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United States/Covers & Postmarks : Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

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carlberky
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14 Mar 2015
01:32:42pm
My special interest category is US 19th Century stamps. No interest at all in covers ... until I chanced upon this one. The name Samuel Gompers would probably be unknown to most people under 50, but it rang my bell. The price was an extremely low buy it now. Can someone give me a best guess on the value of this cover? Does having a recognizable name add much to its value?
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roy
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14 Mar 2015
02:04:37pm
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

The keys to the evaluation of a cover are:
a) what is it about the cover that would make someone WANT it. The more such things a single cover exhibits, the wider its appeal to different market segments, and

b) how scarce are those characteristics.

Covers sell in one of two ways:
1) because somebody (hopefully more than one person) WANTS this particular cover for the way its particular characteristic fits his/her collection or

2) because it's interesting and priced right, so they will buy it, because it's available and interesting, but it doesn't fit the WANT criterion.

Category 1 is what you have to bid for against other collectors, category 2 is what you pick up out of a dollar box. Of course, individual collectors can find many gems FOR THEMSELVES in dollar boxes, but they are typically there only because nobody else cares, 'cause the dealer doesn't know if anybody else cares, or the supply is plentiful.

In this particular case, there is nothing interesting about the cover other than the famous addressee. Yes, he is famous (even has a stamp from the 1950s), but it is a pre-printed address from the period when he was president of the AF of L, so this is likely AF of L business, so there is a likelihood that there are many of these around. Combine that with the fact that there are few collectors of "Mail addressed to famous people" (I happen to be one -- here is just the Hollywood portion of my collection as a Stamporama exhibit).

The result, in my opinion, is that this is a "dollar box" item.

Roy

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carlberky
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14 Mar 2015
02:31:48pm
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

Thank you, Roy, for taking the time to answer. Also, I want to thank you for your wonderful exhibit, where I expect to spend much time visiting with old friends who took me to places I only heard about.

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Bobstamp
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14 Mar 2015
06:38:49pm
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

Roy's comments are bang on. A cover has to be worth something to someone for it to be worth anything! As it happens, your cover sparks my interest. I would certainly pay a dollar for it, maybe more depending on my pocketbook and my perceived need at the moment I found it to be available.

• The stamp is probably ordinary, although with U.S. definitives of this period one never knows! At any rate, it's not the stamp that would attract me.

• I don't know anything about Delta, Idaho, and might not be curious enough about it to buy the cover. That could be a mistake: It turns out that Delta doesn't, apparently, exist. It was a mining town (which probably explains the cover to some degree) that might have had a population of 1,000 at one time. I'm guessing that in 1900 when your cover was posted, miners were trying to unionize, or were perhaps attempting to join the AF of L, which Roy mentions.

• The cover is clean and tidy, a point in its favour.

• Samuel Gompers. Now that cover gets kinda interesting for me. Among my collecting interests are a strike at a small zinc mine in New Mexico in 1950, the Spanish American War (1898), the Philippine War (1899-1902), and the Chinese diaspora of the 19th and 20th centuries.

As a labour leader, Samuel Gompers supported fair wages and safety for workers; those were the primary demands of the Mexican-American miners in the New Mexico zinc mine strike, who were paid less than Anglo miners and had to work alone in their deep-shaft mine (Anglo workers always worked with a partner.

As a politician and a leader in the cigar-making industry, Gompers supported the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Spanish-American War, but after the war he joined the Anti-Imperialist League to oppose President William McKinley's plan to annex the Philippines, which McKinley did anyway.

So, the cover you found could be used as an illustration in a web page or exhibit about the history of the North American labour movement, the Chinese disaspora, the Spanish American War, the Philippine War, or the zinc mine strike in New Mexico.

So, is your cover pure gold or fool's gold? I lean toward gold, or at least gold plated! It definitely reflects part of American labour, mining, and military history.

