Sale 769 — The Honolulu Advertiser Collection
Sale Date — Tuesday, 7 November, 1995
Category — Hawaiian Missionaries Off Cover
THE ONLY KNOWN UNUSED EXAMPLE OF HAWAII'S FIRST STAMP AND THE FINEST OF THE FIFTEEN RECORDED COPIES
This remarkable stamp appeared in the first sale of the Count Philippe de la Renotiere von Ferrary collection, held at the Hotel Drouot in Paris on June 23, 1921, under the supervision of M. G. Gilbert. In the sale this stamp was described "probablement le plus bel exemplaire qui existe de ce timbre" ("probably the most beautiful example of this stamp that exists"); the describer mistook the printer's ink on back for a light blue cancel, an error of judgment that was repeated in the Meyer-Harris book (p. 112). The 2c Missionary was purchased in the Ferrary sale by Maurice Burrus, an Alsatian tobacco magnate, for the U.S. dollar equivalent of $14,700 - the highest price ever paid for a single stamp at that time. By comparison, in subsequent Ferrary sales the Swedish 1857 3-skilling banco Yellow color error was sold for $3,095, the Baden 1851 9-kreuzer Blue-Green color error on cover sold for $8,087, and an unused Mauritius 1847 1-penny "Post Office" realized $9,733.
In the Ferrary sale, the reality about this 2c Missionary stamp - that it is an unused example - was apparently obvious to the bidders and to its buyer, Maurice Burrus. When the stamp was featured in Life magazine's "World's Rarest Stamps" (May 3, 1954), courtesy of Burrus, it was clearly identified as unused and valued at $20,000. The massive Burrus collection was dispersed after his death in numerous auctions in the 1960s, and the Hawaii was sold by H. R. Harmer of New York on May 27, 1963. At that sale the unused 2c Missionary - its unused condition confirmed by a 1963 Philatelic Foundation certificate - soared to the world-record price of $41,000. The successful bidders, Raymond and Roger Weill, wrote at the time of the acquisition, "[The stamp] was one of the two or three sound copies of an extremely rare stamp, unique in unused condition, intriguing through ancestry, issued by an American postmaster for what is now the 50th state in the union, and almost certain to realize a record price for single stamp."
The record sale was reported extensively in the news media, but nowhere so imaginatively as in Life magazine (November 29, 1963), which devoted a full page in color to proclaim, "This, pound for pound, is the most valuable substance on earth." Weighing in at a mere one two-thousandths of an ounce, troy, its value was calculated at $1,195,833,395.61 per pound.
The unused 2c Missionary was placed by the Weills in the collection of the anonymous Mr. P., where it joined the unique 2c Missionary cover. After acquiring Mr. P.'s collection in 1969, these two stellar rarities were acquired by Alfred J. Ostheimer III.
There is a story associated with the early history of this stamp that has been reported as fact by several philatelic authors, but disputed as fiction by others. Prior to Ferrary's ownership, the stamp is said to have been owned by a Parisian collector named Gaston Leroux. The story continues that Leroux was murdered by an envious philatelic colleague, who coveted the 2c Missionary and later confessed to killing Leroux to obtain it. The Missionary earned fame in another murder-mystery story when the motion picture Charade was released, casting the fabled Hawaiian stamp in a starring role with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn (we will not tell the ending).
Described and illustrated in Stamps of Fame, L. N. and M. Williams (pages 96-97, plate 15).
Ex Leroux (?), Ferrary, Burrus, Mr. P. Collection, Ostheimer III. Census No. 1-II-UNC-1. Other census references: Meyer-Harris 8; Brewster 1-II-Unused-1. With 1963 and 1995 P.F. certificates. Scott value for the unique unused example is $500,000.00
THE FINEST USED EXAMPLE OF THE HAWAIIAN 2-CENT MISSIONARY
Our census of 2c Missionaries (Appendix I) shows that, of the fifteen recorded examples (four of which are in museums), only two sound stamps exist off cover - the unique unused copy (previous lot) and the beautifully cancelled stamp offered here. All of the other twelve off-cover used 2c Missionaries are defective or repaired. Only one other bears this Honolulu cancel (Census No. 1-I-CAN-3, Appendix I), but on that repaired example the marking is struck so faintly, it is indiscernible.
