EXTREMELY FINE GEM. THIS IS WITHOUT QUESTION THE FINEST USED EXAMPLE OF THE 3-CENT 1867 EXPERIMENTAL ALL-OVER GRILL IN EXISTENCE. A PHENOMENAL STAMP IN EVERY RESPECT -- CENTERING, COLOR, IMPRESSION, PAPER, PERFORATIONS AND CANCELLATION.
The August 1867 3c experimental A Grill was the first grilled issue. It was soon learned that the all-over grill weakened the paper and interfered with perforating and separating, resulting in rough perforations and pieces torn out of the margins when split apart. Within two months of A Grill production the apparatus was modified by dividing the embossed area into small rectangular units within each stamp (C Grill).
The 3c A Grill, Scott 79, is one of the most distinctive of 19th century United States stamps by virtue of its consistently poor appearance (the highest grade thus faR is a 60). The Scott Catalogue values this stamp in Fine-Very Fine grade and with perforation faults, the norm for the issue. Any example with complete perforations and in sound condition is valued far in excess of the Scott Catalogue price. The example offered here, which received a clear but not as heavy grill impression as usual -- allowing the perfs to remain intact -- realized hammer prices of $5,500 when sold by our firm in 1987, $7,500 at our 1998 Zoellner sale and $12,500 at our 1999 Dr. Puliafito sale.
Ex Zoellner and Dr. Puliafito. With 1966 and 1987 P.F. certificates. Scott Catalogue states that "Values for No. 79 are for Fine-Very Fine examples with minor perf faults. Examples with complete or virtually complete perforations sell for much more."
ONE OF FOUR RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE 1867 5-CENT WITH EXPERIMENTAL ALL-OVER "A" GRILL, OF WHICH TWO ARE IN THE DARK BROWN SHADE, THIS BEING THE FINER. THIS IS ONE OF THE KEYS TO A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF UNITED STATES STAMPS.
Our census contains four 5c A Grill stamps considered to be issued stamps. All four are cancelled. Two are in shades of Brown, which are classified as Scott 80 (although one has a P.F. certificate as Scott 80a), and two are in the true Dark Brown shade, Scott 80a. The unused copies are now classified as essays from the same block of four. For a complete census and history of the 5c A Grill, please go to http://siegelauctions.com/dynamic/census/80/80.pdf .
The stamp offered here is the mate to the Scott 80a last sold in our 2008 auction of the Perry Hansen collection. They were originally joined as a pair and were used as singles together on the same cover (see photos of the original piece bearing this stamp and the two shown together). The two stamps are printed in a distinctive shade listed as Dark Brown in Scott and sometimes called Black Brown by specialists (see lot 161). This is a very scarce shade, found only on covers dated from late 1867 into 1868 (we record covers from October 1867 to May 1868). It is likely that a small number of sheets from this late printing were available for grilling with the A Grill in 1867. The other two recorded 5c A Grills are redder shades of Brown and must come from a different supply of 5c sheets printed earlier.
The stamp offered here shows the effect of the overall grill on the perforations, which were weakened and easily torn during separation. For this reason, the experimental A Grill device was retooled to reduce the dimensions of the grill, producing the C Grill, and all later grills were made smaller to improve the grilling process and its product. The two examples of the distinctive Dark Brown, Scott 80a, show perforation defects, but the two others do not. Obviously, the presence of perforation flaws should be considered a perfectly normal character trait of this issue.
Census No. 80a-CAN-01. Ex Duveen, Hind, Isleham and Zoellner. With 1986, 1998 and 2009 P.F. certificates. Footnote in Scott Catalogue notes that "values are for off-center examples with small perforation faults".
THIS IS THE FINEST OF THE EIGHT RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE 30-CENT 1867 ALL-OVER GRILL, OF WHICH ONLY SEVEN ARE AVAILABLE TO COLLECTORS. AN OUTSTANDING RARITY OF CLASSIC UNITED STATES PHILATELY.
There are eight 30c A Grill stamps recorded in our census, which is shown at left and available at our website at http://siegelauctions.com/dynamic/census/81/81.pdf . All are centered to upper right and cancelled by a quartered cork (at least two types). One of the eight is the New York Public Library's copy, which was stolen and recovered, but those responsible for finding a buyer for the stolen stamp added ink to the face to change its appearance. Excluding the NYPL copy, there are seven 30c A Grill stamps available to collectors. Six of the available stamps have missing or pulled perforations and/or margin defects. The copy offered here is remarkably sound with full perforations on all sides.
Census No. 80-CAN-07. Ex Engel, Sheriff and Zoellner. This is the first we have offered since the 1998 Zoellner sale. With 1959 Colson certificate, 1959 and 1998 P.F. certificates. The footnote in Scott Catalogue notes that "values are for off-center examples with small perforation faults".