FINE APPEARANCE. THE $49.34 IN POSTAGE ON THIS REGISTERED PACKAGE WRAPPER IS THE LARGEST RECORDED FRANKING ON ANY COLUMBIAN ISSUE COVER. A MAGNIFICENT SHOWPIECE.
The 2013 Ludeman Columbian Dollar-Value Cover Census lists eight covers with complete sets, including this package wrapper front, which has the largest number of stamps and highest total face value of any Columbian cover. It was completely unknown to philately until 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage, when it was privately sold to Columbian Stamp Company. The notations on the back -- “Eleanore G. Adams, Milton A. Adams, Oct. 8, 1942” and “M A Adams” -- provide the provenance in 1942, but do not shed light on the origin of this extraordinary piece of mail. However, the post office of origin, mailing date and sender’s ship-sailing directive provide the critical evidence in determining who was responsible for affixing nearly $50 in Columbian stamps in 1897.
The postal clerk responsible for processing registered mail at the Bangor, Maine, post office applied the “Bangor, Maine, Feb. 19, 1897, Registry Dept.” three-line datestamp and cancelled all of the stamps in the same dark blue ink. On the same day, a United States passport was issued in Bangor to one of its wealthiest residents, Frederick Wellington Ayer (1855-1936). Ayer obtained his passport in preparation for his trans-Atlantic voyage to England on board the S.S. St. Paul, which departed from New York on February 24, 1897. This sailing exactly matches the directive on the package wrapper.
Ayer was president of the Eastern Manufacturing Company of Brewer, Maine, and a noted antique collector and authority. Between 1892 and 1897 Ayer embarked on a philatelic buying spree, spending (by some reports) as much as $750,000 on his collection, some of it with borrowed money (Bierman, The World’s Greatest Stamp Collectors, page 95). When Fred’s conservative banker-father, Nathan Chase Ayer, learned of his son’s extravagant philatelic spending, he presented Fred with a choice between liquidation or disinheritance. Fred chose the former. Beginning in 1897 portions of the Ayer collection were sold through Charles J. Phillips of London and Warren H. Colson. The balance of the collection was sold in 1903 and 1904 to the New England Stamp Company.
?Based on the origin, mailing date, sailing directive and the fact that Ayer entrusted Charles J. Phillips with the sale of his collection in 1897, one may reasonably conclude that the original package contained Ayer’s stamp albums, which he sent by insured registered mail to England on the same ship he boarded on February 24, 1897. Ayer hoarded Columbian stamps, and these straight-edge and off-center copies would have been a collector’s choice for use on mail.
With 1992 P.F. certificate.
VERY FINE AND CHOICE. A RARE AND REMARKABLY FRESH ORIGINAL-GUM PLATE BLOCK OF THE $1.00 COLUMBIAN.
Perhaps a dozen plate blocks of eight exist for the $1.00 Columbian.
Ex Lake Shore. With 1998 and 2008 P.F. certificates
EXTREMELY FINE GEM. AN ABSOLUTELY STUNNING MINT NEVER-HINGED EXAMPLE OF THE $4.00 COLUMBIAN, WHICH HAS BEEN GRADED XF-SUPERB 95 BY P.S.E. -- THIS IS THE HIGHEST GRADE AWARDED.
With 2014 P.S.E. certificate (XF-Superb 95; SMQ $75,000.00). This is the highest grade awarded and only three others share this desirable grade.
EXTREMELY FINE GEM IMPRINT AND PLATE NUMBER STRIP. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED MINT NEVER-HINGED PLATE STRIP OF THE $5.00 COLUMBIAN. IN OUR OPINION, IT IS THE FINEST-QUALITY PLATE NUMBER MULTIPLE.
The $5.00 plate number block of eight is believed to be unique; therefore, a strip of four is the only practical means to show the complete imprint and plate number with plate letters.
Ex "Argentum" (Dr. Graves). With 1999 and 2008 P.F. certificates