This stamp first appeared at public auction in the second sale of the Count Philippe de la Renotiere von Ferrary collection, held at the Hotel Drouot in Paris on October 13-15, 1921, under the supervision of M. G. Gilbert. In Stamps of Fame (p. 99 and 105) the Williams brothers cite a reference to a complete set of Hawaiian Missionaries in the Judge Frederick A. Philbrick collection, which they identify as Ferrary's probable source of this 2c Missionary. The Philbrick collection, which Ferrary acquired in 1882, was reputed to be the finest in England at that time and formed an important foundation for Ferrary's collecting efforts (Bierman, World's Greatest Stamp Collectors).
At the Ferrary sale, this stamp realized the equivalent of $7,710, a price comparable to the $8,394 paid for the ex-Philbrick Mauritius 1p and 2p "Post Office" piece in the same sale. The buyer was Theodore Champion, who acquired the 2c Missionary for his own collection. There is no further record of the stamp until the November 16, 1966, sale of Hawaii held by H. R. Harmer of New York, on behalf of Louise Boyd Dale, daughter of Alfred F. Lichtenstein. The offering is described as "Including the original collection formed by the late Alfred F. Lichtenstein, Offered without reserve by order of his daughter." In this auction the 2c Missionary - Lichtenstein's only example - realized $30,000, selling to Raymond H. Weill Co. of New Orleans. The stamp was placed in the collection of Mr. P., alongside the unused 2c Missionary and the cover. After the Weills acquired the P. collection in 1969 for $4.07 million, the stamp was held in stock until 1970 when it was sold to Thurston Twigg-Smith.
Illustrated in Smithsonian magazine and Rare Stamps, L. N. and M. Williams (p. 25).
Ex Ferrary (probably from Philbrick collection), Champion, Lichtenstein, Mr. P. Collection, Twigg-Smith. Census No. 1-I-CAN-4. Other census references: Meyer-Harris 7, Brewster 1-I-Used-1. With 1995 P.F. certificate. Scott value for a repaired example with the usual black cancel is $175,000.00
ONE OF THE FINEST APPEARING EXAMPLES OF THE 2-CENT MISSIONARY, OF WHICH ONLY FIFTEEN EXAMPLES ARE RECORDED AND ELEVEN ARE AVAILABLE OUTSIDE MUSEUMS
The fourteen off-cover examples of the 2c Missionary in our census (Appendix I) include four stamps held by museums and only two sound copies (both offered in the previous two lots). The stamp offered here has the widest margins of any recorded 2c Missionary and is essentially intact, without any paper restoration or painting in of the design.
This 2c Missionary was brought to Ezra Cole, circa 1935, in an old leather notebook in New York City. His account of the discovery states: "This stamp was found by a lawyer friend of my father's in Brooklyn. It was in a small old red leather notebook. There were several other inexpensive stamps with it and this 2c Missionary was actually in two pieces...I took the notebook and the stamp up to my friend, Percy Doane, in the Tribune Building and inquired as to the genuineness of the stamp for I had never seen one. He told me that it was genuine and valuable and it could be sold even in its present condition. At some time later on, I sold it to Burger Brothers for $4,500. They, in turn, sold it to A. H. Caspary. I never did learn how much Caspary paid for it." In the Caspary sale, the stamp realized $5,250. It was subsequently acquired by Alfred J. Ostheimer III, whose collection helped form the basis of the Advertiser collection.
