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Sale 1211 — The William H. Gross Collection: United States Postal History

Sale Date — Tuesday-Wednesday, 29-30 October, 2019

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Category — 1847 Issue to Great Britain

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
148°
c
Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 148, 1847 Issue to Great Britain, The earliest possible transatlantic use of the 1847 Issue and the only recorded example of the 10¢ 1847 stamp on mail carried aboard this voyage--also the earliest known use of the 10¢ to any foreign destination

10¢ Black (2), mostly large margins to clear at top left, tied by blue grid cancel, matching "Philadelphia Pa. Jul. 14" (1847) circular datestamp on year-dated folded letter to London, England, sender's ship-name directive "pr Steamer Caledonia via Boston," stamp additionally tied by light strike of red British datestamp, clearly-struck 1847-dated London receiving circular datestamp on flap, manuscript "1/-" shilling due marking

Very Fine; trivial splitting along some folds, but otherwise in exceptionally pristine condition.

This is the earliest possible transatlantic use of the 1847 Issue, and this is the only recorded example of the 10¢ 1847 stamp on mail carried aboard this voyage. It is also the earliest known use of the 10¢ 1847 issue to a foreign destination. One of the great rarities of the classic era.

The 5¢ and 10¢ 1847 Issue stamps were issued on July 1, 1847. The earliest documented use is a 10¢ domestic cover dated July 2 at New York City (in the Gross collection and on loan to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum). At this time, the Cunard Line sailings were twice monthly. The first July 1847 sailing was the Cambria from Boston on the first day of the month. It was not possible for any 1847 Issue stamps to be used on that voyage, because Boston did not receive their supply of 1847 stamps until the following day. The next Cunarder to sail was the Caledonia, which left Boston on July 16. The cover offered here was posted in Philadelphia on July 14, and made it to Boston in time for the July 16 sailing. This is the only recorded 10¢ 1847 cover carried on this voyage. Two 5¢ 1847 covers are also recorded for this sailing, one of which is addressed to Ireland and has a July 15 New York datestamp (Sale 993, lot 177). The other 5¢ 1847 cover from this Caledonia sailing was mailed from New York to Liverpool, but it lacks a post office datestamp and is dated from the contents.

Aside from transatlantic uses, the earliest reported use to Canada is July 17 (lot 123 in this sale). It is theoretically possible that an earlier cover to Canada or to another foreign destination which did not involve a transatlantic sailing could be found. However, as the record stands, the cover offered here is the earliest.

Ex John D. Pope III and Jerome S. Wagshal. The subject of an article by Wagshal in Opinions IV, "An Important Change in Philatelic Foundation Policy: Certification of Earliest Known Date of Use." With 1985 and 2010 P.F. certificates stating "Genuinely used on cover; the earliest possible transatlantic usage of the 1847 Issue."

E. 30,000-40,000
Future Sale
149°
c
Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 149, 1847 Issue to Great Britain, An outstanding sheet-margin 10¢ 1847 on cover to England during the second month of issue

10¢ Black (2), Ashbrook notation as Position 11L, short transfer at top plate variety, large to huge margins including left sheet margin, tied by bold strike of dark greenish blue grid cancel with matching "Wilmington Del. Aug, 13" (1847) circular datestamp on folded letter to Liverpool, England, sender's route directive "via Boston Steamer"--carried on the Cunarder Hibernia, departing Boston on August 16, 1847, and arriving at Liverpool August 27--clearly struck "1/-" shilling due handstamp, Liverpool receiving backstamp (August 28), interesting letter includes mention of a military funeral for a midshipman killed at Vera Cruz, bowling in Cape May, etc., Extremely Fine Gem stamp and beautiful cover, an exceptionally choice 10¢ 1847 sheet-margin stamp used on a cover to England, it is also interesting to note that among the 45 covers from Delaware listed in the USPCS census, this is the only 10¢ use, ex Hart and Boker, illustrated in Hargest book (p. 7) and Bakers' U.S. Classics (p. 153), signed Hart and Ashbrook

