US Stamps

Trans-Mississippi Mining Prospector stamp a favorite with collectors

Apr 10, 2024, 8 AM
The United States 1898 50¢ Western Mining Prospector stamp (Scott 291) from the Trans-Mississippi Exposition issue is a perennial favorite with collectors.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

In 1898, the U.S. Post Office Department issued the second set of U.S. commemorative stamps, the Trans-Mississippi Exposition issue (Scott 285-293). The exposition was held in Omaha, Neb., June 1 to Nov. 1, 1898, to celebrate the development of the United States west of the Mississippi River.

As just one of two sets of U.S. commemorative stamps issued in the 19th century, this set is a perennial favorite with collectors.

The design of the 50¢ sage green Western Mining Prospector (Scott 291) was based on the painting The Gold Bug by Frederic Remington.

The vignette shows a wildcat gold prospector leading two heavily loaded pack mules through a desert landscape. The miner holds a small hand pick in his right hand, while his dog lounges to the right rear of the second mule.

A horse had previously appeared on a U.S. stamp (the 1869 2¢ Pictorial, Scott 113), but this was the first appearance of mules on a U.S. issue.

The Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the stamp in very fine grade and unused, original gum condition at $600. A used example is valued at $175. An example in mint, never-hinged condition is valued at a whopping $1,750.

The stamp is a good buy in very fine grade and all three conditions at about 80 percent of Scott catalog value.

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