In the conclusion to our story about the Boward Family Find, we will see the rest of the early Maryland trout and big game stamps that first Eugene and then his son, Gary, kept safely stored in a suitcase for over 50 years.
Eugene B. Boward was what we call a closet collector. While he no doubt enjoyed collecting the charming, bi-colored stamps that were so closely linked to two of his great passions – hunting and fishing – he did not share his prized possessions with organized philately while he was alive.
As a result, the sudden revelation of all these rare multiples to the collectors of today may come as somewhat of a bombshell. I know I was very surprised. Therefore, I feel compelled to discuss the significance of such finds, both in general and as it applies to the one featured in this series of posts.
Personally, I believe finds like this are great for our hobby. This, despite the fact that for decades, some collectors and dealers have viewed the apparent rarity of a significant percentage of the stamps in our philatelic niche with skepticism. For them, the Boward find may be seen as validation.
They would like to believe larger quantities of many other rare fish and game stamps remain tucked away in cigar and tackle boxes (maybe even suitcases) in attics and basements – awaiting a future discovery which could then possibly alter our hobby’s value and price structure (see Figure 1).
While time and substantial documentation (for most stamps, we now know the actual number of stamps printed and issued) has proven this scenario to be highly improbable – what would life be in the absence of an occasional surprise that causes us to reevaluate pieces of knowledge we may otherwise hold to be self-evident? Boring, predictable and not very realistic.
There is a difference between improbable and impossible. Major finds such as this are always possible and it is important to keep this in mind. This is why we express rarity as the number of examples recorded rather than the number of examples known.
As for values and prices – in a capitalist society, price is the tool we use to ration scarce goods. When a price structure is based upon genuine supply and demand with a high degree of accuracy, this is generally effective and efficient. But let’s face it – by its very nature, price is also a barrier to many people (in this case collectors); one that often leaves them on the outside looking in.
If a new find is occasionally made that causes some of the rare stamps in our hobby to decrease in value – to where more collectors can afford their asking price and enjoy them – is that a bad thing? I think not.
In the case of the Boward Family Find, relatively small numbers of unused stamps were discovered. However, keep in mind we are talking about stamps that were all scarce to rare in this condition prior – and valued accordingly. So does this find affect their value? Absolutely, at least in the short run.
My experience has been that in finds involving desirable stamps (those always in demand), that after a period of time, values will stabilize, then be restored to their previous (or even higher) levels.
So, in my opinion, the Boward stamps are great for the hobby. They prove that finds of rare stamps like this are still possible and this knowledge alone makes our hobby seem even more interesting – and more exciting – than before.
The Boward Family Find – Continued
Starting in 1965, Eugene purchase one complete pane of each trout stamp for his collection, in addition to the single used on his license (see Figure 2). The upper edge still shows evidence of having been gummed.
When it came time to buy the 1965-66 big game stamps, Eugene purchase an extra block of four of the stamp for archers and a complete pane of the stamp for firearms (see Figures 3 and 4). The 1965-66 archers block is certainly one of the most important pieces in the Boward find, as I have only seen three unused singles prior.
In 1966, Eugene purchased an extra pane of both the trout stamp and the big game stamp for firearms, only. He did not purchase any extra big game stamps for archers (see Figures 5 and 6).
By 1967, Eugene had given up hunting but continued to fish for trout. He purchased two extra panes of 1967 trout stamps, one of which is shown in Figure 7. As we can see, the printing format for the Maryland stamps has changed somewhat.
Whereas previously the panes had a perforated selvage on all four sides, now the panes had a perforated selvage above the top two stamps, only, and the panes were cut leaving a straight edge on all four sides – including the sides of the stamps themselves. In addition, the perforated selvage at the top was increased in size and had the serial number range of the stamps contained on the pane printed across the face of it.
In 1968, Eugene purchased a block of four of the trout stamps. He removed one stamp for his license and saved the other three. Unfortunately, he used a paper clip to hold the three stamps together and it got damp – leaving two of the stamps with rust stains. I separated the one sound stamp and it is shown in Figure 8.
1968 would be the last year that Eugene purchased extra Maryland fish and game stamps. He continued to fish, if somewhat less frequently, but no longer added to his collection of stamps. He still enjoyed looking at them and on occasion shared the experience with his young son, Gary, but for the most part – they would remain stored in the suitcase for decades to come. To see all of the stamps Eugene saved in on gallery, click here.
I hope you enjoyed learning about SSGT Boward – an American War Hero – and seeing the stamps from the Boward Family Find. I would like to thank Gene Boward for preserving these wonderful fish and game artifacts for posterity and Gary Boward for co-writing this story with me. Special thanks goes to my wife, Kay, and Gary’s wife, Jill, for their love and patience while we took the time to create this series of posts.