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

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

Category — Western Mails, including the Pony Express

Cat./Est. Value
Sale 1211, Lot 334, Western Mails, including the Pony ExpressAn exceptional "Via Nicaragua Ahead of the Mails" cover to a foreign destination, franked with the 3¢ and 12¢ 1851 Issue

12¢ Black (17), three full margins to touched at right, used with 3¢ Dull Red, Type II (11A), tied together by three strikes of "20" debit handstamp with additional strike at top right on folded printed market report to London, England, with brief letter in German dated September 15, 1853, sender's routing "pr. Cortes Via Nicaragua" and fully struck red "VIA NICARAGUA/AHEAD OF THE MAILS" in truncated frame handstamp--carried from New York to England on Ocean Line Washington, departing October 8, 1853, and arriving Southampton October 21--red receiving backstamp (October 23, 1853), British manuscript due rate either crossed out or changed (also ties 3¢ stamp)

Very Fine; vertical file fold with slight toning causes light margin crease in 3¢ stamp, minor wear which is not very evident on the front--these negligible flaws are not noted on certificate.

A remarkable use. This is one of a very few known "Via Nicaragua" covers to an overseas destination and an extremely rare combination of stamps, which underpaid the prevailing rate to England.

Upon arrival in New York, the "20" debit handstamp was used to cancel the stamps. According to regulations, the 15¢ partial prepayment had to be ignored entirely, with the full postage due from the addressee. Perhaps the sender (a German merchant) misinterpreted the August 1853 rate of 15¢ to certain German States as applicable to British mail, or perhaps this letter was mixed in with a group to Germany and mis-stamped. Whatever the sender's intention with the franking, this is an extraordinary cover.

Ex Joseph Hackmey. With 2007 P.F. certificate

E. 4,000-5,000
Sale 1211, Lot 335, Western Mails, including the Pony Express3¢ 1851 Issue diagonal bisect used on a "Via Nicaragua Ahead of the Mails" cover front

3¢ Dull Red, Type I, Diagonal Half Used as 1¢ (11d), Bottom right diagonal half, tied across the cut by bold strike of New York City grid cancel on blue folded cover front with expertly added flaps addressed to New York, route directive "Via Nicaragua" in same hand as address, blue crayon "Circular San Frco May 31/53" at bottom in a different hand, sender's route directive "via Nicaragua" and clear strike of blue "VIA NICARAGUA/AHEAD OF THE MAILS" two-line italicized handstamp, the expert restoration is not noted on accompanying certificate, Very Fine appearance and a rare bisected use of the 3¢ 1851 paying the 1¢ circular rate with the "VIA NICARAGUA/AHEAD OF THE MAILS" blue italicized handstamp, this is one of two such uses recorded, ex Dr. Chase, Brown and Hackmey, with clear 2007 P.F. certificate

E. 1,500-2,000
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Sale 1211, Lot 336, Western Mails, including the Pony Express12¢ 1851 bisect with "Via Nicaragua Ahead of the Mails" marking--a rare and beautiful cover

12¢ Black, Diagonal Half Used as 6¢ (17a), Bottom left diagonal half, margins to just in at top left where slightly irregular, intense shade, tied across the cut by "New-York Ship 7cts Sep. 25" (1853) circular datestamp with integral due rate on buff cover to a cadet at West Point in New York, bold strike of red "VIA NICARAGUA/AHEAD OF THE MAILS" in truncated frame handstamp, pencil manuscript at top indicates letter was dated in September 1853 (letter no longer accompanies), stamp with light horizontal crease, otherwise Very Fine, a stunning bisected use of the 12¢ 1851 Issue with a remarkably clear "Via Nicaragua" marking, according to research by James Allen, the 1st Assistant PMG's first official notice to postmasters that bisected stamps were invalid was published on September 12, 1853 (Chronicle 239), this cover was received in New York 13 days after the announcement and the bisect was therefore not accepted as prepayment and was struck with the "New York Ship" 7¢ due datestamp

