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Sale 1201 — The Dr. William H. Johnson Collection of the U.S. 1890 Small Bank Note Issue

Sale Date — Tuesday, 21 May, 2019

Category — Essays

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
2003
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2003, Essays(Unstated Value) Black, Large Die Essay on Ivory Paper (219-E1), (Unstated Value) Black, Large Die Essay on Ivory Paper (219-E1)(Unstated Value) Black, Large Die Essay on Ivory Paper (219-E1). 64 x 76mm, showing full die sinkage, intense shade and impression, small thin at top left from mount removal, still Very Fine and rare essay for an unadopted frame design, the Brazer catalogue lists this as an essay for the 1889 contract circa July 17, 1889, Scott Catalogue value has remained unchanged for decades -- we sold one in 2003 for $1,900 hammer and one in 2015 for $1,300 hammer, yet the catalogue value did not change

700
1,500
2004
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2004, Essays1c Blue, Vignette Only Large Die Essay on India (219-E3), 1c Blue, Vignette Only Large Die Essay on India (219-E3)1c Blue, Vignette Only Large Die Essay on India (219-E3). On 74 x 74mm card with full die sinkage, depicting engraved vignette with lettered label above -- the same design but smaller than the one used for the 1887 Issue (Scott 212) -- few trivial toned spots, Very Fine and very rare, Brazer attributed this essay to the first proposal time period -- see lot 2005 for explanation -- this is the only example of this rare essay we have ever encountered, ex Brazer

800
1,600
Back to Top
2005°
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2005, Essays1c Engraved Vignette With Watercolor Frame, Essay On Thick Cardboard (219-E2), 1c Engraved Vignette With Watercolor Frame, Essay On Thick Cardboard (219-E2)1c Engraved Vignette With Watercolor Frame, Essay On Thick Cardboard (219-E2). 54 x 57mm, with engraved vignette from 1c Bank Note (212) cut to shape and mounted in a hand-drawn watercolor frame, scoring line at top helped the artist determine starting point for design

VERY FINE. THE UNIQUE HAND-DRAWN WATERCOLOR COMPOSITE ESSAY FOR THE ONE-CENT 1890 SMALL BANK NOTE ISSUE, SHOWING A RADICALLY DIFFERENT STYLE OF FRAME. AN IMPORTANT ESSAY.

The new series continued the theme of Franklin for the 1c stamp -- a portrait of Franklin was the subject of every 1c stamp starting in 1851, including the 1869 Pictorial Issue. This watercolor frame is a significant departure from the one eventually adopted. It includes large block lettering at bottom and a country label at top, which was incorporated into the oval for the adopted design. The numbers at the sides are also severely truncated.

It is likely that the 1c and 2c designs were the first to be worked on, since these were the denominations with the greatest demand. These two denominations also have the largest number of different frame designs, though this is the only hand-drawn design for the 1c. The first plate numbers used were for 2c plates (Plates 1-10) and then 1c plates (Plates 11-15).

The ABN Co. contract to supply stamps expired on June 30, 1889. Sealed proposals for a new contract were accepted up to June 17, which did not require any artwork. Only two bids were submitted, one by ABN Co. and one for a much lower amount from Charles F. Steel. ABN Co. protested, noting that Steel's company did not meet the criteria for bidding. Steel's facilities were found not to be fireproof, so the bidding was opened again starting Sep. 11, 1889 (in reality, Steel was paid off by ABN Co. to fail to meet the requirements). The 1941 Brazer catalogue lists this as an essay for the 1889 contract, "circa July 17, 1889." We are unaware of Brazer's reasoning for attributing this to the earlier bidding process.

Ex Brazer. The Essay-Proof Journal noted in 1953 that Brazer exhibited this item at The Collectors Club.

