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United States/BOB & Other : Postage Currency

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michael78651
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17 Oct 2014
09:31:28pm
Here are a couple of Civil War items I picked up today.

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A bit banged up, but the price was right, and the funds went to help veterans.
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michael78651
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17 Oct 2014
09:33:35pm
re: Postage Currency

Here's the back side for those who haven't seen them before

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Poodle_Mum
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17 Oct 2014
09:43:57pm
re: Postage Currency

VERY nice!

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smaier
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Sally
17 Oct 2014
10:01:51pm
re: Postage Currency

Never seen those before. What were they used for? Are they engraved? Really neat, thanks for posting photos....Sally

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larsdog
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17 Oct 2014
10:45:08pm
re: Postage Currency

There were 5 issues of Fractional Currency due to the Civil War and the hoarding of coins. The first issue, known as Postage Currency, or Postal Currency, of which Michael shows two examples, used engraved stamp images on Treasury paper. Later issues did not use stamp engravings, so only the first issue is typically included in stamp collections. All 5 issues may be found in coin collections (particularly collections that feature paper money).

Another interesting item from that era is Encased Postage.

Look for PC1-PC16 for Postage Currency in Scott Specialized. Encased Postage is EP1-EP181.

Both were used as a substitute for coins during the Civil War.

Lars

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michael78651
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17 Oct 2014
10:53:46pm
re: Postage Currency

With the outbreak of the US Civil War, people began hoarding coins, and their value rose above that of paper money. The US mint could not meet the demand for coins, and shopkeepers were forced to accept postage stamps as change. The government issued what is known as "postage currency" to act in the place of coins. One could also take a postal currency note to a post office to exchange it for a stamp of the same denomination.

Private businesses (stores and such) also got into the act. They used round pieces of metal to encase postage stamps. The stamps were wrapped around a piece of cardboard, placed into the metal casing (brass and sometimes silver), and a piece of clear mica was used to seal in the stamp. These "encased Postage" were used as coinage. In some instances, the brass backs had advertisements stamps on them.

The coinage shortage was short-lived, basically 1862 to 1863. Both of these items are listed in the Scott US Specialized Catalog. Not very many of these, especially the encased postage, survived.

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michael78651
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17 Oct 2014
10:57:04pm
re: Postage Currency

Since these items were used as money (1862), they also have a numismatic value. The other items that Lars refers to are the fractional currency (1863), which had no philatelic relevance.

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17 Oct 2014
11:23:00pm
re: Postage Currency

You guys should check out some of the articles in the historic section, I've put a number up that are about confederate and civil war issues of philately with more to come.

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larsdog
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17 Oct 2014
11:32:10pm
re: Postage Currency

Quote:

"Not very many of these, especially the encased postage, survived."



I would take issue with that. I personally have EP15 in my collection. It has a 2011 CV of $400. I think I got it for about $200 because there were cracks in the mica. Not cheap, but not so rare as to be unattainable. Here is the cert:

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Lars
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michael78651
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18 Oct 2014
02:04:55am
re: Postage Currency

Scott reports that there were approximately 750,000 pieces of encased postage sold by the manufacturer John Gault. Only between 3,500 and 7,500 are believed to survive today. Working the percentages, no more than 1% of those made exist today.

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smaier
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Sally
18 Oct 2014
10:09:11am
re: Postage Currency

Learn something new every day! Thanks for the information. Sally

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GregAlex
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07 Aug 2019
07:32:13pm
re: Postage Currency

I thought it might be fun to bump this topic up after a few years. Not long ago, I finally completed a type set of the first four postage currency pieces. Mine are not the early perforated varieties, but they are in pretty good shape.

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There are a few known examples where these were trimmed to stamp size and used on letters. I'd be quite interested in seeing an example of this.

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Zipper
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07 Aug 2019
07:40:51pm
re: Postage Currency

@GregAlex

What is your avatar? Can't find it in Scott. Is it a proof?

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Harvey
07 Aug 2019
07:57:29pm
re: Postage Currency

The US Scott's specialized has a section on postal currency and also encased stamps. A few are actually affordable in my 2016 catalog. The only ones I have ever seen (sort of!) were in that awful show Pawn Stars and I really don't remember what they came up with for a value. I can't believe I actually watched that at one time. I watched several years of the American Pickers and even though I was sure it was scripted, I found it fun to watch. Anyway, if any of you have any of the encased stamps could you post a few pictures. I'm also curious if any really valuable stamps were trimmed to fit inside the coins. Maybe some day I will get one!

