Sale 1224 — 2020 Rarities of the World
Sale Date — Tuesday-Wednesday, 30 June-1 July, 2020
Category — California and Western Postal History including Pony Express
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE SALT LAKE CITY GOLD MINER'S LETTER TO MISSOURI, CARRIED IN BABBITT'S SPECIAL CONTRACT MAILS.
Babbitt's Special Contract Mails was established in 1849 by Almon Babbitt, a Mormon expressman, to carry mails between Salt Lake City and Kanesville, Iowa (which lacked a regular postal route). This letter was carried on the John Taylor trip of October 19, 1849, from Salt Lake City, arriving Kanesville December 10. While there is no express fee indicated, the sender likely paid an additional 40c for Babbitt's service.
Illustrated in Mails of the Westward Expansion on p. 87. Ex Walske
VERY FINE. AN EXTREMELY RARE COMBINATION OF MANUSCRIPT AND HANDSTAMP POSTAL MARKINGS FROM CAMP FLOYD, UTAH TERRITORY, ON A COVER TO PANAMA SENT VIA THE CHORPENNING MAIL ROUTE.
This was carried by the weekly Chorpenning Mail stagecoach that left Salt Lake City (northeast of Camp Floyd) on April 18, 1859. The stage arrived in Placerville, California, around April 30 and the cover then went to San Francisco for the May 5 sailing of the PMSS steamer Golden Gate, arriving Panama around May 15. The cover is addressed to an officer on the 16-gun sloop-of-war USS Decatur, which ironically had been ordered back to San Francisco on March 23. Although the cover lacks a forwarding notation, it no doubt made its way back to San Francisco. The Decatur had a storied career with service in both the Mexican and Civil Wars and was also the ship that evacuated U.S. citizens connected with the filibustering expedition of William Walker.
Illustrated in Mails of the Westward Expansion on p. 142. Ex Risvold and Walske
THE ONLY RECORDED COVER CARRIED ON THE STOCKTON-KANSAS CITY OVERLAND MAIL ROUTE. A GREAT RARITY OF WESTERN MAILS.
According to Mails of the Westward Expansion, the Post Office Department signed a four-year contract for Route 15050 with Jacob Hall on May 28, 1858, calling for monthly service between Kansas City, Missouri, and Stockton, California, via Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Ft. Mohave. Hall transferred his contract to Barrow, Porter & Crenshaw they had been partners on another Santa Fe mail contract). Westbound service began on October 1, 1858, from Kansas City, arriving without incident in Stockton on November 24. The first eastbound trip was not so lucky. After departing Stockton with 50-60 letters on November 1, they encountered hostile Indians and were forced to return home. In total only six successful trips were completed under the contract. The cover offered here was carried on the fourth successful eastbound trip, which left on February 1, 1859, and arrived in Kansas City around March 29. This is the only surviving cover from any of the Stockton-Kansas City contract trips. The contract was terminated as of July 1, 1860.
Illustrated in Mails of the Westward Expansion on p. 183. Ex Risvold and Walske
EXTREMELY FINE GEM STAMP ON A SUPERB COVER BEARING THE HAND-COLORED "OVERLAND VIA LOS ANGELES U.S. MAIL" STAGECOACH DESIGN.
Ex Judd and White. With 1988 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. AN OUTSTANDING BISECTED USE OF THE 12-CENT 1851 ISSUE WITH A REMARKABLY CLEAR STRIKE OF THE "VIA NICARAGUA/AHEAD OF THE MAILS" LETTER BAG OPERATOR HANDSTAMP.
According to research by James Allen, the 1st Assistant PMG's first official notice to postmasters that bisected stamps were invalid was published on September 12, 1853 (Chronicle 239). Therefore, this almost certainly originated in San Francisco prior to the official POD announcement. A similar letter from California, arriving in New York on September 25, was treated as unpaid and marked postage due (Siegel Sale 1041, lot 340).
Ex Dr. Robertson. With 2014 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. ONE OF TEN RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE RUNNING PONY HANDSTAMP STRUCK IN CARMINE--THIS IS THE EARLIEST OF THE SIX EASTBOUND COVERS AND ONE OF ONLY FOUR WITH 10-CENT ADHESIVE STAMPS. ONE OF THE FINEST PONY EXPRESS COVERS EXTANT.
The St. Joseph Running Pony handstamp was normally struck in black, but the FKW census records ten covers with this marking struck in the distinctive carmine color. They are dated from August 12 to September 13, 1860, and all but two are struck on the backs of the covers. Four have 10c adhesive stamps (Scott 35), all eastbound with the carmine oval struck on the back as a receiving mark.
