Weekly Feature

2018-03-08 / Local News

Debut book by Orchard Park native highlights Pan Am Exposition, ‘Cinderella’ stamps


Barrett Barrett With a collection that numbers in the thousands, Orchard Park native Rick Barrett knows a thing or two about souvenir stamps from the 1901 Pan American Exposition.

And to satisfy a desire to document them and discuss Buffalo history, he recently published “Buffalo Cinderellas,” a work that includes information on about 200 stamps dubbed “Cinderellas” 60 years ago by collectors. They were souvenir pieces that weren’t significant enough to talk about.

“It was felt that in stamp collecting circles, serious discussion of these souvenir stamps was not warranted,” he said. “Cinderella was the fairytale gal that wasn’t invited to the ball.”

But to Barrett, the Cinderellas — featuring colorful sketches of exposition pavilions, charging buffaloes and images of Niagara Falls — are significant, as are the stories of Raynor Hubbell and William Hale, the men who created and sold most of them.

“Buffalo Cinderellas” by Rick Barrett, a new book on souvenir stamps from the Pan American Exposition, will be available online March 15. “Buffalo Cinderellas” by Rick Barrett, a new book on souvenir stamps from the Pan American Exposition, will be available online March 15. Their stories are also included in “Buffalo Cinderellas” and were an inspiration for putting the book together, according to Barrett.

“I love Buffalo, I love Buffalo history; the Pan Am has always been a fascination,” he said. “The ability to tie background stories into that portion of our community’s heritage just became appealing, and the more that I looked into each of their lives, it was pretty fantastic.”

While the stories of both men are worth a look, Barrett said the tale of William Hale, a charlatan and huckster, is “astounding.”

A native of Williamsville, Massachusetts, Hale built a successful business only to jeopardize it by engaging in forgery and turning to illegal enterprises such as “stamp washing,” or buying used stamps and reselling them after washing off the cancellations.

He bought many from young clerks working for mail order companies, who sold them to dealers after taking them off packages.

“He liked that because he could get the high end stamps,” said Barrett, noting that Hale made about $1 million per year this way. “Instead of 2 cent and 3 cent, he was getting 50 cent, $1 and $2 stamps. Those were easy to clean and resell quickly to other businesses.”

Hale’s illegal activities got him arrested twice in the 1920s and led the postal inspector who finally caught him to recall that “never in my life had I seen a criminal so egregious.”

Barrett said Hubbell, an upstanding businessman, was also impressive, successfully marketing 4.5 million stamps as a man in his mid-20s.

A native of Buffalo who grew up on Franklin Street, Hubbell sold enough coins and stamps as a young man that he was able to open a retail outlet in the former Palace Arcade on Main Street.

Prior to the exposition, he moved his business to the lobby of the Ellicott Square Building and sold more than 4 million souvenir stamps.

In later life, he achieved national acclaim as a stamp dealer.

While most of the story on Pan Am Cinderellas is assembled in his book, Barrett said he hopes the release of “Buffalo Cinderellas” will spur others to bring more information forward, so that he can solve lingering puzzles such as who produced four stamp designs that look like Hale’s handiwork but do not bear his name.

“We don’t even know whether he sold them, and I’m hoping that things like this come out in the stamp collecting community,” he said. “I certainly don’t know it all, and I’ve focused a lot on it, but I would love for more information to surface on some of this.”

To learn more about “Buffalo Cinderellas,” visit the facebook.com/BuffaloCinderellas/. Copies of the book will be available for purchase beginning March 15, at BuffaloCinderellas.com.

Return to top