EXTREMELY FINE GEM. A SUPERB USED EXAMPLE OF THE 2-CENT PERF 11 DOUBLE-LINE WATERMARK ISSUE, SCOTT 519, IN THE FINEST CONDITION ATTAINABLE. THIS IS WITHOUT QUESTION THE FINEST WE HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED. THIS WONDERFUL STAMP HAS BEEN GRADED XF-SUPERB 95 BY P.S.E., WHICH IS THE HIGHEST GRADE AWARDED TO DATE. IT IS THE ONLY EXAMPLE TO ACHIEVE THIS GRADE.
The Johl book quotes Joseph B. Leavy, the Government Philatelist, who described how this issue came about: "In September 1910 the Postmaster of St. Louis transferred to the Postmaster of New York City the following imperforate postage stamps in sheets of 400 -- 120 sheets of the 1c -- 1,500 sheets of the 2c. They had been specially made with uniform margins [sic imperforate] for use by the United States Automatic Vending Machine Company, which company had moved to New York at that time. It seems that this firm had gone out of business for in 1917 the Postmaster in New York reported having on hand 1,467 sheets of the 2c imperforate, Series of 1908, and could find no record of the U.S. Automatic Vending Company, and asked that he be allowed to return them for credit. This being a period of conservation, the Bureau notified him to return them for perforation. They were perforated in September 1917, (four months after the last wheels of the perforating machines had been changed to gauge 11). In perforating them 34 sheets had been spoiled and were returned to the Bureau for redemption and destruction, leaving a total of 1,433 sheets of 400 or 573,200 stamps perforated 11, which were placed on sale in New York City." Johl further notes these were sold in the regular course of business and by the end of October had been distributed to post offices around New York. The majority was used for postage and destroyed before philatelists knew of the issue's existence.
The example offered here, with a clear New York cancel and in superb condition, is a phenomenal rarity. The next-highest grade for a used copy is an 80.
With 1996 and 2009 P.S.E. certificates (XF-Superb 95; SMQ $5,500.00). This is the highest grade awarded to date and the only example to achieve this grade. As another indication of rarity, only seven used copies have been graded, and the next-highest grade is an 80.
EXTREMELY FINE GEM. A SUPERB USED EXAMPLE OF THE $2.00 ORANGE RED & BLACK 1918 FRANKLIN ISSUE. THIS MAY WELL BE THE FINEST IN EXISTENCE -- IT HAS BEEN AWARDED THE GRADE OF SUPERB 98 JUMBO BY P.S.E., WHICH IS THE HIGHEST GRADE AWARDED TO DATE. IT IS THE ONLY EXAMPLE TO ACHIEVE THIS GRADE.
The $2.00 and $5.00 1918 Issue are the first bi-colored dollar-denominated postage stamps issued by the United States. Both were released just three months after the famous 1918 24c Inverted Jenny, but the early printings were issued in small quantities, since stocks of the earlier $2.00 and $5.00 issues (Scott 479 and 480) were still on hand.
According to Johl, the $2.00 Orange Red & Black was a color error on the part of the Bureau of Engraving & Printing. The official description and order for the bi-color stamps specified "Red and Black" for the $2.00. When subsequent printings appeared in 1920 and philatelists brought the matter to the attention of the Bureau, they were told "this stamp has always been this color" (Johl, p. 306). From studies of Bureau and Post Office records, it is clear that the originally-intended color was not issued until November 1920 (Scott 547), and that the earlier Orange Red stamps were mistakes.
With 1995 P.F. and 2009 P.S.E. certificates (Superb 98 Jumbo; unpriced in SMQ above the grade of 98, SMQ $1,700.00 as 98). This is the highest grade awarded to date and the only example to achieve this grade.