One of the most interesting items that I have sold in my postal career was a book of stamps. It was one of the American Treasures stamp booklets. It was the third series in the set and it featured paintings by Mary Cassatt.
This may not seem very interesting, but what happened in the days following the sale was very exciting. One day a regular customer came in to the Springfield, WV, Post Office and wanted to purchase a book of stamps. I asked him if he wanted any particular type of stamps. He replied, “No, whatever you have will be fine.” I picked up one of our newest books of stamps and sold it to the customer.
A few days later he came back in and was very excited. He said that the paintings on the stamps looked very familiar. He began to tell me about a painting that he had purchased at an auction about 40 years ago. He said that the painting was in a very large ornate frame and he had bid $50. He was not the winning bidder. However, the winning bidder came up to him after the auction and asked if he wanted to purchase only the painting for $50. The winning bidder only wanted the beautiful frame. He did not know who the artist was but he just liked the way it looked, so he agreed to purchase the painting. He had it reframed and it has been hanging on his living room wall for all these years. He said that the little girl in the painting looked like one on one of the stamps.
He took a closer look at the painting and discovered that it was indeed painted by Mary Cassatt.
He contacted a friend at an auction house to authenticate the painting for him. It was indeed an original Mary Cassatt painting. He sold the painting to a museum in California for over $75,000. The customer thanked me for selling him that book of stamps. He said he would have never known about that painting if he hadn’t received that particular book of stamps.
Betty J. Love