Sale 1248 — The Magnolia Collection of U.S. Mail in China and Japan: Part 1
Sale Date — Thursday, 16 December, 2021
Category — United States Post Offices in Japan
FINE. ONLY THREE COVERS ARE RECORDED WITH THE DATESTAMP USED AT THE UNITED STATES POST OFFICE AT HAKODATE, WHICH HAD A SMALL AMERICAN POPULATION AND LIMITED MAIL SERVICE IN 1874, BEFORE ALL UNITED STATES POST OFFICES IN JAPAN WERE DISCONTINUED AFTER DECEMBER 31, 1874.
Although the 1854 Convention of Kanagawa established Hakodate as one of the two ports open to Americans, the U.S. did not establish a post office there until much later, in 1873, around the time the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. began service between Yokohama and Hakodate. This post office was closed on December 31, 1874, when all U.S. post offices in Japan were discontinued, and the new Japanese Foreign Postal Service took over international mails on January 1, 1875. The short-lived Hakodate office--spelled "Hakodadi" in the datestamp--served a small community of British and American residents. British consular reports cited by Spaulding (Japanese Philately 181) show that in 1875 only 6 Americans and 22 other Western residents lived there, and in 1874 there were just 11 arrivals of a U.S. mail ship.
Illustrated on cover of Japanese Philately 181 (October 1972) and discussed further in June 1978 issue; illustrated in Riddell pamphlet (p. 11) and Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 199).
Discovered by William O. Bilden in 1961. Ex Robert M. Spaulding, Jr.
VERY FINE. A RARE MULTIPLE OF THE 10-CENT 1869 PICTORIAL ISSUE ON A TRIPLE-RATE COVER FROM JAPAN TO THE UNITED STATES, POSTMARKED BY THE U.S. POST OFFICES AT HIOGO AND YOKOHAMA. THE HIOGO MARKING IS EXTREMELY RARE ON COVER, AND THE USE OF BOTH OFFICE MARKINGS ON ONE COVER IS EXTRAORDINARY.
This cover originated at Hiogo and was carried on the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. branch-line steamer Golden Age as it traveled from Shanghai to Yokohama, departing Shanghai October 13, 1870, and arriving Yokohama October 21. It was then carried by the PMSS China, departing Yokohama October 23, 1870, and arriving San Francisco November 17. The presence of the Yokohama and Hiogo markings on the same cover is extremely unusual.
De Benneville Randolph Keim, a Pennyslvania native and prominent journalist, covered numerous engagements of the Civil War and Indian wars. In 1870 President Grant sent Keim to China as a special agent to investigate potential corruption in the U.S. consulates. He uncovered fraudulent activity by George F. Seward at the consulate in Singapore and nefarious dealings in the construction of the Woosung railroad. Keim also leaked the story of the Manchu rape of French nuns and massacre of Chinese citizens who converted to Catholicism.
Described and illustrated in Scott R. Trepel, "The Keim-Owen Correspondence: 1869 Covers from the Far East" (Chronicle 233).
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. THIS IS THE FAMOUS JUHRING-COULTER COVER FROM HIOGO--THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF A 2-CENT AND 10-CENT 1869 PICTORIAL FRANKING PAYING THE 10-CENT U.S.-JAPAN AND 6-CENT U.S.-CANADA TREATY RATES ON MAIL FROM JAPAN TO CANADA VIA THE UNITED STATES. ONE OF THE MOST OUTSTANDING 1869 PICTORIAL ISSUE COVERS AND AN IMPORTANT COVER IN THE FIELD OF UNITED STATES POST OFFICES IN JAPAN.
This cover was carried from Hiogo to Yokohama on the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. branch-line steamer Golden Age, which arrived Yokohama September 20, 1870. It was then carried on the PMSS Great Republic, departing Yokohama September 23, 1870, and arriving San Francisco October 16 (Sunday). It entered the Canadian mails at Montreal on October 26.