This cover was sent from San Francisco on August 4, 1860, after the new recalibrated Pony Express rate of $2.50 per quarter-ounce was announced at St. Joseph. Because news of the rate change took approximately two weeks to reach the West Coast, it was not implemented in San Francisco until the August 15 eastbound trip.
The “U.S.A.” designation in the address and “To be forwarded” instructions make it almost certain that this cover originated outside the United States, probably from a travelling member of the prominent Coffin family, several of whom were whaling captains.
FKW Census E12. Illustrated in Needham-Berthold article (Collectors Club Philatelist reprint). Ex Dr. Paine, Emerson, Hall, Gruys, Twigg-Smith and Haub.
FINE APPEARANCE. A DESIRABLE EXAMPLE OF EASTBOUND PONY EXPRESS MAIL WITH ALL MARKINGS CLEARLY STRUCK AND A 10-CENT 1859 ISSUE FRANKING.
FKW Census E22. Illustrated in Ashbrook's Special Service on p. 274. Ex Krug and Walske. Signed Ashbrook. With 2006 P.F. certificate
FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF TEN RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE RUNNING PONY HANDSTAMP STRUCK IN CARMINE.
The St. Joseph Running Pony handstamp was normally struck in black. The Frajola-Kramer-Walske census records ten covers with this marking struck in the distinctive Carmine color. They are dated from August 12 to September 13, 1860, and all but two are struck on the backs of the covers. Six are eastbound trips. This cover was picked up as way mail along the route at the Placerville station and carried on the eastbound trip that left San Francisco on August 18, 1860, arriving in St. Joseph on August 30.
FKW Census E14. Ex Walske. With 1966 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE COVER WITH A CLEAR STRIKE OF THE ST. JOSEPH SPECIAL “PONY EXPRESS” DATESTAMP AND FREE FRANK OF SENATOR MILTON LATHAM. ONE OF SIX RECORDED PONY EXPRESS COVERS FRANKED BY LATHAM AND A FASCINATING MILITARY AND OVERLAND MAIL ROUTE CONNECTION DURING THE EARLY MONTHS OF THE CIVIL WAR.
The letter states (in part): "I think I can safely assert California will soon be called upon for a Brigade of 5000 men, to proceed to Texas, via the Gadsend Purchase (Arizona) [sic] to reestablish the authority and laws of the U.S. & to occupy that State...it is the Lieut. Colonelcy of the Regiment to protect the overland route I want. I do not wish to go to Texas."
Senator Milton S. Latham went to California in 1850 and was elected to Congress on the 1852 Democratic ticket. After his term expired, he declined to run for re-election and served as collector for the port of San Francisco. In 1859 he was elected governor, but he resigned five days after taking office to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when Senator David C. Broderick was killed in a duel. The addressee, George Wallace, was secretary to California governor, John Downey.
Senator Latham was a friend of William H. Russell, the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Co. president, and a strong supporter of COC&PP in their effort to secure the contract for the Central Route. He was among the few individuals later permitted to send Pony Express letters free of charge. In this case Senator Latham’s free frank applied to the $1.00 Pony Express rate, Wells, Fargo & Co.’s 10c charge for service between Placerville and San Francisco, and 10c U.S. postage (for a total of $1.20). There are 15 recorded Pony Express covers with any form of free frank for postage or express charges. Of these, six are signed by Latham (FKW E94, W3, W5, W7, W48 and W62). The eastbound cover (E94) has the San Francisco Running Pony oval. Three of the westbound Latham covers have the St. Joseph Running Pony oval (W3, W5 and W7), and two have the oval within circle datestamp (W48 and W62).
FKW Census W48. Ex Hall and Walske. With 2001 P.F. certificate
View PDF of contents of this lot
VERY FINE. A WONDERFULLY CHOICE WESTBOUND PONY EXPRESS COVER WITH A CLEAR STRIKE OF THE ST. JOSEPH RUNNING PONY OVAL.
This cover, originating in New York City, was carried on the westbound trip that left St. Joseph on September 27, 1860, and arrived in San Francisco on October 7. It demonstrates the under-3,000 miles "loophole" that allowed westbound mail to be sent in bundles from the East Coast to St. Joseph by mail with only 3c U.S. postage. This loophole was closed by the Act of February 27, 1861, which eliminated the mileage provision and required 10c on any letter crossing the Rocky Mountains.
