VERY FINE. ONE OF ONLY FIVE RECORDED COVERS BEARING THE ONE-CENT CHICAGO PERFORATION. THIS IS THE ONLY ONE WITH A DATE SPECIFIED -- MAY 29, 1856 -- MAKING THIS THE EARLIEST DOCUMENTED DATE OF USE. ONE OF THE GREAT RARITIES OF THE ONE-CENT 1851-57 ISSUE.
The origin of the Chicago perforation was revealed in an article published by Jerome S. Wagshal in the Chronicle 130 (May 1986). To briefly summarize Mr. Wagshal's revelations, the inventor of the machine used to create the Chicago Perf stamps was Dr. Elijah W. Hadley, a Chicago dentist. He probably constructed the machine in 1854. Over a two-year period, beginning in November 1854, Dr. Hadley's device was offered for sale to the Post Office Department thru R. K. Swift, a prominent Chicago banker and businessman. The distinctive 12-1/2 gauge Chicago Perf was applied to sheets of the 1c (Plates 1 Late and 2) and 3c 1851 Issue, the former being considerably rarer.
According to the updated census of Chicago Perf items compiled by W. Wilson Hulme II (Chronicle 175, Aug. 1997), approximately 18 examples of the 1c Chicago Perf have been recorded, including five used on covers. These are: 1) Type II, Plate 2 (not plated), tied by Chicago May 29, 1856 datestamp on P. L. Wells May 28, 1856 circular to Armitage, the cover offered here (Siegel Sale 869, lot 3023, realized $26,000 hammer); 2) Type II, Plate 2 (not plated), "Paid" cancel (no dated postmark), on P. L. Wells May 28, 1856 circular to Edmonstone & Co., Montreal, Canada, PFC, ex Ishikawa, Siegel 1983 Rarities sale and Dr. Martin (Siegel Sale 893, lot 38, realized $65,000 hammer); 3) Type II, Position 95L2, tied by grid cancel on P. L. Wells circular to Sheppard & Morgan, NYC, ex Jefferys, currently in the Franklin Institute; 4) Type II, Position 48R2, "Paid" cancel on Lake View Water Cure circular (no date), Ashbrook Vol. II, p. 26, the current whereabouts or state of this cover are unknown; and 5) Plate 2 (unplated) used with strip of three of 3c (11) from Cherry Valley Ill. to Oregon Terr., ex Wagshal (Siegel Sale 994, lot 1140, realized $22,000 hammer). Summarizing the census data, there are currently five 1c Chicago Perf covers known, all Type II from Plate 2, one of which is part of the Franklin Institute's collection. Of the four in private hands, one has not been seen and is known only from Ashbrook's description. Therefore, only three confirmed covers are in private hands, two of which are May 28, 1856 printed circulars. The Armitage cover offered here is the only 1c Chicago Perf with a dated postmark (May 29, 1856).
Please see Chronicle 199 (August 2003) for an article documenting the Armitage correspondence. Ex Hackmey. With 2000 A.P.S. certificate.