When this cover was sold in the 1977 Juhring sale by Sotheby Parke Bernet (lot 795), the bottom 2c stamp was missing. It appeared as an off-cover stamp in the same Juhring sale (lot 369), and eventually the stamp and cover were reunited by Elliott H. Coulter, who was alerted to the off-cover stamp by Richard C. Frajola. The story of this reunion was told by Michael Laurence in his article, "Frog Turns Prince" (Chronicle 109). Elliott Coulter always regarded this as one of his finest 1869 covers.
Illustrated in The 1869 Issue on Cover: A Census and Analysis (color plate 9); Michael Laurence, Ten-Cent 1869 Covers: A Postal Historical Survey (p. 300); and Jeffrey M. Forster, "1869 Covers Showing the Hiogo Double-Circle Marking," Chronicle 251. Photographed and recorded by Stanley B. Ashbrook, who noted Hollowbush's ownership (prior to Juhring)--see online Ashbrook index card archive at The Philatelic Foundation.
Ex Frank A. Hollowbush, John C. Juhring and Elliott H. Coulter. The 1981 P.F. certificate no longer accompanies.
EXTREMELY FINE. A RENOWNED ITEM IN UNITED STATES AND JAPANESE POSTAL HISTORY, WITH BOTH THE U.S. POST OFFICE IN KANAGAWA OVAL AND THE "CHINA STEAM" STRAIGHTLINE. THE OTHER RECORDED EXAMPLE IS IN THE MITSUI COLLECTION AT THE POSTAL MUSEUM JAPAN--THEREFORE, THIS IS THE ONLY ONE IN PRIVATE HANDS.
The Treaty of Amity and Commerce signed July 29, 1858, expanded American access to Japanese ports beyond Hakodate and Shimoda, the two named in the 1854 treaty. The additional ports were Kanagawa/Yokohama and Nagasaki (from July 4, 1859), Niigata (from January 1, 1860), and Hiogo/Kobe (from January 1, 1863). Shimoda was closed to Americans six months after the Kanagawa port was opened, and Americans were allowed to reside in Edo and Osaka for business purposes.
Col. George S. Fisher was the U.S. Consul in Yokohama when the "Forwarded by U.S. Consul, Kanagawa, Japan" handstamp was first used in 1866. Fisher's term began with his arrival in 1862 and ended on December 31, 1866. His replacement was General Julius Stahel, a Hungarian soldier who emigrated to the U.S. and became a Union general in the Civil War. The U.S. Post Office at Yokohama was officially established on July 27, 1867, with the appointment of Stahel as postmaster.
The oval handstamp's first period of use started January 1, 1866. It was applied by Fisher as a forwarding mark on mail sent through the U.S. Consulate (see lot 2076). The device survived the great fire in Kanagawa on November 26, 1866, which destroyed the U.S. Consulate building, furnishings and all of Fisher's personal effects. The second period was from August to December 1867, when it was applied by Stahel as a cancelling device or postmark on mail sent through the U.S. post office. Unlike the 1866 covers, the Kanagawa oval's function on the August 1867 and later covers was to cancel the stamps or indicate the post office origin, not to identify the forwarding agent.
This address panel--to simplify the discussion, it is referred to here as a cover--was carried from Yokohama to San Francisco on the third eastbound (return) trip of the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. Colorado, the same journey that carried the postal agreement between the U.S. and Hong Kong. This was the first trip after the U.S. Consulate in Yokohama was designated an official postal agency. The Colorado departed Yokohama August 24, 1867, and arrived at San Francisco September 14.
