VERY FINE. ONE OF TWO RECORDED COVERS BEARING THE 5-CENT GREENVILLE PROVISIONAL STAMP -- FOUR OTHER EXAMPLES ARE KNOWN OFF COVER. THE STAMP ON THIS COVER IS COMPLETELY SOUND AND HAS RICH COLORS. A MAGNIFICENT COVER BEARING ONE OF THE FIRST BI-COLORED POSTAGE STAMPS TO APPEAR IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE. AN OUTSTANDING RARITY OF CLASSIC AMERICAN PHILATELY.
The Greenville provisionals were issued by Judge Benjamin F. Porter (1808-1868). His papers are located at Auburn University Libraries and a biography of Porter from the library website provides details of his life (http://www.lib.auburn.edu/archive/find-aid/155.htm ): "Benjamin Faneuil Porter was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1808. His father died while he was very young, which left his family financially troubled. His educational background was limited, having left school at an early age to support his mother and sister. He initially worked as a druggist in Charleston and attempted to study medicine. Porter however changed his mind and began to study law. In 1826 was admitted to the South Carolina Bar and soon afterwards began to practice law in Charleston. Three years later, in 1829, Porter and his new wife relocated to Claiborne, Alabama. He was granted a license to practice law in Alabama in 1830. In 1832 he was elected to the State Legislature from Monroe County. Two years later he was elected as County Judge. He and his family moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1835. Returning to politics he was re-elected to the State Legislature in 1837 and elected Circuit Court Judge in 1839. He was the first chair of the University of Alabama School of Law in 1845 but resigned within the year. Prior to the American Civil War he edited a newspaper; served as Reporter to the Alabama State Supreme Court; was the Superintendent of Education; was the President of Will's Valley Railroad; and ran for State Senate but was defeated. At the outbreak of the war, he offered his services to Jefferson Davis and was appointed to command a camp of instruction at Greenville, Alabama. Following the war, Porter joined the Republican Party and accepted the Judgeship of the 12th Judicial Circuit. He died on June 4, 1868 in Greenville, Butler County, Alabama."
Postmaster Porter's typeset provisional issue is not only very rare, it is remarkable as one of three postmaster issues printed in two colors -- the others were issued at Baton Rouge and Lenoir. These are the first government-issued, bi-colored adhesive postage stamps to appear anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.
After a thorough search of relevant records (auction sales, Levi clippings, Philatelic Foundation and Confederate Stamp Alliance certificates) we have located only eight examples of either Greenville denomination, including four off-cover 5c stamps, two 5c covers, and two 10c covers. None of the Greenville stamps is cancelled.
This cover was included in the Ferrary sale as part of a mixed lot of doubtful items, which included a few Greenville provisionals (Gilbert Sale 4, lot 4). The lot was purchased by Edward Stern of the Economist Stamp Co., and two of the 5c Greenville stamps were pronounced genuine: one off cover and the stamp on the cover offered here, which was sold to Alfred H. Caspary.
Ex Ferrary, Caspary, Dr. Graves and Birkinbine