EXTREMELY FINE STAMP AND THE ONLY RECORDED CUT-SQUARE EXAMPLE OF THE RARE PHILADELPHIA DESPATCH POST FIRST ISSUE. A MAJOR LOCAL POST RARITY, FREQUENTLY REFERRED TO AS THE “PEROT PROVISIONAL” OF UNITED STATES PHILATELY, BASED ON ITS SIMILARITY TO THE FAMOUS BERMUDA PROVISIONAL ISSUE.
Our firm published a census of Philadelphia Despatch Post 15L1 and 15L2 covers in Sale 817 (David Golden collection) and an updated/corrected version in Sale 830 (Hall collection). In 2005 a new example of 15L1 on cover came to light. In 2013 Dr. Vernon R. Morris Jr. published an updated and comprehensive photo census in The Penny Post (Vol. 21, Nos. 1 and 2). Using the Morris census, there are 14 recorded Red 15L1 covers, and 6 Black 15L2 covers (including one 15L2 in the Tapling collection at The British Library). These covers account for all 20 known examples of the adhesive in black or red. The stamp on this cover is the only one cut with square margins among all recorded examples -- the others are cut to the shape of the circle.
Regarding this cover, Dr. Morris points out “although a specific street address may not be written, the 1840 McElroy city directory listed Frederick Fritz at 366 North 6th Street, just at the east edge of the Spring Garden District. Since the government post office was involved this cover may been [sic] held at the post office as a drop letter until picked up by Mr. Fritz.” In a state Auditor General's report (Mar. 26, 1841) to the Pennsylvania Senate, Frederick Fritz is identified as a former collector of tolls on the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad, who was arrested in 1839 and charged with failing to account for $46,574.21 in funds. There was also a fire marshal named Frederick Fritz during the same period; perhaps this correspondence was delivered to the wrong Frederick Fritz.
The establishment of the Philadelphia Despatch Post is documented in an advertisement in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, Dec. 8, 1842. A larger Robertson & Co. advertisement contains information that differs from the smaller Public Ledger ad. Notably, the stamps are priced at 3c individually, 31c per dozen and $2 per hundred. Valuable-letter registration for 6-1/4 cents and a 6c rate on letters beyond two miles are quoted (no examples of either service are known). The firm's address is 93 Chesnut Street, not 83 South Second Street as in the earlier advertisement. Published research by Robson Lowe, Edward T. Harvey, Norman Shachat, Steven M. Roth, Calvet M. Hahn and Dr. Morris has explored the vexing questions of ownership and transition from the predecessor posts to the successor, D. O. Blood & Co.
The significance of the Philadelphia Despatch Post and its stamps is summed up in Dr. Morris’ 2013 Penny Post article: “The Philadelphia Despatch Post was the third entity in the world to produce stamps for prepayment of postage, after Great Britain in 1840, and New York in February 1842. To put this into its proper historical perspective, Switzerland was fourth in March 1843, and Brazil fifth in August 1843. Postmaster provisional stamps in the United States began July 1845, United States federal stamps in July 1847. Moreover, for eighteen months the Philadelphia Despatch Post was the only private post in the United States, and the entire world, dedicated solely to city delivery of letters.”
Ex Caspary, Boker and Haub. With 2019 P.F. certificate stating "genuine usage, the cover without side flaps". There is no Scott value quoted for 15L1 with square margins or tied on cover.
VERY FINE. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED COVER WITH THE 10-CENT TYPE III STAMP, THE SETTING FROM WHICH THE SIDE ORNAMENTS HAVE BEEN REMOVED. AN OUTSTANDING CALIFORNIA LOCAL. ONLY ONE OTHER EXAMPLE IS RECORDED (TORN AND OFF COVER).
Our records contain just two examples of 33L7, the Type III setting in Red; the other is off cover (Siegel Sale 825, lot 1688). In the 1917 Worthington sale (lot 643), this cover was described with the stamp "used as seal on original." Prior to the 1957 Caspary sale, the stamp was lifted and moved to its present position, which allows the address side and stamp to be displayed more effectively. The docketing with 1867 date (probably early 1867) indicates a very late use of the California City Letter Express, which ceased to exist at about this time.
Illustrated in Nathan and Letters of Gold. Ex Worthington, Caspary, "Edwards" (Grombacher), Golden and Lyons. With 1999 P.F. certificate. Scott value $19,000.00 for this cover.