Western Express Covers

Express Companies
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  • Lot# : 94 Western Express Covers

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    Alta Express Co. Paid (Thomas ALT-001), black illustrated frank on 3c Red on buff entire (Scott U10) addressed to Sacramento City California and bearing red oval "Alta Express Company San Francisco" express marking (Thomas type ALT-106), entire with light bend along the left side and some black adhesions on reverse from mounting paper; Fine; one of five covers with this combination recorded by Thomas, 1949 Philatelic Foundation certificate

    The Alta Express Company rose from the ashes of the failed Pacific Express Co. in July of 1857. Though their main office was in San Francisco, the company operated throughout the central and northern parts of California. Despite (or perhaps because of) its widespread coverage the Alta Express Co. survived just longer than one year, at which point they sold out to Wells, Fargo & Co. Thomas S. Fiske, the addressee, was a Sacramento-based banker and "California pioneer," according to his 1885 obituary.

    Start Price : 100 USD
    Current Opening : 100 USD
    Hammer price : 700 USD

    Lot# : 95 Western Express Covers

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    Copley & Co.'s Miners Express (Thomas COP-100), red express marking at upper left of 10c Green on white entire (Scott U17) additionally franked with 1855 10c Green type III (Scott 15) tied by blue Marysville grid of squares cancel, addressed to "John Chandler, Sempronius NY," matching blue "Marysville Cal May 4 Paid By Stamp" origination postmark at lower left of the entire which has light creasing, faint cover toning along the top edge, and small repairs at the bottom including replacement of small portions of the Marysville town marking, Very Fine appearance

    Provenance: Louis Grunin (Christie's Robson Lowe, 1988)

    This express operated from Marysville to the Slate Creek Basin mining camps between 1855 and 1856. Thomas estimates that there are only 20 covers extant that were handled by this express company, some of which are held in a family correspondence. Of that number he records 7 examples as having a Marysville marking (six of which are from this same correspondence).

    Start Price : 500 USD
    Current Opening : 500 USD
    Hammer price : 2,300 USD

    Lot# : 96 Western Express Covers

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    Hall & Allen's Express Dutch Flat (Thomas HAL-100), bold strike of oval express marking cancels 3c Red on buff entire (Scott U10) with printed Wells, Fargo & Co. frank, addressed to Nevada, California, the entire with some abrasions on the reverse, still Very Fine and attractive

    This short-lived express operated in conjuction with Wells, Fargo & Co. in 1864 (earlier authors place this company around 1858-1859), but not much else is known. Thomas records one U9 and four U10 covers with this marking, with this cover absent from his census.

    Start Price : 500 USD
    Current Opening : 500 USD
    Hammer price : 10,500 USD

    Lot# : 97 Western Express Covers

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    The Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company (Thomas HLY-001), black printed frank at the upper left of a 3c Pink on white entire (Scott U58) cancelled with oval "Wells, Fargo & Co. May 12 Ruby City I.T." express marking, addressed to San Francisco, California, appears to be a rebacked front, Very Fine appearance and still a nice piece of western postal historyrnIn 1862, Ben Holladay (the so-called "Stagecoach King") purchased the bankrupt Overland Mail Company for $700,000 and renamed the service after himself. The company, which provided passenger service by stagecoach, also delivered mail from St. Louis, Missouri to Placerville, California. This express was purchased in November of 1866 by Wells, Fargo & Co., who continued to honor the Holladay envelopes. It is therefore most likely that this cover was used after 1866 and carried by Wells, Fargo & Co., and not the Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company.
    Start Price : 100 USD
    Current Opening : 160 USD
    Hammer price : 230 USD

    Lot# : 98 Western Express Covers

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    Humboldt Express, Nevada Territory, 25c Brown (Scott 86L1), tied by oval blue "Langton's Pioneer Express Star City" and "Wells, Fargo Nevada Jun 10» express markings on 3c Pink on white entire (Scott U34) bearing black "Langton's Paid Pioneer Express" printed frank at the upper left, addressed to "Mr. G. F. Borzo, Placerville, Cal," the stamp with very large margins to into outer frame line at bottom right; the cover has been lightly cleaned and the left margin extended to correct irregular opening along the left side, otherwise Very Fine, pictured in Thomas Vol. 2, page 482 (Scott $40,000), 2019 Philatelic Foundation certificate mentions "stamp with diagonal pen mark lightened at upper left"

    Provenance: Edgar Jessup (Private Transaction)

    Jerome Hawley (Sotheby's Parke-Bernet, 1978)

