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

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

Category — 1869 Pictorial Issue

Cat./Est. Value
Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 520, 1869 Pictorial Issue, 1¢ 1869 Pictorial on a tax notice

1¢ Buff (112), tied by target cancel with "Schenectady N.Y. Feb. 4" (1870) double-circle datestamp on locally addressed printed Internal Revenue tax notice, fresh and Very Fine, an attractive use in beautiful condition

E. 400-500
Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 521, 1869 Pictorial Issue, Choice 2¢ 1869 Pictorial bisect cover

2¢ Brown, Half Used as 1¢ (113c), left half used with whole 2¢, both tied by target cancels--the bisect particularly well-tied, "Grangeville Pa. Sep. 22" double-circle datestamp on small cover to Centralia, Pennsylvania, a few utterly inconsequential small toning spots mentioned for accuracy, slightly reduced at left, fresh and Very Fine, a beautiful example of this scarce use to pay the 3¢ rate, ex Gibson and Ishikawa, with 1954 and 1993 P.F. certificates

E. 750-1,000
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 522, 1869 Pictorial Issue, 2¢ 1869 and 10¢ E Grill on cover to Peru

2¢ Brown (113), horizontal pair, used with pair and single 10¢ Green, E. Grill (89), tied by cork cancels, backstamped at Bath, Maine (April 27), right 10¢ tied by red "New York 12 May 5" (1870) 12¢ credit datestamp on cover to Callao, Peru, Callao receiving backstamp, right 10¢ with couple short perfs and small pre-use paper fold, still fresh and Very Fine, stamped for the 34¢ rate via American and British Packets, but the rate had been reduced to 22¢ in March 1870 (12¢ credit confirms 22¢ rate)

E. 500-750
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 523, 1869 Pictorial Issue, This cover from Nagasaki, Japan, to Shanghai, China, is the earliest recorded example of the 6¢ interconsular rate and one of two such covers bearing the 2¢ 1869 Pictorial Issue

2¢ Brown (113), horizontal pair and single, each with horizontally split grills, on cover originating in Nagasaki, Japan, and addressed in French to Shanghai, China, stamps tied on arrival by quartered cork cancels of Shanghai, docketed with Nagasaki May 12, 1870, origin from Pignatel & Co. (one of the largest of the Western trading firms at the time), sender's manuscript steamer directive "Per Costa Rica"

Fine overall condition; one stamp in pair creased before use, minor separations and wear along folds, two tape stains at sides have been expertly removed, small ink notation at bottom left also expertly removed.

Very few interconsular covers originating in Nagasaki are recorded, and all but one bearing 1869 Pictorial Issue stamps were prepaid 6¢ for the rate from Japan to Shanghai, China. This cover is the earliest recorded example of the reduced 6¢ interconsular rate and one of only two known covers with this rate paid by the 2¢ 1869 Pictorial Issue. It is a wonderful artifact of U.S. postal services between Japan and China.

During this period, consular mails were carried by Pacific Mail Steam Ship Co. branch-line steamers from Shanghai, China, to Yokohama, Japan, with intermediate stops at Nagasaki and Hiogo, Japan (and the reverse). The entire trip took approximately eight days. This cover was carried on a westbound PMSS branch-line steamer that originated in Yokohama and stopped at Nagasaki on its journey to Shanghai. The table of PMSS Co. branch-line trips in the Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book is, by the authors' own admission, based on incomplete records. A sailing of the Costa Rica (or any other branch-line ship) corresponding to the May 12, 1870 Nagasaki docketing is not listed. The likely reason for the stamps being cancelled in Shanghai instead of Nagasaki is the cover was posted too late to be included in the bagged mail from Nagasaki, or was posted directly to the ship purser.

Illustrated in Rose, United States Postage Stamps of 1869 (p. 34) and Frajola-Perlman-Scamp, U.S. Post Offices in China and Japan (p. 188). Ex Ryohei Ishikawa, Jonathan W. Rose and Edgar Kuphal ("European's Large Gold" collection).

