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United States

U.S. Stamps

19th Century Issues

1867-68 Grilled Issue
804

1998-10-08

The Robert Zoellner Collection of United States
 
Sale Number 804, Lot Number 226, Z Grills1c Blue, Z. Grill (85A), 1c Blue, Z. Grill (85A)1c Blue, Z. Grill (85A). Perfectly centered, bold part strike of Philadelphia Pa. circular datestamp, strong grill impression and part of a second faint impression

EXTREMELY FINE. THE ONLY AVAILABLE EXAMPLE OF THE TWO RECORDED 1868 ONE-CENT Z GRILL STAMPS, ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST PHILATELIC RARITIES AND THE KEY TO A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF UNITED STATES STAMPS.

The timeline on page 144 narrows production of the 1c, 10c and 15c Z Grill stamps to a period in 1868 between February 19, when the 10c and 12c E Grills went into production, and February 28, when the 1c and 2c E Grills were first produced. These dates are extrapolated from earliest known usages and official Stamp Agent records of grilled stamps delivered (see page 145).

The quantity of 1c grilled stamps issued during the first two quarters of 1868 (4.7 million, both E. and Z.) is much greater than the quantities of 10c (1.9 million) and 12c (1.4 million) grilled stamps issued during the same period (mostly E Grills). However, in used condition the 1c E (and Z) Grill is far scarcer than the 10c and 12c E Grills used. This relative scarcity is reflected in the Scott E Grill prices, which value the 10c and 12c unused higher than the 1c unused, but the 1c is valued higher used than either of the 10c and 12c used.

The conclusion we draw from the disparity between the relative quantities issued and relative values, used and unused, is that used 1c E (and Z) Grill stamps have a low survival rate. The reason for this low survival rate probably lies in the postal rates that could be paid by one or two 1c stamps. Looking at the rates then current, the largest demand would come from commercial firms mailing printed matter and tax assessors mailing income tax forms in March 1868. This class of mail has an extremely low survival rate for the obvious reason that printed circulars and wrappers are typically thrown out. Printed matter also placed an extra burden on the post office, and, from the covers that survive we have learned that old postmarking devices were sometimes retrieved and used to cancel circulars and wrappers. The Philadelphia 32-millimeter circular datestamp, which was used on first-class mail up through 1866, was evidently brought back into use in early 1868. Another example from the same time period--a genuine 1c E Grill--is recorded in the Philatelic Foundation records (PFC 133477 "Genuine").

The one other recorded example of the 1c Z Grill is photographed, front and back, in the Appendix on page 374. It is part of the New York Public Library collection, which was donated to the library by Benjamin K. Miller during the 1920's. The NYPL's 1c Z Grill and one of the six recorded 10c Z Grill stamps (Census No. 85D-CAN-6) were sold to Miller by Elliott Perry in 1919 from the collection of grilled issues formed by William L. Stevenson, who created the letter classification system used today to describe grills (A, B, C, etc.). In 1913 Stevenson published his observation that characteristics in several stamps did not fit with other grills (A through H), but at this time he had not created the Z Grill classification. A year later he added the Z Grill, giving it a letter designation to indicate he did not know exactly where this grill fit in the scheme of grill production. In the January 1915 Collectors' Journal, Stevenson describes the first 1c Z Grill seen, and, in May 1916 Mekeel's he lists two copies known of the 1c Z Grill--up to that time he had seen only one 10c Z Grill. It is likely that Stevenson's first discovery copy is the one sold to Benjamin K. Miller after Perry bought Stevenson's collection in 1918, and that the second recorded example--the stamp in the Zoellner collection--was discovered by Stevenson in 1915 or 1916 and remained with him until later in life or after he died. It surfaced in 1957 when Lester G. Brookman acquired the stamp from Henry Kuhlmann and Carl Subak, two Chicago stamp dealers who discovered it in a collection (possibly the balance of Stevenson's holding). Perry, the leading expert on grilled issues, authenticated the 1c Z grill, and Brookman, also a grill expert, sold the stamp with confidence to Wilbur Schilling. To ensure its authenticity, the stamp was submitted to the Philatelic Foundation and received certificate 8537.

When the Schilling collection was sold in 1975, the 1c Z Grill was offered in our firm's 1975 Rarities of the World sale and realized $42,500 (versus $25,000 current Scott value). In May 1975 it was again certified by the Philatelic Foundation as a genuine "double Z grill, cancelled Philadelphia". In 1977 the stamp was sold at Sotheby's for $90,000, doubling the current Scott value, to Superior Stamp & Coin Company, who in turn sold it to Dr. Jerry Buss of Beverly Hills. When the Buss collection was sold through Superior in 1986, the 1c Z Grill smashed all records, realizing $418,000 (with 10% commission premium) versus $110,000 Scott value. On January 22, 1987, the Philatelic Foundation issued its third "Genuine" certificate, signed by the preeminent philatelic expert, Herbert Bloch.

The 1c Z Grill is illustrated and described in Brookman book, Vol. II, p. 133. With accompanying 1975 and 1987 P.F. certificates. Last Scott value published in 1993

450,000
850,000
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