3c Byrd Antarctic Expedition II autographed souvenir sheet
The 3-cent blue Byrd Antarctic Expedition souvenir sheet (Scott number 735) is imperforate, consists of six stamps, and bears plate number 21184. The Post Office Department issued it in 1934. It was produced by flat plate printing in ungummed panes of twenty-five souvenir sheets consisting of six imperforate stamps. These panes were cut into single souvenir sheets for sale at the National Stamp Exhibition in New York City on February 10-19, 1934. Stamps in these panes were of the same design and dark blue color as the sheet stamp originally issued in 1933 for use on mail from Byrd's base, Little America in the Antarctic.
Postmaster General James Farley provided uncut press sheets to selected friends and family, thus creating potentially scarce combinations of gutter pairs and blocks.
Due to the complaints of stamp collectors, the POD later issued a special printing of uncut panes, commonly called 'Farley's Follies', for sale to the public. The Scott catalog company assigned number 768 to these reprinted souvenir sheets. However, this caused serious problems for stamp collectors who could not determine the difference between Scott catalog numbers 735 and 768.
Barbara A. Hansen wrote in the Bureau Specialist: "Since the original issues automatically had their gutters destroyed when the panes were separated, it was impossible to form gutter blocks and gutter pairs. . .until after the reprints of 1935 were released. This constitutes the only major difference between the two listings." She continued, "It is absurd to call anything. . .768. . .unless it shows a full gutter."
Stamp identification aside, the notable aspect of this piece is that it bears the autograph of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the organizer and leader of Antarctic Expedition II. This autographed souvenir sheet is from the collection of Malcolm MacGregor, who compiled a voluminous collection of autographed stamps from around the world, coupling philately with philography or the collection of autographs. He bequeathed his collection, consisting of thirty-three volumes of autographed stamps and covers, to the Smithsonian Institution Division of Philately, which took possession from his estate on January 27, 1984.