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VERY FINE. THIS IS ONE OF THE FOUR 3-CENT B GRILL STAMPS DISCOVERED TOGETHER ON A COVER IN 1969, WHICH REMAIN THE ONLY EXAMPLES KNOWN TO PHILATELY. ONE OF THE RAREST STAMPS IN THE WORLD AND A KEY TO A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF UNITED STATES POSTAGE STAMPS.
The distinguishing characteristics of the true B Grill are its size--22 points wide by 18 points high (18 x 15 mm)--and the points-up orientation of the grill, which shows as a pyramidal (male) grill impression on the back. The four recorded 3c B Grill stamps were discovered in 1969 on a cover mailed in February 1869 from Mason, Texas, to Germany. A photograph of the complete cover as discovered is shown here. Our census data can be found at https://siegelauctions.com/census/us/scott/82 .
The shade and thinner paper of the 3c B Grill stamps are more typical of the mid-1868 printings and quite different from the paler Rose shades and thick paper of the 1867 and early 1868 3c grilled issues (A, C, D, Z and some E production). The shade and paper indicate that the B Grill was implemented after the 1867 experimental period and after the first two months of regular 1868 grill production. Perhaps the B Grill was created during the process of making a replacement grilling device for one of the two machines. The grilling surface must have worn during production of many thousands of sheets, and it seems likely that replacement grills would become necessary in mid-1868. Through miscalculation or possibly deliberate experimentation, the grill size per stamp on this new B Grill device was twice the width of the F Grill. Based on the small number of surviving copies, this wider grill must have been quickly modified or discarded. Sheets with the B Grill made their way into the regular supply and, in the case of the discovery examples, were used in early 1869.
This stamp was the first example of the 3c B Grill (Scott 82) ever offered at auction when it appeared in our sale of the Dr. Drew B. Meilstrup collection on May 2, 1973 (lot 148). It was acquired by a private collector in that sale for $23,000 hammer. By comparison, just two years later the 1c Z Grill (Scott 85A) was offered in our 1975 Rarities sale and realized $42,500.
Census no. 82-CAN-02. Ex Drew B. Meilstrup (Siegel Sale 431, May 2, 1973) and from our 2015 Rarities of the World sale (one owner between 1973 and 2015). With photocopy of 1969 P.F. certificate for the cover and with 2015 P.F. certificate as this single.