The five covers from the August 24, 1867, trip with U.S. stamps cancelled by the Kanagawa oval are:
1 -- 10c No. 68, to Macondray & Co., SF Sep. 14 (1867), "CHINA STEAM", ex Ishikawa, offered here
2 -- 10c No. 68, to Macondray & Co., SF Sep. 14 (1867), "CHINA STEAM", Mitsui (Postal Museum Japan)
3 -- 10c No. 68 five, to Milan, Italy, SF Sep. 14 (1867), via NY and France, Frajola-Perlman-Scamp p. 130
4 -- 5c No. 76 pair, to Boston, SF Sep. 15 (1867), Mitsui (Postal Museum Japan)
5 -- 2c No. 73, Jun. 27, 1867, circular to Macondray & Co., no SF markings, ex Faust (Sale 1181, lot 1631)
Only two of the five above have the "CHINA STEAM" straightline handstamp, and only one is in private hands. They are the cover offered here (no. 1 above) and a nearly identical cover (no. 2, a front with one panel), illustrated in the Riddell pamphlet and formerly in the Baron Mitsui Takaharu collection, now part of the Postal Museum Japan. Following the five listed above (from the August 24 trip) are three other stamped covers with the Kanagawa oval: a 10c 1861 cover carried on the October 25 trip (PMSS Great Republic) and two covers carried on the December 6 trip (PMSS China), each with two 5c 1863 stamps. In total, there are eight stamped covers with the Kanagawa oval, including two in the Postal Museum Japan, leaving six available to collectors.
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 130).
Ex Ryohei Ishikawa.
EXTREMELY FINE APPEARANCE. THE EARLIEST RECORDED USE OF THE UNITED STATES CONSULATE KANAGAWA OVAL HANDSTAMP ON MAIL FORWARDED BY THE U.S. CONSUL BEFORE THE POST OFFICE WAS ESTABLISHED IN JULY 1867. ONLY THREE KANAGAWA HANDSTAMPED COVERS ARE RECORDED WITH THE SAN FRANCISCO FEBRUARY 5, 1866, ARRIVAL DATESTAMP.
There are three recorded covers with the oval handstamp used as a forwarding marking, originating in Yokohama in January 1866 during Col. George S. Fisher's term as U.S. Consul. Two of the January 1866 covers, including this one, are illustrated in the Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 40). The third is shown in the Riddell pamphlet (p. 3). Very few covers with the Kanagawa oval are recorded during the rest of Fisher's term, which ended December 31, 1866 (see lot 2077). In August 1867, during General Julius Stahel's term as Consul and the first U.S. postmaster in Yokohama, the first use of the Kanagawa oval as an official U.S. Post Office marking is found on five recorded covers carried on the August 24, 1867, trip of the PMSS Colorado (see lot 2075).
Ex Ishikawa, Kramer and Walske.
VERY FINE OVERALL AND A MAGNIFICENT STRIKE. AN EXTREMELY RARE USE OF THE UNITED STATES CONSULATE KANAGAWA OVAL HANDSTAMP ON MAIL FORWARDED BY THE U.S. CONSUL BEFORE THE POST OFFICE WAS ESTABLISHED IN JULY 1867.
The earliest recorded use of the Kanagawa U.S. Consulate oval as a mail-forwarding mark is on three covers sent in January 1866 during Col. George S. Fisher's term as U.S. Consul, which have San Francisco February 5, 1866, arrival datestamps (see lot 2076). Very few covers with the Kanagawa oval are recorded during the rest of Fisher's term, which ended December 31, 1866. In August 1867, during General Julius Stahel's term as Consul and the first U.S. postmaster in Yokohama, the first use of the Kanagawa oval as an official U.S. Post Office marking is found on five recorded covers carried on the August 24, 1867, trip of the PMSS Colorado (see lot 2075).
One other cover from this voyage of the British brig Ann Sanderson is recorded (Sale 966, lot 2139). That cover is addressed to Elmira, New York, and postmarked in San Francisco with a September 17 datestamp, the day of the eastbound mail departure. It is correctly rated "SHIP 6." The 4c rate for a ship letter addressed to the port of entry was free of any weight calculation. This letter to San Francisco was rated 8c due, twice the rate, which presumably was for two letters as noted at lower left.
Ex Lois Evans-de Violini.
