Sale 1248 — The Magnolia Collection of U.S. Mail in China and Japan: Part 1
Sale Date — Thursday, 16 December, 2021
Category — Mail From China
EXTREMELY FINE. ONE OF TWO RECORDED PRIVATELY HELD EXAMPLES OF THE "LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES. CHINA" MARKING--THE FIRST KNOWN UNITED STATES MAIL HANDSTAMP USED IN CHINA--ON A COVER SENT BY U.S. MINISTER REED FOUR MONTHS AFTER HE NEGOTIATED AND SIGNED THE U.S.-CHINA TREATY OF TIENTSIN IN 1858. AN IMPORTANT HISTORICAL ARTIFACT OF EARLY UNITED STATES POSTAL RELATIONS WITH CHINA.
William Bradford Reed was appointed Minister to China from 1857 to 1858 by President James Buchanan after Reed secured Whig Party support for Buchanan, a Democrat, during the election of 1856. Reed arrived in China in 1857 to negotiate a renewed treaty following the Second Opium War (1856-58), from which Great Britain and France had emerged victorious. Using the Most Favored Nation provisions of the 1844 Treaty of Amity, Peace and Commerce, Reed successfully argued for the same rights imposed on the Chinese by the British. The Treaty of Tientsin, signed on June 18, 1858, granted American government representatives the right to reside in Peking, reduced tariffs on American goods, and guaranteed free religious expression in China, which opened the door for Christian missionaries.
This cover enclosed a letter from Reed to Joseph Reed Ingersoll, who served one year as Minister to Great Britain, then returned to Philadelphia in 1853. Reed utilized the British postal system to send this mail to the United States. The 45c collected from Ingersoll included 24c for British postage between Hong Kong and England via Marseilles. Since an American Packet steamship was used to carry it from Southampton to New York, the U.S. retained 21c of the 45c.
One other example of this script handstamp is recorded, dated September 1, 1858, from Reed to Thomas Biddle in Singapore. Both are illustrated in the Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 13).
EXTREMELY FINE. THE EARLIEST RECORDED USE OF THE RARE "U.S. CONSULATE GENERAL. SHANGHAI, CHINA." TWO-LINE HANDSTAMP, USED FOR A BRIEF PERIOD BY THE UNITED STATES CONSUL IN SHANGHAI ON MAIL CARRIED UNDER THE NEW PACIFIC MAIL STEAMSHIP COMPANY CONTRACT--IN THIS CASE, ON THE FIRST EASTBOUND TRIP BY THE COLORADO.
Prior to the official establishment of the U.S. Postal Agency in Shanghai, effective October 14, 1867, the U.S. Consul, George Frederick Seward (nephew of the Secretary of State), was responsible for handling mail to and from American residents in China. When the Pacific Mail Steamship Company inaugurated contract mail service between China, Japan and the United States, Seward arranged to put mail onto a steamer that connected with the PMSS Colorado at Yokohama for its first eastbound (return) trip on February 28, 1867. This cover was among the letters Seward bagged for that trip. Based on the letter date and the Colorado departure, it was probably placed on board the Peninsular & Oriental Nepaul, departing Shanghai February 17 and arriving Yokohama February 21. The Colorado, after leaving Yokohama February 28, arrived in San Francisco March 20. Mail from this trip addressed to San Francisco was postmarked March 20, and overland mail was postmarked March 21, the date of the next departure. There are ten reported covers from the Colorado's maiden eastbound trip, all of which bear the "STEAM CHINA" handstamp, seven struck in red and three in black (source: Frajola-Perlman-Scamp, pages 57, 86-88). Even fewer examples of the consulate marking are known. Other covers with the "STEAM CHINA" handstamp are offered in lots 2071 and 2075.
The enclosure is four pages without a signature line, so it is possible a second sheet is missing. Nonetheless, the letter contains a rather detailed report on the new postal arrrangements between the United States and China: "the new American mail line is quite an advantage to those who have the misfortune to be so far from home. This will go in the Colorado By the way of California & fifty days from to day you will have the pleasure of reading this. The Colorado came from Sanfrisco in twenty two days to Hong Kong & without doubt she will make a quicker time home. The line is not fuly established yet there is only one steamer runing as yet but the Great Republic is launched & her mashinery is being put into her she will be running before long." [sic]
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 86). Ex Bilden.
VERY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED USE OF THE RARE "U.S. CONSULATE GENERAL. SHANGHAI, CHINA." TWO-LINE HANDSTAMP ON MAIL AFTER THE OFFICIAL ESTABLISHMENT OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL AGENCY IN SHANGHAI ON OCTOBER 14, 1867.
