Sale 1238 — Civil War Special Mail Routes

Sale Date — Wednesday, 23 June, 2021

Category — Precursor Express Mail

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
208
c
Sale 1238, Lot 208, Precursor Express MailAdams Express Company N.Y., Aprl. 30 (1861). Clear strike of blue double-circle datestamp cancels 3c Red Star Die entire (U26) addressed to David Cleage at the Bank of Tennessee in Athens Tenn., matching "Paid" in oval handstamp, clear strike of "Adams Express Co. Chattanooga, May 5" oval handstamp

EXTREMELY FINE. A RARE PRECURSOR EXPRESS MAIL COVER SENT BY ADAMS EXPRESS FROM NEW YORK TO TENNESSEE, WHICH ARRIVED IN CHATTANOOGA ON THE DAY BEFORE THE SECESSION REFERENDUM. AN OUTSTANDING EXPRESS USE AND ONE OF THE FEW GENUINE PRIVATE EXPRESS COVERS FROM THE CLEAGE CORRESPONDENCE.

Although the express companies that carried mail through the lines after June 1, 1861, did not begin advertising this service until June 15 (American Letter Express) and June 22 (Adams and Whitesides), Adams had been carrying mail for months prior to June 1 and definitely transported mail across the lines soon after the May 27 suspension order took effect. Curiously, there is no documentation or advertisements of the express mail during this period from January to May 1861.

Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 37, census no. S-PRE-5). Ex Kimmel and Boshwit. With 1976 P.F. certificate

E. 2,000-3,000
2,600
209
c
Sale 1238, Lot 209, Precursor Express MailAdams Express Co. N.Y. Aprl. 20 (1861). Bold strike of blue double-circle datestamp with two matching "Paid" in oval handstamps, one cancels 3c Red Star Die entire (U26) to David Cleage in Athens Tenn., fresh and Very Fine precursor private express use, Special Routes census no. S-PRE-4, ex Dr. Agre, Raymond Weill & Co. backstamp, with 1993 C.S.A. certificate

E. 500-750
1,200
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210
c
Sale 1238, Lot 210, Precursor Express MailAdams Express Company N.Y. MA 4 (1861). Bold strike of greenish blue double-circle datestamp with matching "Paid" in oval on 3c Red on Buff Star Die entire (U27) to Carroll Hoy & Co. New Orleans, usual pinholes for this correspondence and small tear at top, fresh and Extremely Fine precursor private express cover to New Orleans, illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 32, census no. S-PRE-7), ex Everett and Walske, signed Ashbrook

E. 500-750
650
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211
c
Sale 1238, Lot 211, Precursor Express MailAdams Express Co. N-Y. Clear strike of blue double-circle handstamp with matching "Paid" in oval on folded letter from Liverpool, England, to Richmond Va., William Gray correspondence, lengthy letter dated May 15, 1861, carried on the Inman Line's Etna, arriving New York on May 27, just as the mail route was closed, May 31 arrival docketing, manuscript "45c" at top left applied by Adams office for combination of transatlantic postage and express fees, "Paid 2" handstamp applied by Richmond post office for drop rate, letter contents stained but cover is clean with a pressed file fold

VERY FINE. A REMARKABLE PRECURSER PRIVATE EXPRESS COVER FROM ENGLAND TO RICHMOND VIRGINIA, CARRIED BY ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY AND POSTED AS A DROP LETTER.

The letter, written by John R. Gilliat in Liverpool, is an articulate and insightful commentary on the outbreak of the American Civil War, the hope for neutral arbitration by European powers and the potential effects of a Northern blockade on the tobacco and cotton markets. It begins by expressing concern that the disruption of mail routes might prevent correspondence between the parties. As it happened, by the time the letter reached New York on May 27, the railroad connections between Washington D.C. and Richmond had been terminated. Adams Express carried the letter to Richmond via Louisville and Knoxville, and placed it in the post office as a drop letter. There are remnants of a paste-up envelope adhering to the back of the letter, which was almost certainly a 3c U.S. entire required to meet the obligation to pay U.S. postage on express mail. This is one of two recorded examples of an Adams cover with the Confederate drop rate.

Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 32, census no. S-PRE-9). With 2003 P.F. certificate

E. 2,000-3,000
2,500
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212
c
Sale 1238, Lot 212, Precursor Express MailAdams Express Company N-Y. Apr. 19 (1861). Well-struck blue double-circle datestamp with matching "Paid" in oval on blue folded cover to New Orleans, no contents or indication of origin but the address, the absence of postage and remnants of a paste-up on back (probably a 3c entire) strongly suggest this cover originated from another country, some slight soiling along vertical file folds, minor edgewear, Very Fine and scarce precursor Adams Express use, the U.S. blockade of the South was declared on this date, April 19, 1861, Special Routes census no. S-PRE-3, ex Dr. Brandon

E. 1,000-1,500
900
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213
c
Sale 1238, Lot 213, Precursor Express Mail1c Blue (63). Horizontal strip of three, tied by multiple strikes of "New-York Sep. 11, 1862" double-circle datestamp on Adams Express New York overall tan lithographed advertising cover to Vernon N.J., elaborate design depicting the New York office with horse-drawn carriage in front, Nesbitt & Co. imprint at bottom, top left stamp with corner crease at left, barely reduced at right not affecting the strip or design, Very Fine

E. 300-400
425
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214
c
Sale 1238, Lot 214, Precursor Express MailAdams Express Co. New-Orleans 16 Apr. (1861). Mostly clear circular datestamp used in conjunction with "Adams Express Company, Knoxville Tenn. Apr. 19" oval datestamp on 3c Red on Buff Star Die entire (U27) to Philadelphia street address, sender's routing "Adams Express" and manuscript "Pd" notation, light horizontal fold at bottom

VERY FINE PRECURSOR PRIVATE EXPRESS COVER WITH A RARE COMBINATION OF ADAMS EXPRESS DATESTAMPS FROM THE NEW ORLEANS AND KNOXVILLE OFFICES.

This cover to Philadelphia was datestamped at the Adams New Orleans office on April 16 and at the Knoxville office on April 19. At this date it almost certainly made the entire trip to Philadelphia by rail, first to western Tennessee, then east to Knoxville on the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad. From Knoxville, it was carried on connecting lines to Philadelphia via Lynchburg and Washington. The Knoxville datestamp and the presence of intermediate transit markings on other covers indicate that Adams' distributing offices sorted and bagged mail along the way.

Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 30, census no. N-PRE-8). Ex Dr. Morris. With 2003 P.F. certificate

E. 2,000-3,000
4,000
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215
c
Sale 1238, Lot 215, Precursor Express MailAdams Express Co. New-Orleans May 11 (1861). Partly clear circular datestamp on 3c Red on Buff Star Die entire (U27) to New York City, carried outside the mails and delivered to street address by New York City carrier department, partly clear red "New York Paid City Delivery 1 ct." circular datestamp over indicia, manuscript "2/" (two bits, or 25c) express charge, Very Fine cover and rare example of precursor private express carriage from Confederate New Orleans and delivery by government carrier service in New York (which was paid for by Adams Express), only three such covers are recorded with the 1c carrier rate datestamp, illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 31, census no. N-PRE-16), ex Walske

E. 750-1,000
1,500
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216
c
Sale 1238, Lot 216, Precursor Express MailAdams Express Co. New-Orleans May 16 (1861). Mostly bold circular datestamp on 3c Red Star Die entire (U26) to Blooming Groove N.Y., "New-York May 23" circular datestamp and grid cancel, manuscript "2/" (two bits, or 25c) express company charge at top left, light file fold across top, Very Fine, a rare Adams Express precursor use from New Orleans to New York, which entered the U.S. mails for its final leg to Blooming Grove, the 3c entire was apparently accepted for the full postage from New Orleans to New York and then on to its final destination, illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 31, census no. N-PRE-18), ex Dr. Skinner

E. 750-1,000
1,200
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217
c
Sale 1238, Lot 217, Precursor Express MailHarnden's Express, Savannah, Apr. 25 (1861). Mostly clear strike of red oval datestamp on 3c Red on Buff Star Die entire (U27) to Thos. Prosser & Son, New York City, with sender's route instructions "per Adams' Express from Savannah Ga. Wednesday, April 24/61" across top, faint pencil "Pd 2/-" express charge at left, remnants of adhesive label on back, likely carried on the brig Samuel Robertson, which was one of the last vessels to depart for New York

EXTREMELY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF AN EXPRESS COVER WITH THE HARNDEN'S SAVANNAH OVAL HANDSTAMP.

