VERY FINE. THE UNION DESPATCH 5-CENT STAMP IS RECOGNIZED BY SPECIALISTS AS A GENUINE ISSUE OF STILES UNION DESPATCH, CIRCA 1855, IN CHICAGO.
Henry E. Abt included the Union Despatch in his American Philatelist series on Chicago local posts (Jan. 1958). Robson Lowe provided additional information in his Feb. 1987 Chronicle overview of Chicago posts. More recently, Gordon Stimmell illustrated most of the recorded examples in The Penny Post (Jul. 1995). Because of the proliferation of counterfeits of the distinctive Union Despatch Horse stamps, the genuine items have been excluded from the Scott Catalogue, and collectors are generally unappreciative of the stamps' status and rarity. As Abt, Sloane, Lowe, Stimmell and other ranking local-post students have shown, the genuine design has faint vertical lines in the vignette background surrounding the horse's head, and the stamps show all or part of the rouletted perforations. None of the counterfeits have these characteristics. Fewer than ten 5c, one 10c and two 20c are recorded.
According to Abt and Lowe, the likely candidates for proprietors of the Union Despatch are William Stiles and his son, Edmund, who arrived in Chicago in 1854 and opened a "package delivery service" at 139 Lake Street. Edmund's brother also worked at the Union Despatch. The 1855-56 Hall's Chicago Directory lists Stiles Union Despatch at 139 Lake Street. The same firm appears in the 1856-57 Gager's and 1858 Cooke's directories. The firm moved to 24 Dearborn in 1858 and then to 60 South Dearborn in 1859. Sometime during or soon after 1859, the Union Despatch was sold to new owners, as the name "Stiles" does not appear in the 1859-60 Cooke's directory. No contemporary advertisements or other documentation are known to link the stamps with the Stiles Union Despatch.