Sale 1248 — The Magnolia Collection of U.S. Mail in China and Japan: Part 1

Sale Date — Thursday, 16 December, 2021

Category — Mail From China

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
2040
c
Sale 1248, Lot 2040, Mail From ChinaLegation of the/United States. China. Clear strike of red two-line script handstamp on small cover addressed in the hand of U.S. Minister to China, William Bradford Reed, to Joseph Reed Ingersoll (as former U.S. Minister to Great Britain, 1852-53) in Philadelphia, Reed's directive "Via Marseilles", "Hong Kong 26 OC 1858" and red "BB London DE 15 58" circular datestamps on back, manuscript "24" one-shilling debit for British postage--carried to Southampton on Peninsular & Oriental route via Marseilles, then by New York & Havre Line Fulton, departing Southampton December 16, 1858, arriving New York January 4, 1859--entered U.S. exchange office at Philadelphia where "Philadelphia Am. Pkt. Jan. 5" (1859) circular datestamp and "45" due handstamp were applied, intact "WBR" red wax seal on flap

EXTREMELY FINE. ONE OF TWO RECORDED PRIVATELY HELD EXAMPLES OF THE "LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES. CHINA" MARKING--THE FIRST KNOWN UNITED STATES MAIL HANDSTAMP USED IN CHINA--ON A COVER SENT BY U.S. MINISTER REED FOUR MONTHS AFTER HE NEGOTIATED AND SIGNED THE U.S.-CHINA TREATY OF TIENTSIN IN 1858. AN IMPORTANT HISTORICAL ARTIFACT OF EARLY UNITED STATES POSTAL RELATIONS WITH CHINA.

William Bradford Reed was appointed Minister to China from 1857 to 1858 by President James Buchanan after Reed secured Whig Party support for Buchanan, a Democrat, during the election of 1856. Reed arrived in China in 1857 to negotiate a renewed treaty following the Second Opium War (1856-58), from which Great Britain and France had emerged victorious. Using the Most Favored Nation provisions of the 1844 Treaty of Amity, Peace and Commerce, Reed successfully argued for the same rights imposed on the Chinese by the British. The Treaty of Tientsin, signed on June 18, 1858, granted American government representatives the right to reside in Peking, reduced tariffs on American goods, and guaranteed free religious expression in China, which opened the door for Christian missionaries.

This cover enclosed a letter from Reed to Joseph Reed Ingersoll, who served one year as Minister to Great Britain, then returned to Philadelphia in 1853. Reed utilized the British postal system to send this mail to the United States. The 45c collected from Ingersoll included 24c for British postage between Hong Kong and England via Marseilles. Since an American Packet steamship was used to carry it from Southampton to New York, the U.S. retained 21c of the 45c.

One other example of this script handstamp is recorded, dated September 1, 1858, from Reed to Thomas Biddle in Singapore. Both are illustrated in the Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 13).

Ex Bilden.

E. 7,500-10,000
7,500