24¢ Grayish Lilac (78a), vertical block of six from bottom of Plate 6 with half of "ENGRAVED BY THE NATIONAL BANK (NOTE COMPANY CITY OF NEW YORK)" imprint and "No. 6 (Plate.)" plate number in selvage, original gum, crisp shade and sharp impression in the later 1863-66 shade and on thick paper of the later printings with characteristic "half-moon" perforations
T. Charlton Henry, Harmer, Rooke sale, 12/14-16/1960, lot 279 (as Scott 78), to Weill (for Phillips, listed in inventory as 78a)
Benjamin D. Phillips (collection sold privately to Weills, 1968)
Siegel Auction Galleries, 1975 Rarities of the World, 3/25/1975, Sale 468, lot 77 (as Scott 78a)
"An Important Collection," Siegel Auction Galleries, 1/11/1979, Sale 286, lot 138 (as Scott 78a)
John C. Chapin (collection sold privately to Shreves and then to William H. Gross, 2002)
CENSUS, LITERATURE AND EXHIBITION REFERENCES
John C. Chapin, A Census of United States Classic Plate Blocks 1851-1882, census no. 252 as Scott 70a (illustrated on page 13)
Lester G. Brookman, United States Postage Stamps of the 19th Century, Vol. II, fig. 85, page 56
The Philatelic Foundation (1981) as Scott 70a, which it is not
Very Fine and choice; small hinge reinforcements, slight crease in selvage and top right stamp with trace of discoloration (not noted on certificate)
SCOTT CATALOGUE VALUE (2019)
$24,000.00 as ordinary block of four and pair of Scott 78
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
The Many Shades of the 24¢ 1861-68 Issue
The color chosen for the 24¢ stamp issued from 1861 through 1868 proved to be a challenge for the National Bank Note Company's plate printers and ink mixers. The early shades of Violet and Steel Blue gave way to Deep Red Lilac and the brighter tints of Brownish Lilac and Lilac. As printings continued in 1863, the shade turned grayer, until it reached Grayish Lilac and Gray. The stamps that were grilled in 1868 and 1869 (F Grill, Scott 99) are only known in these two shades of gray.
Due to the subjectiveness in assigning colors, this remarkable imprint and plate number block has been misidentified in the past. In the three auctions cited here, it was identified as Scott 78 (Lilac) or Gray Lilac (Scott 78a)--we agree with the latter classification. In 1981 the block was certified by The Philatelic Foundation as Brown Lilac, Scott 70a, which is in error. The Chapin census based the entry for this block (no. 252) on this incorrect certificate, but correctly listed the other two imprint and plate number multiples as Scott 78 (nos. 276, strip of four, and 276A, block of four).
Only one plate was used to print the 24¢ (Plate 6). If all 24¢ shades and the F Grill stamps are considered (excluding proofs and "Specimen" overprints), there are just four unused plate number multiples extant: the 24¢ F Grill (Scott 99) plate block sold in the Gross U.S. Treasures sale, this block of 6 (Scott 78a), a strip of four and a block of four in Grayish Lilac/Gray shades (Scott 78/78a).
FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE ORIGINAL-GUM BLOCK OF FOUR OF THE 24-CENT GRAYISH LILAC, SCOTT 78a. VERY FEW BLOCKS ARE KNOWN.
The 24c Grayish Lilac is an incredibly rare stamp in choice original-gum condition. It is also rare as a multiple, since most have been broken to feed demand for singles. We have offered only one other since 1994.
Unlisted in Scott as a block. Scott Retail as the normal Lilac shade
EXTREMELY FINE ORIGINAL-GUM EXAMPLE OF THE 24-CENT 1863 ISSUE.
This shade is particularly difficult to obtain in sound, centered and original-gum condition. A Power Search of our sale records will confirm this statement.
Ex Hansen. With 1995 P.S.E. and 1974, 1994 and 2004 P.F. certificates
EXTREMELY FINE GEM. A BEAUTIFUL ORIGINAL-GUM EXAMPLE OF THE 24-CENT 1863 ISSUE IN THE GRAYISH LILAC SHADE.
This shade is particularly difficult to obtain in sound, centered and original-gum condition. A Power Search of our sale records and a review of P.S.E. Population Report numbers will confirm this statement.
With 2008 P.S.E. certificate (OGph, XF 90; SMQ $7,000.00). This is the highest grade awarded and the only example to achieve it. It is also the only example graded above a 75.