10¢ Black (2), Position 20R, large to huge margins including right sheet margin, intense shade nicely contrasted by tying red grid cancel, matching "Pittsburgh Pa. Jun. 4" (1851) circular datestamp on folded letter to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, docketing on back confirms date, letter with some splits and missing one leaf, which has no effect whatsoever on the Extremely Fine Gem stamp and overall beauty of the cover, ex Boker
10¢ Black (2), Position 94L with huge 13mm bottom sheet margin, large margins at top and right to full at upper left, tied by blue "Philada Pa. 10 Oct. 10" (1849) integral-rate circular datestamp with second clear strike at right on buff envelope with "Bullitt & Fairthorne Attorneys at Law & Collecting Agents Philada" red embossed cameo return card on backflap, addressed to Owingsville, Kentucky, original 1849 enclosure with printed letterhead for Western & Southern Collecting Agency, Bullitt & Fairthorne, Louisville, Extremely Fine, a striking sheet-margin 10¢ 1847 on a rare embossed envelope, ex Haas and Boker
10¢ Black, "Stick Pin" in Tie (2 var), Position 52L, large margins to full at bottom right, tied by red grid cancel with matching "Norfolk Va. 8 Aug." (1850) circular datestamp on folded letter to Holmesburg, Pennsylvania, bit worn file fold not affecting stamp or postal markings, Very Fine and choice stamp, a scarce on-cover example of this plate variety, ex Kelley and Boker
10¢ Black (2), huge margins to full at bottom including left sheet margin and pronounced vertical pre-printing paper fold, tied by two strikes of red circular grid cancel with matching "New-York Feb. 2" (1850) circular datestamp on bluish folded letter to New Orleans, Extremely Fine, probably the finest on-cover 10¢ 1847 known with a pre-printing paper fold, ex, Grunin, Garrett and Boker
5¢ Brown Orange (1d), block of four, gorgeous vivid color on deeply blued paper, large margins on three sides and ample to barely in at bottom, tied by light strikes of orange-red grid cancel, matching "Fredonia N.Y. Apr. 27" (ca. 1850) circular datestamp on large part of printed folded bank reporting form to the Comptroller Office, Free Bank Department, Albany, New York, block pays 20¢ postage for double rate (half ounce to one ounce) for distance over 300 miles--Fredonia is about 330 miles west of Albany--the printed form with manuscript entries (in italics) reads "QUARTERLY...the true condition of the H. J. Miner Bank of Utica...Saturday, the Twenty Ninth day" (H. J. Miner established a bank in Fredonia in 1850)#
Edward S. Knapp, Parke-Bernet Galleries, May 5-10, 1941, lot 2193, where described as "beautiful impression and in grand condition, considered the finest known block on cover"
C. C. Seabrook (ownership noted in 5/17/1948 letter to Ashbrook, index card files at The Philatelic Foundation)
Ryohei Ishikawa, Christie's Robson Lowe sale, 9/28-29/1993, lot 51, to Craveri
Guido Craveri, Bennett sale, 9/20/2003, lot 1132, to Hackmey
Joseph Hackmey (collection sold privately to William H. Gross, 2010)
CENSUS, LITERATURE AND EXHIBITION REFERENCES
USPCS census no. 5706 https://www.uspcs.org/resource-center/censuses/1847-cover-census/
Lester G. Brookman, The 1847 Issue of United States Stamps, 1942, p. 23, fig. 22
-- United States Postage Stamps of the 19th Century, Vol. I, p. 29, fig. 26
Duane B. Garrett, "Domestic Postal Rates for the 1847 Issue Period, Part I," Chronicle 108, p. 232
Jonathan W. Rose, Classic United States Imperforate Stamps, p. 10
The Philatelic Foundation (1993) as Brown Orange, which at that time was a sub-listed shade of Scott 1b Orange Brown--it is now separately listed as Scott 1d
Extremely Fine; top left stamp has a tiny scrape of no significance
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
The Finest of Only Three Known 5¢ 1847 Blocks on Cover
Only three blocks of the 5¢ 1847 are recorded on covers, including the block of five on cover to England offered in this sale (lot 152) and a block of four on a front address panel (without flaps) to Montreal, Canada. This cover with a block in the Brown Orange shade is the only domestic use and the finest of the three recorded.
The 5¢ was printed over four years in a range of shades, including the scarcer Orange Brown and Brown Orange. The printing impression indicates that this block was probably a later printing, circa 1850, made from the cleaned and reworked plate, a process used by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson to improve the quality of prints made from the well-worn plate after years of use. The shade has a strong orange hue, and the paper is very bluish. These are the distinct traits of the late Brown Orange shade.