E. 5,000-7,500
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 524, 1869 Pictorial Issue, The only recorded cover with 1869 Pictorial and Canadian stamps used together

3¢ Ultramarine (114), horizontal pair, trimmed perfs at left, used with horizontal pair of Canada 1870 3¢ Red, Ottawa Printing, Perf 12 (37), stamps have faults, both pairs tied by circle of wedges cancels and red exchange office circular datestamp ("Apr." clear, but New York or Boston city name is too faint to determine) on small narrow cover to London, England, red "London Paid" receiving datestamp with 1870 year date, opened on three sides, Fine appearance, this is the only recorded cover with the 1869 Pictorial Issue used in conjunction with Canadian stamps--the first 3¢ Small Queen stamps were issued in January 1870 from the Ottawa printing, this April 1870 cover bears a pair from the early printing, there are no Canadian postal markings; therefore, it appears that this cover was first prepaid with Canadian stamps for the 6¢ rate to England, then the U.S. stamps were applied for the corresponding rate to England from a U.S. origin point, the cover was probably carried outside the mails to Boston or New York and mailed from there, ex Stark (Ashbrook files), Ishikawa and Kuphal ("European's Large Gold" collection), illustrated in Ashbrook Special Service, #7, p. 41, photo 29

E. 2,000-3,000
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 525, 1869 Pictorial Issue, Rare combination franking of the 3¢ 1869 Pictorial, 10¢ F Grill and 6p 1870 British stamps

3¢ Ultramarine (114), used with 10¢ Green, F. Grill (96), matching circular cork cancels, "Charleston S.C. Sep. 23" (1869) circular datestamp on yellow cover to Liverpool, England, and forwarded with Great Britain 1869 6p Lilac (51) to Dresden, Germany, red "Paid Liverpool U.S. Packet 6 Oct 69 2B" transit datestamp, 6p tied by Liverpool duplex datestamp and "466" oval (October 6), "Brown, Shipley & Co. Liverpool" double-line oval forwarder's handstamp, London (October 7) backstamp, U.S. stamps tied by blue "Aus England Per Aachen Franco 7/10" (October 7) double-circle transit datestamp, German transit and receiving backstamps, stamps with some slight perf toning, 10¢ with a couple tiny margin flaws, still Very Fine, a beautiful and rare mixed-issue/mixed-country franking cover, from our 1996 Rarities sale, with 1986 P.F. certificate

E. 2,000-3,000
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 526, 1869 Pictorial Issue, An exceptional three-issue combination franking to Paris, France

10¢ Yellow (116), vivid color, used with 5¢ Brown, F. Grill (95) and 2¢ Brown, Bank Note (146), rich colors, each stamp cancelled by small circle of V's, "San Francisco Cal. Jun. 11" (1872) circular datestamp on buff cover to Paris, France, red "New York Paid 12 Jun. 19" 12¢ credit datestamp, red "London Paid" transit datestamp (July 1) and "PD" in oval, Calais arrival datestamp (July 2) also ties 5¢ stamp, Paris receiving backstamp

Very Fine--a colorful and remarkable franking combining the 1868 Grilled, 1869 Pictorial and 1870 Bank Note Issues.

The 17¢ postage on this cover overpays by 1¢ the 16¢ British packet rate for a letter weighing between one-third and one-half ounce (or 10-15 grams). The presence of the word "grille" next to the 5¢ stamp--an obvious philatelic reference in the same ink and hand of the address--leads us to speculate that the sender was an early timbrophile. Recognition of shades and grill varieties was already established at this time, and the use of three different issues may have been deliberate, although each of these stamps was still in general use at the time this was mailed. Whatever motivated this spectacular three-issue franking, it is one of the more beautiful 1869 covers to France.

Ex Emmerson C. Krug, Jonathan W. Rose and Edgar Kuphal ("European's Large Gold" collection). Illustrated in Laurence, United States Ten-Cent 1869 Covers: A Postal Historical Survey (p. 145).

