Sale 1248 — The Magnolia Collection of U.S. Mail in China and Japan: Part 1

Sale Date — Thursday, 16 December, 2021

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Category — United States Diplomatic Mail in Japan

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
2100
c
Sale Number 1248, Lot Number 2100, United States Diplomatic Mail in JapanU.S. Legation, Japan, U.S. Legation, JapanU.S. Legation, Japan. Imprint on circa 1860 envelope addressed in the hand of Townsend Harris to "E. M. Van Reed Esq. No 93, Yokohama", no other markings or content, a sample of Harris's writing and signature is shown here to validate the claim that the address on the envelope is, indeed, in his hand.

This cover was thoroughly researched by Richard C. Frajola, and his analysis is available in an online article at https://www.rfrajola.com/Vanreedpage/vanreed.htm. We will summarize his findings.

Townsend Harris was the first United States Consul General to Japan and opened the first U.S. embassy there after negotiating the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the U.S. and Japan. Signed in July 1858, it became popularly known as the Harris Treaty. He and a small number of Americans in the U.S. Legation lived in Edo (Tokyo), while most other alien residents in Japan lived at Yokohama or the few other port cities designated as open to foreigners. Harris left Japan in 1861.

This official "U.S. Legation, Japan" imprint envelope is addressed to another well-known American living in Japan, Eugene M. Van Reed. A Pennsylvanian by birth, Reed traveled to Japan and settled in Yokohama in 1859, living for a time at the "No. 93" address on the envelope, located in the sector allocated for foreign residents.

Reed clerked at the U.S. Consulate in Kanagawa (Yokohama) and worked for the large trading house of Augustine Heard & Co. He was involved in some rogue efforts to secure a treaty, which angered Harris. Frajola speculates that the letter once enclosed in this envelope might have related to the incident. Frajola also conjectures that the envelope was actually transported from Edo to Yokohama by a courier onboard a Japanese vessel, since there were few other means to convey mail in this period.

Bid on this lot

E. 2,000-3,000
Future Sale
2101
c
Sale Number 1248, Lot Number 2101, United States Diplomatic Mail in JapanJapan, 1875, 4s Green, Syllabic 1 (42), Japan, 1875, 4s Green, Syllabic 1 (42)Japan, 1875, 4s Green, Syllabic 1 (42). Tied by syllabic numerical cancel, Yokohama September 9, 1875 double-circle datestamp on cover with "United States Consulate General, Kanagawa, Japan." two-line imprint at top right, addressed to John A. Bingham, U.S. Minister in Japan in Tokyo, sender's notation "Personal", Japanese writing and receiving mark on back, Very Fine, extremely rare U.S. diplomatic mail sent through the Japanese post office

Bid on this lot

E. 1,000-1,500
Future Sale
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2102
c
Sale Number 1248, Lot Number 2102, United States Diplomatic Mail in JapanJapan, 1874, 2s Yellow, Syllabic 4 (34), Japan, 1874, 2s Yellow, Syllabic 4 (34)Japan, 1874, 2s Yellow, Syllabic 4 (34). Tied by Yokohama July 29, 1874 double-circle datestamp on cover with "The Great Northern Telegraph, China and Japan Extension Company." two-line imprint, "Telegram" above printed address form, from "Washington" (D.C.) to John A. Bingham, U.S. Minister in Japan in Tokyo, telegram number 866, red "The Great Northern Telegraph Company Nagasaki" double-oval handstamp on back, Japanese writing and receiving mark on back, part of flap missing, slight edgewear, still Very Fine, extremely rare U.S. diplomatic telegraph message sent through the Japanese post office

Bid on this lot

Sale Number 1248, Lot Number 2102, United States Diplomatic Mail in JapanJapan, 1874, 2s Yellow, Syllabic 4 (34), Japan, 1874, 2s Yellow, Syllabic 4 (34)
Image 2
E. 1,000-1,500
Future Sale
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2103
c
Sale Number 1248, Lot Number 2103, United States Diplomatic Mail in Japan6c Green, State (O60), 6c Green, State (O60)6c Green, State (O60). Rich color, tied by oval grid cancel with "Washington D.C. Mar. 16 2PM 1883" duplex datestamp on legal-size cover with "Legation of the United States" imprint, "Tokei Japan" in manuscript and "Department of State" purple handstamp below imprint, signed by John A. Bingham and addressed to Uriah Hunt Painter in New York City, intact red wax seals on back, New York receiving backstamp, a few minor toned spots and small tear in stamp at upper right

VERY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED STATE DEPARTMENT STAMP ON A COVER FROM JAPAN.

This cover was carried from Japan to the United States in a diplomatic pouch and entered the mails at Washington, D.C., on March 16, 1883. It was signed and sent by John A. Bingham, who served as U.S. Minister to Japan for a longer period of time than any other minister to Japan. He was minister during the terms of four Republican presidents from May 31, 1873, to July 2, 1885. His successor was appointed in 1885 by Grover Cleveland, the newly elected Democratic Party president.

Lester C. Lanphear III recorded this cover as the only State Department usage from Japan in his article, "Department of State: Inbound Consular Mail to Family Members, 1873-1884" (Chronicle 259).

Ex Ainsworth. With 1976 A.P.S. certificate (the application portion has a note from the submitter: "from a large find with other estate corresp. at W. Chester Pa.").

Bid on this lot

E. 7,500-10,000
Future Sale
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