10¢ Black, Diagonal Half Used as 5¢ (2a), upper right diagonal half, large margins at top and right, tied across the cut by bold dark grayish blue grid cancel with matching double-struck "Mineral Point W.T. 27 May" (1851) circular datestamp and "PAID" straightline handstamp on folded letter to the postmaster of Hampton, Rock Island County, Illinois, the letter asks the postmaster to forward any letters he may be holding for Isaac Smith (himself) and two other names, the Mineral Point datestamp still has the "W.T." territorial initials, but Wisconsin became a state three years earlier on May 29, 1848
Extremely Fine--an unusually choice 10¢ 1847 bisect on cover from Wisconsin.
The USPCS census records three bisects used from Mineral Point, Wisconsin, which did receive 5¢ stamps, but apparently ran short during a brief period. This cover is easily the finest of the three--one of the others is a cover front only.
This cover was sold in a Hugh C. Barr sale on 12/19-20/1941 and then in an Irwin Heiman sale 11/21-22/1975, where acquired by Haas. Ex Marc Haas, Duane B. Garrett and John R. Boker, Jr. With 1986 P.F. certificate.
10¢ Black, Diagonal Half Used as 5¢ (2a), matching upper right and lower left halves of the same stamp on separate envelopes, addressed to Mrs. George Evans at Mrs. Hollister's in Brattleboro, Vermont, bisects have ample to large margins except lower left is just in at bottom, well-tied across the cuts by orange-red grid cancels (struck four times on lower left bisect), upper right with matching "Gardiner Me. Apr. 28" (1851) circular datestamp, and lower left with "Gardiner Me. May 2" (1851) circular datestamp, letter from Senator George Evans accompanies May 2 cover
William L. Moody III, H. R. Harmer sale, 10/23-25/1950, both covers together as lot 135A, to "ETW"
J. David Baker, Siegel Auction Galleries, 4/4/1978, Sale 526, lots 63-64
Siegel Auction Galleries, 1996 Rarities of the World, 5/21/1996, Sale 777, lot 37, to William H. Gross
CENSUS, LITERATURE AND EXHIBITION REFERENCES
USPCS census nos. 1984 and 1985 https://www.uspcs.org/resource-center/censuses/1847-cover-census/
Hugh J. and J. David Baker, Bakers' U.S. Classics, p. 174
J. David Baker, "Additional 1847 Bisects," Chronicle 87, p. 8, with an account of original find by Ezra D. Cole
Susan M. McDonald, "The Gardiner, Maine, Bisect Puzzle," Chronicle 64, pp. 134-140
-- "Gardiner, Maine, Revisited," Chronicle 87, pp. 144-145
-- "Gardiner, Maine, Addenda," Chronicle 121, pp. 32-33
The Philatelic Foundation (1978)
Very Fine covers; upper right bisect used April 28 has trivial small sealed tear at top; May 2 envelope with erased pencil docketing
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
The Gardiner, Maine, 1847 Bisects
In April and May 1851, a former U.S. senator from Maine, George Evans, wrote a series of letters to his wife in Brattleboro, Vermont. The 54-year-old distinguished politician, whom John Quincy Adams described as "one of the ablest men and most eloquent orators in Congress," paid the 5¢ postage with diagonal halves of the 10¢ stamps on hand from the issue of 1847. Perhaps his knowledge of current legislative acts made him aware that the recently passed Act of March 3, 1851, would reduce postage rates, and his 10¢ stamps would not fit the new 3¢ domestic rate, starting July 1. The post office in Gardiner, Maine, did not object to the senator's thrifty half-stamps, and each letter traveled 225 miles to Brattleboro, where the postmaster was equally accommodating.
About 80 years later, the Evans 1847 bisect covers were bought by a stamp dealer, H. A. Robinette. Details of his fortuitous purchase were provided by Ezra D. Cole in a Chronicle article published by J. David Baker in 1968:
In the 1930s [Ezra Cole] rented a farm in West Brattleboro, Vermont... While there Ezra visited his friend Dana Stafford [who] invited him to attend several meetings of the Brattleboro Stamp Club. At one of them, who should appear but H. A. Robinette, the well-known Washington, D.C., dealer... Before [Robinette] left Vermont, he visited Ezra at his farm and showed him a package of covers, a package of twenty-eight 10¢ 1847 bisects postmarked Gardiner, Maine, addressed to Mrs. George Evans. As Ezra recalls, six or seven were damaged, torn or had parts of the bisected stamp missing, and he believes they were destroyed as they talked about destroying them. Ezra bought three matching pairs, six bisected covers for $600 a pair, and two other bisected covers for $250 each...
Working with the USPCS 1847 census, we have verified 12 Gardiner, Maine, 10¢ bisect covers. Four have bisects that cannot be matched. Eight covers have bisects from four stamps. The dates and census numbers are:
1) 4/28 and 5/2 (#1984/1986), red grids, lot 40
2) 5/12 and 5/14 (#989/1990), blue grids
3) 5/19 and 5/20 (#1991/1992), blue grids
4) 5/23 and 5/26 (#1993/1994), blue grids, Hirzel
Since one set of pairs is in the Hirzel collection at the Museum of Communications in Switzerland, only three are available to collectors. In addition to these, there is a pair of matching diagonal bisects on covers from the Stilphin correspondence, and a pair of vertical bisects sold in the Gross U.S. Treasures sale.
10¢ Black, Vertical Half Used As 5¢ (2b), right half, huge margins all around, well tied by red square grid cancel with matching "New-York Mar. 4" (1851) circular datestamp on blue folded letter to Albany, New York, stamp with very faint diagonal crease which is all but undetectable (but mentioned in our 1989 Rarities sale), fresh and Very Fine, note on back by John A. Klemann stating that this was an original find "by Mr. Wyer," ex W. S. White and Boker
10¢ Black, Vertical Half Used As 5¢ (2b), left vertical half, large margins to just clear at bottom, tied by blue "Philada Pa. 5 Mar. 23" (1849) integral-rate circular datestamp on bluish folded letter to New Hope, Pennsylvania, some minor cover staining far from stamp, Very Fine, for some reason there are far fewer left half vertical bisects than right half bisects listed in the USPCS census--there is no "Paid" marking on this cover, and it is unclear if the integral-rate datestamp was intended as a postage due marking or just a cancel--ex West and Boker, illustrated in Ashbrook Bound Book (no. 11, cover 279, USPCS website), with 1988 P.F. certificate