1935 4¢ Mesa Verde
Special Printing – Issued Imperforate without Gum
Issue Date: March 15, 1935
First City: Washington, DC
Quantity Issued: 1,822,684
Mesa Verde National Park
Native American cliff dwellers built over 600 homes in sandstone canyon walls and under rock overhangs in the southwestern US between 1000 and 1300 A.D. The dwellings were made from hand-shaped limestone blocks, wooden beams, and mortar. The Anasazi Indians may have built these cliff dwellings as a defense against northern tribes.
The cliff dwellings of hand-hewn stone building blocks and adobe mortar had few doors on the ground level. Ladders were used to reach the first roof. Ceilings were made of logs and branches plastered with adobe, and structures were built several stories high.
The majority of alcoves within Mesa Verde are small with only a few small rooms. The notable Cliff Palace was 288 feet long and contained 150 rooms and 23 kivas (ceremonial rooms) and had a population of approximately 100 people. It’s structured much like a modern apartment building. Some sections of Cliff Palace are four stories high.
A great mystery surrounds the cliff dwellings and their builders, who left the area around 1300. The inhabitants left many articles behind, including pottery, weapons, tools, and other artifacts. Some believe that the people fled suddenly because of an attack by an enemy band, a natural disaster, or an extreme drought. Others believe the cliff dwellings were abandoned gradually over a period of more than 100 years.
Trappers and prospectors later discovered the cliffs in the 1800s. In 1873, prospector John Moss brought a photographer to the canyon. His photos helped to bring these mysterious dwellings to the public’s attention. In December 1888, members of the Ute tribe led two cowboys to the Cliff Palace. One of them, Richard Wetherill, gave the palace its name. He and his family and friends collected many of the artifacts they found in the cliff dwellings. One of their guests shipped a large number of items to a museum in Finland, which raised concerns about the protection of the site and its resources.
Virginia McClurg was one of the leading voices in the fight to protect the cliffs, launched a 19-year campaign. She gained the support of the Federation of Women’s Clubs and enlisted 250,000 women to write letters, publish poems, and give speeches on the cause. She also founded the Colorado Cliff Dwellers Association. Her efforts paid off on June 29, 1906, when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the park into law. It was the first park created to “preserve the works of man.” The name Mesa Verde is Spanish for “green table” after the forests of juniper and pinion trees.
Over the years, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a World Heritage Site. In 2015, a magazine named it “the best cultural attraction” in the Western United States.
What are Farley’s Follies?
Farley’s Follies is one of stamp collecting’s most interesting stories. And since most of the stamps are readily available and inexpensive, it’s easy enough to put a specialized collection together. Let’s step back in time and discover one of the Postal Service’s biggest scandals…
James A. Farley (1888-1976) got his start in politics in 1911 as town clerk of Grassy Point, New York. He moved his way through the political system, forming the Upstate New York Democratic Organization and bringing many upstate voters to the Democratic party. In 1924, he met young Franklin Roosevelt at the Democratic National Convention. Four years later, FDR asked Farley to run his campaign for New York governor. Farley helped FDR win the elections for governor in 1928 and 1930. A driving force in the US political system, Farley helped FDR win the 1932 and 1936 presidential elections. Roosevelt made Farley his Postmaster General. Farley was pivotal in turning around the US Post Office Department. He helped the department finally turn a profit and revolutionized airmail service.
The infamous “Farley’s Follies” controversy began in 1933 when Farley removed several stamp sheets from the printing presses before they were gummed or perforated. He autographed these sheets (which were not available to the public) and gave them to colleagues and family, creating precious philatelic rarities. Stamp collectors were outraged when they discovered what had happened. Finally, the Post Office came up with a solution – the reissue in sheet form of all the stamps issued since March 4, 1933, in ungummed condition, all but the first two imperforate and in sufficient numbers to satisfy public demand. Although Farley and FDR had a falling out over Roosevelt’s plan to run for a third term, Farley remained a strong force in the political and business worlds. He went on to serve as Chairman of the Board of the Coca-Cola Export Corporation and served as a trusted advisor to several Popes, dignitaries, and Presidents until his death in 1976.
Farley’s Follies are Scarce and Valuable Collectibles
The British stamp firm Gibbons reportedly declared the reprint was “nauseous prostitution,” and at first refused to list the issues in their famous stamp catalog! But even today, over 80 years after they were issued, collectors still love Farley’s Follies.
“Farley’s Follies” were issued in large sheets that are way too big to fit in stamp albums. So smart collectors snapped up blocks and pairs in a variety of formats instead. They not only fit, but these key formats are an easy way to understand the stamp printing process.
Mystic purchased full sheets of these mint stamps and made them available in scarce formats like vertical, horizontal and gutter pairs plus arrow blocks, line pairs and cross gutter blocks. All are hard to find – some occur only once in every stamp sheet. It’s a neat way to own a scandalous slice of US postal history.