Ex Caspary, Ostheimer III. Census No. 1-II-CAN-9. Other census references: Meyer-Harris 10, Brewster 1-II-Used-1. With 1995 P.F. certificate. Scott value for a repaired example is $175,000.00
APART FROM THE UNIQUE COVER, THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED USAGE OF THE 2-CENT MISSIONARY ON A PIECE OF MAIL AND THE ONLY RECORDED 2-CENT WITH THE RED "SUGAR CANE" FANCY CANCEL. IT IS ALSO THE ONLY RECORDED 13-CENT "HAWAIIAN POSTAGE" STAMP USED IN COMBINATION WITH ANOTHER MISSIONARY
Assuming the stamps on this piece represent the entire Hawaiian franking, the only logical rate that 15c could prepay is the triple 5c Hawaiian postage. Another triple-rate Missionary usage is the strip of three 13c "Hawaiian Postage" Missionary on a partially charred cover from the Dawson correspondence (lot 29).
The stamps on both the piece and the Dawson cover are cancelled by the amorphous red blob that appears on some of the known Missionary stamps. This cancel, unique to the Hawaiian post office, has previously been identified as the Honolulu "Sunburst", but its true nature was unrecognized. We can now provide empirical evidence that the device used to make this cancellation was a cut piece of sugar cane. Figure 3 shows the results of our own experiment in stamping the end of a cleanly cut, freshly inked sugar cane. The fibers leave the same speckled pattern, and the cane makes a handy canceling device. Based on this experiment and the absence of any other plausible theory, we have coined the term "Sugar Cane Cancel" for these impressions.
There is an interesting relationship between the Missionary piece offered here and the Dawson cover in lot 29. This piece bears the San Francisco datestamp of March 15 - although no year-date is present, it is almost certainly 1852. The charred Dawson cover has part of a faint red San Francisco datestamp at lower left and a clearly struck Honolulu February 20 datestamp, which is an 1852 year-date. The two pieces of mail were probably postmarked in Honolulu on the same day or very close to one another. The Honolulu February 20 date ties in with three 1852 sailing departure dates: the Maid of Julpha (cleared Feb. 24, arrived Mar. 22), the Eagle (cleared Feb. 25, arrived Mar. 26), and the Noble (cleared Feb. 25, arrived Mar. 16) [Gregory]. Apart from these two dated pieces, there are eleven off-cover Missionaries with the Sugar Cane cancel, all 13c "Hawaiian Postage" stamps (see Appendix I), indicating that its use pre-dated the 13c "H.I. & U.S. Postage" issue of April 1852 and that it was not used on 5c rate covers at all.
The history of this unique piece can be traced back to Henry J. Duveen, whose collection was sold privately through Charles J. Phillips from 1922 to 1926. After the Duveen dispersal the piece found its way into Alfred H. Caspary's colection. Caspary, though careful in his selection of philatelic material, was less fastidious in his curatorship and is reputed to have kept his material in a rather haphazard fashion. Several contemporary accounts confirm that Caspary carelessly placed a beverage glass on the 2c Missionary piece. As the moisture condensed, the thin pelure paper of the Missionaries curled and tore. Caspary, horrified by the consequences, gave the piece back to Warren H. Colson, the dealer from whom he acquired it, and never spoke of the matter again. Colson had the stamps expertly restored and sold the piece to Philipp Kosack. When the Kosack Missionaries were sold, an unidentified English collector purchased the piece, and, after his holding was dispersed, the piece became part of the Admiral Frederic R. Harris collection.
Ex Duveen, Caspary, Kosack, English Collection, Harris. Colson mark at lower right. Census No. 1-II-PCE-14 and 3-I-PCE-133. Other census references: Meyer-Harris 14; Brewster 1-II-On Piece-1 and 3-I-On Piece-2. With 1995 P.F. certificate. Scott value for both stamps off cover with minor repairs and the usual black Hawaiian cancel is $187,500.00
THE ONLY RECORDED SOUND UNUSED EXAMPLE. ONLY THREE OF THE TWELVE RECORDED UNUSED 5-CENT MISSIONARIES ARE AVAILABLE TO COLLECTORS FREE OF REPAIRS.
