VERY FINE. A SPECTACULAR PAIR OF COVERS BEARING MATCHING HALVES OF THE SAME 12-CENT 1851 ISSUE STAMP, EACH USED WITH A STRIP OF ONE-CENT 1851 ISSUE STAMPS FROM PLATE ONE EARLY TO PAY THE TREATY RATE TO CANADA--ONE ORIGINATING IN CUBA AND THE OTHER IN NEW YORK CITY. THESE COVERS ARE AMONG THE GREATEST ITEMS IN CLASSIC UNITED STATES PHILATELY AND POSTAL HISTORY.
The pair of covers offered here is remarkable in several respects. To begin, these covers were stamped in New York City on August 21, 1851, using the new 1851 Issue, which was released just seven weeks earlier on July 1 (the 12c EDU is August 4, 1851). This is the earliest documented use of a 12c bisect. Further, the use of a 12c bisect to pay part of the 10c treaty rate to Canada is highly unusual. We are aware of three covers to the province of New Brunswick with 12c 1851 bisects used with 1c and 3c 1851 stamps, but no other covers are known with strips of the 1c used with a bisect or mailed at this early date. Finally, the unusual circumstance of mailing--mailed on the same day by the same person to the same addressee, but originating from two different correspondents--provides a fascinating explanation for the two identical frankings and use of matching 12c bisects.
We have been unable to learn anything of substance about the addressee, Thomas Casey. An internet search during the relevant time period failed to produce any information. We can surmise that the senders conducted business with Casey, and we know something about their businesses. Drake Brothers & Co. was a large New York-based firm founded in the 1790s by British-born immigrant James Drake, trading in sugar, coffee, jerked beef and precious metals. It owned one of the largest plantations in Cuba, in collaboration with the United States Mail Steamship Co. (USMSC). Henry A. Coit was also a New York merchant and served as a director on at least one insurance company’s board. Drake Brothers’ connection to the USMSC gives us a clue about how the cover traveled from Cuba to New York City. The USMSC Cherokee arrived in New York on August 21, 1851, after departing Havana around August 17. The previous sailing from Havana left on August 2, before the Drake Brothers letter was written on August 7 (per receipt docketing). Although no forwarder marking appears on either cover, they were almost certainly handled by an agent in New York, who had instructions to forward letters to Casey in Quebec.
The two covers were together when they first appeared in the January 1900 auction of the F. W. Hunter collection, held by Scott Stamp & Coin Co. They went separate ways after the 1900 Hunter sale, but the covers were illustrated and described in Ashbrook's Special Service (pp. 98, 106-107 and 163, photos 47 and 75), at which point they were still apart in different collections. In an article by Mortimer L. Neinken in the May 1970 Chronicle (No. 66, pp. 63-65), he recapped the history of the two covers and coyly noted "this commentator has ascertained that the two covers are now reunited in one collection again." In fact, it was Neinken who reunited the covers.
The Emerson cover with upper right bisect is ex F. W. Hunter (Scott Stamp & Coin Co. sale, Jan. 10-12, 16-18, 1900, lots 189-190), W. A. Smith, Spiegelberg (Morgenthau sale, Jan. 10, 1911, lot 15), Barry (Nassau Stamp Co. sale, Apr. 2-3, 1914, lot 84), Robert S. Emerson (Kelleher sale, Oct. 19, 1937, lot 78), Philip H. Ward private collection (per Ashbrook’s Special Service, Feb. 1, 1953), Benjamin D. Phillips (sold after his death in H. R. Harmer sale, Feb. 17, 1970, lot 156) and Mortimer L. Neinken (acquired by Jerome S. Wagshal privately from the Neinken estate).
The Hind cover with lower left bisect is also ex F. W. Hunter (as above), Arthur Hind (Phillips-Kennett sale, Nov. 20, 1933, lot 145), Carl Brandenbury (Percy Doane sale, Dec. 6, 1943, lot 76), John A. Fox sale (Dec. 12, 1961, lot 582) and Mortimer L. Neinken (acquired by Jerome S. Wagshal privately from the Neinken estate).
VERY FINE. A REMARKABLE 1851 ISSUE REGISTERED COVER FROM OREGON TERRITORY WITH A 12-CENT BISECT USED WITH OTHER STAMPS AND ACCEPTED AS PREPAYMENT OF THE DOUBLE 10-CENT RATE AT THE PLEASANT HILL AND NEW YORK CITY POST OFFICES.
Although bisecting 12c stamps was practiced in California, this is the only recorded 12c 1851 bisect used from a western territorial post office. The bisect was joined with a full 12c stamp and used with two 1c stamps to pay the double 10c rate, which went into effect in April 1855. The bisect was accepted by the Pleasant Hill postmaster, William W. Bristow, member of a well-known pioneer family who was appointed postmaster in 1852. Bristow used pen and ink to cancel the stamps and postmark the cover. The bisected 12c was also accepted on arrival at the New York City post office, despite a September 1853 notice that bisected stamps were not valid. Perhaps the clerk was accommodating because the cover was registered and the full stamps paid the 10c single rate.
The cover was sent by registered mail, evidenced by the "299" and "29 15047" registration numbers applied at Pleasant Hill and New York City, respectively. In addition to the territorial bisect usage, this cover is believed to be the only known use of a 12c 1851 bisect on a registered cover. It was illustrated and first identified as a registered cover in an article by James W. Milgram, M.D. ("Domestic Registration of 1851-57 Stamps and Entires," Chronicle 253).
Ex Herman "Pat" Herst, Jr., collection of Oregon postal history (Siegel Sale 232, Aug. 19, 1960, lot 36). With 2016 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. AN EXTRAORDINARY USE OF A 12-CENT 1851 BISECTED STAMP FROM ONE MAJOR EAST COAST CITY TO ANOTHER, PREPAYING THE DOUBLE 3-CENT DOMESTIC LETTER RATE AND ACCEPTED BY BOTH POSTMASTERS.
The majority of 12c 1851 bisects are found on transcontinental covers, usually applied in California. Only a small number of intra-East Coast uses are known.
Ex Griswold ("Eastern"), Sheriff and Dr. Martin. With 1980, 1986 and 2005 P.F. certificates.
EXTREMELY FINE. AN OUTSTANDING BISECT OF THE 12-CENT 1851 ISSUE IN VERY CHOICE CONDITION.
Ex Caspary and Rose. With 1999 P.F. certificate
A RARE USE OF THE 12-CENT 1851 BISECT TO PAY THE 10-CENT RATE TO NEW BRUNSWICK. THIS IS ALSO A "COMPLETE SET" COVER--EACH OF THE THREE STAMPS ISSUED IN 1851 IS REPRESENTED.
Effective July 1, 1851, the postal rates were changed and the 1847 Issue was demonetized. Three new stamps--1c, 3c and 12c--were issued. A new 10c was issued in 1855 and a new 5c was issued in 1856. Covers with all three of the new denominations are rare and desirable, especially when one is in bisected form.
Ex Hackmey and Gross. With note on back from Ashbrook who plated the 1c stamp and notes it shows bottom of the Type Ib stamp (Position 6R1E).