    The most recent census of this stamp on cover records 6 intact covers, of which three originated in Star City and three in Unionville. The Humboldt Express stamp is among the rarest Western Express adhesives to be found on cover in any condition. Samuel W. Langton established his Humboldt Express to connect the Humboldt mines of northern Nevada with the capital Carson City. As this was a difficult route Langton added a 25c surcharge to the rate of $2 per letter; to facilitate pre-payment of this fee, 25c Brown stamps were produced. Owing to the overwhelming similarities between the Humboldt Express stamp and the concurrent Pony Express stamps, it is believed that Langton's stamps were also printed by Britton & Rey in San Francisco. In addition to its scarcity, this stamp must also be acknowledged as one of the most beautiful of all local post stamps, which adds to the desirability of a cover such as this one.

    Start Price : 7,500 USD
    Current Opening : 10,500 USD
    Hammer price : 16,000 USD

    Lot# : 99 Western Express Covers

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    Hunter & Co.'s Express, Double oval handstamp with left facing horse and rider (Thomas HUN-101), nicely struck on folded letter sheet addressed to "Sacremento Calafornia» (sic), manuscript «Bowling Green Mo. Oct 27" postmark at the upper left, "Wunderlich's Mill" at top right and "By the way of New York" at the lower left, the folded cover with trivial light edge toning, Very Fine marking on a Fine cover, Thomas records only twelve examples (including this cover) of this marking on cover

    Provenance: Edwards Collection (Christie's Robson Lowe, 1991)

    Start Price : 200 USD
    Current Opening : 270 USD
    Hammer price : 3,500 USD

    Lot# : 100 Western Express Covers

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    Jones & Edgar's Canyon City Express Paid, Printed frank with small black loops at right and bottom, "Paid" crossed out (Thomas JON-002), on 3c Pink on white entire (Scott U34) addressed to McGregors Landing, Iowa and forwarded on to Era, Pennsylvania, partially struck "The Dalles Mar. 23 OR" postmark at lower left and manuscript "Due 3" to the left of the indicia, Very Fine and rare, Thomas records only two examples of this frank (this cover becoming the third known)

    Horatio Jones and Addison Edgar ran their express company from Canyon City and the John Day Mines in central Oregon to The Dalles on the Columbia River, where they connected with Wells, Fargo & Co. In 1864 Jones became an agent for Wells, Fargo while Edgar followed suit just a year later. After the discovery of gold in Canyon Creek in 1862 upwards of 10,000 miners flocked to the region, which led to the establishment of this short-lived express company.

    Start Price : 200 USD
    Current Opening : 200 USD
    Hammer price : 1,150 USD

    Lot# : 101 Western Express Covers

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    Jones & Russell's Pike's Peak Express Co. Denver City Sep 29 1859 (Thomas JOR-100), excellent strike of express handstamp at upper right of illustrated Woolworths Book Store, Omaha, Nebraska advertising cover depicting the counties of Nebraska Territory, addressed to Washington, New York and franked with 1851 3c Dull red type II (Scott 11A) tied by "Leavenworth City K.T." town marking, Very Fine and choice, the Thomas census records this cover as one of nine covers sent eastbound with these markings, but incorrectly lists the stamp as a 3c 1857

    In early 1859 John S. Jones and William H. Russell began their express service to Pike's Peak, Colorado. In May of that same year they purchased the contract for mail transportation from Missouri to Salt Lake City, for which they charged 25c per letter. The firm was not profitable and unable to cover their expenses, and by February of 1860 the route was served by the Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express (although they continued to use Jones and Russell's markings for several months).

    Start Price : 200 USD
    Current Opening : 425 USD
    Hammer price : 12,000 USD

    Lot# : 102 Western Express Covers

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    Prindle's Express From Yreka to Scott & Klamath Rivers (Thomas PRI-100), excellent strike of express handstamp at lower left of 1862 cover with well struck "Yreka Cal Jan 7" cds on envelope addressed to France, red "New York Paid 6 Mar. 1" credit cds, red French transit cds and boxed "PD," ms. "Paid 15," French transit and arrival backstamps, a trivial bit of edge wear as expected, Very Fine and incredibly rare; 1994 Philatelic Foundation certificaternProvenance: Blake M. Myers (R.A. Siegel Sale 882, 2004)

    One of six covers for this express company recorded by Thomas, but the only one with a destination outside of the Western United States and certainly the only one to a foreign destination. Charles W. Prindle operated from the Scott and Klamath River mines to Yreka, California, where he connected with Wells, Fargo & Co. This cover entered the US mails at Yreka, where 15c cash paid the rest of the journey to France. As a Transatlantic cover carried from the mines by a small and short-lived company, this cover is a true gem of Western postal history of the utmost rarity and desirability.

