VERY FINE. ONE OF FIVE RECORDED GENUINE COVERS BEARING THE RARE ROCHE'S CITY DISPATCH STAMP -- ONLY TWO ACCEPTED COVERS HAVE STAMPS WITH RECTANGULAR MARGINS. AN IMPORTANT ARTIFACT OF THIS SHORT-LIVED WILMINGTON LOCAL POST.
Wilmington city directory and post-office employment records for James L. Roche are provided by Elliott Perry in Pat Paragraphs (reprint, pp. 459-460). This information is also included with a census of 129L1 stamps and covers by Stephen Gronowski in the July 1995 Penny Post. Roche is linked to the Wilmington post office as far back as 1833 by a signed postage receipt. For much of the time between 1845 and 1858 he was a clerk in the post office. He left in 1849 following Zachary Taylor's election, but returned in 1852. During his hiatus from official postal duties, Roche ran a newspaper and periodical room advertised as "one door from the post office" and started the City Dispatch. All recorded genuine Roche covers are dated from the third-quarter 1849 through the end of 1850. Roche died in 1859.
Gronowski recorded four off-cover stamps and nine covers in his 1995 census, including three covers he did not think were genuine and one cover noted as "Unknown". We agree that one cover (Gronowski's No. 7) postmarked at New York has a 129L1 added to it. There is a discrepancy in year-dating the December 5th cover to Alexander Purvis in Philadelphia with an uncancelled rectangular-cut stamp (Gronowski's No. 3, ex Worthington, Caspary and Lilly). Sloane's notes and the Lilly sale catalogue give the date of the Purvis letter as 1846, but the Caspary catalogue specifically states "1849." If it is 1846, then the stamp cannot belong on the Purvis cover; however, if 1849, then there is no date problem with the usage. The cover noted as "Unknown" in Gronowski's census (No. 8) may be a duplicate listing of the cover to John Labom on South Front Street in Philadelphia (his No. 6), which has a Roche stamp cancelled "X" in pen but no other markings. The Labom cover is the third 129L1 cover Gronowski expressed doubts about, and the usage is indeed implausible unless Roche carried mail to Philadelphia, a highly unlikely (and illegal) scenario for a former (and future) postal employee. Taking the three questionable covers and one "Unknown" listing out of the census, we are left with five accepted covers, including two with rectangular-cut stamps (to the same addressee) and three cut-to-shape stamps. We refer to Gronowski's census for details and photos of these covers. In addition, there are four off-cover stamps in the Gronowski census, plus a cut-to-shape off-cover stamp offered as lot 1462 in this sale and the three stamps on questionable covers, for a total of eight off-cover 129L1's.
Signed Sloane ("Original and in my opinion used on this cover"). Ex Malcolm and Richardson.