E. 3,000-4,000
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Sale 1211, Lot 337, Western Mails, including the Pony Express1855 10¢ Imperforate Types II and IV on a "Noisy Carriers" cover to Maine

10¢ Green, Type IV (16), Position 74L1, recut at top, full margins to well clear at left, double-rate usage with 10¢ Green, Type III (15) at left, three large margins, cut in at left, tied by two strikes of "San Francisco Cal. 16 Jul." circular datestamp on buff cover to Brunswick Maine, beautiful bold strike of green "From Noisy Carriers. Mail. 77 Long Wharf S.F. Cal." in ornamental framed handstamp, small piece of backflap missing and minor wrinkles, still Very Fine, a magnificent strike of the scarce Noisy Carriers handstamp in green and a very rare use with the 1855 10¢ Type IV, one of only two examples of the recut 10¢ 1855 on a cover with the Noisy Carriers handstamp in our Levi records, Noisy Carriers Publishing Hall was operated by Charles P. Kimball, one of its services was the delivery of letter bags to steamers departing for Nicaragua or Panama, the markings were applied to indicate (or advertise) the source of the mail, ex Jessup, Pearce, Grunin and Hackmey, with 2005 P.F. certificate

E. 2,000-3,000
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Sale 1211, Lot 338, Western Mails, including the Pony ExpressPerfect strike of San Francisco merchant's illustrated oval on a 10¢ Nesbitt entire

10¢ Green on Buff Nesbitt entire (U16), cancelled by partly clear strike of "San Francisco Cal 5 Jan." (1857) circular datestamp and addressed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, beautiful bold strike of "R. E. Raimond, General Shipping and Commission Merchant. 105 Front St. Near Washington, San Francisco" oval handstamp, depicting a small full-rigged ship in center, manuscript docketing confirms origin date and January 31, 1857 receipt, Extremely Fine, ex Knapp and Barkhausen

E. 400-500
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Sale 1211, Lot 339, Western Mails, including the Pony Express"Long Tom" Noisy Carriers illustrated mining scene on a cover from California to Maine

"Michigan Bluff Cal. Apr. 2", beautifully bold strike of circular datestamp with "Paid" in circle and manuscript "10" rate on buff cover to Camden, Maine, with "Long Tom Noisy Carriers 77 Long Wharf, San Francisco" illustrated mining scene, very minor wrinkling, Very Fine example of this rare illustrated design, according to Ken Kutz in Gold Fever, "The early miners formed syndicates and worked as a group using 'Long Toms' to extract the gold. In essence it was an elongated sluice box with riffles or sacking in the bottom to catch the gold. A continuous current of water washed the gravel through the Long Tom, leaving the contained gold behind," only a half-dozen examples of this design are reported by Kutz (with and without Noisy Carrier imprint), ex Haas, with 1988 P.F. certificate

E. 1,000-1,500
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Sale 1211, Lot 340, Western Mails, including the Pony ExpressA beautiful hand-colored illustrated stagecoach design sent free from California

"San Luis Obispo Cal. Apr. 4", neat strike of circular datestamp with double-struck "FREE" in oval handstamp on cover from the postmaster of San Luis Obispo to the third assistant postmaster general in Washington D.C., with "Overland--via--Los Angeles" hand-colored illustrated four-horse stagecoach design, second part of imprint crossed out, Extremely Fine and fresh cover, a beautiful western overland mail use, illustrated in Ashbrook 1¢ 1851-57 book, Vol. 2 (p. 280), with 1994 P.F. certificate

E. 1,000-1,500
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Sale 1211, Lot 341, Western Mails, including the Pony ExpressWoodcut four-horse overland mail stagecoach illustrated design bearing the 10¢ 1859 Issue

10¢ Green, Type V (35), rich color, centered to bottom right, tied by blurry strike of "Jacksonville Cal." circular datestamp with unclear date on buff cover to Lowell, Massachusetts, with large "Overland" illustrated four-horse stagecoach design, Boyd imprint, a wonderful design with banners including the names of San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis and New York, Very Fine, a rare and attractive example of this stagecoach design, ex West and Dr. Polland, with 1992 P.F. certificate

