5¢ - Blue, dark blue
Printing Method: FLAT PLATE
Subject: The Golden Gate
Number issued: 20,000,000
Watermark: Single Line USPS
Scott #: 399
Issued: December 13th, 1912
25¢ - $1
No postmark with gum (MH)
$10 - $25
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
$25 - $90
A full plate block of six, as seen above, is, or was, a rare item and once commanded high prices as recently as 2021. However the high prices have encouraged some to sell, thus bringing the value of these plate blocks down. One year later the same block (different plate position) was selling for $443, same auction house and $1,495 at another.
Sold June 2021 for $5,310 (MNH)
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#399 did have precancels, although uncommon.
#399 was issued with the following plate #'s
A first day cover of #399 dated January 1st, 1913
First day covers bearing San Francisco Station D duplex cancellations are fake. The cancellations are back-dated collector fantasies.
While these stamps were current, a post office was established at Vera Cruz, Mexico, and various denominations of these stamps, perf. 12, may be found with this Vera Cruz cancellation. The station remained open until April 24th, 1914 and was discontinued November 23rd of the same year. Covers franked with stamps of this issue and cancelled Vera Cruz are much sought after. 'Whereas, the two lowest values are still quite common, covers bearing five or ten cent stamps of either perforations have become very desirable.
The above photo shows United States sailors at the door of a post office during the U.S. occupation of Veracruz, Mexico which took place during the Mexican Revolution. The U.S. troops entered the city on April 21, 1914 and stayed through November 1914.
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.
This change in attitude on the part of philatelic interests is evidenced by the various ideas for the "new commemoratives to be issued to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal" suggested by stamp publications in 1911 and 1912. The leader in this movement was the Philatelic Gazette, whose editor, Wm. W. Randall, as a native Californian, had a two fold interest, in the advertising of the exposition and in the philatelic value of distinctive new' stamps. In the issue of lMay 15, 1911, he suggested the following six stamps to depict the great scenic effects of the West:
1c - The giant Geyser at Yellowstone National Park*
2c - The Golden Gate entrance to San Francisco Harbor
4c - The Grand Canyon of Colorado*
5c - The Locks of the Gatun Dam, Panama Canal
6c - The Big Trees of California*
10c - The Bridal VeiI Falls in Yosemite Valley*
* Four of the suggestions were not taken up, but, as you can see by my illustration above they were designed later in the century. Only the Bridal Falls of Yosemite did not make it on to a stamp.
By the middle of August 1912 the designs for the 1 cent and 5 cent had been accepted by Postmaster General Hitchcock, the 5 cent bearing his signature "approved July 16." The 2 cent was almost ready for approval at this time, pending the acceptance of a satisfactory picture of the Gatun Locks. The l0 cent stamp did not make as satisfactory progress as the others as no suitable photo could be found of any of the subjects under consideration. It had been intended to use a portrait of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who in 1542 discovered the California mainland, on the highest denomination, but all efforts to find a picture of him proved futile. I. E. Bennet, who represented the exposition in Washington, finally discovered a painting acceptable to the Department, of one of the subjects under consideration and this was then used. Once the vignette subject had been accepted, work on the 10 cent stamp progressed rapidly, on the 22nd of August the latter stamp was approved, while the 2 cent stamp was not approved until August 27th.
There were, at the time, two fairly common portraits of Cabrillo circulating, and like all portraits of the early Spanish Explorers, they were based on the artists interpretation, there being no contemporary representation. Cabrillo, did make it onto a stamp in 1992.
The Golden Gate prior to the bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge, the story of its construction
Many wanted to build a bridge to connect San Francisco to Marin County. San Francisco was the largest American city still served primarily by ferry boats. Because it did not have a permanent link with communities around the bay, the city's growth rate was below the national average. Many experts said that a bridge could not be built across the 6,700-foot (2,000-metre) strait, which had strong, swirling tides and currents, with water 372 ft (113 m) deep at the center of the channel, and frequent strong winds. Experts said that ferocious winds and blinding fogs would prevent construction and operation
The Opening of the Bridge
The bridge-opening celebration began on May 27, 1937, and lasted for one week. The day before vehicle traffic was allowed, 200,000 people crossed either on foot or on roller skates.
Essay for the vignette
model, wash frame Mounted on thick card, with approval signatures.
The original design was of the Panama Canal, this was switched to the 2c design and the 2¢ design became the 5¢ design
Designer's model, wash frame
Mounted on thick card
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.
A 1915 photograph and painting of the Palace of Fine Arts
Reconstructed by the city of San Francisco, this is how the Palace of Fine Arts looks today
The Exposition lit at night
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
Two views of the Exhibition