VERY FINE AND REMARKABLY FRESH. ONE OF SIX RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE ALEXANDRIA POSTMASTER'S PROVISIONAL ON BUFF PAPER, OF WHICH ONLY THREE ARE ON COMPLETE COVERS -- THIS IS THE ONLY TYPE I KNOWN ON A COMPLETE COVER. AN OUTSTANDING AND WORLD-RECOGNIZED PHILATELIC RARITY.
Alexandria, a major port city, was ceded to the District of Columbia in 1791. On July 6, 1846, the United States Congress voted to cede Alexandria back to Virginia. In September 1846 the issue was put up for a vote by the white male citizens of Alexandria County (insane persons and paupers excluded), and they voted 763 to 222 in favor of recession. However, it was not until March 1847 that the Virginia General Assembly enacted the recession. A noteworthy aspect of this Alexandria cover is the letter, which refers to the September vote on the question of Alexandria's status. It reads (in part): "What do the folks in Frederick County say about retrocession? There is a good deal of talk about it here. The commissioners have appointed the first and second days of next month to take the vote ... a stranger to whom she had been introduced told her he hoped she would persuade the Alexandrians to go back to Virginia. I think the country people will mostly vote against it and the town people mostly for it." The Alexandria post office, with Daniel Bryan as postmaster, was most definitely part of the District of Columbia when the provisional stamps were used before March 1847. In the case of this August 1846 cover, we have used the proper designation, despite the Scott Catalogue listing.
Based on Philip T Wall's census (Chronicle, Feb. 1983), updated with new information, there are six recorded examples of the Alexandria 5c on Buff paper. Of Type I (40 rosettes in border) there is: 1) a cover front only to Bartholomew Cranston, Columbia Pa., stamp uncancelled, black Jul. 10 (1847) datestamp with "Paid" and "5", the first Alexandria discovered (in 1872-73 by John K. Tiffany), ex Pickman, Colson, Coolidge; 2) complete folded letter to Nathan Parkins, Winchester Va., red Aug. 25 (1846) datestamp with "Paid" and "5", the cover offered here, ex Lapham, Consul Klep, Isleham, Kapiloff; and 3) off-cover stamp, ms. "No. 45" and trace of red postmark, found in 1894, ex Lambert, Shryock, Worthington, Caspary, Lilly. Of Type II (39 rosettes in border) there is: 4) complete folded cover to Burr W. Harrison, Leesburg Va., red Sep. 10 (1846) datestamp with "Paid" and "5", discovered in 1908, ex Worthington, Hind, Caspary, Lilly, Boker and now in a European collection; 5) complete folded cover with address erased, stamp has ms. "No. 70" and tied by red May 9 (1846) datestamp with "Paid" and "5", ex Caspary; and 6) uncancelled off cover, ex Ferrary, Lapham, not seen or recorded since the 1936 TIPEX exhibition in New York. These are the six recorded examples, which include one off-cover stamp not seen since 1936 and only three complete covers.
The cover offered here was discovered in 1926 by Edward S. Leadbeater of Alexandria while he was visiting relatives in Parkins' Mills. The letters were addressed to his father of the same name. The cover was sold to Perry Fuller, a Baltimore dealer, for approximately $7,000. It was then sold to Henry G. Lapham and became part of the great Lapham collection of postmasters' provisionals. The cover was later acquired by Consul Klep Van Velthoven of Belgium and realized $5,250 when the Klep collection was sold at auction in 1956. The Leadbeater cover next appeared at auction when our firm sold the "Texas" collection of U.S. postmasters' provisionals in 1964, in which sale it realized $9,000. It was sold again through the Siegel firm in 1986 at the auction sale of the "Isleham" collection, where it realized $77,000, more than 2.5 times its then current catalogue value of $30,000.
With 1954 and 1986 P.F. certificates.