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FINE APPEARANCE. THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF THE $36.00 1875 NEWSPAPER SPECIAL PRINTING, OF WHICH ONLY TWO WERE SOLD. THIS IS WITHOUT QUESTION ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL SPECIAL PRINTINGS, AND ONE OF THE MOST OUTSTANDING NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS ITEMS IN EXISTENCE.
The large-format Newspaper stamps issued in 1865 were unsatisfactory for collecting postage on the bulk mailing of newspapers and periodicals. Starting January 1, 1875, the rate was fixed at 2c per pound for weekly or more frequent publications, and 3c per pound for less frequent publications. A total of 24 denominations were created, ranging from 2c to $60, so that payment could be made on mailing weight from one pound to one ton without using more than five stamps in any transaction. They could not be used for any other purpose.
The $36.00 design depicts a figure representing Commerce. Fully clothed, she holds the caduceus, or winged rod of Mercury, in her left hand and a miniature ship in the other. The regular-issue stamps were sent to postmasters on December 11, 1874, for use starting on the first day of the new year.
In a separate development, in 1875 stamps from previous issues to the current date were made for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, and were intended both for sale and also to showcase examples of every U.S. stamp printed. Stamps which were no longer valid for postage were called Reprints (those which were demonetized -- Scott Nos. 3, 4, 40-47, PR5-PR7 and LO3-LO6). Those still valid for use were called Re-Issues. Those printed concurrently with contemporary designs were called Special Printings.
Special Printings were created for Bank Note Company regular postage issues (Scott 167-177 and 180-181), Officials and Newspapers and Periodicals. The Officials received "Specimen" (or "Sepcimen") overprints. Continental Bank Note Company produced the Special Printings, because they held the current contract.
The Reprints, Re-Issues and Special Printings were only available for purchase through the Third Assistant Postmaster General, who maintained a small office to fill requests from over the counter and mail order sales. This office remained open from 1875 to 1883, and all remaining stamps on hand were destroyed under close supervision on July 3, 1884. Invoices were prepared for all sales transactions, listing the denomination, quantity sold and name of purchaser.
For the $36.00 Newspaper stamp, the records show that two were sold, both to Paul Lietzow of Berlin, Germany, but on different dates. The first sale was entered on December 29, 1879. The second $36.00 sold was entered on July 26, 1880. There were no other purchasers -- apparently the number of people in the 1870's and early 1880's willing to pay $36 for a stamp that could never be used was limited to one person in Europe. Lietzow was also the purchaser of the only copies sold of the $24.00 (two), $48.00 (one) and $60.00 (one) denominations, as well as two each of the $9.00 and $12.00 values.
Paul Lietzow was a German collector/dealer who displayed his collection in one of the first philatelic exhibitions in Germany. The first was held in April 1870 and featured one person's collection. Lietzow exhibited his collection in July 1877 in Berlin for the benefit of wounded soldiers. His collection at the time comprised 6,200 stamps housed in six large volumes, quite an achievement for the time. In 1880 and 1882 he published handbooks on philately, one of which was a precursor to the Scott Catalogue. The idea of exhibitions and handbooks was to increase the appeal of stamp collecting, which was widely seen as suitable only for schoolboys and not worthy of serious pursuit.
This stamp made its first appearance at auction in the May 30, 2003 Shreves Philatelic Galleries auction. At the time of the sale it was unpriced in Scott, and subsequent Scott values are based on its 2003 sale price. By way of comparison, the Scott value for PR53, which also has two sold and only one known, is priced at $500,000.00 based on its sale price in our 2014 Rarities of the World sale.
With 2002 P.S.E. and 2003 P.F. certificates.