US Stamps

Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

It’s a good time to add a $5 black Christopher Columbus stamp to your collection

October 04, 2017 09:00 PM

  • Now is a good time to look for a U.S. Columbian Exposition issue $5 black Christopher Columbus stamp (Scott 245) in the best grade and condition you can afford. Expertization is a must.

Tip of the Week — By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

One of the great classic United States stamps that is missing from many intermediate-level collections is the $5 black Christopher Columbus stamp (Scott 245) from the 1893 Columbian Exposition issue. And with a 2018 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers value of $9,500 in mint never-hinged condition and very fine grade, you can understand why. The value is accurate, because there are not many sound stamps in that grade with certificates.

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Most examples with certificates show that they have been reperforated or have small flaws. Examples in the grade of very fine without faults are worth full Scott catalog value. A high proportion of the stamps offered as mint never-hinged have been regummed.

If buying stamps offered as being without faults, expertization is a must, as in our experience 90 percent of all $5 Columbians are faulty in some way. Beware especially of online auctions offering examples without certificates purporting to be very fine and never hinged, because they have been regummed and usually reperforated to make them appear very fine.

The 2018 Scott Stamp Values – U.S. Specialized by Grade section of the Scott U.S. Specialized catalog values the used stamp at $1,150 in very fine grade and at $850 in fine to very fine condition. It values the stamp in unused no gum condition at $1,150 in very fine grade and $775 in fine to very fine condtion. It values it in unused original gum condition at $2,300 very fine and at $1,550 fine to very fine.

Shop around and buy the stamp in the best grade and condition you can afford at the best price you find. If you still can’t afford a sound example, small faults such as a moderately heavy cancellation, a short perforation tooth, or a blind perforation will bring the price down considerably.

You can fill that space — just make certain that what you are buying is really as advertised.