Sale 817 — The David Golden Collection of U.S. Carriers and Locals

Sale Date — Monday, 15 November, 1999

Category — Masons New Orleans City Express (New Orleans LA)

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
1328
 
Sale 817, Lot 1328, Masons New Orleans City Express (New Orleans LA)Mason's New Orleans City Express, New Orleans La., -1/2c Black on Blue, Value Changed to 1c (102L1). Ample margins to just touching, ms. "1" thru "-1/2 Cent." value, tiny ms. "1851" year dates written at top corners, red grid cancel, thins

FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF TWO RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE MASON'S NEW ORLEANS CITY EXPRESS ONE-CENT STAMP, WHICH EXISTS ONLY AS A MANUSCRIPT OVERPRINT ON THE HALF-CENT VALUE. AN EXTRAORDINARY AND UNUSUAL LOCAL.

Mason's New Orleans City Express, located at 23 Royal Street, is consistently reported to have operated from 1850 through 1857 (Huber and Wagner, Skinner, Perry, et al), yet all of the seven recorded Mason's stamp usages (and three stampless covers) fall into a much narrower timeframe, from July 5, 1850, to August 9, 1851 (a list of 102L2 covers is provided in lot 1329). The latter date coincides with the inauguration of New Orleans postmaster Michel Musson's carrier service. Despite the obvious implications of this date sequence -- that Mason became an official U.S. carrier -- researchers have been frustrated in their attempts to locate any official documentation that Mason or his letter carriers joined the New Orleans carrier department in or after August 1851. The two-part Elliott Perry article edited by Robert B. Meyersburg (Chronicle 126 and 127) provides much of the information that has been uncovered so far, including the official carrier appointments from 1851 through 1860, to the extent they were published in city directories. There is still the possibility that further research will yield evidence to link Mason's with the New Orleans carrier department, which of course would change the status of Mason usages (after the appointment date) to a semi-official carrier status.

Only two examples of the blue stamp are recorded. Both have -1/2 cent printed denominations changed in manuscript to "1" cent. The other example is tied on a cover locally addressed to Leads Foundry in New Orleans, with a clear strike of the "N-Orls. City Express Post La. Feb. 6" circular datestamp (1851), ex Caspary and Boker. The Caspary cover was described in the 1956 sale as having had the stamp lifted and moved with some thinnings. The -1/2c stamp was probably printed for a special newspaper rate and overprinted with the one-cent rate as needed or after a change in the city-delivery rate. There has also been speculation that the stamp actually has a dual-rate denomination, which was fixed when sold. The point is somewhat moot, because there are only two known examples, and both show the "1" overprint.

Ex Burrus.

E. 7,500-10,000
9,500
1329
c
Sale 817, Lot 1329, Masons New Orleans City Express (New Orleans LA)Mason's New Orleans City Express, New Orleans La., 2c Black on Yellow (102L2). Huge bottom left margins (presumably a corner position), ample at right, top left ornament just touched, tied by red oval grid, matching "N-Orls City Express Post Dec. 27" circular datestamp on blue Dec. 26, 1850 folded letter to local street address, matching red 'Mason's Express, Royal St." small circular handstamp on back, file folds -- one thru stamp that slightly creases it -- some damp stains and slight wear

FINE. ONE OF SIX RECORDED COVERS BEARING MASON'S NEW ORLEANS CITY EXPRESS 2-CENT STAMP, OF WHICH THREE ARE TIED.

This December 1850 usage falls within the period from July 1850 through August 1851, when Mason's operated prior to the formation of the New Orleans carrier department. As observed by Dr. Hubert C. Skinner (Texas Philatelist, Feb. 1969), two different city-delivery rates have been found on Mason's covers. This December 1850 usage is a 2c rate, while the Feb. 6, 1851, cover has a 1c stamp (see description of lot 1328). There is no rate change evidenced by the four recorded Mason's 2c stamped covers delivered to or from the post office from July 1850 through August 1851. One local cover (number 4 below) is dated Apr. 21 (1851), but it has a 2c stamp; we have not read the letter, addressed to the Archbishop of New Orleans, but perhaps it originated outside New Orleans. Based on the Feb. 1851 1c cover, it seems that Mason reduced the local rate from 2c to 1c between Dec. 27, 1850, and Feb. 6, 1851, which may explain the need for a re-rated 102L1 stamp.

Our records contain seven 102L2 stamps, including the following six on covers, listed chronologically: 1) Jul. 4 (1850 contents) New Orleans datestamp (10c rate), stamp with wide left sheet margin and cancelled (not tied) by Mason's small circle (no datestamp) on folded letter to Chas. T. Pollard, Montgomery Ala., ex Ackerman, Caspary; 2) Dec. 26, 1850 folded letter locally addressed to J. R. Hyde, stamp tied by red grid, Dec. 27 company datestamp, ex Worthington, Caspary, Middendorf, the cover offered here; 3) Mar. 25 (1851 contents) New Orleans datestamp (10c rate), stamp tied by red grid, Mar. 25 company datestamp on back of folded letter to Dr. Banks, New York City, ex Ferrary, Hollowbush; 4) Apr. 21 (1851?) company datestamp, stamp cancelled by red grid on folded letter to Rev. Anthony Blane, Archbishop of New Orleans, P.F. records; 5) Jul. 4 (1851 contents) New Orleans datestamp (new 5c rate), stamp tied by Mason's small circle (no datestamp) on folded letter to Eleanor Fratherly, Sodus Pt. N.Y., ex Boker; and 6) Aug. 9 (1851 contents) New Orleans datestamp, "Way 6" and "Adv. 1" handstamps on Aug. 7 folded letter from Mobile to Carl Marten, New Orleans, stamp has trace of red ink but not cancelled, offered in lot 1330. In addition to the six stamps on covers, we record one off-cover stamp on piece with the Mason's small circle.

