VERY FINE. AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE ST. JOSEPH "RUNNING PONY" COVER FREE FRANKED BY THE MOST COLORFUL OF THE FOUNDERS OF THE PONY EXPRESS.
The Pony Express began its inaugural trip on April 3, 1860, under the ownership of the Central Overland and Pike's Peak Express Company. The three founders were William H. Russell, Alexander Majors and William B. Waddell. The Pony Express was absorbed by Wells, Fargo & Co. in April 1861 after failing to secure a government contract at the beginning of the Civil War due to a variety of circumstances, including Russell's often reckless behavior (see following lot).
AN IMPORTANT HISTORICAL LETTER WRITTEN BY WILLIAM H. RUSSELL, A FOUNDER OF THE PONY EXPRESS, ONE MONTH BEFORE OWNERSHIP OF THE PONY EXPRESS PASSED INTO THE HANDS OF WELLS, FARGO AND COMPANY.
The Pony Express was absorbed by Wells, Fargo & Co. in April of 1861 (Russell was forced to resign on April 26, 1861). The letter offered here, written from Washington D.C. on March 3, 1861, clearly illustrates Russell's desperation in his attempts to secure a government contract. By 1861, the Central Overland and Pike's Peak Express Company, which ran the Pony Express, was hemorrhaging money. Early in 1861, Russell was implicated in a financial scandal that doomed him (see Coburn's Letters of Gold, pp. 257-258). As part of the settlement, Russell agreed to return bonds that had been advanced against services never performed. The due date for his return of the bonds was March 4, 1861, the date Lincoln assumed his presidency and the day after this letter was written.
The cover offered in the previous lot is addressed to the same recipient; however, the letter was written months after the cover was carried.
EXTREMELY FINE APPEARANCE. THE DISCOVERY EXAMPLE OF A NESBITT IMPRINT ON THE FAMOUS PONY EXPRESS "GARTER" STAMP, HERETOFORE BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN PRINTED IN SAN FRANCISCO AND NOW KNOWN TO BE THE PRODUCT OF GEORGE F. NESBITT & CO., THE PROMINENT NREW YORK PRINTER WHO PRODUCED THE NESBITT SERIES OF UNITED STATES POSTAL STATIONERY.
This remarkable stamp recently came to light in England and is offered for the first time. The Wells, Fargo & Co. stamp, known to collectors as the Garter issue, is known used on westbound transcontinental covers carried by the Pony Express. It has always been assumed that the stamp was printed by Britton and Rey, the San Francisco printers who produced the famous Pony Express issues. However, with this discovery of an imprint example, the true identity of the printer is now known. The stamp was created for use on mail originating from the east coast, thus it makes perfect sense that the New York City office of Wells, Fargo & Co. should make arrangements with one of the city's prominent stamp and stationery printers for the production of the Garter issue.
EXTREMELY FINE. A CHOICE STAMP AND BEAUTIFUL VIRGINIA CITY PONY COVER FROM THE FAMOUS CRITTENDEN CORRESPONDENCE.
With 1981 P.F. certificate.