Sale 973 — 2009 Rarities of the World
Sale Date — Saturday, 13 June, 2009
Category — Local Posts
FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF SEVEN RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE RICKETTS & HALL STAMP, OF WHICH ONLY FOUR HAVE THE NAME AND ADDRESS AROUND THE PERIMETER STILL INTACT AND ONLY THREE ARE KNOWN ON COVER. THIS IS THE ONLY COPY KNOWN WITH SQUARE MARGINS. ONE OF THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER OF AMERICAN LOCAL-POST STAMPS.
Denwood N. Kelly provided an excellent overview of what little is known about Ricketts & Hall in his Collectors Club Philatelist series on Baltimore (Vol. 50, No. 6). Stephen Gronowski updated the census of known examples in The Penny Post (Apr. 1994) and Steven M. Roth included the three recorded covers in his February 1997 Baltimore survey (Chronicle 173). A review of our own records (including the Costales and Sloane notes and P.F. files) produced no additional examples or information, and the following information is drawn from the sources noted.
The stamps and advertisements from The Sun (Feb. 10-11, 1857) give the address of Ricketts & Hall as 4 Rechabite Hall, the location of Cook's Dispatch three years earlier (considered by Kelly to be purely coincidental). Several candidates for the proprietors are found in city directories, but nothing is known that directly links any of them to the post. Kelly speculated that John Ricketts, a printer, and Robert Hall, a tailor, were the best choices, given their proximity to 4 Rechabite Hall. The post started in February 1857 (the year appears on the stamp) and probably did not exist more than a few months. The three recorded 127L1 stamps with the surrounding name and address cut away have led to speculation that the post was sold to a new owner, who removed his predecessor's imprint; this is not an unreasonable theory, but no evidence beyond the stamps has been found to support it. If this occurred, it would have to pre-date the May 15, 1857 cover listed below as number 7, which bears a stamp with the outer circle and label cut away.
The Gronowski census is current with seven recorded examples: 1) cut to shape, pencil cancel, ex Caspary, Middendorf, Gronowski collection; 2) cut to shape, pencil cancel, ex Ferrary (?--as reported by Sloane), Needham, Hollowbush, Richardson and Golden (Siegel Sale 817, lot 1459, realized $8,000 hammer); 3) outer circle with name and address cut away, uncancelled, ex Burrus; 4) outer circle with name and address cut away, tied by Baltimore blue datestamp (date?) on piece with 3c 1851, 1991 Park Cities net price sale; 5) cut to shape, uncancelled, used on back of Justice of the Peace corner card cover to George C. Whiting, Comm. of Pensions, Washington D.C., 3c 1851 tied by Baltimore Feb. 17, 1857 datestamp on front of cover, ex Lilly, Boker; 6) the only cut square stamp, pencil cancel, used on cover to Master Hammie Keplinger, local address, Valentine enclosure, illustrated in Kelly article, the cover offered here; and 7) outer circle with name and address cut away, uncancelled, used on front only, 3c Red Nesbitt embossed stamp, Baltimore May 15, 1857 datestamp, to George N. Forney, Hanover Pa., discovered in 1909, ex Hollowbush, Lowe. Therefore, there are only four 127L1's with the outer label intact, including two covers and two off-cover stamps (cut to shape except for one stamp on cover).
Illustrated in Kelly CCP series (Vol. 50, No. 6, p. 358), where described as follows: "...discovered in an original find in Virginia in late 1969. Shown in Figure 79, the envelope bears the only Ricketts & Hall stamp so far recorded which is not cut to shape. It is manuscript cancelled in pencil and has a slight imperfection in the lower right corner which does not involve the design. Addressed to a young boy, the envelope encloses a Valentine of the period; there are no postal markings of any sort on front or back."