15¢ Black (77), block of six from right pane with interpane margin at left, original gum, lightly hinged, wonderfully choice centering with bottom row superb, intense shade and proof-like impression on bright paper
George H. Worthington, J. C. Morgenthau sale, 8/21-23/1917, lot 317
Alfred H. Caspary, H. R. Harmer sale, 11/19-21/1956, lot 220, to Cole (for Lilly)
Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., Siegel Auction Galleries, 2/2/1967, Sale 312, lot 157
Arthur Hetherington, "Quality" collection, H. R. Harmer sale, 6/5/1980, lot 579
Ryohei Ishikawa, Christie's Robson Lowe sale, 9/28-29/1993, lot 475, to William H. Gross
The Philatelic Foundation (1993)
Extremely Fine; top right stamp has one short perf (not noted on certificate)
SCOTT CATALOGUE VALUE (2019)
$42,500.00 as a block and pair
HISTORY AND COMMENTARY
The 1866 Lincoln Memorial Issue
The national year of mourning for Abraham Lincoln came to an end on April 14, 1866. During that period, many appeals were made to postal officials to issue a stamp with Lincoln's likeness. In October 1865 the first stamp to portray the martyred president was issued--the 25¢ Newspapers and Periodicals (PR3)--but that stamp was intended for use on bundles of newspapers distributed by publishers, not on ordinary letter mail. The first regular postage stamp honoring Lincoln is the 15¢ Black (Scott 77), issued on April 14, 1866. This date has been established through analysis of contemporary sources, but was not a "first day of issue" in the philatelic sense.
The Lincoln stamp was designed by James Macdonough of the National Bank Note Company. The vignette, adapted from photographic portraits taken by C. S. German in 1861 and Matthew Brady in 1862, was engraved by Joseph P. Ourdan (1828-1881). Ourdan was a highly-skilled engraver who later became chief of the Engraving Division of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The frame was engraved by William D. Nichols. The stamps were printed from Plate 41 in sheets of 200 (two panes of 100). A total of 2,139,000 of the 1866 stamps were issued.
Today, the largest known unused multiple of Scott 77 (the ungrilled stamp) is a block of 12 without gum. The largest known multiple with original gum is a block of six, represented by two recorded blocks. The block offered here is by far the better centered of the two, and, in fact, is superior to the few surviving blocks of four.