By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
Recent attempts to write the Confederacy out of American history have ironically backfired with collectors. There is a great deal of renewed interest in stamps and covers with topics relating to the Confederacy.
In 1955, as part of the Liberty definitive stamp series, the United States issued a black 30¢ stamp picturing Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate States Army.
There are three Scott-listed varieties of this definitive, and specialist collectors will want to have all three in the formats that they collect. A wet-printing, major-number-listed variety (Scott 1049) was issued Sept. 21, 1955. In June 1957, a dry-printing variety (1049a) found its way to post offices. An intense black color variety on harder, whiter paper (Scott 1049b) also is listed.
None of these varieties are particularly hard to find or terribly expensive. The 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values them in mint never-hinged condition at $1.20, $1 and 80¢, respectively.
Mint plate-number blocks are valued at $5.25, $4.50 and $3.75, respectively. You can easily find them all at a discount from Scott catalog value.
What is harder to find and more worthwhile is a single-use franking on an international airmail cover. The Scott U.S. Specialized catalog values such a cover bearing Scott 1049a at $10. A decent commercial cover would be a very good buy at that value.
Also look for mint panes of 100. Dry-printing panes of 100 are a good buy in the $150 to $200 price range. Wet-printing panes sell for a bit more.