Western Express Covers

Pony Express
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  • Lot# : 109 Western Express Covers

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    Pony Express Apr. 3 San Francisco “Running Pony,” handstamp cancels 10c Green on white paste-up entire (Scott U17) with printed "Paid. Central Overland Pony Express Company" frank and dark blue "Saint Joseph Mo Apr 13 1860" postmark, reverse with large oval "The Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Company Apr 13 St. Joseph, MO." handstamp and addressed to "Hon. Milton S. Latham, U. S. Senate, Washington," cover with minor toning but in otherwise good condition for a paste-up, Fine, listed as E2 in the Frajola-Kramer-Walske census

    Provenance: Hall Collection (R.A. Siegel Sale 830, 2000)

    Thurston Twigg-Smith (R.A. Siegel Sale 979, 2009)

    This cover was carried on the first eastbound trip of the Pony Express and is the finer of the two known covers carried on this first day of eastbound service (one cover is known from the first day of westbound service). The service, which lasted only a short time but has remained ingrained in the imagination of every subsequent generation of Americans, promised to deliver mail from California to St. Joseph, Missouri in less than ten days, greatly expediting communication in the days before the transcontinental railroad. Service simultaneously began in both San Francisco and St. Joseph on April 3, 1860. The April 4 edition of the Daily Alta California carried the following description of the momentous event:

    "The first 'Pony Express' started yesterday afternoon, from the office of the Alta Telegraph Company, on Montgomery street. The saddle bags were duly lettered 'Overland Pony Express,' and the horse, (a wiry little animal), was dressed with miniature flags. He proceeded just before four o'clock, to the Sacramento boat, and was loudly cheered by the crowd as he started. We had forgotten to say that the rider's name was James Randall--an old hand at this business--and evidently quite at home as a rider, though he did get up on the wrong side of his excitement. The express matter amounted to eighty-five letters, which at $5 per letter gave a total receipt of $425. In nine days the news by this express is expected to be in New York."

    Milton Latham (1827-1882) was an American politician, who served as the sixth Governor of California and as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator. Latham holds the distinction of having the shortest governorship in California history, lasting for five days from January 9 to 14, 1860. During his inaugural speech as governor, he proposed increasing U.S. Mail links from the Eastern United States to California to help facilitate commerce and personal links.

    Only two letters (from the 85 reportedly carried on the first eastbound trip of the Pony Express) are known to survive today. The other, addressed to A.A. Low & Brothers in New York City, does not have as strong a strike of the April 3 "Running Pony" in black as the cover offered here, and we are confident in calling this the finer of the two. In terms of American history, it is difficult to imagine a more significant cover than one carried on the first trip of the Pony Express. Although the majority of Americans alive in 1860 never used the service (nor could they have afforded to had they desired), the legend and legacy of the Pony Express have grown so much over the years that nowadays simply the words "Pony Express" are synonymous with the mythology of the Wild West. This is one of the rare covers that transcends mere philatelic significance; it is the story of America manifesting itself in a humble sheet of paper.

    Start Price : 100,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 100,000.00 USD
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    Lot# : 110 Western Express Covers

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    "The Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Company May 18 San Francisco, Cal.," dark blue oval handstamp and blue "Saint Joseph Mo. Jun 2 1860" town marking cancel 10c Green on buff entire (Scott U18) addressed to Boston Mass., ms "Pony Express" at top left and black "Pony Express, St. Joseph Jun 1" oval handstamp with "Running Pony"at bottom left, bold well-struck markings on a Very Fine cover, listed as E5 in the Frajola-Kramer-Walske censusrnThe First Rate Period (April 3 to August 14, 1860) was the most expensive for the Pony Express, with letters being charged the rate of $5.00 per half-ounce (equivalent to over $150 in 2019). Relatively few covers survive from these earliest trips; according to the FKW census there are only seven covers from the First Rate Period with the SF-COCPP marking in blue. This is the earliest known usage of this particular marking, along with two other covers carried on the same May 18 trip (E5-E7). The black St. Joseph Running Pony (SJ-RP) is only known on five eastbound covers during the First Rate Period (here used as an arrival stamp). The 1860 Boston Directory lists Edward F. Wood as a shoe manufacturer working at 62 Pearl Street and living in Roxbury.

