90¢ Purple (218), used with 30¢ Orange Brown (217), 10¢ Brown (209) and 2¢ Green (213), all tied by three strikes of "New York Jan. 21 91" duplex datestamp and oval cancel on cover to Prof. Charles Becker at 168 East 82nd Street in New York City, receiving backstamp of the same day
Very Fine; cover with pinholes at top left and bottom right corners, 30¢ with tiny perf creasing at top.
This is a rare and exceptionally beautiful example of the 90¢ 1888 American Bank Note Company stamp used on cover. Virtually all other 90¢ Purple covers are package fronts or large covers. This is believed to be the only known example of this stamp on a small-size envelope. Another cover to this addressee with the 90¢ 1873 Issue is offered in lot 540.
Ex William O. Bilden. With 1976 P.F. certificate.
90¢ Purple (218), block of twelve from top of right pane with "NATIONAL BANK NOTE CO. NEW YORK" imprint, "No. 23" plate number and guide arrow, first and third stamps in top row lightly hinged, other ten stamps Mint N.H., deep rich color
Col. Edward H. R. Green, Harmer, Rooke sale, 11/13-18/1944, lot 58
Daniel F. Kelleher sale, 5/2/1995, lot 729A
Very Fine; small tear at top edge of left selvage tab (does not affect the plate block)
SCOTT CATALOGUE VALUE (2019)
$24,300.00 as plate block of twelve and a pair
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
The Last Large Bank Note Stamp
The 1888 American Bank Note Co. Issue in new colors (Scott 215-218) was the last of the Large Bank Note series that spanned two decades from 1870 until 1890, when the Small Bank Note Issue was released. The same plate was used for all 90¢ Bank Note stamps starting in 1870, and the imprint was never changed to reflect Continental or American Bank Note Co. printings.
The series of sales of the Colonel Edward H. R. Green collection included two lots described as complete panes of the 90¢ 1888. The first was offered as lot 58 in Part 17 (Harmer Rooke sale, 11/13-18/1944), described as "sheet of 100 (right pane)... imprint #23. Centering fair to very fine, full gum. A beautiful sheet of the greatest rarity. It is remarkable to find that such a sheet is still in existence." The sheet was not photographed in the catalogue.
In Part 25 of the Green sales, held by Eugene Costales (2/18-21/1946), lot 511 was described as a 90¢ 1888 sheet of 100 with "Imprint and Pl. #23." Costales, one of the premier philatelic authorities of the period and editor of the Scott U.S. Specialized Catalogue for many years, commented, "We know of only one other sheet of this stamp which does not compare with the brilliance and exceptional condition of this one." This second sheet was photographed in the catalogue. The largest recorded multiple, a top right corner selvage plate block of 20, comes from this second sheet and was offered in our Sale 1092 in 2015. A bottom plate block of twelve, ex Eno, Hetherington and Wampler, also comes from the photographed sheet.
There are two other plate blocks that likely come from the sheet in the Green sale that was not illustrated: the plate block offered here, and a bottom plate block of ten offered in our Sale 869 in 2003.
EXTREMELY FINE GEM. A SUPERB MINT NEVER-HINGED EXAMPLE OF THE 90-CENT 1888 AMERICAN BANK NOTE COMPANY ISSUE, GRADED XF-SUPERB 95 BY P.S.E. -- THIS IS THE HIGHEST GRADE AWARDED TO DATE AND THE ONLY EXAMPLE TO ACHIEVE THIS GRADE.
The 1888 American Bank Note Company Issue in new colors (Scott 215-218) was the last of the Large Bank Note series that spanned two decades from 1870 until 1890, when the Small Bank Note Issue was released. The 90c is extremely difficult to obtain in such superb condition.
Ex Hoffman. With 2019 P.S.E. certificate (XF-Superb 95; SMQ $12,500.00). This is the highest grade awarded and the only example to achieve this desirable grade. Apart from this stamp, the highest grade we have offered in our auctions is an 85, back in 2006.