Ex Worthington, Caspary and Middendorf.

E. 5,000-7,500
9,000
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1330
c
Sale 817, Lot 1330, Masons New Orleans City Express (New Orleans LA)Mason's New Orleans City Express, New Orleans La., 2c Black on Yellow (102L2). Huge margins including left sheet margin and trace of adjoining stamp above, small spot of red ink but uncancelled, affixed with red wax (causing slight creasing) on blue folded letter datelined "Mobile August 7th 1851", contents in German, addressed to "Mr. Carl Marten, New Levee Street No. 68, 3d Municipality, New Orleans", received from a coastal vessel and handstamped with red "New Orleans La. Aug. 9" circular datestamp and matching "WAY/6" handstamp (5c postage plus 1c way fee), red "ADV.I" in frame indicating that addressee could not be located and letter was held at post office and advertised (for an additional 1c), some faint bleached spots

EXTREMELY FINE. A REMARKABLE AND INTRIGUING USE OF THE MASON'S CITY EXPRESS POST 2-CENT STAMP -- THE LATEST OF THE SEVEN RECORDED MASON'S COVERS (SIX OF 102L2), USED ONE DAY AFTER NEW ORLEANS INAUGURATED ITS OFFICIAL CARRIER SERVICE. THE ONLY "WAY" OR "ADVERTISED" COVER KNOWN WITH THIS RARE STAMP.

This letter was definitely carried by a coastal vessel from Mobile Bay into the New Orleans harbor. It was accepted by the New Orleans post office as a way letter and charged the appropriate 5c postage plus 1c way fee. The address is explicit in detail, even including the 3rd Municipality designation, which was used to divide carrier responsibility (reference: Perry-Meyersburg, Chronicle 127 and 128). However, the addressee, Carl Marten, could not be found at 68 New Levee Street, which runs parallel to and one block south of Tchapitoulas. The letter was returned to the post office and advertised in the local newspaper, a standard procedure of undeliverable mail. The "ADV.I" handstamp indicates the 1c fee for advertising a letter. That much of the story is certain.

Less certain is exactly when the Mason's stamp was applied: either before attempted delivery to 68 New Levee or after advertising by the post office. The New Orleans postmark date on this cover, August 9 (1851), is exactly one day after the postmaster formally announced the commencement of carrier delivery by the newly-organized carrier department. It has been claimed that this letter was stamped by the post office with Mason's adhesive before the first attempt to have the carrier department deliver the letter to 68 New Levee. When it could not be delivered, the letter was returned to the post office with the stamp uncancelled. The implication of this is that Mason was an official carrier on August 9, 1851. A February 20, 1985, note from Richard Frajola states more explicitly "This is the period when Mason's were acting as U.S. carriers and is the only such usage on record." As noted in the previous descriptions, we are unaware of any official documentation of Mason's appointment as carrier. One piece of circumstantial evidence is the postmaster's mention of "a carrier's stamp of 1c, for the prepayment of the carriers' charge of that sum..." in the August 8, 1851, notice, which predates the availability of the Franklin carrier stamp in New Orleans (received October 19). Until further evidence is produced, one must resist the urge to conclude that Mason's stamps were the ones referred to in the postmaster's announcement.

An alternate explanation for this usage is that the sender affixed the stamp, intending for Mason to take it from the post office to the addressee, a service that Mason provided and evidently the New Orleans postmaster condoned. A bit of physical evidence supporting this contention is the identical color and consistency of the red wax used to affix the stamp and seal the letter. If the stamp were affixed to the letter upon arrival at New Orleans before August 8, 1851, it would very likely have been given to Mason's for delivery. However, with the new carrier department up and running when this letter arrived, perhaps the postmaster ended his practice of allowing Mason to pick up letters bearing his stamp or directed to his care. This scenario would explain the absence of a Mason's handstamp and the uncancelled stamp. It would also explain the absence of Mason usages after this August 9, 1851, cover. Until more evidence becomes available, it is the theory we favor most.

E. 10,000-15,000
10,000
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1331
c
Sale 817, Lot 1331, Masons New Orleans City Express (New Orleans LA)N-Orls. City Express Post La. Feb. 19. Large red circular datestamp with matching "Paid" straightline on ca. 1851 folded cover to local street address, ms. "Paid St. Louis Hotel M & W" in a different hand than address, dampstained and nibbled along edges and in "Orleans" of address, still very presentable with very clear strikes of these rare markings, ex Abt

E. 750-1,000
600
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