E. 7,500-10,000
Future Sale
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150°
c
Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 150, 1847 Issue to Great Britain, A gem-quality 10¢ 1847 on a pristine prices current to Scotland

10¢ Black (2), large to huge margins with frameline of adjoining stamp at bottom, fine early impression, tied by neat red square grid cancels and by "1/-" shilling due handstamp on May 19, 1848, greenish folded printed prices current from Charleston, South Carolina, to Greenock, Scotland, A. R. Johnston correspondence, a letter is included at bottom and the prices current is imprinted "Per Cambria Steamer", also with manuscript "p Steamer 24th May" on front--carried on the Cunarder Cambria from New York on that date, arriving at Liverpool June 6--Liverpool transit backstamp (June 6) and Greenock receiving backstamp (June 7), fresh and Extremely Fine, wonderfully choice quality for a transatlantic 1847 cover, ex Grunin, Garrett, Dr. Kapiloff and Saadi, with 1994 P.F. certificate

E. 4,000-5,000
Future Sale
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151°
c
Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 151, 1847 Issue to Great Britain, An outstanding and rare Retaliatory Rate cover to England with a 10¢ 1847 strip of three

10¢ Black (2), horizontal strip of three, huge top margin with parts of three adjoining stamps, large to clear at sides, bottom margin just barely in, deep shade, tied by red circular grid cancels, matching "U.S. Express Mail N. York N.Y. Oct. 31" (1848) route agent's datestamp on blue folded cover from New York City to Sheffield, England, sender's ship-name directive "P. R.S. Steam Ship Niagara"--carried on the Cunarder Niagara, departing Boston on November 1, 1848, and arriving at Liverpool November 13--"America/Liverpool NO 13 1848" backstamp, "1/-" shilling due handstamp, Sheffield receiving backstamp (November 14)

Very Fine; addressee's last name (Jeffrey) has been concealed with pen squiggle lines. An impressive 10¢ 1847 cover to England during the Retaliatory Rate period--charged full transatlantic postage by British post office despite the prepayment of 24¢ (plus 5¢ from New York to Boston).

The full history of the Retaliatory Rate period is told in our catalogue for the famous Rush cover, available at https://siegelauctions.com/2006/912/912.pdf . The so-called Retaliatory Period resulted from Great Britain's effort to maintain its monopoly on transatlantic mail carriage through the subsidized Cunard steamship line, which operated without competition from 1840 through 1846. In response to the emergence of subsidized American packets in 1847 (the Ocean Line), the British issued an order (effective June 9, 1847) authorizing its receiving offices to collect the usual British packet postage on letters carried to England by American subsidized steamers. This effectively allowed England to collect 24¢ packet charges for every inbound letter, whether or not any service had been performed.

The United States vehemently protested the British order through diplomatic channels, but efforts to persuade the government to rescind the anti-American postal tariff were unsuccessful. In December 1847, U.S. Postmaster General Cave Johnson petitioned Congress for power to levy like charges on mail carried by British steamers to or from the U.S., but he was not authorized to do so until June 1848. On all inbound and outbound Cunard sailings from June 24, 1848, through December 31, 1848, American packet postage was required, whether or not an American vessel was used, creating the so-called Retaliatory Rate. Beginning with the departure of the Europa on January 10, 1849, earlier rates were restored.

This cover to England reflects the dispute between the U.S. and Great Britain. The sender paid 5¢ for U.S. postage from New York to Boston and the 24¢ sea postage (1¢ overpayment). The letter was carried on the Cunarder Niagara from Boston to Liverpool. At the Liverpool office, the 24¢ prepayment was ignored and the "1/-" shilling due marking indicated the amount owed for sea postage. Only ten 1847 Issue covers are known with Retaliatory Rate charges.

Ex Dr. Robert LeBow and Joseph Hackmey. With 2005 P.F. certificate.

