Sale 1242 — The Gordon Eubanks Collection: United States 1851 to 1856 Imperforate Issue
Sale Date — Tuesday-Wednesday, 12-13 October, 2021
Category — Twelve-Cent: Bisects (Scott 17a)
VERY FINE. A SPECTACULAR PAIR OF COVERS BEARING MATCHING HALVES OF THE SAME 12-CENT 1851 ISSUE STAMP, EACH USED WITH A STRIP OF ONE-CENT 1851 ISSUE STAMPS FROM PLATE ONE EARLY TO PAY THE TREATY RATE TO CANADA--ONE ORIGINATING IN CUBA AND THE OTHER IN NEW YORK CITY. THESE COVERS ARE AMONG THE GREATEST ITEMS IN CLASSIC UNITED STATES PHILATELY AND POSTAL HISTORY.
The pair of covers offered here is remarkable in several respects. To begin, these covers were stamped in New York City on August 21, 1851, using the new 1851 Issue, which was released just seven weeks earlier on July 1 (the 12c EDU is August 4, 1851). This is the earliest documented use of a 12c bisect. Further, the use of a 12c bisect to pay part of the 10c treaty rate to Canada is highly unusual. We are aware of three covers to the province of New Brunswick with 12c 1851 bisects used with 1c and 3c 1851 stamps, but no other covers are known with strips of the 1c used with a bisect or mailed at this early date. Finally, the unusual circumstance of mailing--mailed on the same day by the same person to the same addressee, but originating from two different correspondents--provides a fascinating explanation for the two identical frankings and use of matching 12c bisects.
We have been unable to learn anything of substance about the addressee, Thomas Casey. An internet search during the relevant time period failed to produce any information. We can surmise that the senders conducted business with Casey, and we know something about their businesses. Drake Brothers & Co. was a large New York-based firm founded in the 1790s by British-born immigrant James Drake, trading in sugar, coffee, jerked beef and precious metals. It owned one of the largest plantations in Cuba, in collaboration with the United States Mail Steamship Co. (USMSC). Henry A. Coit was also a New York merchant and served as a director on at least one insurance company’s board. Drake Brothers’ connection to the USMSC gives us a clue about how the cover traveled from Cuba to New York City. The USMSC Cherokee arrived in New York on August 21, 1851, after departing Havana around August 17. The previous sailing from Havana left on August 2, before the Drake Brothers letter was written on August 7 (per receipt docketing). Although no forwarder marking appears on either cover, they were almost certainly handled by an agent in New York, who had instructions to forward letters to Casey in Quebec.
The two covers were together when they first appeared in the January 1900 auction of the F. W. Hunter collection, held by Scott Stamp & Coin Co. They went separate ways after the 1900 Hunter sale, but the covers were illustrated and described in Ashbrook's Special Service (pp. 98, 106-107 and 163, photos 47 and 75), at which point they were still apart in different collections. In an article by Mortimer L. Neinken in the May 1970 Chronicle (No. 66, pp. 63-65), he recapped the history of the two covers and coyly noted "this commentator has ascertained that the two covers are now reunited in one collection again." In fact, it was Neinken who reunited the covers.
The Emerson cover with upper right bisect is ex F. W. Hunter (Scott Stamp & Coin Co. sale, Jan. 10-12, 16-18, 1900, lots 189-190), W. A. Smith, Spiegelberg (Morgenthau sale, Jan. 10, 1911, lot 15), Barry (Nassau Stamp Co. sale, Apr. 2-3, 1914, lot 84), Robert S. Emerson (Kelleher sale, Oct. 19, 1937, lot 78), Philip H. Ward private collection (per Ashbrook’s Special Service, Feb. 1, 1953), Benjamin D. Phillips (sold after his death in H. R. Harmer sale, Feb. 17, 1970, lot 156) and Mortimer L. Neinken (acquired by Jerome S. Wagshal privately from the Neinken estate).
The Hind cover with lower left bisect is also ex F. W. Hunter (as above), Arthur Hind (Phillips-Kennett sale, Nov. 20, 1933, lot 145), Carl Brandenbury (Percy Doane sale, Dec. 6, 1943, lot 76), John A. Fox sale (Dec. 12, 1961, lot 582) and Mortimer L. Neinken (acquired by Jerome S. Wagshal privately from the Neinken estate).