VERY FINE. A TRULY REMARKABLE COVER WITH THE SUPERFICIAL APPEARANCE OF A STANDARD 45-CENT RATE COVER FROM THE UNITED STATES TO FRANCE, BUT THE YOKOHAMA EXPORTER'S BLUE OVAL, RED "CHINA AND JAPAN STEAM SERVICE" OVAL AND SAN FRANCISCO DATESTAMP REVEAL THE TRUE NATURE OF THIS COVER--SENT FROM JAPAN TO FRANCE VIA THE UNITED STATES WITH THE 10-CENT TRANSPACIFIC AND 30-CENT TRANSATLANTIC RATES PREPAID.
The 15c U.S.-France treaty rate for mail sent via England was calibrated in 7.5 gram increments (or quarter-ounce in the U.S.), but the 10c U.S.-Japan rate advanced in half-ounce increments. For every step, the credit to Great Britain for transit on mail to France was 6c. Therefore, the correct postage for a letter from Japan to France via the U.S. and Great Britain was as follows:
0.25 and =0.50 ounce = 40c (2 x 15c=30c plus 10c), credit 12c (2 x 6c)
0.50 and =0.75 ounce = 65c (3 x 15c=45c plus 2 x 10c=20c), credit 18c (3 x 6c)
0.75 and =1.00 ounce = 80c (4 x 15c=60c plus 2 x 10c=20c), credit 24c (4 x 6c)
If this seems confusing from the vantage point of a modern-day collector, imagine how a clerk in a bustling mid-19th century New York foreign mail exchange office felt. In the case of this cover, which was probably overpaid 5c for the 40c combined rate, the clerk in New York did not even bother to mark a credit to Great Britain. It was treated as fully paid ("PD") in England and France.
VERY FINE. ONE OF THE FEW EXTANT COVERS FROM A UNITED STATES POST OFFICE IN JAPAN TO A EUROPEAN DESTINATION BEFORE THE BANK NOTE ISSUE PERIOD--ESPECIALLY RARE WITH THE "X" CHOP CANCELS, "CHINA AND JAPAN STEAM SERVICE" OVAL AND ITALY AS THE DESTINATION.
The two rates involved in sending this letter from Japan to Italy via the United States and Great Britain are 10c for the U.S.-Japan treaty rate and 15c for the treaty rate to Italy by Closed Mail. The 30c postage on this cover overpays the required combination rate, either through a change in the originally intended route, as Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book suggests (p. 143), or simply because the sender had 10c stamps and overpaid rather than underpaid the postage.
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 143).
Ex Ishikawa and Risvold.
EXTREMELY FINE. THE 10-CENT 1861 STRIP OF FOUR ON THIS COVER IS ONE OF THE LARGEST EXTANT MULTIPLES OF THE UNITED STATES 1861-68 ISSUE USED FROM JAPAN.
The only comparable 1861-68 Issue frankings from U.S. post offices in China and Japan known to us are found on covers from Shanghai to New York City (four 10c 1861 singles) and Kanagawa-Yokohama to Italy (10c 1861 strip of three and two singles), shown in the Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (pp. 96 and 130, respectively). Covers with large frankings of the 1869 Pictorial and 1870 Bank Note Issues are known.
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 137).
VERY FINE. ONE OF TWO RECORDED COVERS FROM THE FAR EAST WITH FIVE 2-CENT BLACK JACK STAMPS PAYING THE 10-CENT RATE--THESE TWO ARE THE ONLY RECORDED BLACK JACK COVERS WITH THE "CHINA AND JAPAN STEAM SERVICE" OVAL HANDSTAMP. ONLY SEVEN COVERS ARE KNOWN FROM JAPAN WITH ANY FORM OF BLACK JACK FRANKING. A TRULY SPECTACULAR ARTIFACT OF FAR EAST POSTAL HISTORY INVOLVING THE UNITED STATES MAILS.
A review of past auctions and The Philatelic Foundation records located only seven 2c Black Jack covers originating in Japan. Two have the "Hiogo, Japan" double-circle handstamp, and on each the 2c stamp is used with two 10c stamps for the combined 10c steamship rate and 12c treaty rate to England. Three others are printed matter rates with one or two 2c Black Jack stamps (one is offered as lot 2082 in this sale). In addition to the cover offered here, we located only one other from Japan or China with five Black Jack stamps paying the 10c rate (ex Faust, Sale 1181, lot 1630). In fact, these two covers from Japan are the only examples of the Black Jack used by itself to pay the 10c rate on a cover from China or Japan, and they are the only two Black Jack covers with the "China and Japan Steam Service" oval.
