Denouncments of the denominations were heralded. The Chicago Tribune pointed out
Because First-Class postage was only two cents per ounce and only four pounds could be mailed..... even with the addition of the eight-cent stamp for registration fees, the most that could be spent on anything mailed First-Class was $1.36. This made the two-, three-, four-, and five-dollar Columbian stamps useless for mailing. Further, the only way to get the full value for five five-dollar Columbian would be to mail a 62-pound, eight-ounce package of books at the book-rate class of postage.
Postmaster General John Wanamaker defended his commemorative series saying that nobody had to buy the Columbians, regular stamps also were available, and futhermore there were customers who did mail packages overseas using First Class Stamps.Resolved that his stamps would be sucessful Postmaster General Wanamaker spent $10,000 of his own money buying 5000 of his new stamps and kept them in his personal safe as an investment. When Wanamaker died in 1926, the stamps stll in his safe were valued at $4.50 each.
In spite of all the denouncements the new Columbian stamps were a marvel. Two billion commemorative Columbian stamps were sold for 40 million dollars, hundreds of people stood in line for hours at the Columbian Exposition and elsewhere to purchase the stamps and were recognized as a factor in the Exposition's success.
History of the Post Office: