24¢ Gray Lilac (37), Positions 31-33/41-43/51-53/61-63L1, D/E/F/C Reliefs from 6-relief transfer roll, block of twelve with "Toppan, Carpenter & Co. BANK NOTE ENGRAVERS. Phila. New York, Boston & Cincinnati" First Type imprint and "No. 1 P." plate number at left, original gum, bright and fresh color, exceptionally choice centering for this issue and for a multiple of this size
George H. Worthington, J. C. Morgenthau sale, 8/21-23/1917, lot 197
Joseph T. Lozier (sold privately by Ward)
Wharton Sinkler (sold privately by Ward)
Henry C. Gibson, Sr. (sold privately by Ward; listed on 3/27/1928 Ward invoice to Gibson, priced at $3,000, along with other blocks)
Philip H. Ward, Jr. (bought from Gibson, estate sold to Weills in 1963)
Benjamin D. Phillips (bought from Weills out of Ward estate, 1964; Phillips collection sold privately to Weills, 1968)
Siegel Auction Galleries, 10/8/1974, Sale 459, lot 157
John C. Chapin (collection sold privately to Shreves and then to William H. Gross, 2002)
CENSUS, LITERATURE AND EXHIBITION REFERENCES
John C. Chapin, A Census of United States Classic Plate Blocks 1851-1882, census no. 173
Very Fine-Extremely Fine; minor hinge reinforcements, a few faint gum soaks and tiny thins in two stamps in right vertical row, inconsequential since they are outside the plate block of eight
SCOTT CATALOGUE VALUE (2019)
$32,500.00 for this specific block, which is not based on any recent transaction--this plate block has not sold publicly since 1974
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
Delayed for Two Years and Valid for Fifteen Months
In April 1856 Toppan Carpenter sent a die proof of "the new 24¢ stamp" to Third Assistant Postmaster General John Marron for official approval. The printers described the 24¢ engraving as "entirely original in lathe work" and "as perfect a piece of geometric lathe work as can be produced." Other correspondence indicates that the design was approved and the plate was manufactured in 1857 or 1858, but no 24¢ stamps were produced until 1860.
In May 1860 President Buchanan's postmaster general, Joseph Holt, issued a new order requiring prepayment by stamps on transient printed matter, and on all foreign and domestic mail, except letters permitted to be sent unpaid by international postal conventions. Holt's order sparked public demand for stamps, especially in denominations greater than 12¢, the top value in circulation at the beginning of 1860. In response to a letter received from the Philadelphia postmaster, the new Third Assistant Postmaster General, Alexander N. Zevely, contacted Toppan Carpenter about producing new high-denomination stamps. The printers responded that they could furnish stamps within three weeks of the order being received, which they were able to do since they already had the 24¢ plate from two years earlier. Zevely ordered 24¢ stamps in a "lilac" shade, and the firm stated that they would be ready by June 15, 1860. The earliest documented use is July 7, 1860.
Five months after the 24¢ was issued, in November 1860, an Illinois lawyer and one-time U.S. congressman named Abraham Lincoln was elected president on a Republican platform dedicated to preserving the Union and to laying the foundation for the eventual abolition of slavery. It was too much for the South. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina formally voted to secede from the Union, and other slave states soon followed. By April the first guns of the war were fired on Fort Sumter during Lincoln's "I dare you" attempt to resupply the fort.
The 24¢ stamps issued in June 1860 were one of the war's early casualties. In August 1861 the federal government demonetized all previous issues of postage stamps and replaced them with new stamps that would be distributed only to post offices in loyal states. The purpose of demonetization was to prevent the South from using stamps as a medium of exchange.
Demand for the high-denomination stamps in 1860 was limited, and the Civil War demonetization policy cut their lives short. Unused examples would be great rarities today if not for a cache of sheets discovered in Washington, D.C., which had been found in Southern post offices after the war and returned to the Post Office. These sheets were sold and traded to stamp dealers, and many of the unused stamps from late pre-war printings come from this source.
Despite the survival of unused high-denomination remainders, multiples with the imprint and plate number selvage are extremely rare. Philatelists record only two 24¢ plate blocks: the block of four offered in lot 47 and the block of twelve offered here. This block was once part of the famous Worthington collection, from which it passed into the Lozier, Sinkler, Ward, Phillips and Chapin collections. In 2002 the entire Chapin collection was acquired by the Shreves in a sealed bidding process and then sold privately to Mr. Gross.