Salmon or dark salmon
Subject: Isabella pledging her jewels
Number issued: 55,050
Scott #: 241
Issued: January 1st, 1893
$100 - $150
No postmark with gum (MH)
$350 - $600
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
$900 - $1,500
An example of an Exposition cancel which will command a price premium. Covers such as the one above sell in the region of $2,500
The Columbian series proved to be immensely popular with the public. The $1 value was the first to sell out. It soon reached a price of $5 each. As a consequence post masters attempted to keep back some for postal use. However companies were instructing employees to use high value Columbians on their internal mail as even used copies were fetching a 50% premium over face value.
What goes up must come down, and the prices crashed, particularly on the high values. The $5 could be purchased at a steep discount as they were almost useless for mail (they served no purpose at all) and folks wanted to get shot of them before the price fell even further.
At the height of the bubble, in 1898, the post office could not find any $1 for themselves as they needed them for sets. Ultimately they had to buy from stamp dealers, swapping the $1 and $2 Trans- Mississippi value for the $1 Columbians at a 1.5:1 rate.
A pane of 100 of #241, there are two panes to a sheet of 200
ISABEL LA CATOLICA DONA LAS JOYAS A COLON
ANTONIO MUÑOZ DEGRAIN
The legend that Queen Isabella pawned her jewels because the royal coffers were depleted from the war with the Moors is merely a fable. Although the Queen offered the jewels to the cause, this never was necessary, yet the story has endured for 500 years. It served as inspiration for artist Antonio Muñoz Degrain (1843-1924) for his painting Isabel the Catholic Bequeaths Her Jewels, c. 1878. Although this painting was displayed at the 1878 Universal Exhibition in Paris, it was rumoured to have been sold to an American. Since that time, the painting was thought to have disappeared, the painting now hangs in one of the legislative chambers at Madrid
Tickets to the Columbian Exhibition
#241 was issued with the following plate #
Ferrotype plate essay of unfinished adopted vignette, in red
Large die proof on 110x101mm card
Roosevelt small die proof on India mounted on card
Plate proof on 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.