On January 2nd, 2016, I won an eBay auction for a lot of nine comic books from the late-60s and early-70s. Along with my winning bid price, I paid an additional five bucks for economy shipping.
When I received an eBay alert that they had shipped, I noticed that it didn’t include a tracking number, which is kind of unusual these days. Then when I received the package on January 7th, I found out why.
This dude didn’t just go old school, he went old-old school, meeting the $3.22 in postage with stamps. And I’m not talking Ingrid Bergman and Charlie Brown forever stamps from 2015; at least one of the stamps he used is over a century old. Incredible and crazy cool.
It was time to give my Google-Fu a workout, and the following is what I discovered.
American Kestrel 1¢ stamp from 1999. Also known as the sparrow hawk, it is both the smallest and most common hawk in North America.
Omnibus 1880s 1¢ stamp from 1986. “Omnibus” means “for all” in Latin, and here it refers to a horse-drawn form of public transportation. Before the bus as we know it, there was the omnibus.
“Freedom to speak out” 2¢ stamp issued in 1977 along with three others in a “Roots of Democracy” block in the Americana series.
Thomas Jefferson 2¢ stamp from 1954. Jefferson was a Founding Father and our third U.S. President. Oh yeah, and he wrote a little something called the Declaration of Independence.
Dwight D. Eisenhower 8¢ stamp from 1971. He and his six brothers were all called “Ike” by their parents, but Dwight/Ike was the only one to keep it into adulthood. Ike was Prez when the the country started building the Interstate Highway System.
Steam Carriage 1866 4¢ stamp from 1991. Be thankful that today’s vehicles don’t run on anthracite coal.
“To cast a free ballot” 3¢ stamp issued in 1977 along with three others in a “Roots of Democracy” block in the Americana series.
Thomas Jefferson 3¢ stamp from 1938 as part of the Presidential Series. Over 130 billion of this stamp were printed. More trivia: Did you know Thomas Jefferson was an international rice smuggler?
Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan 15¢ stamp from 1980. Ignoring the jokes, Helen Keller came a long way, baby.
W.C. Handy, Father of the Blues 6¢ stamp from 1969. His dad called guitars the “devil’s plaything”. Without Handy and the Blues, rock music as we know it would not exist. Thanks, W.C.!
Sixth International Philatelic Exhibition 5¢ stamp from 1966. Designed by Thomas F. Naegele. What the heck is a philatelic exhibition? A stamp show! And philately is the study of stamps. So in a way, this stamp was self-aware, like Skynet.
International Cooperation Year 1965 5¢ stamp from… 1965! Brought about by it also being the 20th anniversary of the United Nations.
“On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me” 8¢ stamp from 1971. And the image is… a partridge in a pear tree! Designed by Jamie Wyeth. Did you know it was calculated that the gifts from the “12 Days of Christmas” would cost you $116,000 in 2014 dollars? Eep.
Andrew Jackson 1¢ stamp from 1963. Old Hickory was our seventh President and seemed to like fighting and gambling. And in a nice twist, even though he is featured on the $20 bill, he hated paper money.
Father Flanagan 4¢ stamp from 1986. Founder of Boys Town and is also 1/3 of the way to sainthood.
“The ability to write” 1¢ stamp issued in 1977 along with three others in a “Roots of Democracy” block in the Americana series.
George Washington 1¢ stamp from 1954. Hopefully you know who this guy is. Wooden teeth. Could not tell a lie. Murdered cherry trees. First President. Distilled whiskey. Wait… not all of that is true.
Frances Perkins 15¢ stamp from 1980. First woman to serve on a Presidential cabinet as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945. Oh yeah, and principal architect of the New Deal. She was kind of a big deal, eh?
Benjamin Franklin One Cent stamp from 1909. Old Ben pretty much did it all, from flying kites in storms to worrying French fathers. Oh yeah, and he also liked to get naked.
Chief Joseph • National Portrait Gallery 6¢ stamp from 1968. Stamp issued to honor the American Indian. Chief Joseph (Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, AKA Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain) of the Nez Perce tribe was so good at fighting the US Army that he was known as “The Red Napoleon”.
“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations.” George Washington Credo 4¢ stamp from 1960. Quote was taken from George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address.
XI International Botanical Congress 6¢ stamp from 1969. Features the cypripedium reginae, or Showy Lady’s Slipper, a rare North American orchid and state flower of Minnesota.
Stagecoach 1890s 4¢ stamp from 1982. This is the horse-drawn conveyance we know and love from the Old West. That is, before trains took over. Yee-haw!
Well, that turned my Sunday night into a bit of a history lesson, so thanks, eBay seller!
You blew my mind with your prodigious postage prowess and made me a bit smarter too.
And here I thought I just bought a handful of old comic books.
— Clayton Hove