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VERY FINE-EXTREMELY FINE. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED BLOCK OF THE 1857 5-CENT BRICK RED IN UNUSED CONDITION, WITH OR WITHOUT ORIGINAL GUM. AN IMPORTANT UNITED STATES CLASSIC BLOCK RARITY -- REGARDED TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERFORATED 5-CENT JEFFERSON ISSUE MULTIPLE -- AND EVEN MORE REMARKABLE CONSIDERING THE GREAT RARITY OF THE 5-CENT BRICK RED AS A SINGLE STAMP WITH ORIGINAL GUM.
This is the only intact block of the 5c Brick Red. The Caspary collection contained a block of three with a fourth stamp added to create a complete block. Neither Ryohei Ishikawa nor William H. Gross were able to secure the 5c Brick Red original-gum block for their fabulous Grand Prix award-winning collections.
Apart from the block offered here, there are perhaps twenty 5c Brick Red stamps with original gum to be found among major auction sales of the past fifty years. About half of the known examples are poorly centered. Almost two-thirds have stains or small faults. Judging from our survey, we estimate that perhaps six or seven sound original-gum Brick Red stamps exist with centering approaching any of the stamps in this block. The three sound stamps in this block would probably fetch $100,000 to $150,000 each if offered as singles. The Scott U.S. Specialized Catalogue values a single at $80,000.00, yet the unique block carries a mere $55,000.00 premium (17%).
Many collectors know this issue by type and shade, but fewer are aware of the order of production (or release). This state of confusion is partly due to the Scott Catalogue. The distinctive Brick Red shade of the 5c 1857 Issue comes first in the series of Scott-listed perforated 5c issues, but its true release date comes later in the sequence.
Based on dated covers, the 5c Type I shades were released in the following order: 1) Red Brown, Scott 28, EDU 8/23/1857; 2) Indian Red, Scott 28A, EDU 3/31/1858; 3) Brick Red, Scott 27, EDU 10/6/1858; 4) Brown, Scott 29, EDU 3/21/1859, almost certainly the last printing from the first 5c plate. The second 5c plate was made from a new six-relief transfer roll with the design projections cut away at top and bottom, to varying degrees. The Type II Brown was issued first (Scott 30A, EDU 5/4/1860), and the Orange Brown printing from the same plate followed about one year later (Scott 30, EDU 5/8/1861).
The first 5c sheets to be perforated in mid-1857 undoubtedly came from the unissued supply of 5c imperforate sheets in the "1856" Red Brown shade. These are akin to 1c perforated stamps from Plate 1 Late (Type IV, Scott 23) and Plate 2, and 3c perforated stamps from the Type I plate (Scott 25). Covers dated during the second half of 1857 and first quarter of 1858 have 5c stamps in the "1856" shade of Red Brown, which look like Scott 12 with perforations. By March 31, 1858, the EDU of the Indian Red shade, a second printing must have been made. We suspect that the entire family of Red Brown, Bright Red Brown and Indian Red shades -- all of which differ from the "1856" Red Brown -- were printed at the same time during the first quarter of 1858. No one has established a separate EDU for an "1858" Red Brown (Scott 28) -- separated from the earlier perforated "1856" Red Brown, which has the same Scott number -- thus our hypothesis cannot yet be supported by an EDU. If we are correct, the "1858" Red Brown and Indian Red should have similar EDU dates.
The Brick Red EDU of October 6, 1858, and its predominant use in early 1859 indicate either a separate printing (3rd Quarter 1858) or a later release date for stamps printed earlier. The Brick Red color is so far removed from any of the other 5c shades, we strongly suspect it was made inadvertently while the printers tried to match the earlier 1856 Red Brown. The Brick Red shade is actually closer to some of the 3c 1851 shades than it is to the 5c 1856. Sheets of the irregular 5c shades (Brick Red) would have been added to the stacks along with the subsequent Red Brown, Bright Red Brown and Indian Red sheets. However, when stamps were issued to post offices, the "color corrected" sheets would be released before the "irregular" Brick Red sheets were distributed.
Looking at the EDU's, there is a largely consistent pattern of new 5c printings at the beginning of each year in 1858 (Red Brown), 1859 (Brown), 1860 (Type II Brown) and 1861 (Type II Orange Brown). The only exceptions to this pattern are the "1856" Red Brown perforated sheets released in mid-1857, which make sense in the context of the first perforated issue, and the October 1858 Brick Red. The Brick Red stamps are much too scarce and limited in their distribution (New Orleans and a few other scattered post offices) to constitute a separate printing in 1858. In our opinion, it makes more sense if they were printed as part of the 1st Quarter 1858 printing, but released later in the year when needed.
Ex Worthington, Hind, Sinkler and Ward. Illustrated in Linn's Philatelic Gems II. With 1989 and 2000 P.F. certificates