E. 5,000-7,500
5,000
Back to Top
2006°
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2006, Essays2c Engraved Vignette With Watercolor Frame, Essay On Thick Cardboard (220-E3), 2c Engraved Vignette With Watercolor Frame, Essay On Thick Cardboard (220-E3)2c Engraved Vignette With Watercolor Frame, Essay On Thick Cardboard (220-E3). On 97 x 117mm card, portrait cut out from issued 2c stamp (Scott 213) with "POSTAGE" in lettered label below portrait, numbers at top and other significant differences, with hand-drawn framed border on card, vignette with trivial toning from adhesive

VERY FINE. A UNIQUE HAND-DRAWN WATERCOLOR ESSAY FOR THE 2-CENT 1890 ISSUE, DEPICTING THE DENOMINATIONS AT TOP AND OTHER SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES.

It is likely that the 1c and 2c designs were the first to be worked on, since these were the denominations with the greatest demand. The first plate numbers used were for 2c plates (Plates 1-10). These two denominations also have the largest number of different frame designs. There are four unique watercolor essays for the 2c, each with engraved vignette cut out and mounted in place.

The ABN Co. contract to supply stamps expired on June 30, 1889, sealed proposals for a new contract were accepted up to June 17, which did not require any artwork. Only two bids were submitted, one by ABN Co. and one for a much lower amount from Charles F. Steel. ABN Co. protested, noting that Steel's company did not meet the criteria for bidding. Steel's facilities were found not to be fireproof, so the bidding was opened again starting Sep. 11, 1889 (in reality, Steel was paid off by ABN Co. to fail to meet the requirements).. The 1941 Brazer catalogue lists this as an essay for the 1889 contract, "circa July 17, 1889." We are unaware of Brazer's reasoning for attributing this to the earlier bidding process.

Ex Brazer, but not offered in his sale -- the Essay-Proof Journal noted in 1953 that Brazer exhibited this item at The Collectors Club. With 1990 P.F. certificate

E. 5,000-7,500
5,000
Back to Top
2007
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2007, Essays2c Black, Large Die Frame Only Essay on White Ivory (220-E4), 2c Black, Large Die Frame Only Essay on White Ivory (220-E4)2c Black, Large Die Frame Only Essay on White Ivory (220-E4). 60 x 77mm, detailed impression of this engraved design showing an unadopted frame, the only elements that made their way into the adopted design are part of the floral designs above the denominations, two small thin spots, Very Fine and very rare, Brazer attributed this essay to the first proposal time period -- see lot 2005 for explanation -- this is the first we have offered since keeping computerized records, we were able to locate only one other, offered in the Brazer sale, which is about half the size of the one offered here

1,250
1,500
Back to Top
2008
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2008, Essays(2c) Washington, Dark Carmine, Large Die Vignette Essay on India (220-E5), (2c) Washington, Dark Carmine, Large Die Vignette Essay on India (220-E5)(2c) Washington, Dark Carmine, Large Die Vignette Essay on India (220-E5). On 72 x 74mm card with full die sinkage, with "ISSUE 1890" label affixed to bottom of card, deep rich color, Very Fine, this is the first we have offered since keeping computerized records, ex Brazer

800
1,600
Back to Top
2009
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2009, Essays2c Black, Large Die Frame Only Essay on Ivory (220-E8a), 2c Black, Large Die Frame Only Essay on Ivory (220-E8a)2c Black, Large Die Frame Only Essay on Ivory (220-E8a). 65 x 77mm, showing full die sinkage area, showing frame design as adopted, with numerals and without "TWO CENTS" at bottom, Very Fine and very rare, this is the first we have offered since keeping computerized records, the 1990 Brazer sale also had one, with waterstaining in the corners

