VERY FINE. A SCARCE ORIGINAL-GUM EXAMPLE OF THE 3-CENT C GRILL.
With 2007 P.F. certificate
FINE. THE 1868 2-CENT D GRILL IS A GREAT RARITY AMONG THE 1867-68 GRILLED ISSUES.
The Scott Catalogue states that the value for No. 84 is for a stamp in Fine grade. With photocopy of 1992 P.F. and 2008 P.S.E. certificates (Fine 70; SMQ $4,900.00). According to the P.S.E. Population Report, this is the only certified unused example (with or without gum) in their records.
FINE. A DESIRABLE SOUND USED EXAMPLE OF THE 1868 2-CENT BLACK D GRILL.
The Scott Catalogue states that the value for No. 84 is for a stamp in Fine grade. With 1976 and 1996 P.F. and 2008 P.S.E. certificates (Fine 70; SMQ $4,250.00). According to P.S.E. Population Report, this stamp shares this grade with only two others (three in higher grades)
EXTREMELY FINE GEM. THIS MAGNIFICENT USED EXAMPLE OF THE 1867 3-CENT D GRILL HAS BEEN GRADED XF-SUPERB 95 JUMBO BY P.S.E. -- ONLY ONE HAS GRADED HIGHER TO DATE AND NO OTHERS SHARE THIS GRADE.
With 2003 P.F. and 2005 P.S.E. certificates (XF-Superb 95 Jumbo; SMQ $10,000.00 as 95, $27,500.00 as 98). Only one has graded higher to date and no others share this grade.
FINE AND SOUND. THE 1868 10-CENT Z GRILL IS ONE OF THE RAREST OF ALL UNITED STATES STAMPS WITH JUST FIVE EXAMPLES AVAILABLE TO COLLECTORS. A KEY TO A COMPLETE COLLECTION.
Our census of the 10c Z Grill is shown on the opposite page and is also available at http://siegelauctions.com/enc/census/85D.pdf
We record just six examples of Scott 85D, including one stamp contained in the Miller collection at The New York Public Library (85D-CAN-06) and another stamp (85D-CAN-01) which has not been seen since it last appeared in a Laurence & Stryker auction in November 1958. Until the status of 85D-CAN-01 can be verified, it is possible that only four examples of the 10c Z Grill remain available to collectors, three of which are sound.
For reasons explained in detail in our introductions to the 1867-68 Grilled Issue and Z Grill rarities (both available on our website), there were probably two grilling machines running concurrently when regular grill production started in January 1868, following the experimental grilling period from August to December 1867. In our hypothetical grilling operation at the National Bank Note Company in New York City, one machine (#1) was equipped with the Z Grill roller, and the other (#2) with the D Grill roller. After sheets of the 1c, 2c, 3c, 10c, 12c and 15c were embossed with the Z Grill on machine #1, it was eventually refitted with the F Grill roller and used to grill all values through the 90c. The #2 machine was used to grill a small quantity of 2c and 3c sheets only (the highest-volume values) before the D Grill roller was replaced with the E Grill, which was then used to grill large quantities of 1c, 2c, 3c, 10c, 12c and 15c values (there are no 24c, 30c or 90c values with the E Grill). When the 1869 Pictorial Issue went into production, the F and E Grill rollers were replaced with the smaller G Grill.
Exactly when was the 10c Z Grill produced and issued? The answer can only be deduced, because production records were not kept specifically for grill types, which are a philatelic classification and not something the stamp manufacturers identified at the time. By our estimate, it took approximately ten days from the time a sheet was printed and gummed for that sheet to be grilled, perforated and delivered to the post office. Therefore, the Earliest Documented Use (EDU) dates for stamps listed in the Scott Catalogue can be used to approximate the production date for each grill type and value. Using this dating methodology and working on the assumption that the 10c Z Grill and E Grill sheets were produced in close proximity to each other, the 10c Z Grill stamps would have been run through machine #1 on or about February 11, 1868, ten days prior to the 10c E Grill (Scott 89) EDU of February 21, 1868.
What do the EDU dates for the different 1868 grill types and values tell us? Let us first start with the grill types. The earliest date for any regular-production grill is January 17, 1868, evidenced by a piece with a 2c Z Grill (Scott 85B). This is followed by a 3c D Grill (Scott 85, EDU Feb. 2). Thus, we have evidence that the Z and D Grills were the earliest regular-production grills to be manufactured. The earliest date for any E Grill, which indicates the point of conversion for machine #2 from the D to E roller, is February 12, 1868 (3c Scott 88), which also happens to be the EDU for the 3c Z Grill (Scott 85C) and 12c Z Grill (Scott 85E). The earliest date for any F Grill, which indicates the point of conversion for machine #1 from the Z to F roller, is March 21, 1868 (3c Scott 94). The EDU for the F Grill, which is 37 days later than the E Grill EDU, suggests that machine #1 was still equipped with the Z Grill roller while machine #2 was producing sheets with the E Grill. However, that does not reconcile with the relative rarity of Z Grills. Another possibility is that machine #1 was taken out of use, but that does not reconcile with the quantities of grilled stamps produced (at the rate of 6,700 sheets per day). A third possibility is that machine #1 was refitted in February 1868 with a grill that matches the dimensions of the E Grill, but philatelists have not yet identified two different types of E Grills. In this scenario, machine #1 would have been refitted a second time with the smaller F Grill, sometime before the March 21, 1868 EDU. If philatelists were able to verify that there are indeed two types of E Grills, perhaps by studying the grills on multiples, then the "dual E Grill machine" theory could be proved. This theory also explains why the high-volume 3c is so rare with the Z Grill. Only a small quantity of 3c sheets were grilled on machine #1 before the Z Grill roller was removed. It also explains the coinciding EDU's for the 3c Z and E Grills. They were grilled concurrently on both machines.
