VERY FINE. THE FAMOUS AND UNIQUE POSTMASTER'S PROVISIONAL OF MOUNT LEBANON, LOUISIANA. THIS REMARKABLE STAMP IS A MIRROR IMAGE OF THE INTENDED DESIGN, WHICH WAS CREATED BY HAMMERING PRINTER'S TYPE INTO A WOOD BLOCK. THE MOUNT LEBANON HAS BEEN DISPLAYED AMONG THE "ARISTOCRATS OF PHILATELY" AT INTERPHIL '76, AMERIPEX '86, ANPHILEX '96 AND STAMP SHOW-NY 2016. IT IS WIDELY REGARDED AS THE MOST VALUABLE STAMP IN CONFEDERATE PHILATELY.
Mount Lebanon was settled in 1847 by immigrants from South Carolina. The village is located in Bienville Parish, which was established in 1848 and named for Jean Baptiste Sieur de Bienville, colonizer of Louisiana and founder of the city of New Orleans. It lies in northern Louisiana, approximately 400 miles distance from New Orleans. Mount Lebanon was the site of the first Baptist church in North Louisiana, and the Baptist Convention founded Mount Lebanon University in 1855. During the Civil War, the school was closed and turned into a hospital -- it moved to Pineville after the war and was re-named Louisiana College.
According to an account by L. B. Dabney, published in the Southern Philatelist (May 1929) and reprinted in the Crown book (p. 238), the Mount Lebanon postmaster during the war (1859-1865) was W. F. Wells, who was publisher of the Louisiana Baptist newspaper. According to citizens of Mount Lebanon who were interviewed by Dabney for his 1929 article, the provisional stamps were printed by Wells and used briefly in June 1861. Mount Lebanon had a wartime population of less than 1,000, and it is unlikely that the stamp saw widespread use.
Apart from its extreme rarity, the Mount Lebanon provisional stamp is believed to be the sole example of a mirror-image stamp in all of philately. The stamp was printed from a piece of wood with a relatively smooth surface. Lines were incised into the wood and strips were removed to create the borders surrounding each stamp. Horizontal and vertical ruled lines were added within the borders of each subject, and a circle was cut into the center. At this point the "engraver" took printer's type and hammered the letters spelling "Mt. Lebanon La." around the circle, and the numeral "5" was impressed into the center. The enlarged photo shown here in upright position clearly shows the effect of this process -- the printed stamp is a mirror image of the right-reading wood engraving. As anyone familiar with printing knows, the plate used to print an image must mirror the intended design. This principle of typography was missed or ignored by the creator of the Mount Lebanon provisional.
The single known example shows parts of three adjoining subjects at left, at the extreme bottom-left corner, and at bottom. There is additional printing to the right of the primary impression, which we think is a second impression. Judging from the size, shape and line breaks of this second impression, this might be the bottom of the woodblock, turned 90 degrees. Such work-and-turn printing is found on other provisionals (Memphis 5c, for example). All of this is purely hypothetical, and we encourage others to develop a better explanation.
The Mount Lebanon cover was part of the Ferrary collection sold at auction in Paris in 1925-1927. It next appeared in the Alfred H. Caspary sale held by H. R. Harmer in 1956, where A. Earl Weatherly acquired it for his collection. At the invitation of Weatherly in 1963, Charles and Lucy Kilbourne acquired a number of important provisional rarities by private sale, including the Mount Lebanon. Most of the Kilbourne Confederate Postmasters' Provisionals collection was sold by Siegel in 1999 (Sale 815, the Mount Lebanon was lot 93 and appeared on the front cover). The successful bidder in the Kilbourne sale was William H. Gross, who paid $385,000 -- a world record price for any Confederate philatelic item. The Gross Confederate collection was sold by Charles F. Shreve in 2009 (Spink-Shreves sale, Nov. 19, 2009, the Mount Lebanon was lot 31 and appeared on the front cover). At the Gross sale the successful bidder was the Hon. J. William Middendorf II. It has been shown in the Aristocrats of Philately display, alongside major philatelic rarities of the world, at Interphil 1976, Ameripex 1986, Anphilex 1996 and World Stamp Show-NY 2016.
Ex Ferrary, Caspary, Weatherly, Kilbourne and Gross.
THE FINER OF ONLY TWO RECORDED TETE-BECHE BLOCKS OF 12 OF THE NASHVILLE 5-CENT VIOLET BROWN PROVISIONAL. A SPECTACULAR CONFEDERATE STATES RARITY AND THE LARGEST KNOWN MULTIPLE OF ANY NASHVILLE PROVISIONAL.
Peter Powell's study of the 5c Nashville (“Plating the Nashville Provisional”, Confederate Philatelist, January-March 2008) sought to correct the long-held belief that the Nashville Provisionals were printed from plates of ten. Powell concluded that stereotype groups of six units, three wide by two tall, were used to build up the Nashville printing plates. Based on plate flaws unique to specific positions, Powell also concluded that the plate size was no less than 18 subjects, made from at least three six-unit stereotype groups, and that more than one plate was made. The tete-beche arrangement in printed sheets occurred when one impression of six was made, then the sheet was turned 180 degrees ("work and turn"), and a second impression was made.
This block of twelve of the Nashville 5c Violet Brown Provisional, which is the finer of only two recorded, contains two stereotype groups of six printed foot-to-foot, yielding three tete-beche pairs. The legendary Caspary collection contained both of the recorded blocks of twelve (lots 313-314). The other block is described as being defective and with a corner repair.
Ex Caspary, Boker and Haub. With 2016 P.F. certificate. Scott value as three tete-beche pairs and six singles
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED 10-CENT NASHVILLE PROVISIONAL CANCELLED BY THE "SOUTHERN EXPRESS CO. NASHVILLE" OVAL DATESTAMP. A GREAT RARITY.
Only approximately 25 are known with any cancel, most of which are faulty. While the strike of the handstamp is fairly light, the letters "SOUT" are clearly visible below the rim of the cancel. The recently discovered 5c Carmine (61X2) on cover with "The Southern Express Co. Nashville" oval, which was sold in 2010 by Schuyler Rumsey Auctions, is proof that this marking existed and was used on Nashville adhesive provisionals.
Ex Dr. Graves ("Argentum"). With 2004 P.F. certificate declining opinion on the cancellation (issued prior to the discovery of the full cancel on the 61X2 cover). With 2010 C.S.A. certificate confirming the Southern Express Co. marking. Scott value with no premium for the cancel
FINE APPEARING EXAMPLE OF THE 10-CENT NASHVILLE PROVISIONAL WITH AN EXPRESS COMPANY CANCEL.
Only approximately 25 are known with any cancel, most of which are faulty. This stamp paid the Confederate postage on a cover carried across the lines by Adams Express Company. Only three full express covers are recorded with the Nashville 10c adhesive provisional, all dated at Nashville on August 1.
Ex Wishnietsky. Scott value as the most typical cancel
FINE. A RARE SOUND AND LIGHTLY CANCELLED EXAMPLE OF THE 10-CENT NASHVILLE PROVISIONAL.
Only approximately 25 examples of the 10c Nashville are known, most of which are faulty. This sound example is very much the exception to that rule.
Ex Fekete. With 1986 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF ONLY TWO EXAMPLES OF THE 2-CENT BLUE NEW ORLEANS PROVISIONAL WITH BOTTOM IMPRINT AND THE ONLY PAIR.
This and an unused single are the only two recorded examples of the 2c Blue with bottom imprint.
Ex Caspary, Dr. Skinner, "D.K." collection, Pegram and Felton. With 2001 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF A NEW ORLEANS PROVISIONAL WITH THE BRITISH PAPERMAKER'S EMBOSSED SEAL.
Ex Knapp, Brown, "D.K." collection and Pegram
EXTREMELY FINE APPEARANCE. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF "THE SOUTH" MEDALLION PATRIOTIC DESIGN -- USED WITH A PAIR OF NEW ORLEANS POSTMASTER'S PROVISIONALS, IT IS A TRULY REMARKABLE COVER.
Ex Richey, Grant, Dukeshire, Everett and Kilbourne. Illustrated in Wishnietsky book on p. 118. With 1990 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. A RARE AND OUTSTANDING COMBINATION OF THE EMPIRE PARISH MISSISSIPPI RIVER PACKET BOAT HANDSTAMP AND THE NEW ORLEANS PROVISIONAL HANDSTAMP.
This cover was posted on the Steamer Empire Parish with a U.S. half-dime attached with a red wax seal. The boat captain or purser removed the coin and struck the "STEAMER EMPIRE PARISH" oval and wrote "5 cts. paid" over the spot where the coin had been attached. On arrival at New Orleans it was handstamped with the "PD 5 CTS/N.O.P.O." marking over the same spot.
Accompanied by 1860 half-dime to represent what may have been included with the cover to pay postage in New Orleans. Ex Dr. Brandon. With 2014 P.F. certificate