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

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

Category — 1¢-90¢ 1857-60 Issue (Scott 18-39)

Cat./Est. Value
Sale Number 1200, Lot Number 42, 1¢-90¢ 1857-60 Issue (Scott 18-39), The only 5¢ Orange Brown plate block in private hands


5¢ Orange Brown, Type II (30), Positions 49-50/59-60R2, block of four from right pane of Plate 2 with "(Toppa)n, Carpenter & Co. BANK NOTE ENGRAVERS. Phila. New York, Bost(on & Cincinnati)" imprint and "No. 2 P." plate number, original gum, hinge remnants, rich color in the 1861 shade of Orange Brown, beautifully centered


Sir Nicholas Waterhouse, H. R. Harmer London sale, 6/27-30/1955, lot 286, to Cole (for Hetherington)

Arthur Hetherington, "Quality" collection, H. R. Harmer sale, 6/5/1980, lot 534, to Chapin

John C. Chapin (collection sold privately to Shreves and then to William H. Gross, 2002)


John C. Chapin, A Census of United States Classic Plate Blocks 1851-1882, census no. 159


Very Fine-Extremely Fine; natural inclusion spot in gum at bottom left and some reinforced perf separations


The Mixed Up Order of Scott 30 and 30A

The first 5¢ Jefferson stamps were produced by Toppan Carpenter sometime in the first quarter of 1856. The 1856 Issue was imperforate and produced from the first plate with the full design (Type I). In 1857 the Post Office began issuing perforated stamps for all denominations, and they started by perforating the existing stock of imperforate sheets on hand. Looking at the earliest documented uses of the perforated 5¢ stamps issued from 1857 to 1861, there is a largely consistent pattern of new 5¢ printings at the beginning of each year. Printings from Plate 1 were made in 1858 (Red Brown) and 1859 (Brown); then in 1860 a new plate was made from a transfer roll with the design shortened at top and bottom--Type II. Plate 2 was used to print more 5¢ stamps in 1860 (Type II Brown) and 1861 (Type II Orange Brown). The Scott Catalogue transposes the chronological order of the Type II issues, with the Orange Brown listed first as Scott 30, followed by the Brown, Scott 30A.

Although a relatively large number of 5¢ Orange Browns reached collectors from unused supplies left over after the issue was demonetized due to the Civil War, multiples are scarce, and most have been broken to feed the market's desire for singles. The largest recorded multiple is a block of 32 from the upper right corner of Plate 2 (Positions 3-10/13-20/23-30/33-40R2) with corner sheet selvage. The plate block of four was detached from this block of 32, probably sometime before World War II, but at least by 1955 when the plate block appeared in the Waterhouse sale--the block of 32 appeared in the Caspary sale in 1956. Another block of four, with the top sheet margin, comes from Positions 1-2/11-12R2 in the original sheet. The three multiples are shown together in the digital reconstruction at left.

Only two plate number blocks of the 5¢ Orange Brown are known, the other of which (also a block of four) is in the Webster Knight collection, located in the John Hay Library at Brown University. The Chapin census lists a third plate block (of six) as Scott 30 (census no. 160), based on an incorrect auction sale description--the stamps are actually the Brown, Scott 30A (Siegel Sale 1090, lot 1163).

Digital reconstruction of plate block offered here with block of 32 and block of 4

E. 15,000-20,000
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