Ex Dr. Rorke and Fosdyke-Ray. With 1978 P.F. certificate.
EXTREMELY FINE. ONE OF THREE RECORDED COVERS FROM JAPAN WITH 2-CENT BLACK JACK STAMPS PAYING THE PRINTED MATTER RATE AND ONE OF THREE BLACK JACK COVERS FROM JAPAN TO A DESTINATION BEYOND THE UNITED STATES--THIS IS THE ONLY ONE TO FRANCE.
A review of past auctions and The Philatelic Foundation records located only seven 2c Black Jack covers originating in Japan. Two have the "Hiogo, Japan" double-circle handstamp, and on each the 2c stamp is used with two 10c stamps for the combined 10c steamship rate and 12c treaty rate to England. Two have five 2c stamps paying the 10c rate and the "China and Japan Steam Service" oval (one is offered in lot 2081). Three are printed matter rates with one or two 2c Black Jack stamps, and of the three this is the only one addressed to a destination beyond the United States. It is also one of only three Black Jack covers from Japan to a destination beyond the U.S., and the only one to France. We have not factored the grilled-issue aspect into our statistics.
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 142). This cover appears to have been unknown to American postal historians until it appeared in a Lahitte-Marsanoux auction in Lyon, France, in 2005.
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. AN EXTREMELY RARE USE OF THE 2-CENT 1869 PICTORIAL ON PRINTED MATTER FROM KANAGAWA (YOKOHAMA) TO FRANCE. THIS IS THE EARLIEST RECORDED COVER WITH THE 2-CENT 1869 USED FROM CHINA OR JAPAN.
This printed market and shipping report is one of several known pieces of mail sent to J. B. David in St. Etienne, France, through the U.S. or French post offices in Yokohama. This cover, listing an August 24, 1869, sailing in the shipping table, was carried on the PMSS Great Republic, departing Yokohama August 30, 1869, and arriving San Francisco September 18. The "X" cancel is one of a series of Japanese "chops" used on mail carried by PMSS steamers between San Francisco and Japan. This particular chop is identical to the one used to cancel stamps on the cover offered in Sale 911, lot 331, which was definitely carried on the Great Republic August 30 sailing. The pair of 2c 1869 stamps underpaid the required postage on this printed circular from Japan to France, perhaps because there was a handwritten letter attached at one point.
The earliest recorded cover with 1869 stamps used in China or Japan is the "Miro" cover with 10c and 30c 1869 pairs, which was carried on the PMSS Japan, departing Yokohama July 1, 1869, and arriving San Francisco July 20. The next sequential usage of 1869 stamps from Japan are three covers carried on the same August 30, 1869, trip of the Great Republic from Yokohama: the 2c cover offered in this lot, a cover with two 10c stamps and the "China and Japan Steam Service" oval (Sale 911, lot 331) and a single 10c on cover to Rev. Bingham in Ridgefield, Connecticut, also with the "China and Japan Steam Service" oval (Laurence book, p. 286).
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF THE FEW KNOWN COVERS FROM JAPAN WITH THE UNITED STATES CONSULATE IMPRINT--ESPECIALLY DESIRABLE WITH THE TRIPLE-RATE 10-CENT 1869 PICTORIAL ISSUE FRANKING AND YOKOHAMA DATESTAMP.
This cover was sent from Charles O. Shepard, a resident of Buffalo, New York, who served as the first U.S. Consul at Edo (Tokyo), U.S. Consul at Yokohama and Acting Minister (Chargé d'Affaires) in Japan successively from 1868 to 1874. It is addressed to his only daughter, Mary, who was married to James B. Parke and lived in Buffalo in 1870. Shepard's autobiographic account of his time in Japan was published in The American Foreign Service Journal (July 1925, available online).
