Nearly every day I hear from an individual who believes they have a Scott 596, the 1923 1¢ Washington Franklin rotary press sheet waste stamp. Alas, the submitted items typically turn out to be the flat plate Scott 552 or the perf 11 x 10.5 Scott 632 – virtually never a Scott 596. However, we do receive many very nice items, some of which may be as scarce as a 596, even if nowhere near as valuable.
One recent example is an item acquired by a Colorado collector in Texas 40 years ago. When looking through a dollar box at a show, some collectors might pass the Figure 1 cover up as a philatelic cover. But they’d be mistaken – this cover is in fact a fascinating use of an affixing machine perforation. The Attleboro Stamp Company used an affixing machine to stamp its newsletters during the summer and fall of 1909. As detailed in George Howard’s The Stamp Machines and Coiled Stamps “the one-cent stamp was used in the machine throughout August 1909, and in mailing the September, October and perhaps November numbers of the Attleboro Philatelist.” The stamp is listed in the Vending and Affixing Machine Perforations section of the Scott U.S. Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps & Covers.
According to Howard’s book the earliest known cover shows a dated cancellation of August 2, just like the one in Figure 1. Howard, about that earliest known use, said “This was a drop letter (1¢ first class local rate) and is probably a first day cover as August 1 was a Sunday that year.” The Figure 1 submitted item, similarly, uses the same stamp paying the one-cent fee for third class printed matter. An Attleboro Vending and Affixing Machine perforation on Scott 343 on cover has a 2020 Scott Specialized Catalogue value of $12,500. The APEX client who owns this item may now also factor in the fact that the cover is also an earliest documented use. This is APEX certificate 235700.
Figure 1. Certified genuine by APEX cert 235700, an earliest known use of Attleboro Vending and Affixing Machine perforation on Scott 343 on cover.
The next item was submitted by Emerald Ventures, owned by Heath Heist and Jonathan Elwell, who also own Alan Blair Stamps and Auctions. Figure 2 is a strip of four of the unissued H Post Card rate stamp with a 46135 (Greencastle, Indiana) cancellation. In the Scott U.S. Specialized Catalogue there is a note after the listing for Scott 3269 which states “Unused and used examples of an “H” nondenominated stamp inscribed “Postcard Rate” exist in the marketplace. There is no evidence that these stamps were ever officially issued. Values: unused $2,400; used $1,750.”
These stamps were printed sometime in 1998 in anticipation of the rate change scheduled for January 10, 1999. The new "H" stamps were delivered to most of the post offices throughout the country. Since the rate change did not include the postcard rate, this specific stamp was not needed. Most were returned and destroyed - but not all. The first used copies started to show up around 2002. There were some singles at first and then some on-cover uses found. Early in 2005 a used strip of five was offered – later that year, a used block of 20 surfaced and eventually was broken down and sold in various blocks, pairs and singles. Most of the used copies of these stamps have Indiana cancellations – more specifically, Greencastle, Indiana, cancels.
The Greencastle, Indiana, newspaper ran a story about these stamps in October 2006. The article reported that Larry and Gail Roberts, who lived in a rural area outside of Greencastle, ordered postage stamps from their rural carrier in early 1999 and received what Ms. Roberts recalls as a mint sheet of 20 of the Yellow "H" stamps.
Over the next several months they used some of these stamps to pay the first class rate on various correspondence and bills. It is likely that the Roberts’ outgoing mail went to a small branch post office in Fillmore and then proceeded to the larger regional post office in Greencastle.
Not long after the Roberts received the stamps, a church friend mentioned reading in Linn’s Stamp News that yellow H stamps were quite valuable. The Roberts found that they still had an unused block of eight and an unused pair which were eventually sold through APS dealer Michael Aldrich.
The used strip of four certified by APEX is certificate number 236756.
Figure 2. APEX certificate 236756, a genuine strip of four “H” Postcard Rate stamps, never officially issued.