Bob


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www.ephemeraltreasures.net
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14 Mar 2015
08:04:21pm
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

Delta, Idaho was located in Shoshone County, Idaho and had an operational post office between 1885 and 1912. Helbock assigns it a rarity factor of 4 which has a raw value of $15 to %25.

You have to factor value with demand to establish price. There have been a lot of rarity 4 covers that fail to bring a bid of even $5 on ebay. Postal history values depend on how many active collectors are looking for covers from a particular state, and more specifically that specific county as postal history collectors tend to collect only certain counties.

The chances of there being a collector of that particular county are probably reasonably good. Western states are in demand at this time. In the east there are many counties where there have been no active collectors for decades. There are some wonderful, scarce covers and even correspondences that have been sitting in dealers inventory unsold for decades, I still see some I remember from the 80's. They are priced extremely low considering their scarcity but there are simply no buyers.


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Anglophile
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RPSL, APS, EPA; US, GB, Ireland, British Europe, Italy, Mauritius Classics
14 Mar 2015
11:43:19pm
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

The printed address can be seen as an indication of the prominence that Gompers had achieved by 1900. Interestingly, although Gompers was president of the AFL at this time, the address does not identify the AFL, perhaps an indication of a desire to portray himself as an individual working for the betterment of workers, rather than the leader of a powerful institution.

My grandfather knew Gompers and socialized with him at his New York apartment several times.


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USAFE7
15 Mar 2015
01:08:11am
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

Hi All

Who decides exactly who a famous person is? I think it's sometimes who we think is famous.

Here are three letter addressed to Colonel William S. McCaskey during the Spanish American War, in the Philippines Islands.

Colonel McCaskey had a superb Army career, mostly serving in the west for many years, and at the end of the 19th Century, in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. He retired in 1906 as a Major General. He is thought to have advanced farther than any other person who served in the Civil War (from Volunteer Private to Major General in the Regular Army), and was the last serving member of the United States Armed Forces to have carried a musket in combat.

Information obtained from the U. S. Army Military History Institute, further information from the diaries of Sgt. William T. Clark, and Mrs. Libby B. Custer, wife of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.

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The above three letters all addressed to the 20th U. S. Infantry detached to the Philippines during the Spanish American War.

Hope this fits the discussion for a cover to a famous person.

DAVID THOMPSON
MSGT/USAF/RETIRED

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BobbyBarnhart
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They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Benjamin Franklin
15 Mar 2015
08:53:39am
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

David, I believe he undoubtedly qualifies as "famous." A book (The letters of William Spencer McCaskey by Hank Chapman, published 2008) tells of his Civil War experiences through a series of letters written by McCaskey. Nice covers, by the way.

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
15 Mar 2015
09:43:42am
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

fabulous covers to a famous guy in a turbulent period

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carlberky
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16 Mar 2015
11:12:40am
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

Since I'm not really into covers, I'd like to offer this one up for adoption.
This may not be the right topic site, but can I offer it to highest charity PLEDGE bid made?
If I'm breaking any rules, please let me know. Any alternative suggestions would be appreciated.

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"To paraphrase, Life is but a bird, and the bird of Life is on the wing. Hurry up ... Life is waiting."
USAFE7
16 Mar 2015
11:18:31am
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

@CARLBERKY

I'm confused, what are you talking about, is there a reference perhaps you forgot to add to your response?

DAVID THOMPSON
MSGT/USAF/RETIRED

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carlberky
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16 Mar 2015
11:36:52am
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

I'm referring to the cover shown in the first post.
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"To paraphrase, Life is but a bird, and the bird of Life is on the wing. Hurry up ... Life is waiting."
carlberky
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17 Mar 2015
12:49:52pm
re: Early 20th Century US cover to a famous person

I've contacted a member who is into "Labour Union" covers, so the charity pledge bit is off the table.

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"To paraphrase, Life is but a bird, and the bird of Life is on the wing. Hurry up ... Life is waiting."
        
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