Dollar-Sign Stamps — By Charles Snee
Purists in the world of postal history sometimes look down their noses at covers from stamp dealers, dismissing them because the stamps affixed don’t represent a “commercial” use.
Fair enough, but such covers are starting to capture more attention from collectors.
Consider this registered cover, which Jack Molesworth (1925-2007) sent in June 1978 from Boston to Syracuse, N.Y. Backstamps (not shown) indicate the cover took two days to reach its destination.
Two $1 Eugene O’Neill coil stamps (Scott 1305C) and a single $5 John Bassett Moore (1295) combine with a block of four 24¢ Americana stamps (1603) and a 2¢ Frank Lloyd Wright (1280) to pay the $7.98 postage: 28¢ for a 2-ounce, first-class letter, plus the $7.70 registry fee for contents valued at up to $8,000.
Note that this represents an in-period (albeit late) use of the $5 Moore, because the $5 Americana stamp (Scott 1612) would not be issued until Aug. 23, 1979, more than one year later.
Given the rather robust indemnity, it is tantalizing to ruminate a bit about what the envelope once contained.
An esteemed expert on and student of Confederate States philately, Molesworth ran a brisk business from his Beacon Street store in Boston. Covers such as this — bearing his distinctive “Jack E. Molesworth, Inc.” corner card (return address) — are not hard to find.
This cover sold online in mid-April for a modest $16, attracting 11 bids from seven bidders.
A similar philatelic registered cover from dealer Lowell Donald in Vermont, also franked with a $5 Moore stamp and mailed in 1979, sold online around the same time for about $50.
Why the big difference in price? The answer likely lies in how the two sellers described the covers.
For the Molesworth cover, no mention was made either of the $5 Moore stamp or its Scott number in the description.
Savvy seller No. 2 began the description of the Lowell Donald cover with, “$5 Moore #1295” and included the word “registered.” Not one of these important cues was used to tout the Molesworth cover.
Connect with Linn’s Stamp News:
All of which means the buyer of the Molesworth cover picked up a nice bargain.
By the way, there is another, more subtle reason why I liked this cover when I first saw it: I turned 12 June 28, 1978, the day it arrived in Syracuse.