5¢ Dark Brown (1a), block of four, full margins to clear, dark shade and sharp early impression, each stamp cancelled by neat strike of red grid cancel, completely sound
Alfred H. Caspary, H. R. Harmer sale, 1/16-18/1956, lot 86
Edward A. Ring, H. R. Harmer sale, 12/3/1968, lot 2101
Wade E. Saadi (sold privately to William H. Gross)
The Philatelic Foundation (1991)
Very Fine and completely sound
SCOTT CATALOGUE VALUE (2020)
The regular Red Brown shade is listed as a used block at $27,500.00. The Dark Brown (1a) is unpriced. The Scott value basis for a used block is probably based on the sales of blocks with faults.
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
The Finest Used 5¢ 1847 Block in Dark Brown Shade
One day before James K. Polk's inauguration as the nation's eleventh President, Congress passed the Post Office Reform Act of March 3, 1845, which greatly simplified and reduced postal rates, effective July 1, 1845. The Act was signed by President John Tyler on his last day in office, which left the task of implementing the reform measures in the hands of Polk's new postmaster general, Cave Johnson (1793-1866). Johnson, a Democratic congressman from Tennessee since 1829, had been among the opponents of the Cheap Postage movement, arguing that such a drastic reduction in postage rates would financially cripple the postal system and increase the risk of privatization. Now, as postmaster general in President Polk's cabinet, Johnson was responsible for making sure the nation's postal system provided the same level of service, despite the reduction of rates and the significant curtailment of franking privileges and transportation subsidies.
The profound changes in the nation's postal system effected by the 1845 Post Office Reform Act set the stage for the introduction of adhesive stamps to prepay postage. The concept had been successfully implemented by Great Britain in 1840 and proposed in Congress by Senator Daniel Webster in the same year, but authorization to issue stamps was withheld by Congress until March 3, 1847.
The 1847 Issue--the first stamps authorized by Congress for general use--demonstrated the public's acceptance of adhesive stamps on a national scale. They also helped to encourage the prepayment of postage, a practice that brought greater efficiency and economy to the postal system.
This superb block, once part of the renowned collection formed by Alfred H. Caspary, is by far the finest used block of the 5¢ 1847 in any shade. A review of 5¢ 1847 blocks in the Dark Brown shade using Power Search and the records of The Philatelic Foundation located an unused block of eight, three used blocks of four (one repaired with part of design added) and a reconstructed used block of ten made up of five pairs (offered as lot 96 in this sale).
5¢ Dark Brown (1a), block of ten reconstructed from five horizontal pairs originating from the right pane of the sheet, generally clear to large margins except in on two stamps at bottom and at top left, intense shade and proof-like early impression, neat black grid cancels, stamps rejoined with hinges, few stamps towards bottom with small indentations
One of the largest known reconstructions of the 5¢ 1847 Issue.
Apparently each pair in this reconstruction came from a separate cover from the same correspondence mailed through the New Orleans post office, which used black ink for its datestamp and cancels during the 1847 period. It is the largest reconstruction of the Dark Brown shade. Another pair with right sheet margin is from the same group, but is not contiguous with this reconstruction.
Ex Saadi, who acquired this in a 1993 Christie's sale. Scott value as pairs $10,750.00.