US Stamps

Covers from cherished philatelic friends stir warm, pleasant memories

Apr 30, 2021, 3 AM
Jay Bigalke, a former Linn’s editorial staff member, sent this unofficial first-day cover of the 2010 $4.90 Mackinac Bridge stamp to Linn’s managing editor and Dollar-Sign Stamps columnist Charles Snee.

Dollar-Sign Stamps — By Charles Snee

Stamp collectors love stamps. One way we show our devotion, of course, is by using stamps on mail.

During the course of my almost 20 years at Linn’s Stamp News, I’ve received hundreds of letters and parcels franked with stamps.

Of these, the ones I cherish the most are those received from my many philatelic colleagues and friends.

Herewith are four that I dug out of my bulging files for your viewing enjoyment.

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Up first is the small flat-rate Priority Mail envelope franked with a United States $4.90 Mackinac Bridge stamp (Scott 4438).

In this case, the Feb. 3, 2010, postmark date is significant — that’s the stamp’s official first day of issue.

Does that make this an official first-day cover? Not so fast.

Notice that the cover was postmarked in St. Ignace, Mich. The official first-day city, however, was Mackinaw, Mich.

What might explain this apparent contradiction?

To answer this question, I turned to Jay Bigalke’s March 1, 2010, report in Linn’s about the $4.90 Mackinac Bridge first-day ceremony, which he attended.

Space constraints and the desire to hold the ceremony indoors prompted officials to conduct the event on the St. Ignace side of the Mackinac Bridge, Jay wrote.

Several days before the ceremony, I asked Jay to send me unofficial $4.90 Mackinac Bridge first-day covers postmarked in Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, which are on opposite ends of the bridge.

Unfortunately, the Mackinaw City cover suffered a nasty scuff that damaged the stamp during transit. The St. Ignace cover, as you can see, looks fantastic.

Of course, I reimbursed Jay for the cost of the stamps, and I am grateful he had time to service the covers and mail them to me.

Jay and I worked together on the Linn’s editorial staff for the better part of 10 years before Jay departed in late 2014 to man the editor’s desk of the American Philatelist, the monthly journal of the American Philatelic Society.

Fascinated by high-denomination U.S. stamps?

To read the rest of Charles Snee's Dollar-Sign Stamps column and more in the June 5 issue, subscribe to Linn's Stamp News