E. 20,000-30,000
Future Sale
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152°
c
Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 152, 1847 Issue to Great BritainOne of only three 5¢ 1847 blocks on cover and the only block on a transatlantic cover--carried on the first steamer to arrive in England under the new U.S, One of only three 5¢ 1847 blocks on cover and the only block on a transatlantic cover--carried on the first steamer to arrive in England under the new U.SOne of only three 5¢ 1847 blocks on cover and the only block on a transatlantic cover--carried on the first steamer to arrive in England under the new U.S.-Great Britain treaty

5¢ Dark Brown (1a), block of five, the fifth adjoining stamp was partly cut away (a complete similarly pen-cancelled stamp affixed underneath for cosmetic purposes), enormous left sheet margin and top margin showing parts of adjoining stamps, slightly in at right and bottom, dark rich color, tied by manuscript "X" cancels and affixed to flap of folded letter to Warrington, England, from the Stubbs correspondence, blue "Philada. Pa. Feb. 19" (1849) circular datestamp struck on front and back, matching "PAID" in oval handstamp, sender's ship-name endorsement "per Steam Ship Hermann", "America/Liverpool/MR 6 1849" arrival backstamp and red "1/-" shilling handstamp, blue Warrington receiving datestamps front and back (March 7)

A Fine cover and truly remarkable franking used to pay the 24¢ rate on a letter carried on the first transatlantic sailing to arrive in England under the new postal treaty between the United States and Great Britain. This is one of only three 5¢ 1847 blocks known on cover (one is a front only), and it is the only one of the three carried in the transatlantic mails.

The full history of the Retaliatory Rate period is told in our sale catalogue for the famous 1847 Rush cover, available at https://siegelauctions.com/2006/912/912.pdf, and is summarized in the previous lot. The treaty between the United States and Great Britain, ending the Retaliatory Rate period, was signed on December 15, 1848. It was ratified in January 1849, and the treaty terms commenced on February 15, 1849, four days before this cover was mailed. The treaty stipulated a reciprocal 24¢ (or one shilling) rate and specified that packet postage would be retained by or credited to the packet's country of origin. This cover was directed by the sender for carriage on the Ocean Line Hermann, which departed New York on February 20, 1848. However, it was actually carried on the next day's sailing of the Cunarder Niagara from Boston, which arrived at Liverpool on March 6 (matching the Liverpool backstamp)--the first transatlantic steamer to arrive with mail that could be prepaid under the new treaty. The "1/-" shilling handstamp struck on arrival at Liverpool is enigmatic, as the sea postage was completely prepaid, according to the treaty terms. The use of red ink is extremely unusual, and might explain the anomalous rating.

Blocks of the 1847 Issue are exceedingly rare on cover. This transatlantic use of a block was originally discovered in the Peter Stubbs correspondence and is the only such example recorded. The other two recorded blocks are a block of four on a domestic cover from Fredonia to Albany, New York (offered in lot 34) and a block of four on a rebacked cover front from New York to Montreal, Canada.

Ex Stephen D. Bechtel, Sr., Guido Craveri, and from our 1993 Rarities of the World sale.

E. 20,000-30,000
Future Sale
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153°
c
Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 153, 1847 Issue to Great Britain, One of two recorded 1847 Issue covers to Ireland and the only one with a 5¢ and 10¢ combination franking--a spectacular cover in superb condition

DESCRIPTION

5¢ Red Brown (1), horizontal strip of three in gorgeous deep shade with lots of orange on deeply blued paper--a late printing from the cleaned plate, which in our opinion and Ashbrook's opinion is Brown Orange--large margins except in one small spot at top right where frameline is touched, used with 10¢ Black, Double Transfer Type B (2-B), Position 31R, major double transfer in "Post Office," mostly ample to full margins, intense shade, all four stamps tied by neat single stroke of pen on fresh blue folded letter from Augusta, Georgia, to Belfast, Ireland, datelined "Augusta 30 November 1850" with sender's route directive "P. Mail Steam Packet to Liverpool, Mail Paid P Stamp," the only U.S. postal marking (other than the cancel) is a red "3" handstamp for 3¢ credit to Great Britain--carried by Collins Line Atlantic, departing New York on December 7, 1850, and arriving at Liverpool December 19--red "America Liverpool Paid DE 19 A50" rimless datestamp, blue "Belfast DE 20 1850 M" receiving backstamp

