Sale 1115 — A European Connoisseur's Collection of U.S. Classic Issues
Sale Date — Tuesday, 15 December, 2015
Category — 30c 1857-60 Issue (Scott 38)
VERY FINE. A PREVIOUSLY UNRECORDED EXAMPLE OF THE SAN FRANCISCO "OVERLAND" MARKING, WHICH NOW BECOMES ONE OF TEN RECORDED TRANSATLANTIC COVERS WITH THIS CALIFORNIA MAIL DIRECTIVE HANDSTAMP. THIS IS THE ONLY "OVERLAND" COVER WITH THE 30-CENT 1860 ISSUE. TRULY SPECTACULAR AND ONE OF THE GREAT COVERS OF WESTERN POSTAL HISTORY, TRANSATLANTIC MAILS AND CLASSIC UNITED STATES PHILATELY.
As explained by Richard C. Frajola and Michael Perlman in their important article on the California "Overland" mail directive markings (available at http://www.rfrajola.com/overland/overland.htm ), there were two different, successive meanings of this handstamp. The first, when applied prior to January 23, 1860, was that the letter was received too late for the mail steamer departure from San Francisco, and that it would be sent by the Butterfield overland mail instead. After January 23, when the default for mail transportation was changed to the overland mail route, the "Overland" marking meant that the letter was received too late for the stagecoach departure from San Francisco, and that it would be sent by next overland mail instead. In San Francisco, two different versions of the "Overland" straightline were used. The second (Type 2) -- the marking on this cover -- has the dropped letters "LAN" and is recorded on covers from September 6, 1860, to October 26, 1860; therefore, it always means the letter was received too late to catch the stagecoach.
The Marysville origin date of October 25 is one day before the overland stage left from San Francisco on the regular Friday departure. The next mail left on Monday, October 29. It is probable that this missed the October 26 trip and was held for October 29 stagecoach. The October 29 mail reached St. Louis on November 19, and could have been in New York City on November 21 to receive the credit datestamp on that day. From New York it was carried on the Cunarder Persia, which departed on November 21, 1860, and arrived in Queenstown on December 1. The December 3 arrival datestamp confirms this transatlantic sailing.
The Frajola-Perlman census records nine "Overland" covers that were sent across the Atlantic to European destinations. Four of these have the Type 1 marking, and five have the Type 2. This cover is new to the record, bringing the count of transatlantic uses to ten (six Type 2). Of these, only four have intact frankings with stamps; the others are stampless or have stamps added. The most famous of these four stamped, transatlantic "Overland" covers is the one to France with a block and strip of three of the 5c Brown, Type II (Scott 30A), ex Malcolm, which sold for $165,000 in the September 27, 1988, Christie's Robson Lowe sale of the Walter C. Klein collection.
The cover offered here is the only "Overland" cover with the 30c 1860 Issue. For all practical purposes, this cover has been unknown to philatelists. It has never appeared in an auction catalogue, as far as we and other specialists we consulted are aware. There are no notations on the back to indicate the source, but we think it was sold by a European dealer to the collector more than a half-century ago. Our estimate is not based on any past sale record, and it could prove to be very conservative, especially considering the $165,000 realization for the ex-Klein cover nearly 30 years ago.