VERY FINE. A PHENOMENAL ITEM, BEARING THE 90-CENT, 30-CENT, 10-CENT AND 8-CENT 1890 ISSUE, WITH A COLORFUL ILLUSTRATION OF THE CALIFORNIA WORLD'S FAIR BUILDING, SENT TO THE NEWLY CROWNED KING ALEXANDER I OF SERBIA. THIS IS CONSIDERED BY MANY TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT 90-CENT 1890 ISSUE ITEM IN EXISTENCE.
The California Midwinter International Exposition was a world's fair, held in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. 120 structures were built, and the fair welcomed over 2 million visitors. The layout of Golden Gate Park was changed forever by the fair -- the Fine Arts Building constructed for the fair is now the DeYoung Museum, and the Japanese Tea Garden, constructed for the fair, continues to be an attraction today.
The recipient of this item, King Alexander I of Serbia, was just shy of 18 years old when this cover was sent. According to Wikipedia, his father, King Milan, abdicated the throne in 1889. His wife was installed as regent until Alexander's 18th birthday, but Alexander decided he could not wait and in 1893 he dismissed the government and declared himself king, a move generally met with approval. In May 1894, a month before this was sent, he abolished his father's liberal constitution and restored a more conservative one from 1869. In 1900 he married his mother's former lady-in-waiting, a widowed woman 12 years his senior. His parents disapproved and were banished from the kingdom. It was doubtful whether she would provide an heir to the throne, and, when his new queen's brother was declared presumptive heir, it proved to be an excellent opportunity to strike. A group of army officers, including one in the pay of the Russians and a member of the secret society which would later assassinate Archduke Ferdinand, overtook the castle on June 11, 1903, and hunted down the hiding king and queen, who were then shot, disemboweled and thrown from a window into a pile of garden manure.
The $1.78 postage on this cover pays 34 times 5c UPU rate plus 8c registration fee for a 17-ounce package. This cover was reported in a Chronicle article by Dr. Richard Searing (No. 107, Aug. 1980, pp.194-197). He notes this surfaced in 1975 in an auction of primarily Slavic and Eastern European material.