PROVENANCE

Otto M. A. Bacher, Ph.D. (Westminster Stamp Co., London)

H. R. Harmer London sale, 10/2/1945, lot 251

Siegel Sale 358, 9/25-27/1969, lot 91, where the distinctive 5¢ shade was described as Brown Orange (it is certified as Red Brown), to Dr. Kapiloff

Dr. Leonard Kapiloff, Siegel Auction Galleries, 1999 Rarities of the World, 5/15/1999, Sale 811, lot 30, to Feldman

David Feldman, The "Emerald" Collection, D. Feldman SA sale, 5/15/2003, lot 41005, to William H. Gross

CENSUS, LITERATURE AND EXHIBITION REFERENCES

USPCS census no. 1075 https://www.uspcs.org/resource-center/censuses/1847-cover-census/

Stanley B. Ashbrook index card files at The Philatelic Foundation-- Ashbrook comments on the 5¢ "Plate 2" color and impression, which refers to late printing from the cleaned plate, the photo has Ashbrook's identification of shade as Brown Orange

CERTIFICATION

The Philatelic Foundation (1999)

CONDITION NOTES

Extremely Fine; 5¢ insignificant small tear at top of center stamp just touches design (not noted on certificate)

HISTORY AND COMMENTARY

The Only 5¢ and 10¢ Combination Cover to Ireland

As of February 15, 1849, the new postal treaty between the United States and Britain commenced, officially ending the punitive Retaliatory Rate period. Both sides agreed to a reciprocal 24¢ rate (or one shilling). For letters to Great Britain, including the British Isles, a credit of either 3¢ or 19¢ was given, depending on whether it was carried by a British or U.S. steamship.

The cover offered here was written from Augusta, Georgia, on November 30, 1850. The addressee, William J. C. Allen, was secretary to the Royal Belfast Academical Institution in 1851. There are no markings to indicate where it entered the post office before it reached New York City--the stamps are cancelled by a pen stroke, and the red "3" handstamp was applied at the New York foreign-mail office. Since it was bagged for the Collins Line steamer, the credit to Great Britain was 3¢, and the U.S. retained 21¢ (5¢ shore-to-ship postage and 16¢ ocean postage, excluding the 1¢ overpayment).

Only four combination covers with 5¢ and 10¢ 1847 stamps paying the 24¢ rate to Great Britain (1¢ overpayment) are recorded, listed at bottom with USPCS 1847 census numbers. The two additional entries are a front only (*) and a cover with the 5¢ replaced (**).

Two of the below-listed covers were carried by a U.S. steamship: the cover to Scotland (#3) and this cover to Ireland (#2). The others were carried by British steamers and have 19¢ credit handstamps.

DateFromToStampsNo.
16/16/1850Mobile ALManchester, England1, 2(2)169
211/30/1850Augusta GABelfast, Ireland1(3), 21075
38/13/1849Buffalo NYEdinburgh, Scotland1, 2(2)5609
41/1/1851NYCGlasgow, Scotland1, 2(2)8891
5*11/3/1851PhiladelphiaLiverpool, England1, 2(2)11978
6**6/13/1849NYCLondon, England[1], 2(2)8889

E. 75,000-100,000
Future Sale
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154°
c
Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 154, 1847 Issue to Great Britain, The only recorded 1847 Issue cover to Egypt--an important 1847 cover to a destination rarely encountered in classic United States postal history