E. 3,000-4,000
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 527, 1869 Pictorial Issue, A rare combination of the 12¢ 1869 Pictorial and 30¢ F Grill on cover to the Philippines, and one of only two with the rare Hong Kong-Singapore Marine Sorter handstamp

12¢ Green (117), rich color, trace of guide arrow at top left, used with 30¢ Orange, F. Grill (100), bright shade, tied by circle of wedges cancels on blue folded letter from Charles F. Wyman in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Manila, Philippines, red "Boston Mass. Aug. 13" (1869) circular datestamp, Robt. B. Storer blue oval forwarder handstamp, sender's directive "Via Marseilles", red crayon "32" credit, red "London Paid" datestamp (August 26) also ties stamps, red "1d" British Colonial credit handstamp, "Hong-Kong Marine Sorter, Singapore to Hong Kong, OC 1/7 69" backstamp, Hong Kong and Manila datestamps also on back, "2" handstamped due marking applied at Manila

Extremely Fine; 12¢ slight bend from file fold, 30¢ single short perf at right.

An attractive combination of the 12¢ 1869 Pictorial issue and 30¢ 1868 F Grill, and extremely rare to the Philippines. This is one of only two recorded 1869 covers to the Philippines with the rare Hong Kong-Singapore Marine Sorter handstamp. One of the most spectacular and colorful 1869 uses extant.

The Peirce correspondence to Manila reached the philatelic community in the early 1980s. Prior to the revelation of this correspondence, Philippines was unknown as a destination with the 1869 Issue. With the dispersal of the so-called "Manila Find" by H. R. Harmer in 1994, the full scope of the Peirce correspondence became known. This cover from the Peirce correspondence is one of three examples of the 42¢ rate prepaid with an 1869 stamp in the franking. This is also one of only two covers in the correspondence with the Hong Kong-Singapore Marine Sorter backstamp (the other ex Coulter).

Ex Edgar Kuphal ("European's Large Gold" collection). With 2000 P.F. certificate.

E. 10,000-15,000
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 528, 1869 Pictorial Issue, Extremely rare 12¢ 1869 Pictorial franking paying the short-lived 36¢ British Mail rate to Singapore via Marseilles

12¢ Green (117), horizontal strip of three, rich color, brownish gum around perf tips, cancelled by quartered cork, "Phillipsburgh Pa. Jun. 18" (1870) circular datestamp on cover to J. F. Bingham aboard the U.S. Flagship Delaware in care of American Consul at Singapore, sender's directive "Via Marseilles", red "New York Paid All Br. Transit Jun. 21" backstamp, matching "32" credit handstamp, red "London Paid" transit datestamp and "1d" British Colonial credit handstamp, Singapore receiving backstamp, neat August 8 receipt docketing

Very Fine and extremely rare 1869 Pictorial Issue franking for the short-lived 36¢ British Mail rate to Singapore via Marseilles.

The 36¢ rate to Singapore by British Mail via Marseilles was in effect only from January through November 1870. This cover and a similar cover from the Bingham correspondence (ex Ishikawa) are the only examples we have encountered (neither listed in the 1869 PRA census).

Ex Edgar Kuphal ("European's Large Gold" collection).

E. 4,000-5,000
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 529, 1869 Pictorial Issue15¢ Type I 1869 Pictorial on cover to Italy with the U.S, 15¢ Type I 1869 Pictorial on cover to Italy with the U.S15¢ Type I 1869 Pictorial on cover to Italy with the U.S. Naval Observatory's datestamp

15¢ Brown & Blue, Type I (118), rich colors, attractive margins and centering, tied by "Washington D.C. Oct. 20" (1869) circular datestamp and by red "New York Paid All Br. Transit Oct. 21" circular datestamp on cover to Padua, Italy, clear strike of "U.S.N. Observatory, Washington Oct. 20, 1869" double-oval datestamp, receiving backstamps, opened a bit roughly at top, Very Fine, the United States Naval Observatory is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the United States, with a current primary mission to produce positioning, navigation and timing for the United States Navy and the United States Department of Defense, the use of this oval datestamp on an 1869 Pictorial Issue cover is most unusual

E. 500-750
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 530, 1869 Pictorial Issue, Rare three-color 1869 Pictorial franking to Switzerland with a fascinating array of markings

15¢ Brown & Blue, Type II (119), deep rich colors and proof-like impression, well-centered, used with 2¢ Brown (113) and 3¢ Ultramarine (114), cancelled by matching circular cork cancels, "Phillipsburg (N.J.?) Apr. 20" (1870) duplex datestamp on buff cover to Burgdorf, Switzerland, "New York Br. Transit Apr. 21" circular datestamp, "INSUFFICIENTLY PAID" straightline handstamp, blue crayon "2" indicates double rate, matching "50" next to stamps indicates 50 centimes (10¢) deficiency, "VIA OSTENDE" straightline handstamp, red "70" centimes crayon due, Basel and Burgdorf backstamps, Extremely Fine and colorful, from April 1868 through April 30, 1870, the rate to Switzerland via British Closed Mail was 15¢; effective May 1, 1870, eleven days after this was mailed, the rate was lowered to 10¢; there was also a 20¢ rate via NGU Closed Mail which ended two years earlier in April 1868; the sender affixed 20¢ postage on this cover, either for the old NGU rate or for a double-rate letter at the soon-to-be-implemented 10¢ British Closed Mail rate, the deficiency as a double 15¢ rate letter was detected at the New York exchange office and the blue "50" marking next to the 2¢ stamp indicates the 50 centimes underpayment (U.S. 10¢), a 20 centimes penalty was added to the deficiency and rated 70 centimes due in Switzerland, ex Kuphal ("European's Large Gold" collection)

E. 1,000-1,500
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 531, 1869 Pictorial Issue, A rare and colorful 1869 Pictorial Issue four-stamp combination on a cover to India

15¢ Brown & Blue, Type II (119), dramatic misalignment of vignette and frame, used with 1¢ Buff (112), 6¢ Ultramarine (115) and 10¢ Yellow (116) on folded cover to Calcutta, India, Wattenbach, Heilgers & Co. correspondence (see also lot 532), 10¢ and 15¢ tied by segmented cork cancels, 1¢ tied by red "26" credit handstamp, 6¢ uncancelled, red "New York Paid All Br. Transit Mar. 19" (1870) backstamp, red "London Paid" transit datestamp (March 30) and "1d" British Colonial credit handstamp, sender's blue oval datestamp at lower left, "Sea Post Office" oval and red Calcutta receiving backstamps

One or two stamps originally cancelled at upper right have fallen off and some rejoined splits along interior folds, but overall impressive and Fine--a colorful and extraordinary 1869 Pictorial combination cover to India, and one of only three uses of the 15¢ to India.

This cover is illustrated in the 1869 PRA census book (p. 162) with a 3¢ 1869 affixed at upper right which has an entirely different cancel and obviously never belonged (the stamp has since been removed). However, there was at one time a stamp or stamps in the same position. We surmise that the missing stamps were likely a pair of 2¢ or 3¢ 1869s, cancelled by the same segmented grid that extends onto the top right of the 10¢ and cover. The original franking could have been intended for the 30¢ rate for British Mail via Marseilles (with corresponding 26¢ credit) or 32¢ rate by North German Union Closed Mail. The 6¢ at lower right is uncancelled and, if part of the sender's original franking, was superfluous. We are convinced that it belongs to the cover, because affixing an original-gum, well-centered 6¢ 1869 to a cover is not characteristic of the usual "enhancements." A plausible explanation is that two stamps fell off in handling, after cancellation, but before the exchange office clerk rated the letter. Observing that the stamps had fallen off, a postal employee (possibly the foreign exchange clerk) applied the replacement stamp (6¢ being convenient) and from that point it was marked with the "26" credit for British Mail via Marseilles. We recognize that this involves speculation that the post office was unusually accommodating, but a reevaluation of the cover in its present form is a significant step towards understanding this remarkable item.

Ex Edgar Kuphal ("European's Large Gold" collection).

E. 1,000-1,500
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 532, 1869 Pictorial Issue, One of only three recorded uses of the 15¢ 1869 Pictorial Issue on cover to India

15¢ Brown & Blue, Type II (119), two, used with 2¢ Brown (113) and tied by segmented cork cancels, red "New York Paid All Br. Transit Feb. 26" (1870) circular datestamp on folded cover to Calcutta, India, Wattenbach, Heilgers & Co. correspondence (see also lot 531), sender's directive "Via England", red "26" credit handstamp, red "London Paid" transit datestamp (March 9), Sea Post Office (March 25) and receiving (April 6) backstamps

Very Fine; 2¢ tiny tear at top.

A beautiful cover and one of only three recorded uses of the 15¢ 1869 Pictorial Issue on cover to India.

