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Sale 1200 — The William H. Gross Collection: U.S. Stamp Multiples

Sale Date — Wednesday-Thursday, 8-9 May, 2019

Category — Dollar Value Columbians (Scott 241-245)

Cat./Est. Value
Sale Number 1200, Lot Number 152, Dollar Value Columbians (Scott 241-245)A superb bottom plate block of the $2, A superb bottom plate block of the $2A superb bottom plate block of the $2.00 Columbian Issue--one of the two finest of only five available plate blocks--from the Lilly and Kobacker collections


$2.00 Columbian (242), block of six from bottom of right pane with "AMERICAN BANK NOTE COMPANY." imprint and "No. 105" plate number, original gum, lightly hinged, outstanding centering, deep rich color


Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., Siegel Auction Galleries, 2/7-8/1968, Sale 327, lot 196, to Weill

Arthur J. Kobacker, Christie's Robson Lowe, 9/25/1991, lot 520

Bought privately from Harry Hagendorf (Columbian Stamp Co.)


Extremely Fine; small tear in selvage, Lilly sale mentions "almost invisible thin speck" which might exist but is all but undetectable




How the Knife Cuts

The $2.00 Columbian, depicting "Columbus in Chains," is based on an 1841 painting by Emanuel Gottleib Leutze. The vignette was engraved by Charles Skinner and the frame and lettering by Douglas S. Ronaldson. 45,550 stamps were printed from Plate 105, and an unknown number were destroyed and never issued.

For the Columbian series, all of the 1¢ stamps and most but not all of the 2¢ stamps were printed from 200-subject plates, with horizontal guide arrows between the two panes of 100. The perforating machine simultaneously applied horizontal perforations and cut the 200-stamp sheets into panes of 100, normally leaving a trace of the guide arrow on the straight edge of each pane. Some of the 2¢ stamps and all of the 3¢-$5.00 stamps were printed on smaller presses from plates of 100 subjects, with no guide arrows. When the perforating machine applied horizontal perforations to sheets from the 100-subject plates, the cutting blade, in the same position, removed either the top or bottom sheet margin (and plate number), depending on how the sheet was fed into the perforator, reducing by half the potential number of Columbian plate blocks that might have been available to collectors. This is also why so many Columbian stamps are reperforated at top or bottom rather than at the sides--10 stamps from every 100-subject sheet (or pane) would have a straight edge at either top or bottom. The 100-subject sheets were then divided into panes of 50 for distribution and sale at post offices. The undivided full sheets of 100 were only available from the Philatelic Agency in Washington D.C.

All of the values printed from 100-subject plates are known with both top and bottom plate blocks except for the 50¢ and $4.00, from which only bottom plate blocks are known. As explained, depending on how the sheet was fed into the perforator, either the top or bottom selvage was cut away and a straight edge was left in its place. For the 50¢ and $4.00, it appears that the entire supply was fed into the perforator in the same manner, preserving the bottom selvage and eliminating all top plate blocks (or any kind of top selvage). It is interesting that top and bottom plate blocks of the other dollar values exist.

The $2.00 Columbian is one of the great rarities of plate block collecting. Only six are recorded, including one in the Miller collection:

1) Bottom left plate no. 105 and "AA" block of eight, "MLG" collection (Siegel Sale 971, lot 1163)

2) Bottom right plate no. 105 block of six, lightly hinged, tiny sealed tear in selvage, ex Lilly and Kobacker, offered in this sale

3) Bottom left plate no. 105 block of six, disturbed original gum, ex Col. Green (Sale 27), Eno and "World's Fair" collection (Siegel Sale 1055, lot 59)

4) Top right plate no. 105 block, part of a full sheet of 100, sheet with separations, right plate block intact, discovered in Germany (Mohrmann sale, 2016)

5) Top left plate no. 105 block with perf separations, part of a full sheet of 100, sheet and plate block with separations, discovered in Germany (Mohrmann sale, 2016)

6) Bottom left plate no. 105 block of six, original gum, Miller collection, The New York Public Library, unavailable to collectors.

E. 100,000-150,000
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