DESCRIPTION

5¢ Red Brown (1), horizontal pair, large margins at sides, clear to slightly in at top and bottom, right stamp has faint pre-use vertical crease, tied by pen cancels, red "Bardstown Ky. Dec. 4" (1850) circular datestamp on small envelope to Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt, red etiquette seal on flap, addressed to "Joseph Holt Esq., London, England, Care of Barings Bro. London", red "19" credit handstamp applied at the New York foreign-mail office, although there is no indication of 24¢ prepaid treaty rate--carried on the Cunarder Asia, departing New York on December 18, 1850, and arriving at Liverpool December 28--red "X/PAID/29DE29 1850" framed receiving datestamp, mailed from London to Rathbone & Co. in Alexandria, Egypt, then forwarded from there to Cairo, red "London Paid (7?) Jan. 1851" circular datestamp and manuscript "2/1" 2sh1p rate marking, two strikes of red "VIA MARSEILLES" straightline handstamp probably applied by Barings Brothers forwarding clerk to indicate route to Alexandria, the back has a partly readable strike of "Alexandria JA 18 1851" receiving datestamp and manuscript docketing "Received at Cairo No. 2, Answered at Cairo"

PROVENANCE

John D. Pope III, John A. Fox sale, 5/4/1985, lot 144, to Dr. Kapiloff

Dr. Leonard Kapiloff, Christie's sale, 10/28-29/1993, lot 846, to Craveri

Guido Craveri, Bennett sale, 9/20/2003, lot 1152, to Schwartz

Barry K. Schwartz, Siegel Auction Galleries, 12/10/2009, Sale 981, lot 4065, to William H. Gross

CENSUS, LITERATURE AND EXHIBITION REFERENCES

USPCS census no. 1432 https://www.uspcs.org/resource-center/censuses/1847-cover-census/

CERTIFICATION

The Philatelic Foundation (1993 and 2003)

CONDITION NOTES

Very Fine

HISTORY AND COMMENTARY

6,000 Miles from Kentucky to Egypt in 1850

Joseph Holt, the addressee, was a leading member of the Buchanan administration and served as Judge Advocate General in the United States Army, most notably during the Lincoln assassination trials. Under President Buchanan he was appointed Postmaster General and Secretary of War. Earlier in life, Holt was a wealthy lawyer. In 1848 he made a trip to Europe and to the Middle East, and was away from home for seventeen months (Harper's Weekly 2/16/1861).

This cover was mailed to Holt during his travels. It was sent in care of the banking and mail-forwarding firms of Barings Brothers and Rathbone & Co., each of which would have been given instructions by Holt for sending mail to him as he traveled. Barings Brothers mailed the letter to Alexandria, Egypt, where Rathbone & Co. redirected it to Cairo.

After the cover was sent on December 4, 1850, from Bardstown to the New York foreign-mail office, it was bagged for the sailing of the Cunard Line Asia from New York, which departed on December 18 and arrived at Liverpool on December 28.

Interestingly, the pair of 5¢ 1847 stamp pays the over-300 miles rate from Bardstown, Kentucky, to New York City, but under the 1848 U.S.-Great Britain postal treaty, only 5¢ U.S. postage was required. Despite the absence of any markings to indicate prepayment of the 24¢ treaty rate to England, the foreign-mail clerk in New York applied the "19" cents credit handstamp, which was sufficient for the receiving clerk in England to consider it prepaid. When Barings Brothers mailed the letter at the London post office, it was marked prepaid "2/1" (2sh1p, approximately 50¢) and datestamped with the red "London Paid" circle. The "VIA MARSEILLES" straightline handstamp does not resemble official post office markings, so we assume they are private markings applied by Barings Brothers as a route directive.

According to all of the literature and census work on the 1847 Issue, this is the only known 1847 cover to Egypt. The fact that it was actually carried in the postal system to Alexandria, Egypt, rather than handled outside the mails, adds to its importance as a postal history artifact. Further, the Kentucky origin and addressee's prominence at a later stage of life are elements that add considerable character to the cover.

E. 50,000-75,000
Future Sale
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