Arago: Exhibits

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Creating a Philatelic Rarity

Columbian Exposition Wrapper

Package wrapping bearing all sixteen 1893 Columbian stamps

To secure postmarks on the Columbian Issue's higher values, collectors often affixed them to covers though they exceeded necessary fees. In this case, Alda M. Fletcher paid the equivalent of $353.60 (2006 value) to mail a package from Crow Wing, Minnesota, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In doing so, she created this extremely unique item.

Alda M. Fletcher, wife of wheelwright William H. Fletcher of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, used all sixteen Columbian stamps to send a package to Mrs. E. A. Smith of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Postmarked at Crow Wing, a small town some fifty miles north of Sauk Rapids, on May 18, 1893, the package passed through Chicago, Illinois, to Pittsburgh. Mrs. Fletcher, born in Ohio in 1853, taught school in Sauk Rapids, at the Indian mission at Leech Lake, and at various other rural schools before marrying in 1879. William and Alda Fletcher eventually occupied a prominent social niche in Sauk Rapids, where he served as county treasurer, auditor, and commissioner. Numerous elite women's groups counted Mrs. Fletcher as a member. She died in 1938. Her husband died in 1928.

To secure postmarks on the Issue's higher values, collectors often affixed them to covers though they exceeded necessary fees.

Fletcher's personal note reads:

"N.B. [Nota Bene, a Latin phrase meaning "Note Well"] Caution:

"This package is sealed and full letter postage has been paid and is stamped with a full set of Columbian stamps, 15 stamps, in value $16.26. And parties handling it will see that they are in good condition before receipt is given for them as package will not be received if they have been tampered with."

Fletcher added in pencil:

"The eight cent stamp has been added since, making it all $16.34"