EXTREMELY FINE. THIS IS THE ONLY EXTANT SET OF PAIRS OF THE IMPERFORATE OFFICIAL SPECIAL PRINTINGS, WHICH WERE CUT FROM THE ORIGINAL STRIPS OF FIVE FROM THE EARL OF CRAWFORD COLLECTION. THE OTHER STAMPS FROM THE EARL OF CRAWFORD STRIPS WERE DIVIDED INTO SINGLES, AND IT IS LIKELY THAT ONLY FIVE COMPLETE IMPERF-ORATE SETS EXIST. ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT AND SPECTACULAR SETS OF UNITED STATES SPECIAL PRINTINGS, REPRINTS OR RE-ISSUES.
Nearly all known genuine examples of the imperforate Official Special Printing stamps come from the set of strips of five sold to James Ludovic Lindsay, the 26th Earl of Crawford, one of the great collectors of stamps, essays, proofs and philatelic literature at the turn of the 20th Century. Lord Crawford died on January 31, 1914, and his estate executors eventually agreed to sell the entire United States collection for $60,000 to John A. Klemann of the Nassau Stamp Company. Klemann reported his acquisition of the Earl of Crawford’s collection in the November 1915 edition of The Philatelic Gazette. Among the spectacular array of items owned by Lord Crawford were strips of the 1875 1c-90c Continental Bank Note Company Special Printings with intact selvage (Scott 167-177) and the set of Official Special Printing imperforate strips.
Klemann is almost certainly the person responsible for cutting up the Earl of Crawford strips into one set of pairs and three sets of singles, because one of the sets of singles was sold to Benjamin K. Miller, who was an active collector from 1917 to 1924 (his collection was donated to The New York Public Library and is now on long-term loan to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum). Miller probably acquired the imperforate set directly from Nassau Stamp Company, one of his dealer sources. We will refer to stamps from this set as the Miller singles (they can be seen on the National Postal Museum's website).
Another set of singles, most of which have plate numbers in the margins, was sold to Colonel Edward H. R. Green. This set was subsequently acquired by the physicist Serge A. Korff and, in turn, by the late Robert Zoellner. We will refer to stamps from this set as the Zoellner singles (last sold in Siegel Sale 804, lot 894).
Combining the pairs with the Miller and Zoellner singles, we are able to account for four of the five stamps in the original Earl of Crawford strips. The fifth set of singles was described, but not photographed, in the Phillips-Kennett auction catalogue of the Arthur Hind United States collection (November 20-24, 1933, lot 1041). At the time of the Hind sale, the dollar-value State Department singles were missing, and the remaining 1c-90c stamps had sheet margins. This incomplete set, with the sheet margins trimmed away, later appeared in the 1972 Rarities sale (Sale 409, lot 204) and in Sotheby’s November 20, 1978 sale (lot 562). We will refer to stamps from this part set as the Hind singles. We have not been able to locate the four State Department dollar-value stamps (all Position 1) that would complete this fifth set.
To the best of our knowledge, the set of pairs offered here first appeared at auction as lot 1040 in the aforementioned Phillips-Kennett sale of the Hind collection. We next record the set of pairs in the John A. Fox July 8, 1966, auction of the Frank A. Hollowbush estate (lot 311), where it was acquired by David Golden for $7,750 (the original invoice accompanies this lot). Hollowbush probably acquired the set at or sometime after the 1933 Hind sale. It has been clearly established that the pairs are unique, so they will be referred to simply as “pairs” without provenance.
We compared the set of pairs with the Hind, Miller and Zoellner sets of imperforate singles. The following observations will be of interest to specialists:
-- The 1c Executive top-margin pair from Positions 8-9 with plate number “82” above Position 8 adjoins the Zoellner Position 7 single with etched-out number 81 and the Miller corner-margin Position 10. The first stamp in the strip (Position 6) is the Hind single.
