VERY FINE. A SCARCE MINT NEVER-HINGED $4.00 COLUMBIAN.
With 2018 P.S.E. certificate
$4.00 Columbian (244), block of six from bottom of left pane with "AMERICAN BANK NOTE COMPANY." imprint and "No. 107" plate number, original gum, five stamps Mint N.H., top right stamp narrow hinge remnant, gorgeous centering and margins, vivid color on bright and extraordinarily fresh paper
Colonel Stillwell (sold by order of U.S. Trust Company), Siegel Auction Galleries, 5/31/1972, Sale 413, lot 244
Arthur J. Kobacker, Christie's Robson Lowe, 9/25/1991, lot 522
Bought privately from Harry Hagendorf (Columbian Stamp Co.)
SCOTT CATALOGUE VALUE (2019)
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
A Superb $4.00 Columbian Plate Block
The $4.00 Columbian, depicting "Isabella--Columbus," is based on an unknown portrait of Queen Isabella and a portrait of Columbus from a painting by Lorenzo Lotto. The vignette was engraved by Alfred Jones and the frame and lettering by George H. Seymour. 26,350 stamps were printed from Plate 107, and according to Luff 3,357 were destroyed.
For the Columbian series, all of the 1¢ stamps and most but not all of the 2¢ stamps were printed from 200-subject plates, with horizontal guide arrows between the two panes of 100. The perforating machine simultaneously applied horizontal perforations and cut the 200-stamp sheets into panes of 100, normally leaving a trace of the guide arrow on the straight edge of each pane. Some of the 2¢ stamps and all of the 3¢-$5.00 stamps were printed on smaller presses from plates of 100 subjects, with no guide arrows. When the perforating machine applied horizontal perforations to sheets from the 100-subject plates, the cutting blade, in the same position, removed either the top or bottom sheet margin (and plate number), depending on how the sheet was fed into the perforator, reducing by half the potential number of Columbian plate blocks that might have been available to collectors. This is also why so many Columbian stamps are reperforated at top or bottom rather than at the sides--10 stamps from every 100-subject sheet (or pane) would have a straight edge at either top or bottom. The 100-subject sheets were then divided into panes of 50 for distribution and sale at post offices. The undivided full sheets of 100 were only available from the Philatelic Agency in Washington D.C.
All of the values printed from 100-subject plates are known with both top and bottom plate blocks except for the 50¢ and $4.00, from which only bottom plate blocks are known. As explained, depending on how the sheet was fed into the perforator, either the top or bottom selvage was cut away and a straight edge was left in its place. For the 50¢ and $4.00, it appears that the entire supply was fed into the perforator in the same manner, preserving the bottom selvage and eliminating all top plate blocks (or any kind of top selvage). It is interesting that top and bottom plate blocks of the other dollar values exist.
The $4.00 Columbian plate block is of the utmost rarity. Only three examples are recorded:
1) Bottom left plate no. 107 block of ten with left selvage, ex Crocker
2) Bottom right imprint and plate no. 107 block of six, tiny surface scuff and tiny thin speck, Extremely Fine centering, ex Lilly and "World's Fair" collection (Siegel Sale 1055, lot 61)
3) Bottom left imprint and plate no. 107 block of six, five stamps Mint N.H., sound and Extremely Fine, ex Col. Stillwell and Kobacker, offered in this sale.
EXTREMELY FINE GEM. A PHENOMENAL MINT NEVER-HINGED EXAMPLE OF THE $4.00 COLUMBIAN ISSUE, WHICH HAS BEEN GRADED XF 90 BY P.S.E. -- THIS IS A DIFFICULT ISSUE TO FIND IN SUCH A HIGH GRADE.
The $4.00 Columbian depicts the two central figures in the story of Columbus -- Queen Isabella and Columbus himself. The portrait of Isabella is said to be based on a painting in Madrid, but its origins have been lost to history. The portrait of Columbus is based on a painting by the artist Lorenzo Lotto (c. 1480-1556). This portrait of Columbus was painted in 1512 as a commission from Domenico Malpiero, a Venetian senator and historian, and was executed shortly after the death of Columbus in 1504. It is one of the earliest portraits of Columbus (none is known to have been painted in his lifetime). This image was also used for several stamps of Chile.
With 2015 P.S.E. certificate (XF 90; SMQ $16,000.00). Only five have graded higher (all at 95) and only five others share this grade. In our opinion, this magnificent stamp, graded XF 90 strictly "by the numbers," is the equal of the $4.00 Columbian stamps graded XF-Superb 95.
EXTREMELY FINE ORIGINAL-GUM EXAMPLE OF THE $4.00 COLUMBIAN ISSUE.
With 2019 P.S.E. certificate (OGph, XF 90; SMQ $4,250.00)