    Start Price : 1,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 2,500.00 USD
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    Lot# : 111 Western Express Covers

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    "Pony Express Dec 26 San Francisco," Blue "Running Pony," handstamp cancels 1859 10c Green type V (Scott 35) on cover addressed to "Mr. Churchill Crittenden, Madison Indiana," green double circle "Saint Joseph Mo Jan 12" town marking at top center and matching "Pony Express, The Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Company Jan 10 St. Joseph, Mo." backstamp, Very Fine and choice, a showpiece cover; 1991 Philatelic Foundation certificate, listed as E49 in the Frajola-Kramer-Walske census

    The Second Rate Period (August 15, 1860 to April 13, 1861) reduced the rates for letters weighing between one-quarter and one-half ounce to $2.50. Only 7 eastbound covers are recorded in the FKW census with a green SJ-COCPP/PE handstamp, all on the reverse and all from a one-month span between December 19, 1860 and January 20, 1860. 13 covers, all from the early months of 1861, have this style of St. Joseph cancellation in green.

    Churchill Jones Crittenden, son of Alexander P. Crittenden (famously murdered by his mistress Laura Fair in 1870), was born in May of 1840. At the time this cover was sent by his father, Churchill was attending Hobart College in Madison, Indiana. Two years later Churchill and his brother James Love would go against his father's wishes and enlist in the Confederate Army. The scenario was straight out of the words of Abraham Lincoln: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." In October of 1864 Churchill Crittenden was captured by Union troops and executed by firing squad.

    Start Price : 2,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 3,500.00 USD
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    Lot# : 112 Western Express Covers

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    "Pony Express Sacramento Feb 14," blue oval handstamps at top left and at bottom left of 10c Green on buff entire (Scott U16) cancelled with blue double circle Saint Joseph town marking, addressed to William N. Sage in Rochester NY, manuscript "By Pony Express" at top left and lightly written pencil "Paid $2.50" to the left of the indicia, entire slightly soiled and with a few trivial edge flaws, Fine overall, listed as E57 in the Frajola-Kramer-Walske censusrnThe FKW census only records 20 covers with this handstamp (SAC-PE), all on eastbound mail and all but one in blue. It was used on mail originating in Sacramento or at Wells, Fargo & Co. offices other than San Francisco. This is the second-earliest recorded use of this handstamp in blue and the third-earliest use overall.rnWilliam Nathan Sage (1819-1890) lived in Rochester for nearly his entire life. A graduate of Brown University, he entered the book publishing industry with his brother Nelson Sage. Over the years he variously served as Monroe County Clerk and secretary and treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the University of Rochester, in addition to organizing the Sage Deposit Company and founding the Monroe County Savings Bank. In his obituary he was described as "one of Rochester's foremost citizens."

    Start Price : 1,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 1,600.00 USD
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    Lot# : 113 Western Express Covers

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    Wells, Fargo & Co. Pony Express, 143L1, 1861 $2.00 Red, tied by blue double oval Wells, Fargo Marysville Jun 20 handstamp over red Wells, Fargo printed frank on 10c Green on white entire (Scott U17) addressed to Foxcroft Me., additional Wells, Fargo printed frank over green Freeman & Co's frank, cover with blue "Pony Express Sacramento Jun 23" transit mark and green "St. Joseph Mo. Jul 4" town marking, large double circle blue "Wells, Fargo & Co. Sacramento Jun 25" backstamp, stamp just clear to ample margins, envelope neatly opened at right, Very Fine, listed as E104 in the Frajola-Kramer-Walske census (Scott $12,500 for proper use on U17)

    Provenance: William L. Moody (H.R. Harmer Sale 621, 1950)

    The Third Rate Period (April 17, 1861 to June 29, 1861) was the first time Wells, Fargo & Co. was involved with the Pony Express. Reduced rates of $2 for a half-ounce were in place for only two and a half months for eastbound mail before further reduction by the US government. Adhesive stamps, printed in San Francisco by Britton & Co., were used for the first time during this period. Also for the first time, mail could be deposited at any Wells, Fargo & Co. office in California for conveyance via Pony Express. This is one of only three covers in the FKW census to have originated in Marysville.

    Around late-1859, Wells, Fargo & Co. purchased the remains of Freeman & Co.'s Express. A number of unused franked 10c envelopes were later overprinted by Wells, Fargo & Co. for their own use. The FKW census records only eight such covers, and of these eight only four covers bear $2 Red Ponies used during the Third Rate Period (E97, E104, E106, E107). Foxcroft, Maine, where this cover was sent, was initially conveyed to Bowdoin College in 1796 when the region was still a part of Massachusetts. It was incorporated in 1812; by 1859 the township had a population of just 1,045.

