Saturday, October 17, 2009
In 1896, Hawaii issued a set of official stamps (Scott #O1-6) honoring Lorin Andrews Thurston, a politician and businessman who played a pivotal role in a classic 19th century American land-grab, the overthrow of Queen Lili'ukalani and the transformation of Hawaii from an independent kingdom into a U.S.-dominated republic. 10,000 sets were issued, and Scott '09 prices the unused set at $ 267.50 ($ 665.00 for NH). The stamps were in use for three years, until shortly after the annexation of Hawaii as a U.S. territory in 1898, and some saw use during the Spanish-American War, when Hawaii served as a coaling stop for ships en route to the Philippines. The remainder of the supply was sold to a speculator, and it is probable that demand for the set was dampened by the view that the stamps were produced in part to exploit collectors.
Stamps of Hawaii are popular among U.S. Possessions collectors, and, of course, on the islands themselves. In the film "Chinatown", the villain played by John Huston comments that "politicians, old buildings, and prostitutes all become respectable with age." The same might be said for this set, as the shadow hanging over it has all but disappeared.