Treasure Trove - Part 2

The rare two-cent Pan-American stamp with inverted center was at one time sold by stamp dealers on Nassau Street for only $5.00 a stamp. Presently one is worth about $2500! The rarest stamp of all, the one-cent magenta British Guiana was originally sold by dealer Ridpath to a collector - the initial sale from dealer to collector - for £ 125 (approximately $725). The last time this stamp changed hands the price paid was reported as $50,000! No stamp dealer, however erudite, can know the value of every stamp that passes through his hands nor, for that matter, where to place every stamp. Hence, his stock is the most logical place to locate stamps of potentially great value. Every stamp dealer and every collector takes opportunity to visit the booths of other dealers at stamp exhibitions. Every stamp dealer and collector always finds stamps of value on such visits. Finds big and small are made in this manner with startling regularity. What one man holds in little regard another may recognize as a bonanza. Witness the true story of the late John Meurer, a postal stationery collector of note.

Two-cent inverted Pan American stamp
Two-cent inverted Pan American stamp.

Meurer did not always have the wide knowledge of United States stamped envelopes which he was eventually to attain. In fact, this one incident started him off on specializing in envelopes. As related to me by Meurer himself, it happened this way. He was browsing through the miscellaneous box of covers that almost all dealers leave on their counters for the amusement of clients waiting for attention. Such boxes never contain anything rare or valuable - just miscellaneous material priced at a few cents and up. Meurer was doing the usual thing, just idly looking through such a lot, when he came across a United States stamped envelope which struck his eye.

One-cent British Guiana stamp
One-cent British Guiana, the rarest stamp in the world.

It looked as though it might be one of the rare dies. Meurer wasn't sure so he asked the dealer. The dealer said no. Still intrigued Meurer said he wasn't sure but he would buy it anyway. How much? Five cents! The stamp panned out. It was indeed the rare die and Meurer sold it for $150. Then he decided to become a specialist in United States envelopes. Meurer never found another of these envelopes; nor has any one else. Research disclosed that no other entire has ever been known in the philatelic world. That envelope reposed for a few years in the collection of Louis H. Barkhausen. This was the greatest collection of United States postal stationery ever formed. When sold by the author in 1954, Meurer himself attended the sale and watched the envelope he had purchased a few years before - from a stamp dealer's box of miscellany for five cents - bring the record price of $2900.00.

A more recent incident of treasure trove took place in 1957 when a mild mannered gentleman visited my booth at a stamp exhibition and produced two envelopes issued to commemorate the Bi-centennial of George Washington celebrated in 1932. Such envelopes are quite common - worth a few cents each. But the thing which made the two envelopes this gentleman presented so remarkable was that they were printed on blue paper. No such blue paper Bi-centennial envelopes had heretofore been known - and this although some 25 years had passed since the envelopes had been issued. Where had these two blue envelopes been all of these years? The gentleman explained that he had found them in a box of ordinary white paper envelopes and had kept them all of these years wondering if they had any value. Now, he had reached retirement age and wondered if they did have a value could they be sold?

They most certainly did have a value. After careful research to determine the possibility of more having been made, I was convinced that these two blue paper envelopes were an error. Two blue envelope blanks had inadvertently become mixed with the white paper blanks of which the Bi-centennial envelopes were being made. When sold a few months later the two envelopes brought the tidy sum of $2650.00 each. Every collector has some stamps or covers that he "picked up for a song" at some dealer's store or booth at an exhibition. Whether or not their cost was, in truth, "a song" will depend upon what they might be sold for at some later date. The collector who acquired them is happy with his find, has backed his belief by acquiring the stamps, and, in all probability, has in fact made a find. This search for treasure, with the ever-present chance of discovering it, is one of the greatest pleasures of stamp collecting. It can happen to you today, tomorrow or the next day. You have only to know what you are looking for and you will most certainly find it. This website has indicated the way. From here on, it's up to you. Adventure beckons and you are ready to start. Welcome to the ranks of Philately!