VERY FINE. ONE OF THREE RECORDED STAMPS ISSUED BY REED'S CITY DESPATCH POST, THE FIRST LOCAL POST IN SAN FRANCISCO. ONLY TWO 126L2 STAMPS ARE RECORDED, EACH USED ON SMALL COVERS ADDRESSED IN THE SAME HAND TO WELL-KNOWN SAN FRANCISCO CITIZENS, WHICH UNDOUBTEDLY CONTAINED INVITATIONS. THIS WAS THE DISCOVERY COPY OF REED'S STAMP.
All that is known about Reed's City Despatch Post was provided by Henry B. Phillips, who published Filatelic Facts and Fallacies" during the 1890's and included an article on Reed's post in the April 1894 issue. Subsequent writers have repeated Phillips' statements, almost verbatim, and we shall, too.
The December 17, 1853, edition of the Daily Alta California carried an advertisement by Reed that is considered to be the inaugural announcement of this post, the earliest established in San Francisco. The other known contemporary reference to Reed's City Despatch Post is found in the San Francisco 1854 city directory published by Le Count & Strong, which states that the post was owned by Henry Reed and held its offices at Adams & Co.'s Express on Montgomery Street. It is clear from the advertisements and one of the recorded covers that Reed operated the City Despatch Post as a local delivery arm of Adams. Under the direction of Daniel H. Haskell, the Adams firm prospered as an express company and banking house in California. In 1855, in the midst of a national banking crisis, the firm was dissolved, and its express business was taken over by Freeman & Co. Presumably, the City Despatch Post closed at this time. Henry Reed is possibly the same-named employee of the Holladay Overland Mail and Express Co. who operated the Penny Express Co. in 1866.
Our records contain three Reed's covers: 1) 126L1 Green Paper, tied by Adams & Co. large double-circle datestamp on Jul. 15, 1853 folded letter from Guatemala to James Bell & Co., San Francisco, framed "Via Nicaragua/Ahead of the Mails" handstamp, discovered by E. W. Smith in 1903 in San Francisco warehouse (per 1927 letter to Needham), ex Ferrary, Jessup and Boker; 2) 126L2 Blue Paper, uncancelled, used on unsealed cover to John S. Hagar Esq. in San Francisco, ex Wiltsee, Caspary, Boker, Clifford and Golden (Siegel Sale 817, lot 1457, realized $27,000 hammer); and 3) 126L2 Blue Paper, uncancelled, slight creases, used on cover to "Mr. Warren, Horticulturalist", original publisher of the California Farmer, same handwriting and No. 2 cover to Judge Hagar, the cover offered here, ex Phillips, Lichtenstein, Needham, Jessup and Golden (Siegel Sale 817, lot 1458, realized $25,000 hammer).
This envelope was unsealed when mailed and almost certainly contained an invitation (the flap is now partly sealed). A pencil notation on back reads "Mrs. Cooper at Mrs. Gallreath, 280 Clay above Sutton", which may indicate that the invitation reply was returned in this envelope. This cover was discovered in 1892 and reported by Henry B. Phillips in Filatelic Facts and Fallacies (Apr. 1894). It was exhibited in 1894 at the Midwinter Fair in the philatelic exhibit. When the Phillips collection was acquired by Alfred F. Lichtenstein, the Reed's Warren cover was presented to Henry C. Needham. With the 1950's dispersal of Needham's collection, the cover was acquired by Edgar B. Jessup. It was subsequently acquired by David Golden and sold through the Siegel firm in 1999.
Ex H. B. Phillips, Lichtenstein, Needham, Jessup and Golden. With 1976 and 1999 P.F. certificates.
FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF SEVEN RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE RICKETTS & HALL STAMP, OF WHICH ONLY FOUR HAVE THE NAME AND ADDRESS AROUND THE PERIMETER STILL INTACT. ONE OF THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER OF AMERICAN LOCAL-POST STAMPS.
Denwood N. Kelly provided an excellent overview of what little is known about Ricketts & Hall in his Collectors Club Philatelist series on Baltimore (Vol. 50, No. 6). Stephen Gronowski updated the census of known examples in The Penny Post (Apr. 1994) and Steven M. Roth included the three recorded covers in his February 1997 Baltimore survey (Chronicle 173). A review of our own records (including the Costales and Sloane notes and P.F. files) produced no additional examples or information, and the following information is drawn from the sources noted.
The stamps and advertisements from The Sun (Feb. 10-11, 1857) give the address of Ricketts & Hall as 4 Rechabite Hall, the location of Cook's Dispatch three years earlier (considered by Kelly to be purely coincidental). Several candidates for the proprietors are found in city directories, but nothing is known that directly links any of them to the post. Kelly speculated that John Ricketts, a printer, and Robert Hall, a tailor, were the best choices, given their proximity to 4 Rechabite Hall. The post started in February 1857 (the year appears on the stamp) and probably did not exist more than a few months. The three recorded 127L1 stamps with the surrounding name and address cut away have led to speculation that the post was sold to a new owner, who removed his predecessor's imprint; this is not an unreasonable theory, but no evidence beyond the stamps has been found to support it. If this occurred, it would have to pre-date the May 15, 1857 cover listed below as number 7, which bears a stamp with the outer circle and label cut away.
The Gronowski census is current with seven recorded examples: 1) cut to shape, pencil cancel, ex Caspary, Middendorf, Gronowski collection; 2) cut to shape, pencil cancel, the stamp offered here, ex Ferrary (?--as reported by Sloane), Needham, Hollowbush, Richardson and Golden (Siegel Sale 817, lot 1459, realized $8,000 hammer); 3) outer circle with name and address cut away, uncancelled, ex Burrus; 4) outer circle with name and address cut away, tied by Baltimore blue datestamp (date?) on piece with 3c 1851, 1991 Park Cities net price sale; 5) cut to shape, uncancelled, used on back of Justice of the Peace corner card cover to George C. Whiting, Comm. of Pensions, Washington D.C., 3c 1851 tied by Baltimore Feb. 17, 1857 datestamp on front of cover, ex Lilly, Boker; 6) the only cut square stamp, pencil cancel, used on cover to Master Hammie Kiplinger, local address, Valentine enclosure, illustrated in Kelly article, whereabouts unknown; and 7) outer circle with name and address cut away, uncancelled, used on front only, 3c Red Nesbitt embossed stamp, Baltimore May 15, 1857 datestamp, to George N. Forney, Hanover Pa., discovered in 1909, ex Hollowbush, Lowe. Therefore, there are only four 127L1's with the outer label intact, including two covers and two off-cover stamps (cut to shape except for one stamp on cover).
Illustrated in Kelly CCP series (Vol. 50, No. 6, p. 358). Sloane notes this stamp as possibly coming from the Ferrary and Needham collections. Ex Hollowbush, Richardson and Golden. With 1999 P.F. certificate