US Stamps

Stamp illustrations appear on vintage postcards

Oct 29, 2018, 9 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes — By John M. Hotchner

Illustrations of United States stamps can be found on postcards from the early days of the 20th century.

With thanks to friend Bob Toal, who deals in stamps, covers and postcards in the Washington, D.C. area, I have three examples to share here that are new to me.

Figure 1 depicts a black-and-white postcard used from Berlin in 1920, although it appears to be a souvenir of a 1907 stamp club event.

The card pictures three distinguished-looking gentlemen who are labeled (in German) as the honorary chairman and two honorary deputies overseeing the event. But it is the illustrations of four U.S. stamps that first caught my eye.

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They are the 1¢, 2¢, 8¢ and 10¢ denominations of the U.S. definitive series of 1902-03, known as the Second Bureau Issue. Why those and not other stamps of this issue, I don’t know.

The postcard in Figure 2 is addressed, but unused. The simulated cancellation on the front reads, “Souvenir of Hawaii, 7.21.08.”

Shown in the center of the card at the top are the flags of the United States and Hawaii; the United States had annexed Hawaii in 1898.

In addition, this card depicts 16 designs from Hawaii issues of 1853 to 1899, including two items of postal stationery. The stamps are not great reproductions, but easy enough to match up with catalog illustrations.

Inscribed in tiny text on the address side of this card is “Published by the Island Curio Co., Jan Steiner, Honolulu — Germany.”

As colorful as the Hawaii card is, it is eclipsed by the postcard in Figure 3. Dated 1899, it was sent from Lisbon, Portugal, to Vienna, Austria.

The card celebrates stamps with inverted centers and features three clowns standing on their heads, juggling five inverts with their feet.

Starting on the left, the bi-color inverts are from Brazil,

Guatemala, Spain and two from the United States. The latter are the 24¢ (Scott 120b) and the 90¢ inverted center proof (124P4a) of the 1869 issue.

In today’s catalog value, these five stamps total about $770,000.

Toal rates this card as rare, but it is the only way I am going to own these two U.S. inverts.