George Frederick Seward (nephew of the Secretary of State) was appointed U.S. Consul at Shanghai on December 23, 1861. On June 10, 1867, the creation of the U.S. Postal Agency in Shanghai was authorized by the U.S. postmaster general and State Department. The orders were sent by the Pacific mail route and reached Yokohama on September 26, 1867. From there they were carried on the PMSS branch-line steamer Costa Rica, departing September 28 and arriving Shanghai October 4. The vice consul, Willie Person Mangum, acknowledged receipt of the government authorization on October 14, 1867, which effectively established the newly formed U.S. Postal Agency in the U.S. Consulate building at 12 Chinkiang Road (source: Frajola-Perlman-Scamp, p. 88).
The "U.S. Consulate General./Shanghai, China." handstamp used before October 14, 1867, is properly defined as a consulate forwarding mark. After October 14 it is an official U.S. Post Office marking, applied with the authority of the U.S. Postal Agency in Shanghai. This distinction is not insignificant. Although undated, this cover can be assigned to the first eastbound mail after October 14, 1867. It was carried on the PMSS Costa Rica, departing Shanghai October 17, 1867, and arriving Yokohama October 24. It was then carried on the PMSS Great Republic, departing Yokohama October 25 and arriving San Francisco November 19. The three recorded covers carried on this trip are illustrated in the Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (pp. 88-90, see lot 2044 for another). All three have the same blue segmented cork cancel applied in Shanghai. Only this cover has the two-line consulate handstamp.
VERY FINE. THIS COVER IS THE FINEST OF ONLY THREE RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE UNITED STATES CONSULATE DOUBLE-CIRCLE DATESTAMP WITH THE "P.O.D." DESIGNATION, REFLECTING THE CONSULATE'S NEW STATUS AS AN OFFICIAL UNITED STATES POSTAL AGENCY. THIS MARKING WAS REPLACED BY THE LONG-LIVED SINGLE-CIRCLE DATESTAMP.
This was carried from Shanghai to Yokohama on the PMSS branch-line steamer Costa Rica, departing January 17, 1868, and arriving January 24. From Yokohama it was carried on the PMSS Great Republic, departing January 26 and arriving San Francisco February 16. No other markings were applied before it was sent by overland mail to New York.
There are only three recorded covers with the "U.S. Consulate General Shanghai" double-circle datestamp with the additional "P.O.D." designation for Post Office Department. The others are much less distinct strikes, both dated January 16, 1868--one on a wrapper with a 2c Black Jack and the other on a cover with two 10c 1861 stamps and the "China and Japan Steam Service" oval. The single-circle datestamp that superseded this marking also has the "P.O.D." initials. Blue ink was replaced with black ink when the new device was implemented.
Samuel Sloan, the addressee, became a director of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in 1864 and served as its president from 1867 to 1899.
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 92).
EXTREMELY FINE. ONE OF FIVE RECORDED COVERS WITH THE 10-CENT 1861-67 ISSUE USED FROM CHINA TO CANADA VIA THE UNITED STATES POSTAL AGENCY IN SHANGHAI. THIS IS THE ONLY ONE WITH THE "20" NUMERAL CANCEL APPLIED AT SHANGHAI.
The 20c postage overpays by 4c the 10c U.S.-China and 6c U.S.-Canada treaty rates; the latter went into effect April 1, 1868. We record five 1861-68 Issue covers from China to Canada via the U.S. Postal Agency in Shanghai: 1) Shanghai Jan. 21, 1869, to Matthewson, ex Drucker (Sale 855, lot 14); 2) Shanghai Jan. 21, 1869, to Gunn & Co., ex Ishikawa, Schloss (Sale 820, lot 248); 3) Shanghai Feb. 20, 1869, to Gunn & Co., ex Ireland; 4) Shanghai Mar. 20, 1869, "20" cancel, to Gunn & Co., ex Ishikawa, Dr. LeBow, the cover offered here; and 5) Shanghai Dec. 21, 1869, to Gunn & Co., without China and Japan Steam Service oval, Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 103).
Two of these covers, including the one offered in this sale, are illustrated and discussed in Richard B. Graham's series on the China and Japan Steam Service (Chronicle 75 and 76). Of the five, only this cover has the "20" numeral cancel, which was evidently created for the March 20, 1869, trip and only used for that mail (another example is offered in lot 2047). Only four have the "China and Japan Steam Service" oval.
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 99).
Ex Ishikawa and Dr. LeBow.
VERY FINE. A COLORFUL AND RARE MIXED-ISSUE FRANKING WITH THE 10-CENT 1869 PICTORIAL AND 6-CENT 1870 NATIONAL BANK NOTE ISSUES, PAYING THE COMBINED TREATY RATES FROM CHINA TO ENGLAND VIA THE UNITED STATES. THIS IS ALSO THE ONLY EXAMPLE OF THE "1871" YEAR-DATED U.S. POSTAL AGENCY IN SHANGHAI DATESTAMP.
The first use of this new device with the "U.S. Postal Ag'cy" designation is on this cover dated December 12, 1871. This is the only recorded example of this circular datestamp with a year date, which was removed in 1872 and never replaced. The 10c 1869 Pictorial and 6c 1870 Bank Note Issue stamps pay the 10c U.S.-China and the 6c U.S.-Great Britain treaty rates. This cover is illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 111), Laurence 10c 1869 book (p. 282) and 1869 Census book (p. 51).
VERY FINE. THIS IS THE CELEBRATED 30-CENT 1869 "BRADFORD" COVER FROM SHANGHAI, WIDELY ACCLAIMED TO BE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT 1869 PICTORIAL COVERS EXTANT AND AN ICON OF CLASSIC UNITED STATES POSTAL HISTORY.
Although there is no year date on the cover, it was mailed from Shanghai in January 1871 by Oliver Bloomfield Bradford, who traveled to Shanghai with his parents in 1861 and was appointed vice consul in 1871. Several years later, Bradford was convicted of tampering with the U.S. mail and subjected to a congressional impeachment review (he was not impeached). Bradford went on to help build China's first railroad (Laurence, Chronicle 80).
This cover was postmarked at the U.S. Postal Agency in Shanghai and carried on the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. branch-line steamer Golden Age, departing January 14, 1871, and arriving at Yokohama January 21. From Yokohama it was carried on the PMSS Great Republic, departing January 23 and arriving at San Francisco February 16. The San Francisco post office applied the February 17 circular datestamp on the back and sent it east on the relatively new transcontinental railroad. The "U.S. CONSULATE GENERAL/SHANGHAI" handstamp is an extremely rare marking--the other example known to us is found used as a forwarding marking on an 1867 cover (see Sale 1105, lot 2606).
Michael Laurence described the Bradford cover in his Chronicle series as "one of the great gems of 1869 philately" and devoted special attention to it in his 10c 1869 book (pp. 277-280). In the 1981 Sotheby Parke Bernet sale catalogue of the Ishikawa U.S. Post Offices in Japan collection, the late Calvet M. Hahn, who described the material, used the superlatives "magnificent and unique" in exaltation of this cover.
Of the approximately 50 covers known with the 30c 1869, only four originated in China or Japan:
1 -- 30c pair, 10c No. 116, Shanghai, China, Jan. 14, 1871, to A. B. Bradford, Enon Valley Pa., ex Shierson, Dr. Riddell, Ishikawa and Dr. LeBow, the cover offered here
2 -- 30c pair, 10c No. 116, Shanghai, China, Feb. 12, 1871, to Boston Trading Co., Boston Mass., in restored condition, Robert G. Kaufmann sale, M. Laurence collection
3 -- 30c pair, 10c No. 116 pair on U40 entire, Yokohama, Japan, July 1, 1869, to Lyon, France, red "China and Japan Steam Service" oval, the so-called "Miro" cover, ex Walske
4 -- 30c single, Yokohama, Japan, Jan. 24, 1870, to Ernest Martin, Marseilles, France, PhilaMercury no. 22784
Illustrated in The 1869 Issue on Cover: A Census and Analysis (color plate 17); Michael Laurence, Ten-Cent 1869 Covers: A Postal Historical Survey (p. 278); Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 108); ANPHILEX '71 exhibition catalogue, where exhibited by Dr. and Mrs. John D. Riddell (photo p. 35, entry p. 50).
Ex Charles A. Shierson, Dr. and Mrs. John D. Riddell, Ryohei Ishikawa and Dr. Robert H. LeBow. Signed by Stanley B. Ashbrook.
With 2004 P.F. certificate.
VERY FINE. ONE OF ELEVEN COVERS WITH UNITED STATES AND CHINA LARGE DRAGON MIXED FRANKINGS--AMONG THIS ELITE GROUP OF POSTAL HISTORY ARTIFACTS, THIS IS ONE OF FOUR WITH THE 5-CANDARINS VALUE, ONE OF THREE WITH THE 7-CANDARINS FULLY PREPAID RATE, ONE OF FIVE USED FROM TIENTSIN, AND IT IS THE EARLIEST RECORDED USE OF THE ONE-CANDARIN WIDE SETTING ISSUE. A MAGNIFICENT COVER WITH MULTI-FACETED APPEAL.