Crosby & Dibblee was a large shipping firm that operated in San Francisco from 1852 to 1862. Charles W. Crosby and Albert Dibblee both arrived in San Francisco in 1850. Crosby had worked as a dry goods clerk in Boston. After accumulating a fortune in California, he moved to New York City in the 1860s. Albert Dibblee was born in upstate New York and worked for the State Bank of New York before emigrating to California in 1850. In addition to his business activities, Dibblee was a member of the Vigilance Committee of 1856.
FKW Census W15. Ex Dale-Lichtenstein and Walske
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLE OF THE $2.00 PONY EXPRESS STAMP TIED BY THE BLUE SAN FRANCISCO RUNNING PONY OVAL ON AN EASTBOUND COVER.
This cover was carried on the Saturday, May 11, 1861, trip from San Francisco, which arrived at St. Joseph on May 23. When Phase II (Interim Phase) started on April 1, 1861, the rate for a Pony Express letter was substantially reduced to $2 per half-ounce, down from the $5 per half-ounce or $2.50 per quarter-ounce rates in effect during the previous year. At the same time, the new agents--Wells, Fargo & Company--had special stamps and envelopes printed for use on Pony Express letters. The $2 rate was in effect for a brief period, from April 1 to June 30, 1861. The FKW census records 37 $2.00 Red covers.
The $2 and $4 were printed in sheets of 20 (5 wide by 4 high). Rather than build up the printing stone from intermediate transfer groups or from a primary matrix containing the denomination, the printers used a blank matrix to enter each subject on the stone for each value. This required a total of 40 transfers (20 for each value). The denomination (shaded numerals "2" and "4") then had to be individually transferred to each subject on both stones, thus requiring another 40 separate transfers. It seems incredible that experienced lithographers such as Britton & Rey did not simplify the process by using intermediate transfers. Based on the fact that the $2 and $4 of the July 1861 issue (in Green and Black) were printed from the same stones as the April 1861 issue, it is certain that the printers had retained the two original stones. Lithographic stones were usually re-used by erasing the image and repolishing the surface, but in the case of the Pony Express stones, they were evidently preserved for future printings.
FKW Census E74. Ex Walske. With 1980 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. A RARE AND DESIRABLE PONY EXPRESS COVER, FREE FRANKED BY JOSPEH ROBERSON, WITH ORIGINAL CONTENTS AND CARRIED AS A WAY LETTER ON AN EASTBOUND PONY TRIP IN JULY 1861.
This was picked up at Fort Bridger by the Pony Express trip that left San Francisco on July 3, 1861, and arrived at St. Joseph on July 15. This was the first trip of the fourth rate period, though the rate was immaterial in this case since it was free franked. Pony Express letters on company business and from U.S. senators were carried free of any express or postal charges.
Joseph Roberson was born in Missouri about 1840, lived in Tennessee and was a pioneer expressman. He was head clerk for Pony Express founders Russell, Majors and Waddell, and when this letter was written he was agent for the Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Company. He was subsequently an officer with Wells, Fargo & Co. His wife, Emily, nee Lofland, wrote a manuscript titled History of the Pony Express, which was published in the San Francisco newspaper California Spirit of the Times in 1879. Mrs. Roberson lived until 1943.
FKW Census EX1 (listed without known date as the letter that accompanies was not reunited with the cover until after the book was published).
Cover is ex Dr. Robertson and Walske
VERY FINE. A BEAUTIFUL EASTBOUND PONY EXPRESS COVER WITH THE $1.00 RED HORSE & RIDER ISSUE. A RARE USE VIA THE ATCHISON POST OFFICE.
This cover to Ellen F. Cooper was probably sent by her future husband, E.W. Chapin. Commencing July 1, 1861, the Pony Express was authorized by Congress to carry mail at the rate of $1.00 per half ounce. An additional fee was charged by Wells, Fargo & Co. to carry mail from San Francisco to the western terminus at Placerville, which is represented by their printed frank on this entire. The contract also stipulated the mandatory U.S. postage charge of 10c per half ounce. This cover nicely combines all three postage elements and was carried on the October 5, 1861 eastbound Pony Express trip, arriving Atchison, Kansas, on October 19. By September 1861 the transcontinental railroad had reached Atchison, which became the post-office entry point for Pony Express mail.
Although the Scott Catalogue lists the July 1861 issue Pony Express stamps (143L3-143L6) with other private post issues, we wish to emphasize that these stamps were issued under the terms of a government mail contract; therefore, they have semi-official status.
FKW Census E171. Ex Walske. With 2006 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. ONE OF 21 RECORDED TYPE II EAST-TO-WEST PONY EXPRESS ENTIRES AND ONE OF THE LAST TRIPS BEFORE THE END OF THE PONY EXPRESS ERA.
