VERY FINE. ONE OF SIX RECORDED GENUINE COVERS BEARING THE RARE ROCHE'S CITY DISPATCH STAMP -- ONLY THREE COVERS HAVE STAMPS WITH RECTANGULAR MARGINS.
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 was a problem in year-dating this December 5th cover to Alexander Purvis (Gronowski's No. 3, ex Worthington, Caspary and Lilly) but the date can now be established firmly as 1849, which puts this usage in the correct time period. 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 two questionable covers out and restoring the Purvis cover (offered here) to the census, we are left with six accepted covers, including three with rectangular-cut stamps (two 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 the Golden sale and the two stamps on questionable covers, for a total of seven off-cover 129L1's.
Ex Worthington, Caspary and Lilly.