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Inverted error stamp from 1901 brings $5,500 at Holabird auction
U.S. one-cent stamp commemorating the Pan American Exposition of 1901 with an inverted center – an error stamp and one of the great philatelic rarities, but not well centered ($5,500).

RENO, NV.- A U.S. one-cent stamp commemorating the Pan American Exposition of 1901 with an inverted center – an error stamp and one of the great philatelic rarities – sold for $5,500 at Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC’s four-day Western Americana Auction held April 21st thru 24th, online and live in the Holabird gallery located at 3555 Airway Drive in Reno.

The stamp, Scott Catalog #294A, was green in color and came with a service certificate from the American Philatelic Expertising Service dated May 19, 1976. It showed a graphic of a steamship (upside down) in an oval above the words “Eastlake Navigation”. The stamp probably would have sold for considerably more, but it wasn’t well centered, a strike against it with collectors.

Day 1, on April 21st, featured three major collecting categories: art, with just under 100 lots; Native Americana (a popular staple at Holabird auctions), featuring 65 lots; and the day’s star category – philatelic, with 52 lots of first day covers, 172 lots of postcards and 71 lots of stamps. Nearly 300 lots of philatelic came under the gavel, representing half the total number of lots.

Another commemorative stamp – a $5 stamp for the Columbian Exposition of 1893, honoring 400 years since the discovery of America by Columbus, with a profile graphic of Columbus – went for $1,250. Another Day 1 top achiever was a Navajo squash blossom turquoise and coral necklace with a matching set of earrings signed by the famed Navajo artist, Victor Moses Begay, circa 1970s-1980s ($1,438). It was a double-sided set (turquoise on one side, coral on the other).

Day 2, Friday, April 22nd, was super-busy, with categories that included jewelry, attire, bottles, toys, circus, gaming, liquor, tobacciana, menus, the entertainment industry, sports, calendars, advertisement, autographs, photography, maps, transportation, militaria, firearms and weaponry, general Americana (geographically sorted) and miscellaneous collectibles – a total of 637 lots.

A star lot from Day 2 was a group of 32 photographs taken by E. A. Hegg (1867-1947), a Swedish-born photographer who worked the Alaska-Klondike Gold Rush from 1897-1901 and in the process became one of the most famous photographers of the period. From his studio in Skagway, Alaska, he ventured all over the Alaska-Klondike regions, specializing in Dawson, Skagway, Bennett and scenic views associated with the railroad. The group gaveled for $2,000.

An early 20th century Tiffany desk set in the popular Venetian pattern – five items, with the hard-to-find letter rack – fetched $1,875. Tiffany designed 24 different patterned desk-sets. The pieces were sold individually, to meet the needs of customers. Also, a circa 1901 original Elks Whiskey painted raised metal sign, pulled from the Tombstone Museum and featuring a beautiful painting of an elk in a mountain forest setting, in an 18 inch by 18 inch ornate frame, finished at $1,560.

A group of 12 framed mining-themed trade cards and postcards including a rare, original Levi Strauss trade card from around 1885, and another one featuring an image of Molly Brown, fine examples of Gold Rush advertising, brought $1,438. Also, a gold nugget pin made by HDK Alaska, 2 ½ inches long with a mammoth bone inset, realized $1,000. The back had a simple clasp that could be easily opened, but it also had a loop for the attachment of a safety chain.

Day 3, April 23rd, also saw brisk activity. Categories included mining, fossils, minerals, tokens and numismatics, which featured bullion, ingots, coins, currency, dies, ephemera, foreign and medals, plus exonumia (numismatics, but other than coins and paper money; a few examples are tokens, medals and scrip). All combined, Day 3 saw 628 lots in a wide array of categories sold.

One of the star lots of Day 3 (and the auction as a whole, in fact) was a US Mint San Francisco 23.06-ounce silver ingot, 999.75 fine, sizable at 2 ¼ inches by 3 ½ inches, with original Mint patina strong throughout ($8,125). The San Francisco small oval punch was at top center, as usual. These are among the most popular of all US silver ingots, this one being a larger example.

A large grab-bag lot of over 50 tokens and medals from Western states, from Nebraska to Hawaii, including National Parks medals and ones from Colorado, North Dakota, Washington, Montana, Oregon and New Mexico earned $1,312. Also, a rare silver example of an unlisted U.S. Mint medal believed to have been struck in 1901, commemorating the assassination of President McKinley, 76.9 mm in diameter and in AU+ condition, found a new owner for $812.

The auction’s final day, Sunday, April 24th, contained over 600 lots, to include stocks and bonds (mining, railroad, etc.), advertising, tobacciana, 3D collectibles, toys and model railroading, photography, postcards, more philatelic, stamps, stocks, maps, general Americana and the ever-popular bargains and dealer lots. The bargains and dealer lots accounted for 388 lots alone.

A Yosemite Valley (Calif.) Railroad $1000 gold bond dated 1907 with a vignette of Yosemite Falls and an attached sheet of 22 coupons (one attached with tape), hand-signed by the president and secretary, issued and uncancelled, garnered $1,062. The same amount was paid for a 1906 Christmas postcard with a near-perfect postmark for Thorp (Nye County, Nev.), and a one-cent U.S. Benjamin Franklin stamp. The postcard was stained but the lot included a history of Thorp.

A Mount Braly G & S Mining Company (Aurora, Nev.) stock certificate #1, for 50 shares, issued to Gardiner S. Chapin in 1862, with vignettes showing miners and Native Americans, signed by company president “A. Mitchell”, rang up $1,000; while a U.S. Mining Company (Aurora, Nev.) stock certificate #358 for two shares, issued to company secretary William Feast in Aug. 1863, also signed by company president R. B. Sanchez, with allegorical vignettes, commanded $938.

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