Adams Express Company took over Harnden's Express prior to the war, but the Harnden name was retained in Georgia, because of its reputation and good will. When the threat of war jeopardized Adams's ownership of offices in seceded states, its directors sold its southern operation to Henry B. Plant on June 8, 1861. Plant reorganized the old Adams offices under a new firm, the Southern Express Company. Many believed that Adams still retained ownership beneath the facade of a sale, which was intended to protect their property from the Confederate government. In fact, in 1870 a lawsuit was brought against Adams by stockholders who felt entitled to the assets held by the Southern Express Company. The plaintiffs' claim was rejected, but there continued to be well-founded suspicion that the Southern Express Company was a dummy corporation set up for Adams's continued benefit.

The Harnden name is rarely seen on covers carried in seceded states. The cover offered here bears the only recorded example of Harnden's Savannah office handstamp. It is one of two recorded covers mailed by the same sender to the same addressee on the same day. Both have the sender's route instructions, directing the letter to the care of Adams Express. This cover was routed through Savannah, while the other was routed through Charleston S.C., where the "Adams Express Company Charleston S.C. Apr. 25" oval was applied. At Savannah, the oval with the Harnden name was applied, also on April 25. The sender probably sent duplicate letters by two different routes to ensure delivery during the first two weeks of war.

Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 28, census no. N-PRE-12). Ex White, Shenfield, Simon and Walske.

E. 3,000-4,000
6,250
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218
c
Sale 1238, Lot 218, Precursor Express MailAdams Express Memphis, Feb. 18 (1861). Large red oval datestamp on 3c Red Star Die entire (U26) to Carroll Hoy & Co. in New Orleans, manuscript "Express" at bottom left, usual small filing holes as always found on this correspondence, small repair at top left corner, trivial wrinkling

VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE EXAMPLE OF THE ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY MEMPHIS OFFICE DATESTAMP ON A VERY EARLY PRECURSOR EXPRESS COVER TO NEW ORLEANS.

Shortly after the Confederacy was formed on February 4, 1861, the private freight express companies began carrying mail (the earliest recorded express cover is dated February 7). Soon after June 1, 1861, newspapers published the first advertisements for through-the-lines express service after the Federal government suspended the mails to seceded states. However, we have never seen an ad or bulletin from the January-May 1861 period that advertises express service for letters. The existence of express covers carried outside the mails (for at least part of their journey) is the only evidence of this business. This is one of the earliest Civil War express covers, and it was carried by Adams from Memphis to New Orleans on February 18, 1861. Louisiana joined the Confederacy on February 4, but Tennessee did not secede from the Union until June. We presume this cover originated in or near Memphis and was handed directly to the Adams office in that city. [See also lots 377-378 in this sale].

Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 27, census no. C-PRE-1). Ex Knapp, Richey, Emerson, Shenfield, Antrim and Boshwit. With 1974 P.F. certificate

E. 1,500-2,000
2,000
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219
c
Sale 1238, Lot 219, Precursor Express MailAdams Express Co. Atlanta Ga. May 24 (1861). Oval datestamp with manuscript "Paid R/- Brooks" express charge notation on 3c Red on Buff Star Die entire (U27) to Howell Cobb as President of the Southern Congress in Macon Ga., with instructions to forward to Montgomery Ala., traveled from Atlanta to Macon on the Macon & Western Railroad, if the letter was indeed forwarded it traveled on the South Western and Montgomery & West Point Railroad lines, the "Paid R/- Brooks" express notation was applied by the Adams agent in Atlanta, the "R" is a code, which was used by certain Adams agents to indicate the express fee, corner nick at top right, Fine appearance, a very rare Adams Express Co. Atlanta handstamp, illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 33, census no. C-PRE-5), ex Dietz and Walske

E. 750-1,000
1,400
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