The Postal Tariff of November 1879 notice set the rate between any two Customs post offices at a uniform 3 candarins. Postage could be paid by affixing the 3-candarins Chinese stamp to the back of the cover and affixing the UPU-member nation's stamp to the address side. Alternatively, the sender could affix 7 candarins in Chinese stamps to the back--the additional 4 candarins was sufficient to pay for the UPU postage at the postal agency dispatching the mail to other countries.
In this case the 7 candarins fully prepaid postage was paid with two 1ca Dark Green stamps and one 5ca Orange Yellow stamp, both values from the Wide Setting plates. At the Customs Post Office in Shanghai, the 5c 1875 Issue stamp was affixed. It was cancelled at the U.S. Postal Agency in Shanghai and paid the UPU rate to the United States.
A total of 11 genuine covers with U.S. and China Large Dragon stamps are recorded (updated Whang census). Only 3 covers have U.S. and China Large Dragon mixed frankings reflecting the 7 candarins fully prepaid postage. A fourth cover has two 1ca and two 5ca stamps paying the double 6ca rate. The cover offered here is the earliest recorded use of the 1ca Wide Setting, according to the James B. Whang census book.
Whang census no. 148 (illustrated on color plate, p. 413). llustrated in Robert Pratt book (p. 214).
Ex Dr. Philip W. Ireland, and Anna-Lisa and Sven-Eric Beckeman.
EXTREMELY FINE. A COVER OF EXCEPTIONAL BEAUTY AND QUALITY. THE 3-CANDARINS STRIP OF FOUR USED TO PAY THE DOUBLE RATE SETS THIS APART FROM OTHERS IN THE SMALL GROUP OF APPROXIMATELY 20 REPORTED UNITED STATES AND SMALL DRAGON MIXED-FRANKING COVERS.
Reverend Leander William Pilcher was president of Peking University and a missionary with the Methodist Episcopal Church in China. He died in Peking in 1893. Another cover from Reverend Pilcher is offered in lot 2054.
VERY FINE. A COLORFUL AND VERY UNUSUAL COVER FROM THE INSPECTOR OF CUSTOMS AT KIAOCHOW TO A NEW YORK CITY STAMP DEALER, WITH IMPERIAL CHINESE, GERMAN OFFICES IN CHINA AND THE UNITED STATES COLUMBIAN COMMEMORATIVE ISSUES CREATING A PHILATELIST'S DREAM.
M. Breitenfeldt, the customs inspector at Kiaochow, is well-known for his philatelically inspired redband covers to contemporary dealers such as Maus and Witt. Examples of the Columbian Issue used from Shanghai cannot be found any other way, and they are rare.
VERY FINE. AN ASTONISHING ARRAY OF STAMPS AND MARKINGS REPRESENTING THE REGISTRY SYSTEMS OF THE SHANGHAI AND KEWKIANG LOCAL POSTS, AS WELL AS THE UNITED STATES HOMELAND AND ITS POSTAL AGENCY IN SHANGHAI.
This cover was mailed during a transitional period in the history of the Chinese posts. According to Webb, an Imperial Decree announced in March 1896 formally established an Imperial Chinese Postal Administration under the direction of Sir Robert Hart. The Local Posts were absorbed into this new administration over a period of time, ending in November 1897. The cover offered here was sent approximately one month after the Imperial Decree, yet before it could fully be implemented. Although philatelic in nature, this cover is a legitimate use of the 5c Shanghai Municipality stamp to pay postage from Shanghai to Kewkiang.
Ex Drucker and Fortune Wang.
VERY FINE. AN EXTREMELY RARE USE OF UNITED STATES POSTAGE DUE STAMPS AT THE U.S. POSTAL AGENCY IN SHANGHAI, PAYING THE AMOUNT DUE ON SHORT-PAID MAIL.
The U.S. domestic rate in 1900 was 2c. This cover from Union College was probably part of a bulk mailing, and the 2c postage was insufficient for the 5c UPU rate to Shanghai. It was rated with the deficiency (15 centimes, or 3c), and, in Shanghai the 6c due (double the deficiency) was paid by Postage Due stamps they had on hand, including the Large Numeral issue of 1891. The manuscript 12c marking represents the amount due in local currency at the 2 to 1 exchange rate.