Starting a collection of classic U.S. Official stamps
Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
The franking privilege for departmental Official mail was abolished effective July 1, 1873, and replaced by Official mail stamps.
Stamps were issued for the departments of Agriculture, the Interior, Justice, Navy, Post Office, State, Treasury and War, and the executive branch of the government.
Many of these Official stamps can be quite pricey, especially in unused, original gum condition.
The designs of the stamps, except for the rather plain Numeral Post Office Department stamp, were patterned after the 1870 series postage stamps with left-facing busts: 1¢ Benjamin Franklin, 2¢ Andrew Jackson, 3¢ George Washington, 6¢ Abraham Lincoln, 7¢ Edwin M. Stanton, 10¢ Thomas Jefferson, 12¢ Henry Clay, 15¢ Daniel Webster, 24¢ Winfield Scott, 30¢ Alexander Hamilton and 90¢ Oliver Hazard Perry.
For the State Department only, $2, $5, $10 and $20 William H. Seward Official stamps also were issued.
If you are ready to dip your toe into classic U.S. Official stamps, a good place to start is with the 24¢ rose Gen. Winfield Scott War Department Official (Scott O91).
Scott served in U.S. Army from 1814 to 1861. He also won the Whig Party nomination for president in 1852. He retired from the Army in November 1861, after having developed the strategy known as the “anaconda plan” for defeating the South in the Civil War.
The Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue values the 24¢ Gen. Winfield Scott Official stamp (Scott O91) at $85 in unused, original gum condition; $12 in used condition; and $40 in unused, no gum condition. An example in mint, never-hinged condition is valued at $190.
All values are for stamps in very fine grade, and the stamps are a good buy at around 80 percent of Scott catalog value in that grade. As always, stamps in lesser grades or with minor faults are available for much less.
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