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Lot 3

Millbury, Massachuetts, 1846, 5c black on bluish paper, margins clear on three sides, barely touching at left, tied to 1846 folded letter by neatly-struck red PAID straight-line, red "5" rate handstamp, postmarked with crisp "Milbury Ms. / Sep / 6" c.d.s., to Boston, two small tears at left of adhesive, unobtrusive filing folds, an iconic rarity, offered at auction for the first time in over forty years. (USPCS Census 20235)
- Robert S. Emerson (reported acquired circa 1929), recorded as subsequently sold by Ezra Cole upon Emerson’s death. (The Judge Robert S. Emerson Sales, Stanley M. Biermann, The Chronicle, Vol 120, 1983).
- H.R. Harmer, New York (4 June, 1980)
- Illustrated in the Stamp Specialist (Vol. I, Part 4)
- Illustrated in American Philatelic Miscellany, edited by Susan M McDonald, 1976.
- Illustrated in “The Millbury Postmaster's Provisional Stamp - The Unused Copy”, The Chronicle, Vol 121, 1984.
Distinctive for its omission of both the name of the issuing postmaster and the corresponding town, the stamp’s primitive yet charming depiction of George Washington has enthralled collectors since its discovery. Philip T. Wall, in an introduction to his analysis of the Millbury Provisional, recounts the early years of the professional career of the man who would become the town’s Postmaster, Asa Holman Waters.  Waters had a privileged upbringing, attending both Yale University and Harvard Law School, before embarking on ventures in law, politics, banking, and, eventually, overseeing the family’s armory business.  These diverse pursuits meant that, upon his appointment as Postmaster of Millbury on 18 January, 1836, he was kept preoccupied by his many other engagements. Wall notes that Henry Waterman, a local jeweller, ran the post office on Waters’ behalf, and was ultimately responsible for the issuing of the now renowned provisional.
The USPCS Census records nine covers, three singles on piece, and five single stamps.  Interestingly, the rate markings used on the various on-cover examples are quite diverse. The cover offered here is the unique example with a simple “5”, while others have varying types of “5” or “V” in circle. All are struck in red.
An exceptional opportunity to acquire an iconic treasure of United States philately.