Sale 1072 — The New Helvetia Collection of Western Expresses

Sale Date — Tuesday, 24 June, 2014

Category — Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
1
c
Sale 1072, Lot 1, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.3c Dull Red, Ty. II (11A). Horizontal pair, mostly ample margins to slightly in, tied by "San Francisco Cal. Jul. 16" (1853) circular datestamp on buff cover with Adams & Co. printed frank (missing "f" of "California") at upper left, to Uniontown Ala., carried from San Francisco to Panama on PMSS Golden Gate (dep. Jul. 16, arr. Jul. 29), then from Aspinwall to New York on USMSC Illinois (dep. Aug. 1, arr. Aug. 10), small tear in cover at upper right

VERY FINE. ONE OF SEVEN RECORDED EXAMPLES OF ADAMS & COMPANY'S PRINTED FRANK, OF WHICH ONLY TWO HAVE ADHESIVE STAMPS. THIS IS THE FIRST PRINTED FRANK USED BY ANY OF THE WESTERN EXPRESS COMPANIES. A COVER OF GREAT HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE AND ESPECIALLY DESIRABLE WITH THE 3-CENT 1851 ISSUE.

Adams & Company set up its California and Oregon business in December 1849 under the direction of William B. Dinsmore of New York and Daniel H. Haskell of Boston, with Alvin Adams as a third partner. Dinsmore left shortly thereafter. In 1852 I. C. Woods joined the firm and two years later became a partner. Its business in the shipment of gold, merchandise, parcels and letters flourished, and its related banking operations established Adams & Co. as a major force in the economic development of the West. All of this figuratively turned to dust in February 1855 with the failure of Page, Bacon & Company, a prominent banking firm. Two days later Adams Express collapsed as depositors rushed to withdraw their gold from a concern that was already weakened by competition (source: Wiltsee, The Pioneer Mule and The Pack Mule Express).

The significance of Adams & Company's printed franks is two-fold: first, they were produced in 1853, making them the earliest franks actually printed on envelopes or stamped entires; and, second, their function "was to facilitate the deposit of mail in letter boxes after the normal business hours of the express. Much like a printed adhesive stamp, these could be used to prepare letters for mailing so that they could be deposited in a box and without having to wait in line if the express office was still open." (Frajola).

With the Dale-Lichtenstein dispersal, the number of recorded examples of the Adams & Co. frank rose to seven, including three slightly different formats on plain envelopes, both stamped and stampless, and the 3c Nesbitt entire. Only two covers have adhesive stamps; both addressed to Sarah L. Davidson in Uniontown, Alabama, each with a pair of the 3c 1851.

Ex Dale-Lichtenstein and Walske. With 2008 P.F. certificate

E. 5,000-7,500
5,250
2
c
Sale 1072, Lot 2, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.3c Dull Red, Ty. II (11A). Horizontal pair, large margins to barely into frameline, slightly oxidized, manuscript cancels presumably applied by express office, paying required 6c postage on lady's small embossed cover to Mrs. Buchanan Hall, Hall & Huggins, Stockton Cal., partly clear strike of "Via Nicaragua/In Advance/of the Mail" oval handstamp applied by Vanderbilt Line's New York office, partly clear strike of "Adams & Co. San Francisco Apr. 16" large blue double-circle datestamp, "RH" embossed seal on flap

VERY FINE. A BEAUTIFUL AND RARE EAST-TO-WEST ADAMS & COMPANY EXPRESS COVER CARRIED OUTSIDE OF THE MAILS. THE VANDERBILT "VIA NICARAGUA" OVAL MARKING APPLIED AT THEIR NEW YORK OFFICE ON WESTBOUND LETTERS IS EXTREMELY RARE.

Although handled entirely outside the government mails, this cover was prepaid 6c by the sender in New York City, as required by law, effective January 13, 1854. It was carried from New York to San Juan del Norte by the Vanderbilt Line's Star of the West (depart March 20, arrive March 30), then by the Vanderbilt Cortes from San Juan del Sur to San Francisco (depart April 2, arrive April 16). At San Francisco, Adams & Co. datestamped the cover and carried it to Stockton on their regular express route.