E. 2,000-3,000
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Sale 1211, Lot 342, Western Mails, including the Pony Express"Via Panama" illustrated steamship design on a cover from Timbuctoo, California

10¢ Green, Type V (35), three wide margins, cancelled by segmented grid, "Timbuctoo Cal. Jul. 30" circular datestamp on cover to Almont, Michigan, with "Via Panama" illustrated sidewheel steamship design, Randal & Co. of Marysville imprint, barely reduced at left, couple tiny trivial edge tears, Very Fine, a beautiful and rare woodcut "Via Panama" design, ex Dr. Polland, with 1995 P.F. certificate

E. 2,000-3,000
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Sale 1211, Lot 343, Western Mails, including the Pony Express1¢ and 3¢ 1851 Issue on Wells Fargo & Co. Express cover to Cincinnati via New York

1¢ Blue, Type IV (9), recut once at top and twice at bottom, huge margins to in, used with vertical pair of 3¢ Dull Red, Type I (11), large margins to barely in at lower left, on 3¢ Red on Buff Nesbitt entire (U10) with Wells Fargo & Co. printed frank, addressed to Cincinnati, red "Wells, Fargo & Co. Express, Sacramento" oval handstamp applied to entire before stamps were affixed, also with blue "State [?], Paid, Office" oval handstamp at lower left, entered mails in New York City with stamps tied by "N. York Steamship" dateless circle handstamps

Fine appearance; stamps lifted and hinged in place to reveal the express markings, cover has been cleaned and edges improved, tiny tear at top right corner.

This is an extremely rare use of 1851 Issue stamps on a Wells Fargo & Company entire from Sacramento to Cincinnati, which was carried outside the government mails until it reached New York City. It is illustrated in Ashbrook, The United One Cent Stamp of 1851-1857, Volume 2 (p. 267), where he notes "this cover shows a California origin but no California postmark, showing it was carried outside of the mails to New York where it was marked with the 'N. York Steamship.' This cover may have gone by an independent line via Panama but it is more than probable it was the Nicaragua route."

Ex Dr. Scott Polland, George J. Kramer and Joseph Hackmey.

E. 2,000-3,000
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Sale 1211, Lot 344, Western Mails, including the Pony ExpressClear strike of the San Francisco Running Pony handstamp on eastbound Pony Express cover with 1859 10¢ Type V--a beautiful adhesive-stamped cover

10¢ Green, Type V (35), rich color, centered to bottom, tied by blue grid cancel, matching "Saint Joseph Mo. Dec. 12" (1860) double-circle datestamp on November 26, 1860, blue folded letter (in German) to New York City, blue "Pony Express San Francisco Nov. 28" Running Pony oval handstamp struck at left, second part strike at right also ties stamp, black "The Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Company, St. Joseph, Mo. Dec. 11" oval datestamp

Very Fine. A beautiful cover with clear strikes of each marking. This is one of the finest Pony Express covers with a 10¢ 1857 stamp.

This cover was carried on the Pony trip departing San Francisco on Saturday, November 28, 1860, and arriving at St. Joseph 13 days later on December 11. The Pony Express rate at this time was $2.50 per quarter ounce, which was paid in cash. The 10¢ stamp paid the transcontinental U.S. postage.

Ex Edward S. Knapp, Louis Grunin and "Sevenoaks." Frajola-Kramer-Walske census E23. Illustrated in Letters of Gold (p. 256). With 1988 P.F. certificate.

E. 15,000-20,000
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Sale 1211, Lot 345, Western Mails, including the Pony ExpressA colorful and desirable Pony Express $1.00 Horse & Rider cover

Wells Fargo & Co. Pony Express, $1.00 Red (143L3), Position R14, large margins to in at upper left, tied by "Pony Express San Francisco Jul. 31" (1861) Running Pony oval datestamp on 10¢ Green on White Star Die entire (U32) with Wells Fargo & Co. red printed frank, addressed to A. W. Canfield in New York City, grid cancel applied by New York post office

Very Fine. A beautiful Pony Express cover with the $1.00 Red stamp issued by Wells Fargo & Co. for the official government contract period, beginning on July 1, 1861.

