US Stamps

U.S. Thaddeus Lowe airmail letter sheet still tough to find used

Dec 2, 2021, 8 AM
The 1995 United States 50ยข Thaddeus Lowe airmail letter sheet (Scott UC64) is exceedingly scarce in used condition and a great buy at full Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers value.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

Before the use of envelopes for mailing letters became common, the sheet or sheets of paper on which the letter was written were simply folded and sealed with the address written on the outside of the folded sheets. After the introduction of postal stationery, some countries issued postal stationery letter sheets.

Airmail letter sheets franked for foreign destinations were probably the most popular usage, because the folded sheet weighed less than a letter in an envelope and thus cost less to mail.

The United States issued its first letter sheets in 1861 and its last airmail letter sheet in 1999.

Modern U.S. airmail letter sheets are generally far scarcer in used condition than in mint condition. Airmail letter sheets issued in the 1990s are particularly scarce in used condition.

One of the most attractive as well as one of the scarcest is the 50¢ Thaddeus Lowe airmail letter sheet (Scott UC64) issued Sept. 23, 1995. A mint example is valued at just $1.50, but the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the letter sheet in used condition at $20 with the value in italics.

We previously tipped this airmail letter sheet in used condition in the Stamp Market Tips column in the Feb. 15, 2016, Linn’s.

In 2016 the listed Scott value for the Thaddeus Lowe letter sheet in used condition was $10, with the used value in italics. Just over five years later, the listed value for a used example has doubled.

Lowe, the subject of the airmail letter sheet, was an aeronaut who pioneered the use of manned balloons for reconnaissance in the American Civil War. He was appointed chief aeronaut of the U.S. Army Balloon Corps by President Abraham Lincoln.

Correctly used in period examples of this airmail letter sheet are hard to find. Examples that are not obviously philatelic in origin are exceedingly scarce. If you find one offered at Scott catalog value, it is a great buy.

In addition to postal stationery collectors, this airmail letter sheet is of interest to aviation and Civil War topical collectors.

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