900
1,300
Back to Top
2010
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2010, Essays2c 1890 Issue, Frame Only, Large Die Essays on India (220-E8b), 2c 1890 Issue, Frame Only, Large Die Essays on India (220-E8b)2c 1890 Issue, Frame Only, Large Die Essays on India (220-E8b). Four, in Dark Brown, Red Orange, Dark Blue and Dark Blue Green, approximately 50 x 57mm, first two on card, rich colors, Very Fine, very scarce, undercatalogued in Scott (the value has not changed in years), we have offered only two in the last 25 years and they both brought well over catalogue value, this is a rare opportunity to acquire four colors at once

2,800
4,750
Back to Top
2011
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2011, Essays(3c) Purple, Vignette and Label Only, Die Essay on India (221-E2), (3c) Purple, Vignette and Label Only, Die Essay on India (221-E2)(3c) Purple, Vignette and Label Only, Die Essay on India (221-E2). On 75 x 74mm card with full die sinkage, deep rich color, unusual grid laid out on India, card with some toned spots, otherwise Very Fine, scarce and desirable essay, ex Finkelburg, undercatalogued in Scott -- this is the only example we have offered in the past 25 years, none was offered in the Brazer sale and its catalogue value has remained unchanged even though it brought three times catalogue value last time it was offered

750
1,100
Back to Top
2012
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2012, Essays4c Black Brown, Large Die Essay on India of Lincoln Facing Left (222-E2), 4c Black Brown, Large Die Essay on India of Lincoln Facing Left (222-E2)4c Black Brown, Large Die Essay on India of Lincoln Facing Left (222-E2). On 75 x 73mm card with full die sinkage, showing both die no. C-226 and imprint below design, intense shade and impression, Very Fine example of this scarce essay with Lincoln facing left -- in a letter to ABN Co. of Nov. 13, 1889, the 3rd Asst. PMG writes "In view of the fact that it will probably be necessary to make a departure from the line of profiles by putting General Grant in three-quarter face, would it not add variety and attractiveness to the variety and attractiveness of the series to use three-quarter or full face in some other pictures? It occurs to me that the picture of Lincoln would appear to better advantage in three-quarter face than in the profile shown on the present six-cent stamp. His picture on the ninety-cent stamp of 1869, appears to me to be an excellent one and perhaps might be used on the new four-cent stamp with the face reversed to look to the left. What do you think of this suggestion?" -- in another letter of Feb. 10, 1890, the same writer confirmed he and the Postmaster General "reached the conclusion that by making them face right, as shown in the originals selected for copy, would really prove to be an advantage", this about-face (pun intended) on the direction of the portrait led to delays in issuing the 4c and 5c stamps, which were not issued until June 2 -- Brazer thought only two were known with the die number and imprint, ex Finkelburg

1,250
1,700
Back to Top
2013
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2013, Essays4c Black Brown, Large Die Essay on India of Lincoln Facing Left (222-E2), 4c Black Brown, Large Die Essay on India of Lincoln Facing Left (222-E2)4c Black Brown, Large Die Essay on India of Lincoln Facing Left (222-E2). 62 x 60mm, without the die no. and imprint, detailed impression, expertly removed from card, Very Fine, scarce, see previous description for an explanation of the Lincoln facing left essay, ex "Lake Shore", Scott Retail as die sunk on card

1,750
1,200
Back to Top
2014°
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2014, Essays5c Seward, Composite Photographic and Hand-Drawn Essay (223-E1), 5c Seward, Composite Photographic and Hand-Drawn Essay (223-E1)5c Seward, Composite Photographic and Hand-Drawn Essay (223-E1). Stamp size, photo of Seward with watercolor frame design, the frame is significantly different than the one adopted, affixed to top right corner of an envelope, letters in the bottom label are individually drawn and affixed, three of the letters have fallen off and are missing

VERY FINE. THE UNIQUE HAND-DRAWN ESSAY FOR THE 5-CENT 1890 ISSUE, WITH A PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM SEWARD. THE PORTRAIT OF GRANT WAS SUBSTITUTED IN THE ISSUED DESIGN.