Commencing July 1, 1861, the Pony Express was authorized by Congress to carry mail at the rate of $1.00 per half ounce. An additional fee was charged by Wells Fargo & Co. to carry mail from San Francisco to the western terminus at Placerville, which is represented by the printed frank on this entire. The contract also stipulated the mandatory U.S. postage charge of 10¢ per half ounce. This cover beautifully combines all three postage elements and was carried on the eastbound Pony trip departing San Francisco on Wednesday, July 31, 1861, and arriving at St. Joseph on August 12. Thousands of miles away, the first major land battle of the Civil War had occurred in Virginia ten days before this Pony Express departure from San Francisco.

Although the Scott Catalogue lists the July 1861 issue Pony Express stamps (143L3-143L6) with other private post issues, we wish to emphasize that these stamps were issued under the terms of a government mail contract; therefore, they have semi-official status.

Frajola-Kramer-Walske census E128.

E. 7,500-10,000
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Sale 1211, Lot 346, Western Mails, including the Pony ExpressOne of two recorded strips of three of the 25¢ Blue Virginia City Pony Express stamp on cover--an impressive 1861 Issue and Pony Express combination franking

Wells Fargo & Co., Virginia City Pony Express, 25¢ Blue (143L8), vertical strip of three, margins mostly full to just slightly into frameline, used with three 3¢ Rose (65) and tied by two strikes of blue "Wells, Fargo & Co Virginia City N.T. Feb. 15" (1863) oval datestamp on buff legal-size paste-up cover to San Francisco, addressed to Wm. E. Wood, in care of Stanford Brothers, additional clear strike of datestamp with matching "PAID" in double-line oval handstamp, docketing at left indicates the heavy contents related to bids for a tunnel contract

Fine appearance; strip has small tear and toning at top, 3¢ stamps have small faults, cover edgewear and tears.

This is one of only two recorded strips of three of the 25¢ Blue Virginia City Pony Express stamp on cover. It is a remarkable artifact of Western Express postal history.

We record only four covers bearing multiples of the Wells Fargo & Co. 25¢ Blue, as follows:

1 Strip of 5 plus one, February 25, 1863, "Edwards" (Grombacher) Collection, Christie's sale, 10/29/1991

2 Strip of 3, February 20, 1863, ex Mitchell (Sale 859, lot 199)

3 Strip of 3, February 15, 1863, the cover offered here

4 Pair, February 19, 1863, ex Kramer

E. 10,000-15,000
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Sale 1211, Lot 347, Western Mails, including the Pony Express25¢ Red Virginia City Pony Express stamp on cover from the Crittenden correspondence

Wells Fargo & Co., Virginia City Pony Express, 25¢ Red (143L9), huge margins to touching frameline at bottom left, sheet margin at right, bright color, tied by partly clear strike of blue "Wells, Fargo & Co. Virginia City. N.T. Jan. 20" (1865) oval datestamp on 3¢ Pink on Buff entire (U35) with Wells Fargo & Co. printed frank, to Clara C. Crittenden in San Francisco, original letter enclosure datelined January 20, 1865

Very Fine. A choice example of the 25¢ Red Virginia City Pony Express stamp on cover, from the famous Crittenden correspondence.

This cover was sent to Clara C. Crittenden by her husband, Alexander Parker Crittenden, a prominent West Coast attorney, while he was residing in Virginia City. The move to Nevada became necessary after California passed a law prohibiting the practice of law by anyone who would not take the loyalty oath. "Parker" Crittenden was a pro-Southerner who chose to relocate to Virginia City, rather than swear allegiance to the federal government. His wife stayed in San Francisco for some time, and the two corresponded frequently while he was away. A few years later he was shot dead by his mistress in front of his wife and son.

With 1981 P.F. certificate.

E. 4,000-5,000
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