US Stamps

By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

Navigating the market for one of the most attractive U.S. stamp sets: Tip of the Week

November 09, 2016 05:00 PM

  • The 4¢ Electric Automobile in Washington stamp (Scott 296) in the grade of very fine is a good buy at the 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values of $70 in unused hinged condition and $170 in mint never-hinged condition.

By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

The Pan-American Exposition set of six stamps (Scott 294-299) is one of the most attractive engraved bicolor postage stamp sets ever issued by the U.S. Post Office Department. 

The World’s Fair for which the stamps were issued was held May 1 to Nov. 2, 1901, in Buffalo, N.Y. The stamps were sold on location from May 1 to Oct. 31, 1901. Patriotic pride and technological progress were overshadowed by tragedy when President William McKinley was mortally wounded at the fair by an anarchist assassin on Sept. 6, 1901.

The 4¢ Electric Automobile in Washington stamp (Scott 296) has a Back to the Future feel because some automakers, with government encouragement, are seeking to produce viable electric cars today.

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The 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the 4¢ stamp at $70 in unused hinged condition and $170 in mint never-hinged condition. Expect to pay 75 percent to 100 percent of catalog value for strictly graded stamps in the grade of very fine.

When buying, look for examples with perforation teeth of uniform length. Stamps for sale at a steep discount from catalog value with one or more short perforation teeth are not a bargain. If buying unused hinged, avoid examples with heavy hinging, multiple hinge remnants, or only partial gum — again, they are not really a bargain. 

Beware of straight-edge examples that have been reperforated. Expertization is a good idea when buying a mint never-hinged example because many have been regummed. 

Stamps of this issue usually have a row or more of perforation impressions on the gum. Totally flat gum is likely to be regummed. Fresh original gum glistens. Dull gum is usually an indication of regumming.