90¢ Blue (39), block of nine, original gum, lightly hinged, deep rich color and proof-like impression, bright fresh paper, exceptionally choice centering and well-balanced margins throughout
Alfred H. Caspary, H. R. Harmer sale, 1/16-18/1956, lot 816, to Weill (for Phillips)
Benjamin D. Phillips (Phillips collection sold privately to Weills, 1968)
Siegel Auction Galleries, 1969 Rarities of the World, 3/25/1969, Sale 350, lot 59
Louis Grunin, H. R. Harmer sale, 12/14-15/1976, lot 2667
Peter G. DuPuy, Siegel Auction Galleries, 12/8/2010, Sale 1000, lot 1026, to William H. Gross
The Philatelic Foundation (1987)
Extremely Fine; trivial natural gum bend in left vertical row, a few perf separations reinforced with tiny hinge slivers (certificate simply reads "genuine, previously hinged")
SCOTT CATALOGUE VALUE (2019)
$90,500.00 as block of four, pairs and single
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
Young General Washington as Portrayed by Trumbull
In May 1860 President Buchanan's postmaster general, Joseph Holt, issued a new order requiring prepayment by stamps on transient printed matter, and on all foreign and domestic mail, except letters permitted to be sent unpaid by international postal conventions. Holt's order sparked public demand for stamps, especially in denominations greater than 12¢, the top value in circulation at the beginning of 1860. In response to a letter received from the Philadelphia postmaster, the new Third Assistant Postmaster General, Alexander N. Zevely, contacted Toppan Carpenter about producing new high-denomination stamps.
The 90¢ stamp was the first denomination of its kind and the highest issued in the United States from 1847 to 1893, when the dollar-value Columbian stamps were issued. The reason for a 90¢ stamp--30 times the 3¢ domestic rate--is explained in a letter from Zevely, who thought it was "necessary to have a stamp in the denomination of Ninety Cents--not only to suit that particular rate of postage, but to prepay packages, to the amount, sometimes, of several dollars." Toppan Carpenter and Zevely engaged in some back and forth discussion about the design. The printers based their engraving, a three-quarter portrait of a youthful Washington in military uniform, on one of several similar full-length portraits painted by John Trumbull. Zevely did not like it, but soon acquiesced and approved the novel design and chose the color blue, which was described as "the handsomest of them all." Philatelists agree.
The 90¢ stamps issued in August 1860 were one of the Civil War's early casualties. In August 1861 the federal government demonetized all previous issues of postage stamps and replaced them with new stamps that would be distributed only to post offices in loyal states. The purpose of demonetization was to prevent the South from using stamps as a medium of exchange. Demand for the high-denomination stamps in 1860 was limited, and the Civil War demonetization policy cut their lives short. Unused examples would be great rarities today if not for a cache of sheets discovered in Washington, D.C., which had been found in Southern post offices after the war and returned to the Post Office. These sheets were sold and traded to stamp dealers, and many of the unused 1859-60 issues come from this source.
There are three recorded original-gum blocks of nine of the 90¢ 1860 Issue, which survive as the largest recorded multiples following the division of the Caspary block of 21. The Caspary block (lot 817 in the 1956 sale) was still intact when it was part of the Benjamin D. Phillips collection, which the Weills acquired in 1968. Sometime after then, this block was divided into a block of nine from the center, two blocks of four from the bottom left and bottom right corners, and singles or pairs from the corners.
The block of nine offered here was also in the 1956 Caspary sale (lot 816), where it was acquired by the Weills for Phillips. It appeared in the Siegel 1969 Rarities of the World sale. In March 1987 the block surfaced in Switzerland at a Corinphila auction, where it was acquired by Peter G. DuPuy. It was sold by the DuPuy estate in Siegel Sale 1000 (lot 1026) to Mr. Gross. The third recorded block of nine was also offered on behalf of the DuPuy estate in our Sale 1000 (lot 1027).
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A SCARCE USED EXAMPLE OF THE SHORT-LIVED 90-CENT 1860 ISSUE.