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michael78651
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08 Aug 2019
12:11:55am
re: Postage Currency

Quote:

"I'm also curious if any really valuable stamps were trimmed to fit inside the coins."



Remember, when the stamps were originally encased, they were worth face value. They weren't valuable in a collector sense at that time.
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Harvey
08 Aug 2019
06:50:24pm
re: Postage Currency

Not exactly what I meant, but close. Just wondering if stamps that have substantial value now were trimmed to fit into the coins. Does the value of the stamp at all affect the value of the coin, or is it just the rarity of the coin? The advertising on the back of the coins also make them very interesting. If anyone out there has any I would like to see scans of the front and back. From my specialized catalog a few are in the $400 range - semi-affordable. I found 3 on E-Bay, all well over $1000 - out of my range! I found a few on Worthpoint as well, also very expensive! I guess I'll probably never have one!!

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SForgCa
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09 Aug 2019
02:38:35pm
re: Postage Currency

I think most collectors know that the encased coins were an answer to the metal shortage post civil war.
These coin stamps were generally of low value, 12c & 20c being the highest
A quart of milk was 5c and a loaf of bread 3c so low denominations were fine.
For awhile and contrary to government rules, postage stamps were used and accepted by merchants as currency. These quickly "wore out" and were not replaced by the post office.
Enter John Gault a NY business man who came up with encapsulating the stamps.
He obtained a patent and did not sell them to the public but to the merchants at a markup over the face value.
He added advertising on them for an extra 2c.
Some 30+ companies signed on with the major one being Ayer a manufacturer of patent "medicine"
Gault never realized a fortune as in 1862 the government issued "fractional currency" - paper bills with postage stamp designs.
This eliminated the encased stamps and most were detroyed to save the stamp for postage.
Other countries followed this system of encasing stamps particularly France and Germany.
As for what makes them more expensive
1. Minor advertisers on the back for which few coins were produced
2. The condition of the back which tended to wear out quickly.
3. The mica covering the stamp still being present and in good condition
4. Higher denomination stamps used

It should be noted that this system continued well beyond the 1860's and some stamp companies even produced some as late as 1960. These surprisingly sell for $150-$200

Were any rare stamps used - possibly as Gault was not a philatelist and of the million or so stamps used, some may have been rare.

As for selling prices, most better auctions sell them for $300-$500 for the more common ones. The ones where only a few survived go in the $3000-$6000 range

The paper currency bills auction generally in the $400-$1200 range depending on condition You also have the very rare currency booklet stamps issued by merchants

Some examples to follow....

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Bobstamp
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09 Aug 2019
05:49:27pm
re: Postage Currency

Other countries have used encased postage. Here's a Danish example from the Second World War. A Danish Stamporama member, Anne Mette Heindorff, now sadly deceased, sent it to me as a gift.

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I suspect that they were more important as advertising media than as "coinage". However, Denmark did suffer a shortage of metal for coins during the Second World War because the German occupation confiscated Danish coins to be melted down and used in the manufacture of munitions.

Bob

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SForgCa
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10 Aug 2019
04:52:31pm
re: Postage Currency

An early perfed fractional - I have a 25c perfed also
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And a forgery - several versions exist - this one is rather crude
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a 5c forgery
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A crude 50c forgery
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Another 50c forgery
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SForgCa
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11 Aug 2019
09:18:39am
re: Postage Currency

A collector of encased stamps sent me some images that might be worthwhile showing. Most are in the $400-$600 range

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EP15a - a fairly common Ayers - Ayers was Gault's main advertiser

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EP26a

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EP64 - this Cook is rare CV around $5000

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EP97 - A blank Gault with ribbed front frame

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A modern 1940's advertising a stamp dealer CV about $150

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smaier
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Sally
11 Aug 2019
09:27:18am
re: Postage Currency

Very nice!

How did they get the stamps inserted in the metal frames? Were they put in prior to bending the side tabs? The papers don't show obvious bends or folds.

Thanks for posting these. Really enjoyed seeing such fine examples. Thumbs Up

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SForgCa
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11 Aug 2019
09:32:19am
re: Postage Currency

As far as I know these are in 2 sections pressed together with a round of mica placed over the stamp for protection

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Harvey
11 Aug 2019
10:18:39am
re: Postage Currency

I wish they weren't so damn expensive - fascinating items. Maybe I'll be able to afford one or two of the cheaper ones at some point - must keep my eyes open. Thanks very much for the pictures!

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smaier
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Sally
12 Aug 2019
09:37:03am
re: Postage Currency

SForgCa - thanks for the answer. I imagine they would have been made by hand then. Really neat items - thanks for sharing!

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