Postmasters Provisionals

United States Postmasters' Provisionals
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  • Lot# : 1 Postmasters Provisionals

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    2XU1 var., Annapolis, Maryland 2c Handstamp in black, fair strike of the postmaster's seal and "2" handstamps on ladies drop letter, couple small age spots below address, still Very Fine, far scarcer than the same markings in blue or red and not priced in the Scott footnote; this is the same seal used to make the famous postmaster's provisional envelopes and was rarely used as a cancelling device

    Classics Society Census #20016

    Start Price : 2,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 2,000.00 USD
    Hammer price : 2,200.00 USD

    Lot# : 2 Postmasters Provisionals

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    2XU1 var., Annapolis, Maryland 2c Handstamp in blue, clearly struck handstamp plus bold strike of "2" (drop rate) handstamp on locally addressed ladies envelope, a personal note pencilled in at the bottom of the envelope reading ""You shall not grieve always for all the shocks of this eve, Your bosom from care my own lips shall relieve" indicating the enclosure may have been a sympathy message, small "Careful & Constant" label affixed on backflap, small age spot at bottom edge, Very Fine (Scott $17,500)

    Classics Society Census #20021

    Provenance: "U.S. Postmasters' Provisionals Sold by Order of a Texas Collector" (R.A. Siegel Sale 278, 1964)

    Start Price : 4,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 4,000.00 USD
    Hammer price : 5,500.00 USD

    Lot# : 3 Postmasters Provisionals

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    3X3, 1845 Baltimore, Maryland 5c Black on bluish, stellar right margin single with full frame lines all around tied on folded letter sheet addressed to Romulus Riggs in Philadelphia by blue Baltimore Mar 10 (1846) cds with another strike below and a matching "Paid" handstamp, additional ms "Paid" and "5" notations, some light vertical file folds incl one through stamp; Fine and rare example without the typical pen cancels plus being tied by the Baltimore postmark (Scott $13,500)


    Romulus Riggs (1782-1846) was a banker and real estate investor in the Washington DC area (1812-25) before moving to Philadelphia and engaging in similar activities in addition to founding the Romulus & Co banking firm just prior to his death (6 months after this letter received). Docketing on letter indicates probably sent by Samuel Riggs with comments (in another hand) noting that someone "Wants to buy 25-30000$ speculation".


    Hayes Census #12; Classics Society Census #20148


    Provenance: Alfred H. Caspary (H.R. Harmer Sale 967, Nov 1955, lot 23)

    Start Price : 3,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 3,250.00 USD
    Hammer price : 4,750.00 USD

    Lot# : 4 Postmasters Provisionals

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    6X1, Lockport, New York 5c Red on buff, unique complete stamp with margins all around, made from an older oval Lockport cancellation device, center design with red straightline "PAID" and manuscript "5," cancelled by manuscript "X", matching red "PAID" and Lockport "5" integral rate handstamp, March 18, 1846 on folded letter addressed to "Robert Morrell, Esq." in Geneva, New York, later turned and readdressed to sender in Lockport (March 24 Geneva cds and "10" rate handstamp), addressee's name has been cut out of the lettersheet but this does not affect the address panel with the stamp, Extremely Fine, the only complete example of this famous stamp on- or off-cover, and as such one of the greatest rarities in all of American philately, a true icon which ranks alongside other uniquities such as the Alexandria "Blue Boy," the Boscawen provisional, the "Large Beaumont" Confederate provisional, and the Dawson cover, offered publicly for the first time in over 30 years, signed "RHW Co" and 1989 Philatelic Foundation certificate (Scott $300,000 is based on an 1989 auction realization)


    When John N. Luff was writing his seminal tome The Postage Stamps of the United States in 1902, he described the Lockport provisional as a stamp "practically without a history." While he was correct in the sense that there is no firsthand written or physical evidence of the stamp's creation, fortunately the ensuing decades have seen research carried out which has shed some light on this fascinating and mysterious stamp.


    The Lockport provisional was created during the administration of, and presumably at the direction of, postmaster Colonel Hezekiah W. Scovell. At the time Lockport, located on the Erie Canal in Niagara County, was a city of only approximately 9,000 residents (today its population is just above 20,000). The cover bearing the only surviving example of Scovell's creation was not found until the end of the 19th Century by a collector named M.H. Hoover, who was searching the papers of the Holmes & Moss firm of Lockport, New York. Curiously, as the lettersheed had been folded and reused, the provisional stamp ended up in the city where it had originated and was actually on the inside of what appeared to be a plain stampless cover.