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 149)--another cover from the same correspondence, with the U.S. Consulate imprint and one 10c 1869 stamp, is shown on page 146.
Ex Dr. LeBow. With 1985 P.F. certificate.
FINE APPEARANCE. A PHENOMENAL BANK NOTE ISSUE FRANKING ON A COVER FROM THE UNITED STATES POST OFFICE IN YOKOHAMA--THE LARGEST BLOCK KNOWN FROM CHINA OR JAPAN.
The addressee, Mrs. Allethere S. Gray, died in Yarmouth, Maine, in 1883. No additional information about her or the family has been located, but it seems likely that this was written by a family member who was in Japan on a sailing voyage. The presence of the red "Paid" marking is significant. A reasonable scenario is the sender did not posssess any stamps and paid 50c postage (2.5 ounce rate) in cash. The "Paid" must have been applied by a forwarder or possibly by a consular/postal agent, and the "50c" notations indicated how much was received. The 25 2c stamps came from the Yokohama post office and were affixed partly over the "Paid." We could not find another example of this marking in any of the references consulted.
Ex Ishikawa and Albert.
FINE. AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE USE OF THE 30-CENT 1870 NATIONAL BANK NOTE ISSUE FROM A UNITED STATES POST OFFICE IN JAPAN--THE COMBINATION PAYS THE 5-TIMES 10-CENT RATE.
The United States offices in Japan seem to have been well-supplied with 2c, 6c and 10c stamps, but any of the higher denominations are extremely rare with Japanese markings, on or off cover. This is one of four covers from Japan with a 30c 1870 or 1873 large Bank Note stamp known to us. Three have a Yokohama datestamp (other two ex Ishikawa U.S.P.O. in Japan, lots 58 and 64). The fourth has a "United States Naval Depot Nagasaki" imprint on the large-size envelope, but no datestamp (Sale 845, lot 650).
VERY FINE. ONLY FOUR COVERS FROM THE U.S. POST OFFICE IN JAPAN TO CHINA WITH 1861-68 ISSUE STAMPS PAYING THE 10-CENT RATE ARE RECORDED.
Letters between U.S. post offices in China and Japan were carried under the blanket 10c rate until the 6c interconsular rate was introduced. Based on archival correspendence, the rate is thought to have been implemented in mid-April 1870 (see Laurence 10c 1869 book, p. 281).
There are four recorded interconsular covers from Japan to Shanghai with the 10c 1861 or 1868 Grilled Issue paying this rate. In addition, there are two 1869 Pictorial covers (both 6c rates--one offered in lot 2094) and a number of Bank Note Issue covers. One of the four 10c 1861-68 covers is in the Kanai collection of Japan, which is now part of a museum display and might never be sold.
EXTREMELY FINE. ONLY TWO COVERS FROM THE U.S. POST OFFICE IN JAPAN TO CHINA WITH 1869 PICTORIAL ISSUE STAMPS ARE RECORDED. THIS COVER WITH THE 3-CENT PAIR PAYING THE 6-CENT INTERCONSULAR RATE AND "FLOWER PETALS" CANCELLATION IS THE MORE BEAUTIFUL OF THE TWO.
Letters between U.S. post offices in China and Japan were carried under the blanket 10c rate until the 6c interconsular rate was introduced. Based on archival correspendence, the rate is thought to have been implemented in mid-April 1870 (see Laurence 10c 1869 book, p. 281). This cover has the correct 6c interconsular rate.
In addition to the four recorded interconsular covers from Japan to Shanghai with 10c 1861 or 1868 Grilled Issue frankings, there are two 1869 Pictorial covers and a number of Bank Note Issue covers. This 3c 1869 cover is arguably the most beautiful of all known interconsular covers.
Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 188); The 1869 Issue on Cover: A Census and Analysis (color plate 6); and Jonathan W. Rose, United States Postage Stamps of 1869 (p. 55).
Ex Knapp, Juhring, Carnahan, Watt C. White and Walske