A fitting sentiment…
by Margaret McAvoy
“Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee.”
Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790
A fitting, and timely, sentiment for this website, my most recent of business adventures! I tip my hat to a man who wrote, ever so succinctly, morsels of timeless common sense. As both a decorator and a stationer, I know that the “beauty is in the details”, and this stamp is a stunning illustration of that. It is the United States, 1 cent, Z-Grill postage stamp of 1868, depicting the profile of none other than, among many other things, our first Postmaster General, Benjamin Franklin. The purpose of the Z-Grill, so called because of the pattern of calligraphic lattice that was embossed into the paper, was to permit the cancelling ink to be absorbed into the stamp itself and, in doing so, would prevent any unscrupulous characters from washing out cancellation marks and cheating the Postal Service. The Z-Grill is the rarest of all United States stamps, as only two are known to exist. The stamp above is in the Benjamin K. Miller Stamp Collection, at the New York Public Library. The other, shown in the image below, was most recently acquired by William H. Gross, in a trade with Donald Sundman, President of Mystic Stamp Company. Mr. Sundman purchased the Z-Grill at auction in 1998 for $935,000. A rare beauty, indeed. And what, you may ask, prompted the trade? For Mr. Gross, it was the opportunity to complete a collection of 19th century United States stamps. And for Mr. Sundman, it was the acquisition of a block of four of the rare “Inverted Jenny” 1918 stamps, coveted for the printing error of the upside-down plane. And so, to all of my fellow philatelists, and printers, and decorators, and design enthusiasts, I say, all’s well that ends well!