Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tracking 1898 Values: Battleship Proprietary Plate Blocks

My copy of the 2010 Scott US Specialized Catalog arrived early in November.  My usual practice on receiving the catalog each year is to turn to the revenue section to see whether Scott Publishing has made any radical changes in prices, especially for the 1898s.  From 09 to 10 there were no changes of price among the battleships - not for singles, blocks of four, or part-roulettes, so far as I can tell.  But there was a major addition to the battleship listings in 2010.  Scott has chosen to list plate block prices for the battleships.

In the field of revenue collecting plate blocks have not been regularly collected.  There have been exceptions.  The first postage stamps to be overprinted for revenue use, the first 1898s from the first Bureau postage series, have been regularly collected in plate strip and plate block form. The blocks and strips are listed in Scott and have been for years.  This is probably because postage stamps were collected this way, and these stamps were, at one point, postage stamps.  But there have been no plate listings for the first, second, and third revenue series.  And for the most part there have been no subsequent plate listings.  But the battleships represent a change. 

I don't know why this change was made.  Listed advisors at the front of the catalog include the dealers Eric Jackson who maintains a substantial quantity of battleship plate blocks for sale on his website.  In the last few years Steve Wittig, a specialist in revenue and back-of-book plate material, has sold pieces of his collection.  And many battleship plate blocks were made available in the Tolman sale from about two and half years ago.  So there is some market activity, perhaps enough to make the case to list the battleship plate blocks. 

Whatever the case, we now have them in the catalog, and can track Scott's estimate of their value year over year.  Below I will look at the 2010 prices for some of the proprietary plate blocks in my collection, comparing Scott valuations with prices of blocks listed on Eric Jackson's website and a list of plate blocks and plate material for sale in 2008 by Steve Wittig.

RB20 One-Eighth Cent Yelllow Green Roulette Top Plate Block of Six
2010 Scott Value:  $140.00
2009 None listed
2008 Wittig: $100.00

RB20p One-Eighth Cent Yelllow Green Roulette Left Imprint Plate Block of Six
2010 Scott Value: $140.00
2009 $75.00
2008 Wittig: $100.00

RB21 One Quarter Center Brown Roulette Top Plate Block of Six
2010 Scott Value:  $110.00
2009  $125.00
2008 Wittig:  $125.00

RB21p One Quarter Center Brown Hyphen-hole Left Imprint Plate Block of Six
2010 Scott Value: $125.00
2090 $75.00
2008 Wittig:  $125.00

RB22p Three-eigths Cent Deep Orange Hyphen-hole Left Imprint Plate Block of Six
2010 Scott Value: $200.00
2009 $125.00
2008 Wittig:  $125.00

RB23p Five-eigths Cent Deep Ultra Right Imprint Plate Block of Six
2010 Scott Value:  $100.00
2009 Eric  $100.00
2008 Wittig:  $150.00

RB24p One Cent Dark Green Right Imprint Plate Block of Six
Scott 2010 Value:  $550.00
2009  $900.00
2008 Wittig:  $650.00

I debated whether to post this block.  It looks like its been run over by a lawn mower.

RB25p One and One-quarter Cent Violet Left Imprint Plate Block of Six
2010 Scott Value:  $250.00
2009  $200.00
2008 Wittig:  $200.00

RB27p 2 Cent Violet Brown Right Imprint Plate Block of Six
2010 Scott Value:  Dash -- no price
2009 $450.00
2008 Wittig:  $375.00

For several values of the proprietary series, both roulette and hyphen hole, only a dash is present.  The Scott value for the roulette RB27 is $475, nearly the same as Eric Jackson's hyphen-hole price.  RB29, RB30 and RB31 have dashes for both the roulette aand hyphen-hole plate blocks.  About a month ago Steve Wittig had an RB29 plate block for sale on eBay.  I posted on this auction item earlier in the fall.

RB28p 2 1/2 Cent Lake Left Imprint Plate of Six
2010 Scott Value: $375.00
2009  $350.00
2008 Wittig:  $250.00

RB30p Four Cent Purple Left Imprint Plate Block of Six
Scott 2010 Value:  Dash - no value
2009  none listed
2008 Wittig: $1,500.00

RB31p 5 Cent Brown Orange Right Imprint Plate Block of Six
2010 Scott Value:  Dash -- No price
2009 2009: $1500.00
2008 Wittig: $1750.00

I acquired this block along with a matching right side block from a Robert Siegel auction in 2007.  It sold for $375, substantially less than Jackson's website sale price.  The matching right-side block went for $350 at auction.

Its encouraging to see new Scott listings for items that I collect.  Unlike collectors of US postage stamps, the revenue field is loaded with possibilities for new listings.  The battleships are a winner in 2010.  It will be interesting to see whether these new listings creates a bit more life in this market for these items.

Thanks to Steve Wittig for sending his price list back in 2008.


  1. I have one of the 5/8 blue battleship proprietary stamps from 1898. I think it is mint. There is a small tear in the top edge. It is centered around 3 edges but not the top edge. Please reply to I do not use the gmail account. I am interested in selling it. Thanks, Emily Hoffman

  2. hi my name is dennis im a stamp colleter im looking for all the coat of arms for all of the states do you no how has them let me no

  3. Hi,
    Love your website! I have half sheets (with printers marks in the selvage and sheet numbers) of the 1898 battleships and the proprietary, both hyphen hole and rouletted and was wondering if 1/2 sheets were as common as grass or rare multiples. Thanks