Ex Walske

E. 2,000-3,000
6,000
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3
c
Sale 1072, Lot 3, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.3c Dull Red, Ty. II (11A). Large margins to slightly in, tied by blue "Adams & Co. Oct. 29" (1854) large double-circle datestamp, second strike at upper right dated the day before (Oct. 28) on buff cover addressed to "Manuel Castro, care of Anto. Ma. Pico, Pueblo de San Jose", held for postage until sender provided 3c 1851 stamp in accordance with U.S. Post Office Dept. order of January 1854 (Adams & Co. went out of business in February 1855), Very Fine, the two individuals in the address -- Manuel Castro and Antonio Marie Pico -- were prominent citizens of Mexican California, this cover is a rare example of express company "detained for postage" mail, ex Dale-Lichtenstein and Walske

E. 1,000-1,500
1,100
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4
c
Sale 1072, Lot 4, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.3c Dull Red, Ty. II (11A). Two, large margins to cut in, rich color, tied by "Paid" grid cancel, red "Boston 6 Cts. 18 Sep." (1854) integral-rate circular datestamp on cover to Sacramento, clear strike of "Adams & Cos. Express, Mormon Island" double-oval handstamp and manuscript "Auburn $1.00" express charge and destination, carried from New York to Aspinwall on USMSC North Star (dep. Sep. 20, arr. Sep. 26), then by PMSS Panama from Panama to San Francisco (dep. Oct. 5, arr. Oct. 18), Adams & Co. carried it to mining camps near Auburn, edgewear and scattered toned spots, still Very Fine, an extremely rare cover with 1851 Issue paying 6c transcontinental postage and Adams & Co. express markings showing service to the mines, ex Dale-Lichtenstein and Walske, with 1997 P.F. certificate

E. 1,000-1,500
900
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5
c
Sale 1072, Lot 5, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Berford & Cos. Californian Express. Perfectly struck bold blue oval handstamp on folded letter datelined at San Jose, November 2, 1853, to San Francisco with sender's directive "Please Deliver" to address on Clay Street, "Berford & Cos. Express San Francisco Cal." blue double-oval and "COLLECT" straightline handstamps applied at San Francisco office

EXTREMELY FINE. A SUPERB STRIKE OF THE RARE "BERFORD'S CALIFORNIAN EXPRESS" OVAL, OF WHICH ONLY THREE ARE REPORTED.

Berford & Co.'s Letter and Package Express was founded by Richard G. Berford in the Fall of 1849. The express operated between coasts and advertised that it had offices in San Francisco, Sacramento (T. J. Bayless), San Jose (Plitt) and Stockton. In December 1850 Berford & Co. advertised that they were the only express with service to San Jose. The dark blue large oval handstamp at lower left was applied by the San Jose office. Only two others are reported.

Ex Dale-Lichtenstein and Walske

E. 2,000-3,000
3,250
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6
c
Sale 1072, Lot 6, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Forwarded by Bowers Express. Superb strike of oval handstamp, faint red "San Francisco Oct. 19" (1850) circular datestamp and matching "40" rate handstamp on folded cover to Richmond Va., carried from San Francisco to Panama on Law's Columbus (dep. Oct. 19, arr. Nov. 7), then by USMSC Georgia from Chagres to New York (dep. Nov. 26, arr. Dec. 7) and from there by rail to Richmond, side panels removed, light age toning and wear, still a Very Fine strike of this scarce express marking, this is the earliest of seven reported Bowers Express covers, Bowers operated between Nevada City and San Francisco via Grass Valley and Rough and Ready, they expanded their routes in June 1851 by working with Freeman & Co. for service between Sacramento and San Francisco, ex Dale-Lichtenstein and Walske

E. 1,000-1,500
750
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7
c
Sale 1072, Lot 7, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Cherokee Express. Black printed ornamental frank (Haller FC3) and blue "Wells, Fargo & Co. Oroville Mar. 9" oval handstamp on 3c Red on Buff Nesbitt entire (U10) to Oroville, slightly reduced at right and shallow edge nick, otherwise Very Fine, the Cherokee Express operated between Oroville and Cherokee starting in 1860, its franked entires are rare -- this is the type shown in Haller; another similar design with different type and ornaments to the left and right of "Paid" is known on U58 entires -- ex Parker and Dale-Lichtenstein

E. 750-1,000
650
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8
c
Sale 1072, Lot 8, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Copley & Co.'s Miners' Express. Red double-line oval handstamp perfectly struck on 10c Green on Buff Nesbitt entire (U18) to Sempronius N.Y., entered the mails with blue "Marysville Cal. Paid by Stamps Feb. 4" (1856) circular datestamp, matching rectangular grid of squares cancels embossed stamp

EXTREMELY FINE. ONE OF THE CLEAREST STRIKES OF THE FEW KNOWN COPLEY & CO. MINERS' EXPRESS COVERS. A RARE TRANSCONTINENTAL USE WITH THE DISTINCTIVE MARYSVILLE "PAID BY STAMPS" CIRCULAR DATESTAMP.

