Sale 1216 — The Ambassador J. William Middendorf II Collection
Sale Date — Tuesday, 25 February, 2020
Category — Official Navy Department Issues
VERY FINE GROUP OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT SMALL DIE TRIAL COLOR PROOFS.
In 1879, President Albert G. Goodall of the American Bank Note Company, successor to the Continental Bank Note Company, ordered sets of small die proofs for display purposes.
VERY FINE. AN EXTREMELY RARE ORIGINAL-GUM BLOCK OF SIX OF THE 24-CENT NAVY ISSUE.
Blocks of this value are very rare and seldom offered. This may be the largest extant.
Ex Curtis. Scott Retail as a block of four and two singles
VERY FINE. THIS RARE 10-CENT NAVY “COMMODORE CALDWELL” COVER IS OFFERED TO THE MARKET FOR ONLY THE SECOND TIME. PRIOR TO THE EMERGENCE OF THE CALDWELL COVERS OFFERED IN OUR 2013 RARITIES SALE, THERE WAS ONLY ONE 10-CENT NAVY COVER KNOWN.
In 2013, a descendent of Commodore Caldwell was performing genealogical internet research on his ancestor and found the Siegel description for the Starnes collection Caldwell 30c Navy cover. He realized his family possessed several similar covers and consigned the group to Siegel for auction. In addition to this 10c Navy cover, the collection included two other 1c and 10c (2) combination covers (one other offered in this sale as lot 211), as well as the twin to the heretofore unique 30c cover (offered as lot 214). Les Lanphear, in his census of overseas Official covers, records 19 Navy Department covers, not counting the six Caldwell covers that emerged in 2013. Prior to this find the only 10c Navy cover known was the famous U.S. Naval Observatory cover to Paris. The total now stands at four complete franking covers plus one with the missing 1c stamp.
The 21c postage pays the single rate to Brazil via Great Britain. At this time Brazil was not a member of the U.P.U. Therefore, the U.S. retained 5c of the 21c postage and credited G.B. with 16c for carrying the letter to Brazil. The credit is expressed in centimes, as required by the U.P.U. regulations.
AN IMPORTANT RECENT FIND IN UNITED STATES OFFICIAL ISSUES AND OFFERED TO THE MARKET FOR ONLY THE SECOND TIME SINCE ITS EMERGENCE IN 2013. THIS “COMMODORE CALDWELL” COVER IS ONE OF ONLY TWO RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE 30-CENT NAVY DEPARTMENT STAMP ON COVER AND ONE OF THREE 12-CENT NAVY COVERS. ITS TWIN COVER FROM THE STARNES COLLECTION HAS LONG BEEN WIDELY REGARDED AS ONE OF THE “TOP TEN” OFFICIAL COVERS EXTANT. THIS COVER TAKES ITS PLACE ALONGSIDE THE STARNES COVER AS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT UNITED STATES OFFICIAL COVERS.
When Siegel Auction Galleries sold the Starnes collection in 2007, the Caldwell 30c Navy Department cover was believed to be the only on-cover use of this stamp extant. The Starnes cover is an almost exact match to the cover offered here (lot 214), but it was mailed in January 1877. A descendent of Commodore Caldwell was performing genealogical internet research on his ancestor and found the Siegel description for the Starnes 30c cover. He realized his family possessed several similar covers and consigned the group to Siegel for auction. Les Lanphear, in his updated census of overseas Official covers, records 19 Navy Department covers, not counting the six Caldwell covers which emerged in 2013.
Commodore Charles H. B. Caldwell (1823-1877) was the commander of the U.S. Navy’s South Atlantic Station, commanding the flagship U.S.S. Richmond from 1876-1877. As an officer during the Civil War, commanding the U.S.S. Itasca in the Gulf Blockading Squadron, Caldwell captured the Confederate schooner Lizzie Weston off Florida in January 1862 en route to Jamaica with a cargo of cotton. An obituary describes his heroics in the subsequent campaign to capture New Orleans in April 1862: “He personally commanded and directed the hazardous operation of cutting the chains across the Mississippi, between the forts, under heavy fire, which opened the way for Farragut in his memorable passage of the batteries.” This action was memorialized in a drawing by M. J. Burns of Lt. Caldwell cutting the chains, which appeared in Scribner’s Popular History of the United States in 1898 (p. 11). In late 1862, Caldwell commanded the USS Essex in the Union Mortar Flotilla which opened the bombardment of the Confederate works at Port Hudson, Louisiana.
These Navy Department Caldwell covers originate from the commander’s son, Henry, who served as secretary aboard the Richmond. Henry kept a staff journal in 1876 and 1877 which recorded weather, location, and other information. The journal abruptly ends in August 1877, close to the time of his father’s death. Henry took the covers off the Richmond and they remained with him until his death in 1906. The covers then passed to Henry’s younger brother, the descendents of whom retained them until our 2013 Rarities sale.
The 42c postage pays the double 21c rate to Brazil via Great Britain. At this time Brazil was not a member of the U.P.U. Therefore, the U.S. retained 5c of the 21c postage and credited G.B. with 16c for carrying the letter to Brazil. The double credit (32c) is expressed in centimes, as required by the U.P.U. regulations.
Accompanied by background information, some unpublished, provided by the family on Commodore Caldwell and his son Henry.
ONE OF THREE RECORDED COVERS BEARING THE 24-CENT NAVY DEPARTMENT STAMP, INCLUDING TWO TO URUGUAY. THIS COVER FROM THE COMMODORE CALDWELL CORRESPONDENCE IS ONE OF THE MOST OUTSTANDING OFFICIAL COVERS EXTANT.
In an article on Navy Department covers, Alan C. Campbell wrote: “Despite the obvious need for regular communication with station squadrons in foreign waters, little foreign mail from the Navy Department has survived. I record only six covers, of which three were in the Starnes collection stolen in 1983 and may have been lost to philately forever. These were the celebrated pair to Commodore Caldwell (24c to Uruguay, 12c, 30c combination to Brazil) and a 2c, 3c combination on an 1875 cover to Italy.” (“Usages of Navy Department Stamps”, Alan C. Campbell, Chronicle 193, Feb. 2002, pp. 44-58). This cover was also listed as No. 20 in Campbell’s census of high-value Official stamps on cover (Chronicle 188, Nov. 2000, pp. 287-299). Campbell’s article was published before the recovery of the Starnes collection and the emergence of additional covers from the Caldwell correspondence in 2013.
Commodore Charles H. B. Caldwell was the commander of the U.S. Navy’s South Atlantic Station (the flagship was the U.S.S. Richmond). As a lieutenant during the Civil War, commanding the U.S.S. Itasca, Caldwell captured the Confederate schooner Lizzie Weston off Florida en route to Jamaica with a cargo of cotton. The following year, the Union Mortar Flotilla under his command opened the bombardment of the Confederate works at Port Hudson, Louisiana.
At the time of mailing, Uruguay was not a U.P.U. member. There were two rates to Uruguay: 23c by U.S. Packet via Brazil and 27c by British mail (effective 7/1/1875 to 7/1/1880). The April 1877 U.S. Postal Guide only lists the 27c rate with a note that U.S. Packet service was infrequent and unreliable. The 27c rate via G.B. included 5c for the U.S. and a 22c credit to G.B. for carrying the letter to Uruguay (the credit is expressed in centimes, as per the U.P.U. regulations). Although underpaid 3c for the 27c rate, this Navy Department cover was treated as fully prepaid.
Ex Starnes and Curtis. With 2014 P.F. certificate