Sale 1216 — The Ambassador J. William Middendorf II Collection
Sale Date — Tuesday, 25 February, 2020
Category — 1860-61 Transcontinental Pony Express, cont.
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF FIVE RECORDED USED EXAMPLES OF THE $4.00 BLACK PONY EXPRESS STAMP. THIS IS THE RAREST PONY EXPRESS STAMP IN GENUINELY USED CONDITION.
Only two covers with the $4.00 Black (Second Issue) are recorded, including one offered in our recent sale of the George J. Kramer collection (Sale 1207, lot 23). This is one of only five off-cover used examples recorded.
Ex Caspary, “Golden Oak” and “New Helvetia”. With 2005 P.F. certificate.
A VERY FINE AND UNIQUE ENSEMBLE OF BLOCKS FROM THE WELLS FARGO & CO. $1.00 GARTER PROOF SHEET WITH THE “SAMPLE OVERPRINT.
The iconic Horse & Rider stamps were never used on westbound Pony Express mail. In Rate Period 3, Wells Fargo & Co. introduced a special franked envelope for westbound mail, but its use was extremely limited. On July 1, 1861, the new contract rate went into effect. On August 12, 1861, Wells Fargo & Co. announced in the New York papers that “Pony Express Envelopes” were “Now ready and for sale at our office.” Although this announcement refers only to “envelopes,” in fact both the franked entires and $1 Garter adhesive stamps were put on sale in August 1861.
The small belt-shaped Garter stamp looks nothing like the Horse & Rider issues and omits the words “Pony Express.” The Garter was printed from a lithographic stone of 20 subjects, arranged 5 across and 4 high, based on the known corner margin strip of three and the three blocks printed on card with the word “Sample” written across them. The contiguous blocks offered here represent two of the three recorded plate proof blocks. A digital reconstruction of the sheet layout is shown below.
Left block ex Schwartz and Kuphal. Right block ex Golden and with 1983 P.F. certificate. Both blocks together ex Twigg-Smith.
EXTREMELY FINE APPEARANCE. A BEAUTIFUL AND RARE USED EXAMPLE OF THE PONY EXPRESS GARTER STAMP. PROBABLY THE FINEST KNOWN OFF-COVER USED GARTER STAMP.
Any example of the $1.00 Garter stamp is rare, either unused or used. In comparing the used examples (without a red line across the face, which are listed as a footnote in Scott), our records do not contain a single sound example. This stamp, with large margins, a neat pen cancel and non-obvious faults, is easily one of, if not the finest, off-cover used example extant.
Ex Hall, Twigg-Smith and “Golden Oak”. With 2009 P.F. certificate.
EXTREMELY FINE APPEARANCE. AN OUTSTANDING USED EXAMPLE OF THE PONY EXPRESS GARTER STAMP WITH A BOLD NEW YORK CIRCULAR DATESTAMP CANCEL.
Any example of the $1.00 Garter stamp is rare, either unused or used. In comparing the used examples (without a red line across the face, which are listed as a footnote in Scott), our records do not contain a single sound example. This is the only stamp we have offered with a clear New York circular datestamp cancel.
Ex Knapp. With 2003 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF THE LAST FRANKED PONY EXPRESS ENVELOPES SENT TO ST. JOSEPH, MISSOURI, BUT RECEIVED AFTER THE TERMINATION OF PONY EXPRESS SERVICE. A FASCINATING “QUASI-PONY” COVER THAT WAS CARRIED BY STAGECOACH.
The chart in our Stockholmia pamphlet on the Pony Express (available as a PDF on our website) contains information about the advancement of the eastern and western telegraph terminals. On August 6, 1861, the San Francisco Bulletin printed over its dispatches, “By telegraph to Fort Kearney from St. Louis, thence by Pony Express to Robert’s Creek Station, thence by telegraph to San Francisco.” In the August 13, 1861, edition, the same paper reported that the Pony Express rider was leaving his dispatches for the Bulletin and other Pacific Coast newspapers at Dry Creek station. By the beginning of September, hundreds of miles were cut from the distance between telegraph terminals on the Pony route. The eastern section of the telegraph was completed on October 17, 1861, and just one week later the final connection was made on October 24.
As soon as messages could be sent by wire, the need for the Pony Express was eliminated, and the Overland Mail Company was contractually free to discontinue the money-losing service. The last trip from San Francisco left on October 23. On October 25 the Wells Fargo & Co. office in San Francisco announced that the “Last Pony coming this way left Atchison, Kansas, yesterday [October 24].” They probably received that news by wire.
A few westbound covers are recorded that arrived in Saint Joseph after the October 24 trip departed. The letters bagged at St. Joseph for the October 27 and 31 trips were probably carried part or all of the way by regular mail stagecoach, because they arrived in San Francisco on November 18 and 21, in line with the usual 20-day transit time by stage.
FKW Census W69. Trip WT-152 (FKW “likely carried by stage”). Ex Twigg-Smith