8¢ Trans-Mississippi, Vertical Pair, Imperforate Horizontally (289a), bottom margin block of four with “BUREAU, ENGRAVING & PRINTING” imprint and plate number 609, block containing two error pairs, original gum, deep rich color, detailed impression, choice centering
Pane of 50 (as discovered):
* Robert Watts (discoverer), sold privately to Herman Lewis for $8
* Sold privately to William S. F. Pierce (Pierce divided the pane into three units--he kept block of 20 with top and bottom plate blocks)
Block of 20 with plate blocks: Sold by Pierce to New England Stamp Co.
Bottom plate number block (offered in this sale):
* Col. Edward H. R. Green, Part 26, Harmer, Rooke sale, 3/25-29/1946, lot 236, to Eno
* Amos Eno, Harmer, Rooke sale, 5/18/1954, lot 125
* H. R. Harmer 1000th Sale, 4/11/1956, lot 589, to Cole
* Arthur Hetherington, “Quality” collection, H. R. Harmer sale, 10/27/1983, lot 22, to Weills for Kobacker
* Arthur J. Kobacker, Christie’s Robson Lowe sale, 9/25/1991, lot 531, to Hagendorf/Columbian (sold privately to William H. Gross)
CENSUS, LITERATURE AND EXHIBITION REFERENCES
* Donna O’Keefe, Linn’s Philatelic Gems 4, p. 144
* World Stamp Show 2016 Court of Honor (Gross)
* The Philatelic Foundation (1957 and 1983)
* Very Fine; a few natural gum wrinkles as usual
VIEW PDF OF HISTORY AND COMMENTARY at https://siegelauctions.com/2018/1188/95.pdf
VERY FINE. THE FINER OF TWO RECORDED IMPRINT AND PLATE NUMBER BLOCKS OF THE 8-CENT TRANS-MISSISSIPPI ISSUE IMPERFORATE HORIZONTALLY, AND THE ONLY EXAMPLE FROM THE TOP OF THE SHEET. THIS PLATE BLOCK IS ONE OF THE GREATEST RARITIES OF UNITED STATES PHILATELY.
According to the Neil-Rosenthal book (pp. 115-118), one pane of 50 was discovered by Robert Watts, a stamp clerk at one of the sales windows at the Philadelphia General Post Office, who found it between the wrapping paper of a bundle of stamps. He sold it for double face value ($8.00) to Herman Lewis, a locksmith in Philadelphia. Lewis soon sold it to William S. F. Pierce, who broke it into three pieces: a vertical strip of ten with sheet margin and full arrow at right, a vertical block of 20 containing both plate blocks, and a vertical block of 20 with natural straight edge at left.
The block of ten was reportedly sold for $15.00 and was taken to Europe when the owner moved there. It returned to the U.S. in the 1930's, when it was broken. The vertical block of 20 with straight edge at left was sold to Arthur E. Tuttle, a Philadelphia stamp dealer, who retailed them for $10.00 per pair. The block of 20 with both plate numbers was retained by Pierce, who later sold the top and bottom plate blocks to Albert Batchelder of the New England Stamp Co. for $175.00.
The bottom imprint and plate number block has original gum, narrow selvage and usual gum wrinkles -- ex Colonel Green, Eno, Hetherington and Kobacker, currently in the William H. Gross collection. The wide top margin plate block offered here is in superior condition.
Ex Watts (discoverer), Pierce, New England Stamp Co., U.S. Trust Co. sale (H. R. Harmer, Feb. 17-18, 1970) and Rosenthal. Illustrated in the Neil-Rosenthal book on p. 117. With 1994 P.F. certificate.