Of the twelve unused 5c Missionaries in our census (Appendix I), two copies are in the Tapling Collection at the British Library - whether or not they are repaired is moot to collectors, since they are unavailable. Of the ten unused copies available to collectors, seven are repaired and two have minor faults, leaving this example as the only sound unused 5c Missionary.
Ex Ferrary, Burrus, Ostheimer III. Census No. 2-II-UNC-27. Brewster 2-II-Unused-1. With 1963 and 1995 P.F. certificates. Scott value for a repaired unused example is $45,000.00
ONE OF TWELVE RECORDED UNUSED EXAMPLES OF THE 5-CENT MISSIONARY, OF WHICH ONLY TEN ARE AVAILABLE TO COLLECTORS
A respectable example of this rare Missionary, of which there are 61 recorded copies, including twelve unused (two of which are in the Tapling collection at the British Library). Ex Burrus, Ostheimer III. Census No. 2-I-UNC-18. Brewster 2-I-Unused-1. With 1963 and 1995 P.F. certificates. Scott value for an unused example with minor repair is $45,000.00
EXTREMELY FINE APPEARANCE AND THE ONLY RECORDED MISSIONARY WITH A BOSTON POSTMARK
The Missionaries are infrequently found canceled with part of the circular datestamp of San Francisco, where mail from Hawaii was normally routed. It is unclear to us how this singular example of a Missionary received a Boston datestamp. The possibilities are: a) that the stamp was affixed to a redirected letter and coincidentally canceled at Boston; b) that the letter originated in the northeastern United States and was mailed to Hawaii with the 5c Missionary to prepay the Hawaiian postage on incoming mail (other examples of such usage are recorded); or c) that the letter was sent from Hawaii and, for some reason, was placed into the U.S. mails at the port of Boston.
Ex Ishikawa. Census No. 2-II-CAN-47. Brewster 2-II-Used-9. With 1995 P.F. certificate. Scott value for an example with usual Hawaiian cancel and repair is $25,000.00
AN EXTREMELY FINE AND SOUND USED EXAMPLE OF THIS RARITY. PROBABLY FEWER THAN FIVE SOUND 5-CENT MISSIONARIES, USED OR UNUSED, ARE AVAILABLE TO COLLECTORS
Sound 5c Missionaries are widely perceived to be extremely rare, but the actual number is accurately reflected in our census (Appendix I). There is a total of 61 5c Missionaries in our census (Appendix I), including three in museum collections. Of the 58 available to collectors, ten are on covers (only one being sound), leaving 48 off-cover used 5c Missionaries available to collectors. Of these 48 stamps, 34 have verified faults or repairs; another seven have minor faults, and three appear only in photographs of the Atherton collection and are presumed to have minor faults. Only four of the available off-cover copies are known to be sound. Of these four, one is unused (lot 15) and one is on piece with a pair of U.S. 3c 1851 stamps (ex Ishikawa, Census No. 2-I-PCE-65). The example offered here is the finer of the two remaining used and sound 5c Missionary stamps off cover (the other being Census No. 2-II-CAN-59).
Ex Mirabaud, Levitt and Ostheimer III. Census No. 2-I-CAN-35. Brewster 2-I-Used-1. With 1957 B.P.A. and 1995 P.F. certificates. Scott value for a repaired example with usual black cancel is $25,000.00
EXCEPTIONALLY FINE CONDITION FOR A MISSIONARY AND A CHOICE EXAMPLE OF THE 5-CENT TYPE II SHOWING THE SMALL-SIZE "N" IN "CENTS"
Of the 61 5c Missionaries recorded in our census (Appendix I), only fourteen off-cover stamps are available to collectors without repairs or serious defects, including eleven used examples. This Type II stamp shows the distinctive small "n" in "Cents", a font characteristic of the 5c Missionary that indicates this value was the first setting of the Missionary printings (the other values show the "n" in the correct size).
