Brown red or deep brown red
Subject: Columbus in chains
Number issued: 45,550
Scott #: 242
Issued: January 1st, 1893
$100 - $130
No postmark with gum (MH)
$200 - $500
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
$1,250 - $2,250
An example of an Exposition cancel which will command a price premium. Covers such as the one above sell in the region of $4,500
Arawak speakers in Surinam
A pane of 100 of #242, there are two panes to a sheet of 200
"Columbus in Chains"
There is nothing to like about Columbus. Half his crew abandoned him. Columbus was brutal and tyrannical, his governance of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) was murderous. Native islanders who didn’t collect enough gold could have their hands cut off, and rebel Spanish colonists were executed at the gallows. Colonists complained to the monarchy about his reign of terror, and a royal commissioner dispatched to Hispaniola arrested Columbus in August 1500 and brought him back to Spain in chains.
On first greeting the friendly Tiano natives of Hispaniola he noticed they had no firearms and thus he declared they would make good servants. He went further than that and enslaved all 250,000 natives. By 1550, both the Tiano, Carib and almost all Arawak natives were extinct (today a handfull claim to be Arawak). Thanks to Columbus the entire native population of the Caribbean was wiped out. Almost, their DNA is still present in todays Caribbean native population, some individuals have as much as 60%.
#242 was issued with the following plate #
#242 was not printed on India paper. The proofs were, which was a giveaway as to this being a forgery.
Large die proof on 110x101mm card
Roosevelt small die proof on India mounted on card
Plate proof on card
Trial color proof on india paper mounted 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.