    Hoover traded the Lockport provisional cover to the Scott Stamp & Coin Company, who immediately placed it with Count Ferrary. The Lockport cover sold for the equivalent of $8,000 on April 7, 1922; the buyer was Arthur Hind, upon whose death the cover was purchased by Warren H. Colson for Alfred H. Caspary. From Caspary the cover sold to Josiah K. Lilly, then to John R. Boker, Jr., thus completing its tour of arguably the five most important stamp collections of the 20th Century. Its last appearance at public auction was in the 1989 Christie's sale of the Weill Brothers' stock, where it was purchased by Mr. Erivan Haub.


    For many years the Lockport cover was subject to scrutiny and suspicion, as its unique nature made it difficult if not impossible to prove its authenticity. This all changed with Scott Trepel's 1989 article in the Chronicle ("The Lockport Postmaster's Provisional," Vol. 41, Num. 3), which not only examined the ink and paper of the complete Lockport cover, but also revealed to the world a second cover with small portions of two Lockport adhesives (offered in the next lot). This, along with the Christie's auction description, are essential reading for anyone with even a passing interest in this legendary cover.


    In the century and a quarter since its discovery, the Lockport provisional has been featured in Stamps of Fame (L. N. and M. Williams, 1949), Life Magazine's "World's Rarest Stamps" (1954), Philatelic Gems (Linn's, 1984), and many other publications. Today, with its return to the philatelic market after 31 years, we are certain the Lockport provisional will resume its rightful place alongside other similarly unique and legendary stamps.


    Provenance: Count Philipp von Ferrary (Gilbert Sale 3, 1922)

    Arthur Hind (Charles J. Phillips Sale 1, 1933)

    Alfred H. Caspary (H.R. Harmer Sale 967, 1955)

    Josiah K. Lilly, Jr. (R.A. Siegel Sale 312, 1967)

    John R. Boker, Jr. (Private Transaction)

    Weill Brothers' Stock (Christie's, 1989)

    Start Price : 100,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 100,000.00 USD
    Hammer price : 100,000.00 USD

    Lot# : 5 Postmasters Provisionals

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    6X1, Lockport, New York 5c Red on buff, large-size folded lettersheet with two pieces of coarse buff paper attached by adhesive wafers at upper left, the right showing approximately a quarter ("ORT") of the red oval handstamp found on the complete provisional stamp, the left showing a small portion of a manuscript "X" cancellation, two strikes of red straightline "Paid" and matching Lockport "10" integral rate handstamp, contents datelined March 25, 1846, from J.C. Morse at Lockport to the Honorable A.C. Flagg, Comptroller of New York in Albany, message references an enclosure which explains the double-weight rate of 10c, the paper remnants at upper left are perfectly spaced as to indicate a pair of Lockport provisional stamps (pencil notation states "2 copies Lockport prov. removed"), vertical file folds, Very Fine, a tragic cover, sent just a week after the complete Lockport cover offered in the previous lot, which nevertheless proved extremely important in determining the authenticity of the complete Lockport cover, 2020 Philatelic Foundation certificate (Scott $300,000 for complete stamp on cover)

    If the stamps were complete, this cover would be amongst the most celebrated and prized covers in philately; in its current state, it is a tragic and sobering reminder of the countless unique and rare covers to have fallen victim to destruction over the decades, whether intentional or accidental. This cover was previously offered alongside the complete cover as one lot in the 1989 Weill Brothers sale. This is the first time it has ever been offered individually at auction, as we believe multiple collectors deserve the opportunity to lay claim to the Lockport provisional in their collections.