    Start Price : 1,000 USD
    Current Opening : 1,000 USD
    Hammer price : 3,500 USD

    Lot# : 103 Western Express Covers

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    W.L. Pritchard, Fast Freight Line, Elko to White Pine (Thomas PRT-501), boxed printed frank on 3c Pink on white entire (Scott U58) with printed "Paid Wells, Fargo & Co." frank running vertically at left along with manuscript "W. L. Pritchard," addressed to San Francisco and without any additional markings, entire lightly cleaned and with small sealed cover tears at the top, Very Fine appearance, one of only two covers with this frank recorded by Thomas

    Provenance: Marc Haas (Private Transaction)

    Start Price : 100 USD
    Current Opening : 190 USD
    Hammer price : 450 USD

    Lot# : 104 Western Express Covers

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    Paid Swift & Co. Express (Thomas SWI-001), fancy black shield printed express frank on 3c Red on white Nesbitt entire (Scott U9) addressed to San Francisco, entire with some toning (mostly on the edges) and missing backflap, Fine, Thomas records only six examples of this frank used in this manner, all used to San Francisco
    Start Price : 100 USD
    Current Opening : 100 USD
    Hammer price : 100 USD

    Lot# : 105 Western Express Covers

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    Publishers’ Paid Stamp W.F. & Co’s Express (Scott 143LP10) blue on white newspaper stamp, tied by oval greenish blue "Wells, Fargo & Co's Express San Diego Cal" handstamp on locally addressed wrapper, the wrapper with horizontal crease at the bottom and some abrasions and tears on the reverse (not uncommon for a wrapper), overall Very Fine (Scott $1,750 for usage on cover or wrapper)

    Start Price : 300 USD
    Current Opening : 300 USD
    Hammer price : 575 USD

    Lot# : 106 Western Express Covers

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    Paid Wells, Fargo & Co. Over Our California and Coast Routes (Thomas WFE-030a), printed frank at left reading from bottom to top on 3c Green on white entire (U82) with all over M. Wertheimer & Bro. printed corner card in buff, lightly struck oval blue Wells, Fargo San Francisco express handstamp, addressed to San Jose, cleanly opened at left, Very Fine
    Start Price : 100 USD
    Current Opening : 100 USD
    Hammer price : 210 USD

    Lot# : 107 Western Express Covers

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    Paid Wells, Fargo & Co. Over Our California and Coast Routes (“A” of “Paid” connected at the bottom), printed frank on 3c Pink on white entire (Scott U58) uprated with 1869 3c Ultramarine (Scott 114), originated in British Columbia and is franked with British Columbia 1869 5c on 3p Bright red perf 14 (Scott 9; tied by blue «35» oval grid of Victoria) to pay for the exit postage, blue straightline «For Great Britain and Ireland» hand stamp at left, directed «per California» indicating Victoria to San Francisco routing, from there it went out of the mails via Union Pacific Railroad to NY City where it was posted to London where it received a faint London "Paid" arrival cancel and an ms. received notation, entire with a couple of light vertical bends and missing portion of backflap, tiny piece out at top right just into indicia, Fine use, pictured on page 155 of Gerald E. Wellburn's The Stamps & Postal History of Vancouver Island & British Columbia
    Start Price : 500 USD
    Current Opening : 1,300 USD
    Hammer price : 4,500 USD

    Lot# : 108 Western Express Covers

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    Zack's Express Paid (Thomas ZAC-002), wonderful strike of the blue illustrated frank with messenger on skis at upper left of front mounted on an unused 3c Pink on buff entire (Scott U59), addressed to "Mr. Kleckner, Port Wine" (California.), front was opened irregularly at right into the indicia, Extremely Fine marking, Thomas census records three examples of this frank all on covers to the same address, pictured in Jesse L. Coburn's Letters of Gold (page 228)

    Provenance: Edwards Collection (Christie's Robson Lowe, 1991)

    An article by Floyd Risvold and James Blaine in the February 2007 Chronicle (Vol. 59, No.1) expertly details the history of Granville Zachariah's "snow-shoe express," which was first advertised on the last day of 1864. Regarding the design of this cover, they explain that "the central design for the frank, illustrating a mail carrier on skis, is apparently derived from a picture of John A. 'Snowshoe' Thompson that appeared in Hutchings' California Magazine in 1857." They speculate that this particular frank was prepared for the winter of 1865-66.

    Start Price : 250 USD
    Current Opening : 350 USD
    Hammer price : 2,800 USD
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