Royal Reels: Gambling


This simple cover, addressed in what is suggestive of a child’s hand, is addressed to President Roosevelt or His Secretary, America. U.S.A. and the green 1d KGV Head stamp plus the red 2d Submarine Cable stamp are postmarked ULVERSTONE/ -4 MY 36/ TAS, which is a common postmark. There is a blue crayon ‘6/3′ in a circle of no known significance (Figure 1).

The reverse has a rubber stamping, which proves that the President kept it, which states: FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT COLLECTION/ AUTHENTICATED BY H.R. HARMER INC., N.Y. (Figure 2),

This lot was on Ebay with another 10 covers, many from exotic places and most much more prepossessing than the present cover, all with the identical rubber stanping, and presumably they were all presented in a series of four auctions in New York by the prestigious Harmer firm in 1946. The covers of Part One of these four auctions are shown in Figure 3.

Part Two of the auction has a near-identical cover, the only difference being a minor colour change, so the next page is shown. It shows that the auction of President Roosevelt’s stamps and covers were held posthumously in 1946 and gives a few details about the firm which had then been established for over fifty years in London. Argentina was pencilled in and several pages of this country’s stamps were shown, and I was not impressed how the stamps were presented! (Figure 4).

President Roosevelt was called the “Philatelic President”. During his presidency from 1933 to 1945 he promoted stamp collecting in many ways. He had a had a hand in every U.S. stamp issued during his period in office, suggesting some, designing many and giving his final approval to all issues. He arranged for the issuance of souvenir sheets at national stamp conventions and saw that many stamps had their first days at philatelic events.

FDR, a stamp collector from his youth, joined the American Philatelic Society (APS) while he was Governor of New York. His stamp collection contained an exceptional array of the die proofs of 20th century U.S. stamps given to him by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. His collection included many large and elaborate presentation albums containing unlisted varieties, proofs and essays given him as head of state by many foreign governments. The proof section brought sensational prices and the autographed sheets sold at unexpectedly high prices, as did the presentation albums.

Collectors wanted to own an “ex-Roosevelt” item from his “regular collection” for prices well beyond their worth, for they were authenticated as in Figure 2 by Harmer. Cynthia Koch, director of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum is quoted as saying that the President had 1.2 million stamps in his collection and he was inducted into the APS Hall of Fame in 1945. The following picture of the President in his ‘stamping’ mode is shown in Figure 5.

This image was copied by the Philippines in their blue 18 centavos stamp of President Roosevelt (Figure 6).

I wonder if the schoolchild received an answer from the President or his secretary?

Addendum (April 2008): This paper has been published at the Philatelic Database website:, a website I can highly recommend to postal history lovers.

Categories: Philatelists