Arago: 3-dollar Columbus Describing His Third Voyage

3-dollar Columbus Describing His Third Voyage

The scene depicted on the 3-dollar stamp occurred after Columbus was acquitted of administrative misconduct.

Three principle vignette engravers worked on the Columbian Exposition stamps—Alfred Jones, age 74 at the time of the Columbian set issuance; Charles Skinner, age 48, and Robert Savage, in his early twenties. Alfred Jones and Charles Skinner worked independently on some vignettes and collaborated on several others. Robert Savage is credited with engraving the vignettes for the 3-, 6-, and 10-cent, 1-dollar, and 3-dollar Columbians. That someone so young engraved five of the sixteen dies without collaboration suggests his virtuosity.

The Columbian Exposition stamps engraved by Savage had a total face value of $4.19 when first issued in 1893. Though the entire Columbian set often sold below face value after the Exposition closed, by 1943 (the year Robert Savage died) Scott Catalogue listed Savage's five stamps in mint condition at $75.00, almost eighteen times their face value.

Stamp collectors and dealers who saw the opportunity to create collectible covers used the 3-dollar Columbus to drastically overpay the usually low-value domestic rates. In a few cases, it paid expensive foreign destination rates. American Bank Note Company printed a total 27,650 stamps of the 3-dollar issue.

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