EXTREMELY FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF ONLY SEVEN RECORDED COVERS BEARING THE LIVINGSTON PROVISIONAL, A STRIKING PICTORIAL STAMP THAT DEPICTS THE SOUTHERN SHIELD AND ALLEGORICAL FIGURES.
Livingston is the county seat of Sumter County, Alabama, lying on the Selma and Meriden Railroad line about 130 miles north of Mobile, near the state's western border. Official records name Stephen W. Murley as the Livingston postmaster in 1861. Although other sources attribute the stamp to another postmaster, Robert F. Houston, it seems almost certain that Murley was solely responsible for the Livingston provisional. According to research by Van Koppersmith, "Houston served as postmaster at Livingston on at least three different occasions for a total of about twenty years beginning in the late 1830's. He was also a member of the state legislature in 1839 and again in 1857-1858, about the time he began and ended his terms as postmaster. Stephen W. Murley had taken over as postmaster at Livingston well before secession and remained to become the first Confederate postmaster, serving at least until the end of 1861. A thorough search of state, county and city history books yielded very little information on either postmaster. It is interesting to note that an S. W. Murley served as the postmaster in Selma, Dallas County, for a few years around 1840. However, further research showed that his first name was Samuel." The Livingston provisional is known used in November-December 1861 and again in March 1862, coincidental with Murley's term as postmaster.
The Livingston stamps were printed from a lithographic stone. Lithography was used by only three postmasters to print provisional stamps (Charleston, Livingston and Mobile). Every transfer on the stone has a small partly-complete circle (or curl) extending into the margin below the "T" of "Cents" at bottom. The allegorical design depicting images of the South is very unusual. Only two Confederate post offices, Livingston and Mobile, issued stamps with a figurative design specifically created for stamps (the Danville postmaster used a stock image for his provisional envelopes). It is almost certain that the same printer was responsible for both the Livingston and Mobile stamps, whose imprint "W. R. Robertson Mobile" appears on the Mobile lithographic stones. The size and layout of the Livingston stone has yet to be determined, and probably never will, due to the small number of surviving copies.
Our records contain a total of 11 stamps, including the famous and unique pair on cover (Nov. 12, 1861), 6 singles on separate covers (1861--Nov. 15, Nov. 15, Nov. 25, Dec. 10; 1862--Mar. 17 and Mar. 21), and 3 off-cover stamps. One of the single frankings, a corner-margin stamp (Nov. 25 date, ex Caspary, Antrim and Cole), was severely damaged when someone attempted to remove ballpoint pen ink with an eraser.
This cover was first offered at auction in 1892 as part of the Kleine collection, where it realized $780. Also ex Sellers, Duveen, Emerson, Brooks, Weatherly, "Isleham" (Peyton) and Hill