Sunday, January 30, 2011
The World's Most Valuable Library Postal Card
During World War I the price of United States government issued postal cards was increased from one cent to two cents to help raise revenue to fund the war (what a concept). Postal cards issued for international use including the 1911 Grant postal card were already priced at two cents and were commonly used domestically in the United States during World War I. After the war, existing domestic postal cards priced at two cents during the war were mechanically overwritten to indicate the return to the lower one cent rate. The Postmaster of Long Beach, California inadvertently reduced the two cent international Grant postal cards to the one cent rate. There are only three confirmed copies of the inappropriately modified postal cards. Two of the cards are notices mailed from the Long Beach Public Library. The postal card shown above is one of those two cards and it was sold at auction number 997 by Siegel Auction Galleries in 2010 for $95,000. The card was postmarked on March 21, 1921 and it notified Master James Fiske that a reserved book was being held for him until March 24. This particular card was discovered in 1992 by another auction firm. It was sold previously in 2006 for $50,000. I have been collecting postal cards that have been sent to and from libraries for many years, and for the most part I have only paid a few dollars for them. About ten years ago at a stamp show I asked a dealer if he had any envelopes or postal cards with a library connection, and he introduced me to another dealer who had one of the Long Beach Public Library postal cards for sale for $30,000. If I had been willing to take out a second mortgage on my house to buy the card, I could have tripled my money by now. Of course, I would also be divorced.