This express between Marysville and the Gibsonville Ridge and Feather River mining camps was operated briefly in 1855-56 by Jack Copley. Examples of his distinctive "Miners' Express" handstamp are very rare (six reported). This cover was carried from San Francisco to Panama on the PMSS Oregon (depart February 11, arrive March 11), then by the USMSC George Law from Aspinwall to New York (depart March 6, arrive March 15).

Ex Dale-Lichtenstein and Walske

E. 3,000-4,000
4,500
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9
c
Sale 1072, Lot 9, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Gray's Cal Express. Superb strike of shield handstamp and manuscript "1.10" express fee on buff cover to "Sanfrancisco Californy", red "Oswego N.Y. Jul. 2" (1850) circular datestamp, matching "Paid" and manuscript "40" rate, couple small ink spots, slight wrinkling and edgewear

VERY FINE. ONE OF FIVE REPORTED EXAMPLES OF THE SHORT-LIVED GRAY'S CALIFORNIA EXPRESS, WHICH OPERATED BETWEEN SACRAMENTO AND SAN FRANCISCO.

This cover was carried from New York to Chagres on the USMSC Georgia (depart July 13, arrive July 25), then by the PMSS California from Panama to San Francisco (depart August 3, arrive August 23). Gray's California Express carried mail between Sacramento and San Francisco. The few known examples are dated from 1850 through mid-1851, and the firm's offices were closed by May 1852. This cover was delivered by Gray's Express to the Sacramento mining camps.

Ex Vogel and Walske

E. 1,500-2,000
1,700
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10
c
Sale 1072, Lot 10, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Gregorys Express First Handstamp. The informative 8-line handstamp set in tiny type, which reads "Offices of Gregory's Express, General Office 280 Montgomery St., San Francisco, J. W. Gregory, Proprietor & Manager, Sacramento City to Stockton, G. E. Clark, Agent, New York: Corner Ann and Pearl Sts., Thompson & Hitchcock, Agents", lightly struck in red with most lines readable, matching "NOT PAID" in oval handstamp on buff cover to Sacramento, pencil note on back "Nov 25, 1850" which probably refers to mailing date, horizontal folds, light soiling, otherwise Fine, this is the only reported example of the first handstamp used by Gregory's Express, the California intra-state express operated by Joseph W. Gregory's as an adjunct to his coast-to-coast Atlantic & Pacific Express, Gregory sold his express business to Wells, Fargo & Co. in 1852, ex Berthold, Parker, Haas, Edwards, Vogel and Walske

E. 1,000-1,500
2,000
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11
c
Sale 1072, Lot 11, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Greenhood & Newbauer Northern Express. Printed frank with "baner" error (Haller FG6, Ty. 1a) on 3c Red on Buff Nesbitt entire (U10) to San Francisco, perfect strike of blue "Greenhood & Newbauer's Express, Weaverville, Cal." double-line oval handstamp with manuscript date, pristine and Extremely Fine, probably the finest example extant, ex Jarrett

E. 400-500
550
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12
c
Sale 1072, Lot 12, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.J. Hawes & Cos. Express S.F. & N.Y. Double-circle handstamp on back of 6c Green on White Nesbitt entire (U13) to Alvin Adams (of express company fame) in Boston, notation "C. C. Bowman", perfect bold strike of "New-York Ship May 3" (1855) circular datestamp cancels embossed stamp, lightened stain spot at center, some minor cosmetic edge improvements, opened for display, Fine appearance, carried by Hawes to San Francisco and placed on board the Vanderbilt Line's Uncle Sam (depart April 9, 1855, arrive San Juan del Sur, April 21), then carried by Vanderbilt Star of the West from San Juan del Norte to New York (dep. Apr. 22, arr. May 2), entered mails in New York City, covers carried by Hawes & Co. are extremely rare (four reported), ex Knapp and Barkhausen

