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Hotel Sherman Stamps

by Bonnie & Roger Riga

Image1.jpg (25973 bytes)In the cinderella world, hotel stamps are closely associated with local posts since most served that function. The Alpine countries of Europe generated quite a few hotel post stamps which paid the fee from a mountainous hotel location to the nearest postal facility. That was not the case with the Hotel Sherman stamps. They paid no fees, carried no letters.

The Hotel Sherman stamps were souvenir stamps, poster stamps if you will, advertising the completion of a new version of the Sherman hotel, which had occupied the same site since first being opened by Francis C. Sherman in 1837. Beautifully engraved in six different colors with black vignettes, the stamps were rouletted, although perfed stamps have been seen. The frame colors are blue, deep purple, green, brown, carmine, and a brownish orange. They feature vignettes of the original hotel owner's sons, General William Tecumseh Sherman of Civil War fame, and the Honorable John Sherman, who had a distinguished career in government and as Secretary of the Treasury under Rutherford B. Hayes.

"Hotel Sherman" with a very ornate and oversized "S" is at the top, "Chicago is at the bottom. Between the two Sherman vignettes is an eagle and a banner with the dates 1837 and 1911. These represent the year the original hotel was built and the date that the latest building was completed.

The stamps were the brainchild of the hotel owner, Joseph Beifeld, who was born in Hungary in 1853. He worked at Marshall Field in his early years but became a stamp dealer in the 1870s. In 1902, he and a partner whom he later bought out, bought the hotel. This was demolished in 1909 and a new hotel built on the same site was the occasion for issuing the stamps.

Most hotel stamps at least paid lip service to providing a postal function. The Sherman stamps, decorative and important-looking, served only as a souvenir of a grand opening. Whatever their purpose, the Hotel Sherman stamps are sought-after cinderellas and still advertising a hotel closed in 1973 and demolished in 1980.

This column first appeared in Scott Stamp Monthly and has been edited for online presentation.
This page was last updated July 9, 2016.
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