Ex Ostheimer III. Census No. 2-II-CAN-57. Brewster 2-II-Used-1. With 1995 P.F. certificate. Scott value for repaired example is $25,000.00
A VERY FINE 13-CENT "HAWAIIAN POSTAGE" MISSIONARY. ONLY SEVEN UNUSED EXAMPLES ARE RECORDED, OF WHICH ONLY THREE ARE FREE OF REPAIRS.
There are 70 copies of the 13c "Hawaiian Postage" Missionary recorded in our census (Appendix I), including six stamps in the British Library and Reichspost Museum collections. Seven examples are thought to be unused, of which four have portions of design painted in. Only three can be considered sound or with minor faults, including this stamp.
Ex Ferrary, Burrus, Ostheimer III. Census No. 3-II-UNC-81. Brewster 3-II-Unused-I. With 1963 and 1995 P.F. certificates. Scott value for an unused repaired example is $22,500.00
A VERY FINE UNUSED EXAMPLE OF THE 13-CENT "HAWAIIAN POSTAGE" MISSIONARY
There are seven unused examples of the 13c "Hawaiian Postage" Missionary recorded in our census (Appendix I), including four that have repairs. Although we count this stamp among the repaired examples, the sealed tear is very minor and does not involve any paper restoration or painting in of the design - the other three repaired copies have paper addition and repainting.
Ex Bowers, Hind, Lichtenstein, Ostheimer III. Census No. 3-I-UNC-78. Brewster 3-I-Unused-1. With 1967 and 1995 P.F. certificates. Scott value for an unused example with minor repair $22,500.00.
VERY FINE APPEARANCE AND A BEAUTIFUL STAMP. ONLY SEVEN AVAILABLE OFF-COVER 13-CENT "HAWAIIAN POSTAGE" MISSIONARIES ARE CANCELED SOLELY WITH THE RED HONOLULU DATESTAMP.
Of the 51 used off-cover examples of the 13c "Hawaiian Postage" Missionary in our census (Appendix I), only nine were canceled in Honolulu by the circular datestamp without an obliterating cancel, including a copy in the Tapling Collection at the British Library and one small fragment on a piece that is recorded for academic purposes only. With the exception of the piece (Census No. 3-I-PCE-134) from our 1993 Rarities of the World sale, bearing a superb and sound stamp, the stamp offered here is far superior to most of the other known examples. The minor faults detailed in our description do not seriously detract from its appearance.
Ex Ferrary, Burrus. Census No. 3-I-CAN-115. Brewster 3-I-Used-4. With 1963 and 1995 P.F. certificates. Scott value for an example with minor repair and normal black cancel is $12,500.00
VERY FINE APPEARANCE AND EXTREMELY RARE CANCELED BY THE RED SAN FRANCISCO DATESTAMP
Of the different Missionaries, the 13c "Hawaiian Postage" has the widest variety of cancellations - Honolulu used, in approximate chronological order: black pen cancels ("X" or crossed lines); red manuscript (squiggles and crossed lines); blue italic "PAID"; the red Sugar Cane cancel; the red "U.S. Postage Paid" in oval and the Honolulu datestamp; and segmented corks in different styles (7-bar grid, Large Grid of Squares, Small Grid of Rectangles). In this instance, the orange-red circular datestamp was struck across the lower right corner, probably by chance as the post office was processing prepaid mail for the next trip via Panama. The magenta manuscript cancel visible on this stamp in the Admiral Harris sale was removed before its next appearance at auction. The magenta pen cancel indicates a very early use of the stamp.