The 90c stamp was issued in 1860, along with the 24c and 30c values, all of which were needed to prepay high international letter rates established by various postal treaties. The basic 24c and 30c rates to England, France and Germany created a volume of mail franked with those values. However, the 90c saw much more limited use, partly due to the rates in effect, but more because of the American Civil War. When supplies of current postage stamps were declared invalid in the South and ultimately demonetized by the Federal government, the 90c had been in use for only one year. For this reason, genuinely cancelled copies are scarce, and covers bearing the 90c are extremely rare.
Approximately 180 used examples have been certified by The Philatelic Foundation, of which only one-quarter are sound.
With 2016 P.S.E. certificate
90¢ Blue (39), used with 1¢ Blue, Type V (24) horizontal pair, 10¢ Green, Type V (35) and 30¢ Orange (38), beautiful rich colors, tied by three strikes of Boston large “PAID” grid cancel on blue folded letter datelined “Boston July 16, 1861”, addressed to Edwin Howland at Port Elizabeth, Cape of Good Hope, sender’s blue “Iasigi, Goddard & Co., Boston” oval handstamp on back, manuscript route directive “via England per Persia”, red “Boston Br. Pkt. Paid Jul. 16” circular datestamp on back, red crayon “1.32” on back (quadruple 33¢ rate) and “1.12/4” credit on front (quadruple 28¢ credit)--carried on the Cunarder Persia from New York on July 17, arriving in Queenstown on July 26--red “London Paid EE JY 27 61” transit datestamp, red “4” quadruple 1p British Colonial rate, red Capetown and Port Elizabeth backstamps
* Ernest R. Jacobs (acquired from Howlands, 1912, sold privately, 1921)
* Stanley B. Ashbrook (bought from Scott Stamp and Coin Co., 1921)
* Daniel F. Kelleher Co. (bought from Ashbrook, 1929, sold to Emerson)
* Robert S. Emerson, Daniel F. Kelleher, 10/19/1937, Sale 394, lot 119, to Jacobs (past owner) for Newbury
* Saul Newbury, Siegel Auction Galleries, 5/17-18/1961, Sale 240, lot 417, to Weill for Phillips
* Benjamin D. Phillips (collection sold privately to Weills, 1968)
* Siegel Auction Galleries, 1971 Rarities of the World, 3/23/1971, Sale 391, lot 50, to Ishikawa
* Ryohei Ishikawa, Christie’s Robson Lowe sale, 9/28-29/1993, lot 362, to Levitt (sold shortly after auction to William H. Gross)
CENSUS, LITERATURE AND EXHIBITION REFERENCES
* Stanley B. Ashbrook, “The Ninety Cent 1860,” American Philatelist, Dec. 1921
* --The United States One Cent Stamp of 1851-1857, Vol. II, p. 322
* --“The U.S. Ninety Cent Stamp of 1860,” 1951 Congress Book
* --“Through the Newbury De Luxe Collection...,” Stamp Specialist
* Dr. Stanley M. Bierman, More of the World’s Greatest Stamp Collectors, p. 198
* Lester G. Brookman, United States Postage Stamps of the 19th Century, Vol. I, fig. 416, p. 265
* Richard B. Graham, “Great Stamps Make Greater Covers,” American Philatelist, October 1977, illustrated on front cover
* Ernest R. Jacobs, “Tracing the Family Tree of a 90¢ ‘57 On Cover,” Stamps, November 16, 1946
* Providence Night, Collectors Club of New York 3/20/1929 (Emerson)
* Centenary Exhibition, Collectors Club of New York, May 1940 (Newbury)
* ANPHILEX 1971 “Aristocrats of Philately” and 1996 Invited Exhibits
* Collectors Club of New York “Aristocrats of U.S. Philately,” 2000 (Gross)
* World Stamp Show 2016 Court of Honor (Gross)
* The Philatelic Foundation (1993)
* Fine; 1¢ small piece missing, 10¢ crease and tear, cover folds reinforced with stamp hinges; “R.H.W. Co.” backstamp (Weill)
VIEW PDF OF HISTORY AND COMMENTARY at https://siegelauctions.com/2018/1188/50.pdf