US Stamps

Columbian broken hat variety

Apr 27, 2021, 8 AM

United States — The broken hat variety of the 1893 2¢ brown Landing of Columbus stamp (Scott 231) was once listed in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers as 231c. In the 2015 Scott U.S. Specialized catalog, it is simply noted and valued without a number assigned.

The catalog notes: “There are a number of different versions of the broken hat variety, some of which may be progressive.”

The variety is seen as a gap in the brim of the hat on the third figure left of Columbus. We tipped this variety in the Stamp Market Tips column in the July 16, 2007, Linn’s. It is time to tip it again.

The 2015 Scott U.S. Specialized catalog values an example in mint never-hinged condition at $150. An example in unused original gum condition is valued at $50, while a used example is valued at $3.50.

We think the stamp in mint never-hinged condition would be a good buy in the $100 to $125 price range.

Broken hat varieties come from plates LL144 and 146LL. Plate number blocks of eight exist both with all eight stamps being the variety and mixed with some broken hat and some normal. Both are really scarce. Blocks of four with two stamps being the broken hat variety also exist, and they bring a premium over the value of the individual stamps.

Used examples are worth $3.50, if you collect in that condition. Try looking through lots and collections for them. For many years, they were valued at just 50¢, so many collectors and dealers did not bother to search for them.

Tip of the week
Panama — Panama, the southernmost country on the North American continent, occupies the isthmus that connects North and South America. Formerly a department of Colombia, it gained its independence in 1903, largely as a result of the American ambition to build the Panama Canal.

Registration stamps are issued to pay the fee for registered mail. Usually they are not valid for payment of postage; they can only be used to pay the registration fee. Many registration stamps were issued with blank spaces provided in which the registration number of the mailpiece could be written.

Panama issued registration stamps both as a department of Colombia and as an independent republic.

In 1903, the newly independent Republic of Panama overprinted “Panama” on a Colombian 20-centavo blue registration stamp and gave it a manuscript surcharge to 10c (Scott F26).

The 2015 Scott Classic Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 values the stamp in used condition at $50. After some competitive bidding in a recent online auction, one sold for nearly $90.

This stamp is scare and rarely offered. It is obviously worth more than catalog value, if you can find it. — H.G. & R.M.

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