    Start Price : 3,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 3,000.00 USD
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    Lot# : 114 Western Express Covers

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    Wells, Fargo & Co. Pony Express, 143L3, 1861 $1.00 Red, tied by blue double oval "Pony Express Sacramento Sep 1" handstamp over red Wells, Fargo printed frank on 10c Green on buff entire (Scott U33) addressed to "Robert E Dietz" in New York City, "St. Joseph Mo. Sep 14" town marking cancels the entire, stamp ample to wide margins, choice Very Fine; 1959 Philatelic Foundation certificate, listed as E153 in the Frajola-Kramer-Walske census (Scott $12,500 for proper use on U33)

    The Fourth Rate Period (July 1 to October 26, 1861) saw the United States government further reduce the Pony Express rate to $1 per half-ounce. To meet the new rates, stamps were printed in red ($1.00), green ($2.00), and black ($4.00). Pony Express service came to an end almost immediately after the completion of the transcontinental telegraph, which all but elimiated any need for the company. In just over 570 days the Pony Express had carried an estimated 35,000 pieces of mail, but its cultural importance is much greater than even the sum of all of those letters.

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    Lot# : 115 Western Express Covers

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    Wells, Fargo & Co. Virginia City Pony Express, 143L8, 1862-64 “25 cts ¼ Oz” Blue, tied by light strike of blue oval "Wells, Fargo & Co. Express Aurora" handstamp on 3c Pink on buff entire (Scott U35) which is cancelled with an additional strike of the Aurora marking, printed Wells, Fargo & Co. frank at top center, addressed to Mrs. Clara C. Crittenden, San Francisco, stamp clear to wide margins including portion of adjacent stamp to the right, Very Fine and choice; 1981 Philatelic Foundation certificate (Scott for franking on a U35 is $4,500)

    Following the termination of the transcontinental Pony Express in October of 1861, Wells, Fargo & Co. set up the similarly-named Virginia City Pony Express in August 1862. A limited service operating only between Virginia City, Nevada Territory and San Francisco, the high-speed pony riders helped to cut transit time nearly in half. According to Richard Frajola, "Mail was carried by a pony rider from Virginia City to Placerville where it was put on a train for Sacramento. At Sacramento the mail was placed on a steamboat for conveyance down the Sacramento River and across San Francisco Bay to San Francisco." The initial rate of 10c per half-ounce was served by a 10c brown stamp. When rates were raised to 25c per half-ounce in 1863 a blue stamp meeting that rate was then issued; the following year a 25c red stamp replaced the blue.

    This cover is a part of the exceptionally important Crittenden correspondence between Alexander Parker Crittenden and his wife Clara Churchill Jones. Richard Frajola first offered 30 covers from the Crittenden corresponsence, received intact, in October 1981 (Frajola Sale 2). His catalogue, along with an article by Thomas J. Alexander in the Chronicle (Vol. 33, No. 3), provide everything one could possibly want to know about this wonderful correspondence, which Frajola calls "one of the finest correspondences I have ever handled in terms of both historical content and postal history interest." For a non-philatelic telling of A.P. Crittenden's murder at the hands of his mistress and the sensationalized trial that followed, we recommend Kenneth Lamott's Who Killed Mr. Crittenden?: Being a True Account of the Notorious Murder That Stunned San Francisco.

    Start Price : 1,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 2,000.00 USD
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    Lot# : 116 Western Express Covers

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    Wells, Fargo & Co. Virginia City Pony Express, 143L8, 1862-64 "25 cts ¼ Oz” Blue, tied by well struck blue "Wells, Fargo & Co. Express Virginia City N.T." handstamp on 3c Pink entire (Scott U34) with matching strike of Wells, Fargo & Co. handstamp, addressed to "Thos. P Madden" in San Francisco, ms. docketing on back indicates item received "6 July 63," stamp margins to just cutting, entire opened at right and some trivial corner bends, Very Fine and attractive; 1965 Philatelic Foundation certificate (Scott $4,750 for franking on a U34)

    Start Price : 1,500.00 USD
    Current Opening : 1,500.00 USD
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    Lot# : 117 Western Express Covers

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    Wells, Fargo & Co. Virginia City Pony Express, 143L9, 1862-64 “25 cts ¼ Oz” Red, tied by lightly struck blue "Wells, Fargo & Co. Express Silver City Utah" handstamp on 3c Pink on buff entire (Scott U35) with matching strike of Wells, Fargo handstamp, address to D.D. Shattuck, San Francisco, stamp clear to ample margins, right side of the entire including a small portion of the indicia has been replaced to cover irregular opening at right, Very Fine appearance, usage from Silver City Utah is extremely scarce as almost all known examples of this stamp on cover are from Virginia City (Scott for franking on a U35 is $8,000)

    Start Price : 2,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 2,000.00 USD
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