US Stamps

1881 Empire City Dispatch Co. local post stamp rising in value

May 4, 2021, 3 AM
Very fine unused examples of the United States 1881 Empire City Dispatch Co. local post stamp (Scott 64L1) are becoming harder to find and are a good buy at up to $5.

By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

One of the best qualities about our hobby is that interesting stamps, stories, and experiences don’t need to be expensive.

In 1881, J. Bevan & Son set up shop as the Empire City Dispatch Co. at 23 Dey St. in New York City for the purpose of local delivery of mail. The company produced a nondenominated stamp printed in black on green laid paper perforated gauge 12 (Scott 64L1).

The government stepped in almost immediately and shut the firm down because it was in violation of the U.S. Post Office Department’s monopoly on the delivery of letter mail.

Virtually the entire print run of stamps was remaindered and sold to stamp dealer G.B. Calman. Some of these remaindered stamps were imperforate because the company did not have time to finish the perforations before it was shut down.

The 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values this local post stamp in unused original gum condition at only $1.50. The stamp is not valued in used condition, and it is likely that few if any exist. An unused block of four is valued at $7.50, and an unused imperforate pair is valued at $35.

Because the stamp was so inexpensive and common, it was never forged or reprinted, so authenticity isn’t really a concern.

Although the stamp is inexpensive, it can be a challenge to find in undamaged condition. After 135 years, no doubt many of them have been lost or destroyed.

You can find examples in lesser conditions for as little as $1, but $5 is a good price for an example in very fine condition without flaws.