The EDU data also tells us when different denominations were first grilled. The 2c and 3c high-production values were the first to be grilled (Jan. 17 and Feb. 2). The 12c value was next (Feb. 12). We do not have dated examples of the 1c, 10c and 15c Z Grills, but all three were almost certainly produced prior to the 10c E Grill EDU of February 21, 1868. The 5c was not grilled until August (F Grill, Scott 95, EDU Aug. 19), followed by the 24c, 30c and 90c values.
The F Grill first appears on a 3c value (Scott 94, EDU March 21, 1868), followed by the 2c (Scott 93, EDU March 27, 1868), which indicates that the newly-equipped machine #1 was used to grill high-volume 2c and 3c stamps after the F Grill was installed. 10c F Grill production, using new sheets printed on much thinner paper, occurred two months later, in May 1868 (EDU May 28, 1868). In the same month we have the first 12c F Grill (Scott 97, EDU May 27, 1868) and 15c F Grill (Scott 98, May 4, 1868).
The great Z Grill rarities are probably the products of a short-lived chance encounter between sheets of 1c, 10c and 15c stamps and the Z Grill roller on machine #1, just before the device was refitted with another grill type. The craftsmen at the National Bank Note Company could never have foreseen a future in which these embossed stamps would represent the keys to completing a United States stamp collection. If they had, perhaps they would have left records to tell us exactly what happened in those early months of 1868.
Ex Ishikawa. With 1975, 1992 and 2005 P.F. certificates
FINE. A DESIRABLE EXAMPLE OF THE 1868 15-CENT E GRILL WITH ORIGINAL GUM.
With 2008 P.S.E. certificate
VERY FINE ORIGINAL-GUM EXAMPLE OF THE 1868 10-CENT F GRILL.
With 1999 and 2004 P.F. certificates
EXTREMELY FINE GEM. A MARVELOUS 1868 12-CENT F GRILL IN CHOICE USED CONDITION, WHICH HAS BEEN GRADED XF-SUPERB 95 BY P.S.E.
With 2007 P.S.E. certificate (XF-Superb 95; SMQ $2,700.00). Only two have graded higher, while nine others share this grade.
EXTREMELY FINE GEM. THIS MAGNIFICENT STAMP HAS BEEN AWARDED THE ULTIMATE GRADE OF GEM 100 BY P.S.E. THIS USED 1868 15-CENT E GRILL IS UNDENIABLY THE PERFECT STAMP, POSSESSING EVERY QUALITY ONE COULD POSSIBLY HOPE FOR -- CENTERING, IMPRESSION, STONG GRILL, FULL PERFORATIONS AND A LIGHT CANCEL.
We created Power Search for occasions like this, when superlatives fail to do justice to an extraordinary stamp. To see the centering, margins and cancellations on typical used examples of the 15c Lincoln -- ungrilled or not -- please use our website's Power Search feature to find Scott 77, 91 and 98 (three different searches). You will see that the 15c Lincoln is almost always a stamp of compromise. Great centering and margins, but heavy cancel. Light or colored cancel, but small margins or not quite centered. Great looking, but small faults. Then look at the "name" collections and see which 15c Lincoln stamps were included. No one -- and there are great collector names on this list -- managed to obtain this stamp or one even remotely like it.
When numerical grading started, the 15c Lincoln was on our list of "Try to Find a 100" stamps. We did not believe one existed. When this 15c F Grill was presented to us, we knew it was perfect without even looking at the grade. The Gem 100 grade and a note of praise from master grader Dr. William Litle confirmed our gut reaction.
The ungrilled version of this issue was released in 1866, about one year after President Lincoln was assassinated. It is regarded by many to be America's first commemorative issue, memorializing the martyred president as the nation started to heal from the wounds of the Civil War. In 1868 it was issued with two grill types, the E Grill (Scott 91) and F Grill (Scott 98). 15c usually paid the registration fee on domestic mail or the U.S.-French treaty rate. The 15c stamps used on transatlantic mail passed through foreign-mail exchange offices, where clerks were zealous about cancelling high-value stamps. For this reason, the 15c Lincoln usually has a heavy cancel or large cancel over the portrait. This stamp, with its light target cancel, is the rare exception.
There are certainly rarer stamps in this sale, and stamps that are worth much more, but we cannot think of a stamp that has conquered the odds better than this one. The perforating machine blessed it, the postal clerk respected it, and the generations who handled it managed to preserve its soundness. We are quite sure that the collectors who bid for this stamp will express their appreciation accordingly.
With 2008 P.S.E. certificate (Gem 100; unpriced in SMQ above the grade of 98, SMQ $10,600.00 as 98). This is the highest grade awarded to date and the only example to achieve this grade. The next-highest grade awarded is a 95.
VERY FINE AND CHOICE BY ANY STANDARDS AND EXTREMELY FINE FOR THIS RARE ORIGINAL-GUM EXAMPLE OF THE 1868 24-CENT F GRILL.
The higher-denomination F Grills were produced in limited quantities and seem to have caused National Bank Note Co. difficulty in applying perforations. They are typically off center with very choppy perfs This stamp has uncharacteristically precise centering and well-formed perforations.
With 2008 P.S.E. certificate