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Sale 1211 — The William H. Gross Collection: United States Postal History

Sale Date — Tuesday-Wednesday, 29-30 October, 2019

Category — 1851 Issue First Day Covers

Cat./Est. Value
Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 166, 1851 Issue First Day Covers, The only 1851 First Day cover from Chillicothe, Ohio

3¢ Orange Brown, Type I (10), Position 51R1E, three large margins, clear to touched at right, radiant color, tied by blue 7-bar grid cancel, matching "Chillicothe, Ohio 1 Jul." (1851) First Day circular datestamp on buff cover to Columbus, Ohio, stamp also "tied" by unusual pinhole grid (probably from an affixing wafer), Very Fine, the only recorded First Day cover of the 1851 Issue from Chillicothe, Ohio, accompanied by note from Dr. Chase stating in his opinion this is an 1851 use due to the use of the Plate 1 Early stamp, ex Schenck, Rubel, H. J. Baker and Fisher


The New 1851 Issue

Three new stamps--1¢, 3¢ and 12¢ denominations-- were necessary after postage rates were revised by Congress during the Fillmore administration. Effective July 1, 1851, the basic rates became 1¢ for newspapers and circulars (with a distance escalation until 1852), 1¢ for drop letters and carrier fees, 3¢ for domestic letters sent up to 3,000 miles, and 6¢ for letters sent over 3,000 miles. Prepayment by stamps or stamped envelopes was not made compulsory until 1855, but for the first time there were higher rates for letters sent unpaid--5¢ instead of 3¢, and 10¢ instead of 6¢. The combination of convenience and the financial incentive to prepay postage led to a rapid increase in stamp use and popularity.

Under Postmaster General Nathan K. Hall, the contract to print the 1851 Issue was awarded to the Philadelphia firm of Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co. (Casilear retired in October 1854, but his name was included in plate imprints as late as 1857). To start, only the 1¢, 3¢ and 12¢ (and the General Issue Carrier stamps) were produced. A 10¢ stamp was added in 1855 to meet the new transcontinental rate, and a 5¢ stamp was added in 1856 for use on transatlantic mail. The firm's original six-year contract was extended to 1861, during which time stamps were perforated and three new denominations were issued (24¢, 30¢ and 90¢), for a total of eight different stamps under Toppan Carpenter's contract.

All three 1851 Issue stamps were supplied to certain post offices on or before July 1, 1851, the first day of the new rates. The census of 1851 First Day Covers published by Wilson Hulme in 2001 (The 1851 Issue of United States Stamps: A Sesquicentennial Retrospective, USPCS) tallied 45 covers from 23 cities in 11 states (one in the count was postmarked by the Louisville & Cincinnati Mail Line route agent). Only two of the 45 covers have 1¢ stamps--the Scott 5A cover from Boston (sold in the Gross U.S. Treasures sale) and a cover with a strip of Scott 7 from New York City (ex Jefferys and Grunin). The other 43 have 3¢ stamps, and currently there are no 12¢ July 1 covers known.

The two 3¢ First Day covers offered in this sale are among the finest extant.

E. 5,000-7,500
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