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Clemente Stamps Common, Not Valuable

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
October 5, 2005

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Dear Babe: I have a first day issue envelope produced by the Postal Commemorative Society featuring Roberto Clemente. It is postmarked in 1984 in Carolina, Puerto Rico. It has a gold foil stamp replica and is in excellent condition. It is addressed to an individual.
Rudy Toporsh, Riverside, Calif.

You've got what is known as a First Day Cover (FDC), honoring Clemente.

"FDCs are generally more 'collectible' if they are unaddressed. One reason is that a name and address often detracts from the overall appearance," said Don Schilling, editor of The Stamp Collecting Round-up at

Even a plain FDC without an address has little value.

"FDCs are often sold to unsuspecting noncollectors at inflated prices as being 'historical' or as being a good investment," Schilling said. "The truth is that most post WWII mass-produced single stamp FDCs can be purchased for a few dollars at a stamp show or on the Internet. Unless handmade by a famous cachet maker or autographed, they have practically no resale value."

Clemente, because he's a baseball player, does list for $9 in the Scott 2005 Stamp Specialized Catalogue, Schilling said.

Da Babe saw one similar to what you described with a gold foil stamp in addition to the Clemente stamp that sold for $5.50 on eBay plus 80 cents for S&H. I also saw others offered in auctions that received no bids. There were a number of Clemente FDCs listed for sale in eBay stores with prices ranging from $3 to $20.

As Schilling noted, there are special cachets that are produced and then canceled as first day issues. In those instances, it's the value of the cachet itself - artwork, autographs - that makes a difference.

Dear Babe: I have a few hundred Atlanta Braves holiday cards from 1995 - the year they won the World Series. They are in excellent condition.
Shelley Hussey, Acworth, Ga.

Dear Babe: I have a mint 1985 Chicago White Sox Christmas card, which has Comiskey Park on the cover tied with a red ribbon stating "Happy Holidays." Inside the card reads "We extend season's greetings along with best wishes for 1985 as we enter our 75th year of baseball at historic Comiskey Park. The Chicago White Sox."
Rob Bergstresser, Lehighton, Pa.

As I suspected, these are more of a novelty than a collectible. "Most professional sports teams send holiday cards out each year on a regular basis to front office staff, corporations and season ticket holders," said Dean Zindler of Zindler's Sports Collectibles in Norcross, Ga. "Postcards as early as the 1920s can run several hundred dollars, but the modern greeting card you have is only worth a few dollars. It is still a very nice keepsake for any Braves fan," Zindler said in reference to the Braves card. While the Chicago card shows the stadium, the Atlanta card does have a photo of the players celebrating their win. I would assume that folks who collect a particular player might be interested if their favorite is identifiable. For example, based on the scan sent to me, it looks as if John Smoltz is easy to pick out.

Dear Babe: I found an original, not a reprint, of Babe Ruth's Baseball Advice dated 1936. It has no price in the corner and is in very, very good shape with no tears, cuts, folds, etc. I have absolutely no doubt that it is original.
John Lewand, Bolingbrook, Ill.

As you alluded to, this pamphlet was reprinted around 1980. The little research I've done seems to indicate that the newer versions have "$4.50" in the upper right-hand corner. I'd say a nice copy of an original would be worth $75-$150.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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