US Stamps

An update on stamp dealer ads on stock cards

Feb 16, 2021, 11 AM
Marginal to a stamp collection perhaps, but interesting nevertheless are these 3-inch-by-5-inch stock cards with dealer advertising on the back. They are an interesting retrospective on the history of the stamp trade.

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

I first wrote about dealer ads on the back of 3-inch-by-5-inch stock cards in my column in the March 14, 2016, issue of Linn’s. Since then several Linn’s readers have sent me additional examples. I now have more than 75 different cards in my collection, and I expect it will top 100 before too long.

Four examples are shown here. While these examples bear printed inscriptions, others in my collection are handstamped, and a few are even handwritten.

With no way to date most of these cards except the years the dealers were in business, it is my sense that the great majority are from the 20th century. Some of the cards date as far back as the 1940s.

Why collect such nonphilatelic items? They are evidence of the history of the stamp trade. Over my 60-plus years in the hobby, I have dealt with a significant number of these dealers or admired their work.

They also serve as evidence that those who have a collector personality collect things that are there to accumulate, regardless of value, or in this case of no recognizable value at all.

These stock cards are just a fun reminder of a mostly earlier age in our hobby.

My thanks to Linn’s readers Charles Bemis, Eric Jackson, Robert Rabinowitz and Carl Troy for sending in examples that they have found.

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