Question: I have an unused postal card, purple 3-cent Liberty, with the I of In God We Trust missing. Is this a major error? Also, could you evaluate an unused 65-cent Graf Zeppelin stamp and a used 30-cent Columbus at La Rabida?--D.C.
Answer: Your postal-card error is definitely worth more than the normal variety. A missing I card of this 1958 issue has a catalogue value of $10, while the normal card is 40 cents. The Zeppelin stamp from 1930 retails at $300. The 30-cent Columbian retails at $150 to $200 mint, maybe $50 to $60 canceled. Condition is crucial when determining the market prices of expensive airmails or the Columbian series. Well-centered copies with full original gum sell for more than off-center, disturbed-gum stamps. The items that you have are all U.S. issues.
Q: I have an envelope canceled at Santa Monica on July 1, 1971, with an 8-cent Postal Service stamp and a multicolored design on the left side of the envelope's front, indicating that this is a first-day cover. Does it have any value?--S.S.
A: Maybe 25 cents. An estimated 16,300,000 of these covers were issued and canceled at many different cities across the country. This stamp, showing an eagle and the Postal Service logo, was made in honor of the new U. S. Postal Service corporation that replaced the old Post Office Department on July 1, 1971. Although some collectors specialize in these covers from as many cities as they can find, the total quantity keeps the covers' value down. As far as I know, the Santa Monica cancel on this cover is not scarce.
Q: Please evaluate my souvenir sheet of U.S. 2-cent stamps. Twenty-five stamps are on the sheet, with wide borders all around. The top margin is printed with the phrase International Philatelic Exhibition, Oct. 16th to 23rd, 1926. Each stamp pictures soldiers with a cannon and battle flags.--S.G.
A: This is known as the White Plains sheet, issued for the stamp exhibition at New York City in 1926; it is worth $250 to $350 for a nice sheet.
Q: Can you comment on the value of postal letters that have the value of the "stamp" handwritten in the upper-right corner of the folded letter? I inherited some from an elderly aunt, including one sent from Hamilton, Ohio, on Dec. 31, 1841, to Spoon River, Ill., postage 25 cents, and another sent from Monmouth, Ill., to Bernadotte, Ill., postage 5 cents.--F.E.G.
A: These are known as stampless covers. Before the invention of postage stamps, all letters were like this; they were sent through the mails with postage due from the receiver, and the amount to be paid to the postman was clearly written on the outside. Not many of these stampless covers are valuable. Yours are worth maybe a few dollars each, perhaps $5 to $10 to a collector who lives in the town of origin.
Many stamp collectors save envelopes postmarked in their home towns (I am one of them) during all periods of philatelic history. Some specialists collect the covers of one whole state or from a certain period of time (such as before the Civil War or just from the 1900s).
Q: How can one determine the value of a collection of first-day covers? Is there a printed price list available?--N.W.
A: Many dealers have price lists of common first-day covers, but you have to remember that most covers from the last 40 years are plentiful and cheap. I was at a stamp show recently where one dealer had a box of first-day covers from the last 30 years for sale. The price was 25 cents per cover or five for $1.
Q: I was given a collection of full pages of Easter Seals, Boys Town, "Be Thankful You Can See" and Christmas TB Seals, some dating back to 1940. Do these have any value?--E.R.
A: Not really. Only Christmas Seals dating before 1920 are of monetary value to collectors. Even today, later issues are just too common to be worth anything. Seals that don't celebrate Christmas aren't collected to any extent.
Q: Where can I buy a good book on early United States stamps? I want to read about these stamps before collecting or investing my money because I've heard that they are expensive and are sometimes faked.--W.O.
A: There are many books on early U.S. postage stamps. One of the most recent, published in November, is "American Issue: The U.S. Postage Stamp, 1842-1869," by Rohrbach and Newman, available from the Smithsonian Institution Press, P. O. Box 1579, Washington, D.C. 20013. The price is $19.95 plus $1.50 for postage and handling; you may use MasterCard, Visa or American Express. With more than 100 black-and-white illustrations, this 240-page book is a worthwhile reference work for serious collectors.
Q: I would like to know the collector value of a sheet of 10 Pakistan 10-rupee stamps with a gold-leaf likeness of their first prime minister.--J.R.
A: $2.25 per stamp is the current catalogue value for this issue from 1976.
Q: How can you tell a genuine coil stamp from a fake? Some coils seem to be priced very high, and I want to be certain that I am buying the real thing.--T.H.