E. 750-1,000
1,700
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13
c
Sale 1072, Lot 13, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Hawley & Co's Express. Perfectly struck shield handstamp with "FROM SAN FRANCISCO" straightline below on folded eter to Warren & Co. in Sacramento, originally datelined Sep. 2, 1850, postscript "Wednesday Afternoon" indicates writer became ill and was unable to send it, probably carried on the regularly-scheduled Wednesday departure of the People's Line Senator, immaculate condition

EXTREMELY FINE. A MAGNIFICENT STRIKE OF THE RARE HAWLEY & CO. FANCY SHIELD EXPRESS HANDSTAMP, OF WHICH FIVE ARE REPORTED, INCLUDING TWO WITH THE "FROM SAN FRANCISCO" STRAIGHTLINE.

By the end of 1849 the steamboat route between San Francisco and Sacramento was serviced by two major operators: the People's Line and the Union Line. Hawley & Co.'s Express had exclusive rights to carry mail on the two People's Line steamboats, the Senator and New World, which departed on alternating days of the week.

Ex Dale-Lichtenstein and Walske

E. 3,000-4,000
4,750
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14
c
Sale 1072, Lot 14, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Hunter & Cos. Express. Double oval handstamp with horse and rider at center, clearly struck on brown homemade envelope to William H. Ware in Sacramento, originated with "Spencersburg Mo. Nov. 25" manuscript postmark and "10" rate, manuscript "Big Bar Hill 1.35" $1.35 express charge and destination, additional currency notation of uncertain meaning, pencil "Greenwood Valy" on back, with original letter dated Nov. 24, 1851, from a father to his son, who is prospecting for gold in California, includes mention of mails and cautions son to be careful with his money around "strangers", some splits in letter, but the cover is in excellent condition

VERY FINE. AN OUTSTANDING EXAMPLE OF THE DISTINCTIVE HORSE-AND-RIDER HANDSTAMP OF HUNTER & COMPANY'S EXPRESS ON A COVER TO A GOLD PROSPECTOR AT BIG BAR, CALIFORNIA.

Alexander Hunter started his semi-weekly express in May 1851 and served all forks of the American River, including Big Bar. Hunter sold his business to Wells, Fargo & Co. in July 1854 and became their Placerville agent. Approximately ten examples of this horse-and-rider marking are reported, this being among the more desirable in terms of use and quality.

With 1988 P.F. certificate

E. 2,000-3,000
1,500
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15
c
Sale 1072, Lot 15, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Forwarded by Hunter & Cos Express Auburn. Large blue shield handstamp sharply struck with all letters perfectly clear and shield frame mostly complete (left edge was not impressed beyond edge of the letter content, which is no longer present), manuscript "New Castle 1.25" express company charge on buff cover to Sacramento Cal. and carried by Hunter & Co. to Secret Diggins Ravine mining camp near New Castle and Auburn, originated in Maine with "Avon Me. March 21" (1852) manuscript postmark and "Free E. M. Towle, P.M." postmistress' free frank by Electa M. Towle, addressed to her husband Daniel Towle, who left Avon to seek his fortune in California, with receipt docketing "Received at Secret Diggins ravine May 5th 1852 D. Towle"

VERY FINE. ONE OF TWO REPORTED EXAMPLES OF THE HUNTER & COMPANY AUBURN OFFICE HANDSTAMP. A WONDERFUL GOLD RUSH ERA EXPRESS COVER, WITH THE DESTINATION MINING CAMP "SECRET DIGGINS RAVINE" NEATLY DOCUMENTED ON THE COVER BY THE ADDRESSEE, WHO WAS THE FEMALE POSTMASTER AND WIFE OF THE ADDRESSEE.

This cover was sent by railroad from Maine to New York, where it was placed on board the USMSC Georgia for Havana (depart March 24, arrive March 30). It was carried from Havana to Chagres on the USMSC Cherokee (depart March 31, arrive April 5), then by the PMSS California from Panama to San Francisco (depart April 8, arrive April 28). Between April 28 and the receipt date of May 5, it was carried outside the mails by Hunter & Co., whose Auburn office applied the handstamp and $1.25 charge to New Castle, located near the Secret Diggins Ravine.