The case could be made that this was the first essay produced for the 1890 Issue. On October 25, 1889, Third Assistant Postmaster General A. D. Hazen wrote to James Macdonough at American Bank Note Co. "Referring to your visit here on the 23rd instant, I enclose you herewith a set of proofs of engravings made by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, of General U. S. Grant, furnished me in compliance with request. One of these engravings you will observe is in profile. I hope to be able to send you within a day or two a list of the selected heads for the new stamps." The contract for the new issue was signed November 7, 1889, approximately two weeks after the letter was sent. This strongly suggests the 5c Seward design was rejected at an early date.

Ex Brazer.

E. 5,000-7,500
6,000
Back to Top
2015
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2015, Essays5c Grant Facing Left, Large Die Essays on India (223-E2), 5c Grant Facing Left, Large Die Essays on India (223-E2)5c Grant Facing Left, Large Die Essays on India (223-E2). Two, complete for Scott-listed colors, Black and Orange Brown, 73 x 71mm with full die sinkage, the Orange Brown with unusual grid lines in background and also with faint horizontal printed lines to right of design mirroring those used in the design, Very Fine and very rare essay with Grant's hair neatly combed and facing left, Third Asst. PMG A. D. Hazen sent a letter to ABN Co. on Nov. 13, 1889, stating "I am glad to hear of the progress made in securing a good head of General Grant...In view of the fact that it will probably be necessary to make a departure from the line of profiles by putting General Grant in three-quarter face, would it not add to the attractiveness of the series to use three-quarter or full face in some of the other pictures?" -- by Feb. 10, 1890 the decision was made to have the portraits of both Grant and Lincoln (for the 4c) face right, which resulted in a delay in issuing these two denominations, they were not available until June 2

1,400
2,900
Back to Top
2016
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2016, Essays5c Grant Facing Left, Chocolate, Large Die Essay on India (223-E3), 5c Grant Facing Left, Chocolate, Large Die Essay on India (223-E3)5c Grant Facing Left, Chocolate, Large Die Essay on India (223-E3). On 72 x 71mm card with full die sinkage, showing lock of hair over his forehead and with eye pupils not solid color, rich color, fresh and Very Fine, very rare, ex Brazer, this is the first we have offered since keeping computerized records

700
1,300
Back to Top
2017
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2017, Essays5c Grant Facing Left, Die Essay on Glazed Paper (223-E7b), 5c Grant Facing Left, Die Essay on Glazed Paper (223-E7b)5c Grant Facing Left, Die Essay on Glazed Paper (223-E7b). Complete set of all four Scott-listed colors, approximately 64 x 75mm, imprint reads "Essay - March 1890 American Bank Note Co. N.Y.", Scarlet signed by both Ronaldson and Skinner, fresh and Very Fine, a rare complete set and desirable with one signed by both the frame engraver (Ronaldson) and vignette engraver (Skinner), Scott Retail with no premium for the signatures

3,000
2,600
Back to Top
2018
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2018, Essays5c Grant, Die Essay on Ivory Paper (223-E10b), 5c Grant, Die Essay on Ivory Paper (223-E10b)5c Grant, Die Essay on Ivory Paper (223-E10b). Complete set of all four Scott-listed colors, approximately 65 x 74mm, imprint reads "Essay - March 1890 American Bank Note Co. N.Y.", Black Brown with small thin spot at bottom right, still Very Fine, a rare complete set, we have offered only one other complete set since keeping computerized records

3,000
2,700
Back to Top
2019°
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2019, Essays5c Grant, Ferrotype Metal Plate and Printing from Metal Plate (223-E11, 223-E12), 5c Grant, Ferrotype Metal Plate and Printing from Metal Plate (223-E11, 223-E12)5c Grant, Ferrotype Metal Plate and Printing from Metal Plate (223-E11, 223-E12). Two items: first is ferrotype metal plate, 39 x 52mm, depicting portrait of Grant facing left, with outline of his head, face and other elements engraved and filled with red ink, scratch or defect in the plate at left, second is 43 x 56mm thick card showing impression taken from the engraved elements of the plate which is reversed and so shows Grant facing right

VERY FINE. A REMARKABLE PAIR OF ITEMS, CONSISTING OF A FERROTYPE PHOTOGRAPH OF ULYSSES S. GRANT WHICH HAS BEEN PARTLY ENGRAVED, AND A PRINT MADE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPH. HIGHLY EXHIBITABLE ITEMS.