The Act of March 3, 1845, created two letter rates: 5¢ per half ounce for distances up to 300 miles (and 5¢ for each additional half ounce); and 10¢ per half ounce for any distance over 300 miles within the United States. By comparison, the old rates were based on five distance parameters and multiplied by the number of pages in a letter. The under-300 and over-300 miles distance provision was considered essential, because of the country's size and the costs of transporting mail. The 5¢ under-300 miles rate would pay to send a half-ounce letter from New York City to the major East Coast cities of Boston, Philadelphia or Baltimore (but not between Boston and Philadelphia or Baltimore). The distance between post offices was calculated by postal route, not "as the crow flies." For this reason, a letter might require the higher over-300 miles rate, even though the origin and destination were less than 300 miles apart.
The original Senate bill (S. 46, December 19, 1844) and subsequent versions debated in the House and Senate contained different rate calculations, including multi-tiered distance parameters and rate progressions per sheet of paper or quarter-ounce weight increments. The bill was amended on January 16, 1845, to set the distance limit to 100 miles. Finally, on March 1, 1845, the Senate voted 37 to 7 in favor of changing the distance limit to 300 miles. (The various bills and Senate reports can be found online at memory.loc.gov).
Surprisingly, the 1845 law failed to give the postmaster general authority to issue stamps. The Act of March 3, 1847, remedied that glaring omission, and the 5¢ and 10¢ stamps were issued on July 1, 1847. This cover traveled more than 300 miles between Fredonia and Albany, New York, and it weighed between a half and one ounce--thus, 20¢ postage was paid for double the 10¢ over-300 miles rate.
10¢ Black (2), three singles, Positions 8R, 48R and 46R from left to right, mostly large margins except left stamp just touched at top right corner, tied by multiple strikes of red-orange "10" rate handstamp, matching "Northampton Ms. Jun. 24" (1848) circular datestamp on blue folded cover to Pollen & Colgate, 287 Pearl Street, New York City, sender's manuscript "Paid" notation at bottom left
Very Fine; center and right stamps with very light scoring lines.
The Ludlow Beebee correspondence yielded a number of 10¢ covers with three stamps sent between Boston and Philadelphia. However, since that distance is greater than 300 miles, those covers are triple 10¢ rate uses. This cover from Northampton, Massachusetts, to New York City traveled about 160 miles, so this is clearly an extremely rare six-times 5¢ rate use--other covers from the Pollen & Colgate correspondence were paid with a single 5¢ stamp. The USPCS census lists only one other identical franking which may have paid a six-times rate (it was sent close to 300 miles so it is possible it was a triple 10¢ rate).
Ex Dr. Ralph Poriss, Guido Craveri and Joseph Hackmey. With 1971 P.F. certificate.
10¢ Black (2), four singles, proof-like impressions, huge margins to clear except two slightly in at bottom, arranged as a block and tied together by red grid cancels, matching light strike of "Newark N.J. Jan. 10" circular datestamp on buff envelope to Newark, Ohio, with "Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company, 151 Market Street, Newark N.J." return address imprint at top center, sender's manuscript "Paid" partly covered by one stamp
Very Fine; top left and bottom right stamps with small scissors-cuts in one margin outside the design, cover with several vertical creases not affecting stamps.
This is an exceedingly rare 10¢ 1847 franking for the quadruple rate (1.5 to 2 ounces) for distance over 300 miles, and the arrangement of the stamps in block format is a wonderful way to compensate for the complete absence of a block of the 10¢ 1847 on cover. The USPCS census does not list any other complete covers with this arrangement of 10¢ stamps.
Ex Guido Craveri and Joseph Hackmey. With 2006 P.F. certificate.
10¢ Black (2), four singles affixed in a row, very slightly overlapping, three are the short transfer at top plate variety, two center stamps with large margins, right stamp three ample to large margins and just a bit in at top, left stamp full to large margins, tied together and to cover by red circular grid cancels, matching "New-York Oct. 10" (1850) ocean mail circular datestamp (with "SHIP" removed) on small envelope to Charles H. Smith in Stockton, California, sender's "Paid" notation--carried from New York to Chagres on the U.S. Mail Steamship Co. Georgia, departing October 11, 1850, and arriving around October 23 after a stop at Havana on October 17; the mail crossed the isthmus and was carried from Panama to San Francisco on the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. California, departing November 1 and arriving November 22 (carrying New York dates through October 12, according to newspaper reports)
Very Fine; left stamp with utterly trivial tiny margin tear, and the envelope is missing the backflap.
The USPCS 1847 census lists ten entries for covers with the 40¢ transcontinental rate paid by four or more 10¢ stamps. We will review the entries in detail to emphasize the extreme rarity of this cover.
Three of the ten USPCS entries may be excluded because they really should not be compared to the others. One is the iconic double-rate cover with eight 10¢ stamps (no. 8339), the importance of which transcends mere single-rate 40¢ frankings. The second is the unique cover from San Francisco to New York, sold in the Gross U.S. Treasures sale and now in the Eubanks collection (no. 225). The third is the Reynold's Express cover (no. 8567), formerly in the Needham and Wiltsee collections, and now in the Wells Fargo museum and not available to collectors (Ashbrook's opinion was that the strip of 10¢ 1847s did not originate on the cover).