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 $1.00 adhesive stamps were put on sale in August 1861. The 1861 10c “Pumpkin” entire with the Type II printed frank was ordered from George F. Nesbitt & Co. (New York) by the Overland Mail Company after they obtained approval for the design and imprint from the Postmaster General’s office. The earliest recorded Type II envelope is dated August 14, 1861, according to the FKW census.
Based on a newspaper article in the San Francisco Bulletin (September 13, 1861, at https://siegelauctions.com/2013/1038/20_SFB.jpg ), the Type II franked envelopes were problematic, because eastern post offices were sometimes sending them in the “through” mail to San Francisco, instead of directing them to St. Joseph for the Pony Express. As a result, they would arrive by regular mail ten days after the Pony Express for which they were intended. This might explain why some examples of the Type II franks are found without a St. Joseph Pony Express handstamp. The presence of the St. Joseph Pony Express datestamp confirms that this was carried by Pony Express riders.
This October 5, 1861, cover was sent from New York City shortly before Civil War demonetization of the old stamp issue began and the new 1861 Issue was released. It entered the post office and was treated as regular mail until it reached the Wells, Fargo & Co. agent at St. Joseph. From there it made the October 10 westbound Pony trip to California, arriving in San Francisco from Placerville on October 22.
The updated FKW census lists 21 examples of the Type II $1.00 frank, including some that have stamps added or have been extensively repaired.
FKW Census W61. Ex Dale-Lichtenstein and Walske
VERY FINE. THESE ARE TWO OF THE THREE RECORDED WELLS, FARGO & CO. BLUE FRANKED STAR DIE ENTIRES USED FROM MEXICO--ENTERED MAILS AT SAN FRANCISCO AS SHIP LETTERS.
Ex Clifford and Birkinbine
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. ONLY SIX INTACT COVERS ARE KNOWN WITH LANGTON'S HUMBOLDT EXPRESS STAMP. ONE OF THE GREAT RARITIES OF WESTERN POSTAL HISTORY.
The Humboldt Express was the last of seven successive Western express services operated by Samuel W. Langton, who has been described by historians as the most energetic and persevering of the numerous expressmen of the period. Langton launched the Humboldt Express in February 1860 and oversaw its operation until his accidental death in 1864. Service was provided between the Humboldt mines in Nevada to Carson City, the state capital. For transportation across this difficult route, 25c was charged in addition to the $2.00 per letter fee. To facilitate prepayment of this surcharge, Langton issued the 1860 25c Brown adhesive stamp. The stamp, with its exceptionally detailed depiction of a stagecoach drawn by a four-horse team, is widely regarded as the finest example of a pictorial stamp issued by the numerous local posts operated in the United States between 1842 and the 1870s. The style, lettering, color and lithographic technique used to print Langton's stamp are identical to those of the Wells, Fargo & Co. Pony Express stamps of the same period, and it is accepted, though unproven, that the issues of both companies were made by the same printer (Britton & Rey of San Francisco).
We record the following Humboldt Express 25c Brown covers:
1) Unionville (blue oval) to J. S. Bendle, Bidwell's Bar Cal., "Care of Capt. Singer", U34 with Langton frank, Siegel Sale 989, lot 25, ex Brown, Moody, Simpson, Hertz
2) Star City (blue oval) to J. S. Bendle, Bidwell's Bar Cal., "Care of Capt. Singer", U35 with Langton frank, repaired, PFC, ex Dale-Lichtenstein
3) Unionville (blue oval) to J. S. Bendle, Bidwell's Bar Cal., "Care of Capt. Singer", U34 with Langton frank, ex C. E. Chapman, Caspary, Nathan, Walske, the cover offered here
4) Star City (blue oval) to G. Borzo, Placerville Cal., U34 with Langton frank, WF Nevada Jun. 10 oval, ex Jessup, Hawley, Polland, Jacobitz
5) Unionville (red oval) and "Paid" in oval tying 25c, to Charles Lott, Oroville Cal., U34 with WF frank and WF Carson City May 11 oval, PFC, ex Haas, Edwards, Kuphal
6) Star City (blue oval) to S. W. Holladay, San Francisco, U34 with Langton frank, 3c 1861 tied by "Paid" and WF Nevada Jul. 11 (1863) oval, with enclosure, PFC, ex Hall, Kapiloff
In addition to these six intact covers, there are two restored fronts or pieces and a few faked examples. Our census has been compiled independently of the Gamett census and the more recent Lyons census, which contain incorrect sale history data for #1 and #2 above.
Ex C. E. Chapman (blue handstamp on front), Caspary, Nathan and Walske. With 2006 P.F. certificate