For information about the Towle family of Avon, Maine, go to http://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/clementsmss/umich-wcl-M-2888.12tow?view=text

Ex

Kutz and pictured in his book Gold Fever (p. 48). Ex Walske. With 1985 P.F. certificate

E. 2,000-3,000
2,500
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16
c
Sale 1072, Lot 16, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Langton's Pioneer Express. Ornate printed frank (Haller FL3, Ty. 4) on 10c Yellow Green on Buff Nesbitt entire (U18a) to Alton Ill., blue "Marysville Cal. Paid by Stamps Jun. 4" circular datestamp and matching large rectangular grid cancel on embossed stamp, slight wrinkling around edges, Very Fine, scarce use of distinctive Marysville "Paid by Stamp" datestamp on Langton's Express entire

E. 200-300
140
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17
c
Sale 1072, Lot 17, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.3c Dull Red, Ty. II (11A). Large bottom margin but other sides close to slightly in, tied by blue "Pacific Express Co. Stockton Oct. 9" oval datestamp with matching "PAID" in double-line frame on 1855 blue folded letter from Stockton to Sacramento, Very Fine, scarce use of 3c 1851 adhesive stamp by Pacific Express Co., by the time this company was founded in 1855 the conversion to postal stationery entires was widespread

E. 750-1,000
600
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18
c
Sale 1072, Lot 18, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.(W. E.) Singer & Co.'s Feather River Express Connecting with Wells, Fargo & Co. Blue oval handstamp -- it appears that "W. E." has been removed from device -- clearly struck on 3c Red on Buff Nesbitt entire (U10) to Bidwells Bar Cal., Wells, Fargo & Co. printed frank (Haller WF-B) crossed out with pen lines with matching ".254" of uncertain meaning, partly clear strike of "Wells, Fargo & Co. Express Steamboat" blue ornately-framed handstamp, 1855 docketing on back, Very Fine, carried by Wells, Fargo & Co. on steamboat from San Francisco to Marysville, then by Singer & Co. to Bidwell's Bar, one of two reported conjunctive uses, ex Lichtenstein, Barkhausen, Vogel and Walske

E. 1,000-1,500
1,500
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19
c
Sale 1072, Lot 19, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.3c Dull Red, Ty. II (11A). Full margins to clear at top, "W.E.S. & Co." manuscript precancel, used with blue "W. E. Singer & Co's Feather River Express, Connecting with Wells, Fargo & Co." oval handstamp on brown cover to Bidwell's Bar Cal., receipt docketing "Wells Fargo & Co. Mvlle March 23" (1855) on back, Very Fine, one of five expresses operated by the colorful Capt. William E. Singer over a seven-year period, all of which carried mail between the Feather River mining camps and the base town of Marysville, only two examples of the Singer & Co. precancel are reported, ex Walske

E. 1,000-1,500
1,500
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20
c
Sale 1072, Lot 20, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.W. E. Singer & Co's Feather River Express, Connecting with Wells, Fargo & Co. Blue oval handstamp perfectly struck on 3c Red on Buff Nesbitt entire (U10) to Bidwell's Bar Cal., Apr. 15, 1855 receipt docketing on back, Extremely Fine, a superb example of this express marking, ex Parker, Haas and Jarrett

E. 500-750
1,300
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21
c
Sale 1072, Lot 21, Western Expresses: Adams & Co. thru Swift & Co.Swift & Co.'s Express. Printed frank (Haller FS12, Ty. 2) on 3c Red on Buff Nesbitt entire (U10) to San Francisco, McKay correspondence, circa 1855 conjunctive use with "Wells, Fargo & Co. Express Steamboat" blue oval handstamp, part of backflap removed

VERY FINE. ONE OF TWO REPORTED EXAMPLES OF THIS SWIFT & COMPANY EXPRESS FRANK, AND A DESIRABLE CONJUNCTIVE USE WITH WELLS, FARGO & COMPANY'S STEAMBOAT SERVICE.

Swift & Co. operated in San Francisco, Bodega, Petaluma and Santa Rosa. They connected with Wells, Fargo & Co. for service on other routes. This was carried from Petaluma to Bodega, then by Wells, Fargo & Co. steamboat service to San Francisco.

Illustrated in Nathan and Letters of Gold. Ex Lichtenstein, Barkhausen, Haas and Edwards.

E. 1,500-2,000
2,400
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