The Herbert Macaulay Cover - 1920
Almost every philatelist who has been around long enough, has either experienced, or heard about the thrill of making a significant philatelic find. These finds can either be very rare examples of otherwise common stamps, or they can be world famous rarities. Usually, there will only be one or two such stories in an entire lifetime of collecting. In this case, this was the third time in my life that I had made such a find.
For those not familiar with Nigerian postal history, I would draw attention to the fact that nearly all of the covers that one comes across from Nigeria are from World War II and onward. I don't quite know why this is, but covers from the 1930's and before are generally all scarce. This seems to hold true even for the most common destinations and rates, such as single rate surface mail to the U.S, or the U.K. The upshot of this is that any registered commercial cover from 1920 is a pretty good item on its own. Couple that with the fact that Nigeria has only recently become a society that seeks to preserve items of historical significance, and the odds of finding any cover of a historically significant figure are very low.
How did I find this cover? On the auction site Delcampe, that's where. It was listed by a seller in France as a basic registered cover to the US. The image on the listing was too small to make out the sender, but because of what I said earlier about how scarce covers in general are from this period, I bid eagerly on it. When it arrived, a few weeks later, the first thing I noticed was this: