Some time ago, a collector contacted me wanting to know if I was interested in used early US single stamps that came from booklet panes. He wanted an extraordinary price for them. I questioned how they arrived at such a price. They said that they took the Scott catalog price for a used pane of stamps and divided the price by six, because there were six stamps per pane. And the Scott catalog doesnít list a price for a mint or used single that comes from a booklet pane. That logic sounds simple, but itís incorrect. Hereís why.
First of all, not all stamps with a straight edge came from booklet panes. In some cases, the corresponding sheet stamps were also produced with straight edges. Sometimes there are attributes about the stamp that tell you if itís from a sheet or a booklet, such as a marginal marking that is part of the stamp. But most times, itís impossible to tell if a straight edge stamp came from a booklet pane or a sheet of stamps.
Second, you cannot just divide the price of a full pane of stamps by X to arrive at the price for a single stamp. Booklet stamps are not priced that way. Hereís why.
Take Scott #300 for example. This is the 1Ę green Franklin from the 1901 series. Billions of these stamps were printed and used over the years. Itís a very common stamp. However, a used, full booklet pane of six stamps is priced at $12,500 by the Scott catalog. Why?
In 1901, booklet stamps were still a very new item. Most collectors saved a single stamp in their collection. Organized philately was still in its infancy and there wasnít any consensus on how to collect booklet stamps. So, collectors went about their business as usual, saving a single stamp and, for the most part, ignoring large multiples like full booklet panes. So for Scott #300, a full booklet pane in used condition is very rare. I doubt if more than a few exist.
However, take an accumulation of 100 copies of Scott #300. How many of them have a straight edge? Probably a fair number of them do. Thatís because used single stamps from a booklet pane are plentiful. If you had a million copies of Scott #300, there are thousands upon thousands of straight edge copies. But you may not find any used full booklet panes in the group.
Prices for used panes of the first couple of booklet stamps, like Scott #300, are pretty high. They are rare. As more booklets were issued, collectors took notice and recognized the scarcity of full panes. By Scott #331 and #332, catalog prices for used booklet panes drop to $400 and $450 respectively. They are scarce, but not rare. And for Scott #634, a full booklet pane catalogs just $1.50 Ė either used or mint. By the 1920s when Scott #634 appeared, collectors were saving full panes. The supply has gone way up, so the catalog prices are low.
If youíre lucky enough to find used full booklet panes on early US issues, hang on to them. You have something of great value. But for single stamps, they are all very common. In fact, most collectors donít want a stamp with a straight edge. They consider it a damaged stamp. They want the version that has perforations all around. For common stamps like Scott #300, straight edge copies are worth very little. A collector of booklet stamps may have some added interest in these stamps, but most collectors will shun them.