By Karen Billing
When the set of 19 printing press-era stamps showed up as a donation to the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society, administrator Dana Evanson knew she had seen the images depicted on the wood and rubber blocks somewhere before. Remembering the familiar prints, she turned to the society’s weathered copy of “Rancho Santa Fe, Yesterday and Today”. The book was written by Ranch pioneer Ruth Nelson in 1947.
Matching the stamps to the book’s images, it wasn’t hard to conclude they were the same used to illustrate Rancho Santa Fe’s historic roots.
The intricately-engraved stamps depict illustrations of the Osuna brand; a grove of orange trees; oxen pulling a cart; a eucalyptus forest; even the Lake Hodges Dam.
The stamps were donated to the Historical Society by the Holcombe family. Donna Holcombe said her family has had the stamps since they purchased a book store in the village.
“I had them in the drawer for the longest time,” said Holcombe.
The Holcombes have been in the Ranch since the 1960s, owning a liquor and drug store as well as a book store before going into the home-building business.
“I used to go into the book store all the time and one day I said, ‘I’d like to own a bookstore,’” Holcombe said.
She said the store owner was 85 at the time and agreed to sell to Holcombe, as long as she promised never to sell “dirty books” as children were always coming over to the store after school.
The set of stamps sat in Donna Holcombe’s drawer for years until Donna gave them to her son, Jeff, who in turn donated them to the society.
Evanson said they are thrilled with the donation and plan to have the stamps out on display. They are also hoping to get a grant to reprint the historic book.
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