Of the seven remaining entries, the front with "80" numeral cancels (no. 8329) may be demoted, because it is not a complete cover, which leaves six complete covers. One of these is from Austin, Texas, to Benicia, California, with four singles (no. 13695, Siegel Sale 412, lot 87). The other five are from the East Coast, franked with the following: two covers with a strip of 4 (nos. 2750 and 8448), one with a strip of 3 and single (no. 959), and two with four singles (no. 8479, the cover offered here, and no. 11809). Therefore, this cover may be judged to be one of the finest of the five comparable 10¢ 1847 covers with four stamps paying the 40¢ rate from the East Coast to California.
Ex J. David Baker, Duane B. Garrett and John R. Boker, Jr. Illustrated in Chronicle 109 (p. 20). Signed by Stanley B. Ashbrook.
10¢ Black (2), full margins to clear at bottom, red 7-bar grid precancel at upper left corner, tied by blue grid cancel, matching "Wheeling Va. Nov. 5"(1847) circular datestamp on November 4, 1847, folded letter to Owen & Hurlbut, South Lee, Massachusetts, sender's notation "Paid"
Extremely Fine; slight toning along file fold.
USPCS census no. 14218. Illustrated in Bakers' U.S. Classics (p. 165) and Brookman, United States Postage Stamps of the 19th Century, Vol. I (p. 73).
Ex Stephen D. Brown, Harmer Rooke (London) sale, 10/30-11/4/1939, lot 177; Karl Burroughs, Daniel F. Kelleher sale, 2/26/1944, Sale 429, lot 37; Creighton C. Hart, Robert G. Kaufmann sale, 4/30/1990, lot 164; and John R. Boker, Jr. (collection sold privately to Mr. Gross, 1994)
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
The Wheeling Red Grid Precancellation
The post office in Wheeling, Virginia (later West Virginia), received its first supply of 1847 stamps on August 8, 1847--1,200 5¢ and 400 10¢--and soon after applied a red 7-bar grid to the center of blocks of four before or at the time the stamps were sold. We do not know if the red grids were struck on all 25 blocks in a pane of 100 stamps, or if they were applied to smaller units, but all of the known examples have the red grid in one corner of the stamp (see image at left).
Since most of the recorded examples with the red grid are additionally cancelled, some experts have been reluctant to define them as precancellations, which are usually not cancelled again. However, one of the recorded 5¢ covers has a precancelled stamp without any other cancel (number 1 below), and a piece with a 5¢ has the stamp tied by the Wheeling November 6 (1847) circular datestamp, without any other cancel (Siegel Sale 203, lot 123). Whether the grid was applied as a control mark, as some have suggested, or for reasons that qualify it as a precancel, is a technical point for specialists to debate. Everyone agrees that the Wheeling grid is unique in the manner in which it was applied to the 1847 Issue.
There are seven recorded covers with the Wheeling grid precancel, including three 5¢ and four 10¢ covers. They are listed at bottom (bold entries are offered in this sale):
The USPCS census no. 14211 is a duplicate of number 3 on the above list with an incorrect date of 2/27/1848.
Numbers 4 and 7, the 10¢ covers to Hallowell, were found together and first appeared at auction in Franklin Stamp Co. Sale 34, 6/25/1920, as lots 14 and 15.
The 10¢ cover to Owen & Hurlbut offered here was part of a correspondence discovered in the 1930s and reported to have been sold through Percy Doane. On the occasions this cover has been offered, it has been described as the finest known. Since two of the 10¢ covers have stamps with creases (numbers 4 and 6), and the third has a manuscript cancel (number 7), it is more than a matter of opinion that the 10¢ cover in the Gross collection is the finest of the four known. It has graced the collections formed by Stephen D. Brown, Karl Burroughs, Creighton C. Hart and John R. Boker, Jr.
|Den.||Corner||Date||To Name/City/State||Census no.|
|1||5¢||UR||10/1/1847||Hannah, Kanawah CH, VA||14208|
|2||5¢||UL||1/22/1848||Beatty, Hagerstown MD||14209|
|5||10¢||UL||11/5/1847||Hurlbut, S. Lee, MA||14218|
10¢ Black (2), large margins to clear at lower right, intense shade, just tied by boldly struck red Scarab fancy cancel with matching "St. Johnsbury Vt. Jun. 13" (1849) circular datestamp on blue folded letter to Buffalo, New York, stamp with tiny bit of manuscript and small flaws, cover lightly cleaned and pressed, Very Fine and choice example of the famous St. Johnsbury Scarab fancy cancel, the USPCS census lists only six 10¢ covers with the Scarab cancel, ex Ishikawa and Hackmey