- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

DALLAS (AP) - It’s the philatelic version of the Land of Lincoln: A collection of some 10,000 stamps, all featuring the nation’s 16th president, is going on the auction block this week.

The collection, painstakingly amassed by an admirer of Abraham Lincoln, carries a pre-sale price estimate of more than $2 million, according to Dallas-based Spink Shreves Galleries, which is holding the auction Friday in New York City.

The stamps, some from as far back as the 1860s, all come from the U.S. or its current or former possessions, including Guam and the Philippines. It includes everything from preproduction items like proofs to stamps that were affixed to envelopes and sent around the world.

“If you’re a Lincoln stamp collector, you’d be very interested in this collection,” said Rick Miller, senior editor at Sidney, Ohio-based Linn’s Stamp News. “It’s a great Lincoln collection.”

The sale comes just weeks after the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, and Charles Shreve, auction house president, says it has generated worldwide interest.



Among the highlights is a proof of a block of eight 90-cent stamps of Lincoln with his image accidentally printed upside-down. The block, one of only two known, is expected to sell for $30,000 to $50,000, Shreve said.

“Some guy just happened to take one of those sheets and slip it in (to the printing press) upside down,” said the owner of the collection, William J. Ainsworth.

Ainsworth, 67, who lives in Roswell, Ga., said that as a child he would watch his father work on his stamp collection. His father died when he was 12, and his mother later gave the collection to him.

That collection was destroyed in a flood in the mid-1970s and Ainsworth’s interest in stamps temporarily cooled. A couple of years later, though, then-postmaster general Benjamin F. Bailar, whom he had met through a friend, helped rekindle his interest, suggesting he give his collection a focus.

For Ainsworth, who admired Lincoln and was then living in Illinois, the choice seemed obvious.

“The whole thing just came together,” said Ainsworth, who has exhibited the collection throughout the world.

Ainsworth, a retired partner at accounting firm KPMG, said stamp collecting provided him with an escape from his high-stress job. Parting with something that has brought him so much joy is bittersweet, he said, but it’s also exciting to see the interest it’s generated.

“It’s my time to pass it on,” he said.

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