The rate to India by British Mail was either 22¢ via Southampton or 30¢ via Marseilles. The cover offered here is franked with 32¢ postage, which corresponds to the rate by North German Union Closed Mail. In the actual event, this cover was sent by British Mail via Marseilles; the 32¢ prepayment might have been deliberate, to ensure that it went by the most expeditious route.

Ex Steven C. Walske ("Lafayette" collection). With 2003 P.F. certificate.

E. 5,000-7,500
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Sale Number 1211, Lot Number 533, 1869 Pictorial Issue, An outstanding 1869 Pictorial Issue triple "Phantom Rate" cover to France

15¢ Brown & Blue, Type II (119), used with single and pair of 10¢ Yellow (116), tied by quartered cork cancels, "Pittsburgh Pa. Jun. 15" (1870) circular datestamp on cover with Fleming Brothers corner card and printed address to Paris, France, red "New York Paid All Br. Transit Jun. 16" backstamps, red "PD" oval and "London Paid" transit datestamp (June 27), "Angl. Amb. Calais 28 Juin 70" arrival datestamp, lightened but still fully readable red crayon "48/3" credit and indication of triple rate, lightened receipt docketing

Very Fine; 10¢ at right creased and trivial small tear at top of cover above corner card.

The markings on this cover correspond to the so-called Phantom Rate, which provided for prepayment to France via Great Britain during the period when the postal treaty between the United States and France lapsed without a new agreement. The rate was never announced, but was listed in the international rate tables under Algeria, which was considered a part of France--thus, the moniker "Phantom."

The original 12¢ Phantom Rate was formulated from the 4¢ U.S.-G.B. Open Mail and the 8¢ (4 pence) G.B.-France rates added together. However, the U.S.-G.B. rate was based on half-ounce (15 grams) weight increments, while the G.B.-France rate was based on quarter-ounce (7.5 grams) increments. Because Great Britain was entitled to receive prepayment of the full postage incurred in transmitting the letter to France, it received an 8¢ credit for every quarter-ounce (7.5 grams). On the other hand, the U.S. collected its 4¢ postage for each half-ounce increment. Therefore, the basic single rate for a letter weighing up to a quarter-ounce was 12¢ (4¢ U.S. and 8¢ G.B.) until July 1, 1870, when the Phantom Rate was reduced to 10¢, in accordance with the new Anglo-French convention, which reduced the rate between Great Britain and France to the equivalent of 6¢.

The 12¢ Phantom Rate progression is shown at bottom

On this cover the red crayon "48" indicates Great Britain's share of the postage, and the "3" is the U.S. indication that three rates were required (one for each half-ounce increment). Obviously, the letter was underpaid 15¢, because the correct Phantom Rate postage for a 1.25 to 1.50 ounce letter is 60¢, and the franking only adds up to 45¢.

True to its name, the Phantom Rate was generally unknown to the public. It is believed that not a single correctly-prepaid 12¢ Phantom Rate cover has been located (they are usually 15¢ frankings). The sender of this probably knew that the weight required three rates, and the 45¢ franking was intended to prepay triple the obsolete 15¢ treaty rate. At the New York exchange office, the letter was sent via England and a proper credit of 48¢ (6 x 8¢ per quarter-ounce) was given to the British post office. There is no evidence of a missing stamp, so one can only speculate why the New York exchange office would feel so charitable. Perhaps this cover was part of a larger group from the same addressee, including overpayments and underpayments, and the exchange clerk simply looked at the whole group and determined that enough total postage had been prepaid. Whatever the reason, it was allowed to go as fully prepaid.

This is a fascinating cover from one of the most challenging periods of United States postal history--challenging both to the public and postal employees at the time and to students and collectors today.

Ex Edgar Kuphal ("European's Large Gold" collection).

The 12¢ Phantom Rate progression is as follows:
0.01-0.25 oz12¢ (4¢ US, 8¢ GB)
0.25-0.50 oz20¢ (4¢ US, 16¢ GB)
0.50-0.75 oz32¢ (8¢ US, 24¢ GB)
0.75-1.00 oz40¢ (8¢ US, 32¢ GB)
1.00-1.25 oz52¢ (12¢ US, 40¢ GB)
1.25-1.50 oz60¢ (12¢ US, 48¢ GB)

E. 5,000-7,500
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