Ex C. Brown, H. J. Crocker, Adm. Harris, Middendorf. Census No. 3-II-CAN-90. Brewster 3-II-Used-1. With 1995 P.F. certificate. Scott value for a repaired example with normal black cancel is $12,500.00
EXTREMELY FINE UNUSED EXAMPLE OF THE FINAL MISSIONARY ISSUE. ONLY SEVEN COPIES ARE AVAILABLE IN UNUSED CONDITION, AND THIS MAGNIFICENT STAMP HAS BUT ONE POTENTIAL RIVAL
Eight unused examples of the 13c "H.I. & U.S. Postage" Missionary are recorded in our census (Appendix I), including the ostensibly unused stamp in the Tapling collection at the British Library. Of the seven copies available to collectors, at least four have verified repairs or serious defects, and a fifth has minor faults. There is only one potential rival to the superb unused stamp offered here - the huge-margined Type II stamp last seen publicly in the 1939 William H. Crocker auction and described in that sale catalogue as sound, but with no subsequent verification.
Ex Ishikawa. Census No. 4-I-UNC-153. Brewster 4-I-Unused-3. With 1995 P.F. certificate. Scott value for a repaired unused example is $45,000.00
A FINE APPEARING EXAMPLE OF THIS MISSIONARY, OF WHICH SEVEN UNUSED COPIES ARE AVAILABLE TO COLLECTORS
Our census of 13c "H.I. & U.S. Postage" Missionaries (Appendix I) records eight unused examples, including the ostensibly unused stamp in the Tapling collection at the British Library. This example is relatively attractive without any repainting of the design.
Census No. 4-II-UNC-148. Brewster 4-II-Unused-3. With 1976 Hawaiian Philatelic Society certificate. Scott value for repaired unused example is $45,000.00.
A RARE AND UNLISTED VARIETY OF THE TYPOGRAPHED MISSIONARY ISSUE
Only four Missionaries are known to show the doubling effect of a "kiss" print - one is a 13c "Hawaiian Postage" issue from the Adm. Harris collection, and the others are 13c "H.I. & U.S. Postage" issues (see also lots 7 and 25). While not classified as a true double impression, in which two distinct and complete impressions are made, a "kiss" print results from the sheet of paper touching the inked type during the printing of multiple impressions.
Only eight unused 13c "H.I. & U.S. Postage" Missionaries are recorded in our census (Appendix I), including the ostensibly unused stamp in the Tapling collection at the British Library. This example shows an average degree of repairing.
Ex Ayer, Ferrary, Burrus, Ostheimer III. Census No. 4-I-UNC-49. Brewster 4-I-Unused-1. With 1963 and 1995 P.F. certificates. Scott value for a normal stamp in unused repaired condition is $45,000.00
VERY FINE AND THE FINER OF THE TWO RECORDED SOUND USED 13-CENT "H.I. & U.S. POSTAGE" MISSIONARY STAMPS OFF COVER
There are 51 examples of the 13c "H.I. & U.S. Postage" Missionary in our census (Appendix I). Only 34 used stamps are recorded off cover or on piece, and about two-thirds of these are repaired or in museum collections. Of those unrepaired copies that remain in private hands, only two sound examples are recorded: the stamp offered here and the cut-in, slightly toned example, ex Potts, Moody and Krug (Census No. 4-II-CAN-176). Thus, for the collector of sound used classics, this is a rarity among rarities.
Ex Wilcox. Census No. 4-I-CAN-177. Brewster 4-I-Used-1. With 1995 P.F. certificate. Scott value for a repaired example is $27,500.00.
ONE OF THE FINEST OF THE 32 USED OFF-COVER EXAMPLES OF THIS MISSIONARY STAMP AVAILABLE TO COLLECTORS
There are 34 used off-cover 13c "H.I. & U.S. Postage" Missionaries in our census (Appendix I), including two in the Tapling collection at the British Library. Of the 32 used copies remaining in private hands, only fourteen are not repaired or seriously defective. This stamp has relatively minor flaws, even among the select group.
Ex Atherton and Honolulu Academy of Arts. Census No. 4-II-CAN-182. Brewster 4-II-Used-1. With 1995 P.F. certificate. Scott value for a repaired example is $27,500.00