-- The 1c Post Office top-margin pair with most of the “No. 43” adjoins the Zoellner single with a small part of the numeral “3” and left half of the guide arrow (they are Positions 8-9 Left and 10 Left on the 200-subject plate). The Miller single has part of the imprint and comes from Position 6 Left. The Hind single Position 7 Left has had the margin with a trace of the imprint trimmed off.
-- The 6c Post Office bottom-margin pair has part of the imprint from Positions 94-95 Right on the 200-subject plate. The Zoellner Position 92 Right single has the plate number “47”, which adjoins the Miller Position 91 Right single with the right half of the guide arrow. The Hind single Position 93 Right has had the margin with small parts of the plate number and imprint trimmed off.
-- The 12c Post Office bottom-margin pair comes from Positions 92-93 with the imprint, a small part of which shows on the Zoellner Position 91 single. The Miller Position 95 single has the “N” of “No.” (the original strip of five did not include Position 96 with the plate number). Position 94 is the Hind single.
-- The 3c State top-margin pair comes from Positions 9-10 and has large top-right corner sheet margins, while the Zoellner single comes from Position 6 and shows the “70” plate number; they are the beginning and end positions of the original strip of five. The Miller single comes from Position 7, and Position 8 is the Hind single.
--The 7c State bottom-margin pair comes from Positions 92-93 and shows most of the imprint, while the Miller single comes from Position 91 (showing a bit of the left end of the imprint). The Zoellner single comes from Position 95 and shows just the “N” of “No.” (the original strip of five did not include Position 96 with the plate number). Position 94 is the Hind single.
-- The State Department dollar-value pairs come from Positions 3-4 (10-subject plate), directly adjoining the set of Zoellner singles from Position 5, which combine to show the “No.” and plate numbers of the vignette and frame plates in their respective black and green colors. The Miller singles come from Position 2 and show part of the imprint. The Position 1 singles (with part imprint) were missing from the Hind set of singles and have not been located.
-- The 1c and 2c Treasury top-margin pairs both come from Positions 8-9 Left and show the “No.” above Position 9 (2c with “4” of “42), while the corresponding Zoellner singles come from Position 10 Left and show the plate number “44” (1c) and “2” of “42” (2c) along with the left half guide arrow. The Miller singles come from Position 6 and show the right half of the imprint. The 1c and 2c Treasury Position 7 stamps are the Hind singles.
-- The 3c Treasury top-margin pair shows a small part of the imprint, which adjoins with the Miller single with the right half of the imprint; these must come from Positions 6 and 7-8 Right on one of the 200-subject plates (Plate 29 or 33). The Zoellner single is the corner-margin Position 10 Right. Position 9 Right is the Hind single.
-- The 24c Treasury pair from Positions 7-8 has a large part of the imprint, and the Zoellner single Position 6 adjoins to the left with a nearly complete plate number “64” and a small part of the imprint (in this unusual configuration, the plate number is to the left of the imprint). The Miller single is a corner-margin Position 10. The Hind Position 9 single has had the margin with the right end of the imprint trimmed off.
-- The 2c War pair comes from Positions 7-8 Right (200-subject plate) and shows the right end of the imprint that joins with the part imprint on the Zoellner single from Position 6 Right; together they form the first three stamps of the original strip. The Miller single comes from the corner-margin Position 10 Right. Position 9 Right is the Hind single.
-- The 3c War pair comes from Positions 7-8 Left (200-subject plate) and shows the right end of the imprint, which adjoins the Miller Position 6 Left single with the imprint. The Zoellner single comes from Position 10 Left, which shows the left half guide arrow and “2” of plate number “32.” The Hind Position 9 Left single has had the margin with the “No. 3” portion of the imprint trimmed off.
Provenance of the pairs: Ex Earl of Crawford, Arthur Hind and Frank A. Hollowbush (with David Golden’s original invoice from the John A. Fox sale, July 8, 1966).
The Scott value for an entire set of normally perforated Official Special Printings (1st Printing) is $303,162.50 for singles, including $215,000.00 for the four dollar-value State Department stamps. In addition to the great rarity and significance of this imperforate set, it is also a more practical and visually-appealing means of showing the complete Official Special Printings.