Being totally useless for letters, and with a world glut the price dropped like a stone, at one point stamp dealers would only offer 30% of the face value for them.