THE TOP RIGHT STAMP FROM THE EARL OF CRAWFORD BLOCK OF FOUR OF THE 1867 5-CENT ALL-OVER EXPERIMENTAL GRILL. ONE OF FOUR RECORDED UNUSED EXAMPLES OF THIS ESSAY.
There are four unused 5c A Grill essays recorded in our census, which originally formed a block of four owned by the Earl of Crawford. This stamp is the top right stamp from this block, which has an interesting history.
The entire Earl of Crawford collection was purchased by Nassau Stamp Co. (John A. Klemann) in 1915. In a June 5, 1930, letter from Klemann to Philip H. Ward, this stamp was described as follows: "The 5c copy was one of a block of four from the 'Lord Crawford' collection, purchased by this company and later broken into four single stamps. It was previously owned by an employee of the National Bank Note Company, Mr. Charles F. Steel." [Steel was the creator of the grilling process]. The stamps originating from the Earl of Crawford block have drawn inconsistent opinions over the years. The right vertical pair of stamps (including this one) have been separately certified by the P.F. as genuine, while the upper left stamp was certified first as an essay (PFC 3170) and then as a counterfeit (PFC 36753). The lower left stamp -- offered in our 2003 Rarities sale and the one described in the Klemann letter -- had never been submitted to the Philatelic Foundation until 2003, when it was declared to be an all-over essay grill. It previously had a 1942 American Board of Experts certificate signed by Klemann, describing it as a genuine "5c Brown with essay grill covering the entire stamp", an opinion consistent with Klemann's knowledge of grilling and of the source block's origin.
Of the four recorded used 5c A Grill stamps, two have identical shades, centering and cancellations. In fact, the two of the same shade were originally joined as a pair and were used as singles together. They are printed in a distinctive shade -- sometimes called Black Brown -- that is very scarce and found only on covers dated from late 1867 into 1868 (we have records of four 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 in a brighter shade of Brown and must come from a different supply of 5c sheets printed earlier.
Two of the four unused 5c A Grill stamps from the Earl of Crawford block, including this one, were previously certified as genuine Scott 80's by The Philatelic Foundation. The P.F. is now being consistent in describing this as an essay.
Ex Schilling. With 1969 P.F. certificate as Scott No. 80, unused, with small defects. With 2015 P.F. certificate stating "it is a genuine Scott 80E, with an all over essay grill, a small nick at top and faults at lower right."
VERY FINE. ONE OF 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. OFFERED TO THE MARKET FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE OUR 1975 RARITIES SALE.
There are eight 30c A Grill stamps recorded in our census, which is shown here 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 small stain at bottom of the stamp offered here is very minor and should not be considered a "fault" in the technical sense of the term. This stamp is for all purposes sound and thus of even greater rarity and value.
Census No. 80-CAN-02. Ex Schilling and offered to the market for the first time since our 1975 Rarities sale. The only other example to be offered in one of our auctions since at least 1994 is the ex Zoellner/Natalee Grace copy. With 1969 and 2015 P.F. certificates. The footnote in Scott Catalogue notes that "All are more or less faulty and/or off center. Values are for off-center examples with small perforation faults".
VERY FINE. THIS IS ONE OF THE FOUR 3-CENT B GRILL STAMPS DISCOVERED TOGETHER ON COVER IN 1969, WHICH REMAIN THE ONLY EXAMPLES KNOWN TO PHILATELY. ONE OF THE RAREST STAMPS IN THE WORLD AND A KEY TO A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF UNITED STATES POSTAGE STAMPS.
The distinguishing characteristics of the true B Grill are its size--22 points wide by 18 points high (18 x 15 mm)--and the points-up orientation of the grill, which shows as a pyramidal (male) grill impression on the back. The four recorded 3c B Grill stamps were discovered in 1969 on a cover mailed in February 1869 from Mason, Texas, to Germany. A photograph of the complete cover as discovered is shown here. Our census data can be found at http://siegelauctions.com/enc/census/82.pdf
The shade and thinner paper of the 3c B Grill stamps are more typical of the mid-1868 printings and quite different from the paler Rose shades and thick paper of the 1867 and early 1868 3c grilled issues (A, C, D, Z and some E production). The shade and paper indicate that the B Grill was implemented after the 1867 experimental period and after the first two months of regular 1868 grill production. Perhaps the B Grill was created during the process of making a replacement grilling device for one of the two machines. The grilling surface must have worn during production of many thousands of sheets, and it seems likely that replacement grills would become necessary in mid-1868. Through miscalculation or possibly deliberate experimentation, the grill size per stamp on this new B Grill device was twice the width of the F Grill. Based on the small number of surviving copies, this wider grill must have been quickly modified or discarded. Sheets with the B Grill made their way into the regular supply and, in the case of the discovery examples, were used in early 1869.
This stamp was the first example of the 3c B Grill (Scott 82) ever offered at auction when it appeared in our sale of the Dr. Drew B. Meilstrup collection on May 2, 1973 (lot 148). It was acquired by the current owner in that sale for $23,000 hammer. By comparison, just two years later the 1c Z Grill (Scott 85A) was offered in our 1975 Rarities sale and realized $42,500.
Census No. 82-CAN-02. Ex Drew B. Meilstrup (Siegel Sale 431, May 2, 1973, where acquired by the current owner). With photo of 1969 P.F. certificate for cover and 2015 P.F. certificate for this single.
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. THE 1868 10-CENT Z GRILL IS ONE OF THE RAREST OF ALL UNITED STATES STAMPS. ONLY FOUR OR POSSIBLY FIVE EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE TO COLLECTORS. ONE OF THE GREAT RARITIES OF UNITED STATES PHILATELY AND ONE OF THE KEYS TO A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF UNITED STATES STAMPS. OFFERED TO THE MARKET FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 40 YEARS.
Our census of the 10c Z Grill is shown on the opposite page and is also available at our website at http://siegelauctions.com/dynamic/census/85D/85D.pdf
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 one of the grilling machines 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.
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.
Census No. 85D-CAN-03. Discovered by Lester G. Brookman and illustrated in Volume II of his reference work on 19th Century United States stamps (page 136). Ex Wilbur H. Schilling, Jr. and offered to the market for the first time since our 1975 Rarities sale (where acquired by the current owner). With 1945 A.P.S. and 2015 P.F. certificates. Footnote in Scott Catalogue notes "Value is for a well-centered example with small faults".