Third Assistant Postmaster General A. D. Hazen sent a letter to American Bank Note Co. on November 13, 1889, which notes in part "I was duly in receipt of yours of the 9th instant, and am glad to hear of the progress made in securing a good head of General Grant. Should you photograph the picture sent you a few days since, I should be glad to have a couple of copies, the Postmaster General having expressed a wish to secure one." This is no doubt one of those prints. We have been able to locate perhaps one other (ex "Belmont", Sale 581, 5/22/1981, lot 299).

This probably ex Brazer

E. 5,000-7,500
5,000
Back to Top
2020
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2020, Essays10c Black, Unadopted Frame, Die Essay on White Glazed Paper (226-E2), 10c Black, Unadopted Frame, Die Essay on White Glazed Paper (226-E2)10c Black, Unadopted Frame, Die Essay on White Glazed Paper (226-E2). 64 x 77mm with full die sinkage, crisp impression, Very Fine and rare, we have sold only two others (for well above Scott Catalogue value) since keeping computerized records, only one other shows the full die sinkage area

1,000
800
Back to Top
2021°
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2021, Essays15c Clay, Composite Essay on Card (227-E1), 15c Clay, Composite Essay on Card (227-E1)15c Clay, Composite Essay on Card (227-E1). 111 x 81mm thick card, with pencil drawing at right of frame essentially as adopted, with 52 x 55mm card mounted at left with cutout of engraved vignette and top label with watercolor and pencil drawing of frame and bottom label, back of card with unusual light offset of 90c design

VERY FINE. THE UNIQUE COMPOSITE ESSAY FOR THE 15-CENT 1890 ISSUE, CONSISTING OF THE ENGRAVED VIGNETTE OF CLAY WITH WATERCOLOR FRAME, AND AN ENLARGED PENCIL DRAWING OF THE IMPORTANT FRAME ELEMENTS. A PHENOMENAL RARITY.

In a letter to ABN Co. of November 13, 1889, Third Assistant Postmaster General A. D. Hazen wrote "The picture of Clay on the twelve-cent stamp formerly in use, does not look well. How would it appear in full or three-quarter face? I greatly prefer a representation on the three-quarter over that of full face." The essay offered here, with the three-quarter face portrait of Clay and hand-drawn frame elements essentially as adopted, was no doubt made in response to this suggestion.

Ex Brazer.

E. 5,000-7,500
6,250
Back to Top
2022
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2022, Essays(30c) Jefferson, Black, Vignette Only Large Die Essay on India (228-E2), (30c) Jefferson, Black, Vignette Only Large Die Essay on India (228-E2)(30c) Jefferson, Black, Vignette Only Large Die Essay on India (228-E2). On 72 x 71mm card with full die sinkage, second state of the die with additional shading on hair and with vertical shading on chin, Very Fine and choice, extremely rare, this is the first we have offered since keeping computerized records

750
2,200
Back to Top
2023
E
Sale Number 1201, Lot Number 2023, Essays(90c) Perry, Orange, Vignette Only Die Essay on India (229-E1), (90c) Perry, Orange, Vignette Only Die Essay on India (229-E1)(90c) Perry, Orange, Vignette Only Die Essay on India (229-E1). On 100 x 127mm card with full die sinkage, unusual grid laid out on India, fresh and Very Fine, very rare, we have offered only one other since keeping computerized records and none was offered in the Brazer sale

750
1,900
Back to Top
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