    Start Price : Bid
    Current Opening : 425.00 USD
    Hammer price : 2,100.00 USD

    Lot# : 6 Postmasters Provisionals

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    9X1, 1846 New York, New York 5c Black, Signed ACM, Connected, horizontal pair, pos 6-7 (pos 7 a major double transfer at top) dark-blue pen cancelled but not tied on folded letter datelined "New York July 29 1846" and addressed to the well-known firm of "Charnley & Whelan" in Philadelphia, pen cancelled aboard the southbound train to Philadelphia, blue "NY" handstamp beneath the stamps applied at Philadelphia to mail that had arrived too late at the railroad station to be included in the locked mail bags, none of the typical red New York markings as this letter did not go through the New York Post Office but rather was handed directly to the train's conductor, blue "10" in circle applied at Philadelphia to indicate postage due on this quadruple rate cover, contents indicate enclosures of three stock certificates and several powers of attorney, stamps 8mm sheet margin at left with clear to ample margins the other sides, small scissors cut between stamps, Very Fine, rare route agent marking on a NY Postmaster provisional cover (Scott $2,000 for pair on cover)

    Classics Society Census #20608

    Provenance: "U.S. Postmasters' Provisionals Sold by Order of a Texas Collector" (R.A. Siegel Sale 278, 1964)

    Jeremiah Farrington (Ivy Shreve & Mader, 1992)

    Start Price : 1,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 1,000.00 USD
    Hammer price : 3,000.00 USD

    Lot# : 7 Postmasters Provisionals

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    9X1d, 1845 New York, New York 5c Black, Signed "R.H.M.," rejoined pair, pos 27-28, left stamp partial red "Paid" cancel, right stamp red grid cancel, Very Fine; left stamp signed "ED"(Diena with his 1962 certificate plus 1973 Philatelic Foundation certificate, right stamp 1975 Philatelic Foundation certificate (Scott $4,050 as singles)

    Provenance: Philip Wall (Private transaction, Position 28)

    Start Price : 750.00 USD
    Current Opening : 750.00 USD
    Hammer price : 7,500.00 USD

    Lot# : 8 Postmasters Provisionals

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    9X1e, 1845 New York, New York, 5c Black, Without signature, position 20, tied on partially printed folded shipping notice datelined "New York June 28, 1845" and addressed to Frankfurt Germany by red "Paid" arc with another strike at top and a matching New York 5cts Jul 15 (1845) cds, red framed "Colonies &c Art 12" accountancy handstamp, ms "P Steamer Acadia" and assorted ratings/ debit notations, backstamped with London 30 JY 45 transit and merchant handstamp, stamp clear to ample margins, small sealed tear at left, very light gum toning, still Very Fine and choice cover used on the recognized date of issue; clear 1989 Philatelic Foundation certificate (identifying stamp as 9X1d) (Scott $27,500)

    The New York Provisionals were first delivered to Post Offices on Saturday, July 12, 1845 and though the offices were open for a very short time on Sunday, it is believed that these stamps were not available to the public until Monday, July 14. There are to this point, however, no covers recorded from the 14th. The Classics Society census records fifteen July 15 covers, with three of these addressed to Germany (of the six total to Germany). One is from the same sender as the cover offered here (ex-Lapham, Frelinghuysen) and the other is defective.

    Classics Society Census #20261

    Provenance: Louis Grunin (Private transaction)

    Weill Brothers (Christies, 1989)

    Rarities of the World (R.A. Siegel Sale 846, 2002)

    Start Price : 10,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 10,000.00 USD
    Hammer price : 25,000.00 USD

    Lot# : 9 Postmasters Provisionals

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    9X2, 1845 New York, New York 5c Black on blue, Signed "ACM," pair, positions 37-38, particularly fresh and with light red grid cancels, clear to large margins, vertical crease at left edge of position 38, sliver of bottom right corner margin hinge reattached (not into design), Very Fine appearance; only three off-cover pairs are recorded, clear1961 Philatelic Foundation certificate (stamp identified as 9X1a) (Scott $13,000)

    The blue paper variety comes from just a few sheets among the last 100 sheets of the last printing delivered January 7, 1847. Sound examples like the left stamp are quite rare.

    Provenance: Jeremiah Farrington (Ivy Shreve & Mader, 1992)

    Start Price : 4,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 4,000.00 USD
    Hammer price : 8,000.00 USD

    Lot# : 10 Postmasters Provisionals

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    11X1, 1845 St. Louis, Missouri 5c Black on greenish, Type III, position 5 (spur on "S" of" POST"), full margined bottom left corner copy with clear to large margins top and right, cancelled by pen strokes and tied on folded letter datelined "St Louis, Mo 22nd Dec 1845" by clear red St. Louis Dec 23 cds, red "Paid" handstamp, ms "Paid" and "5", addressed to Jefferson City Mo, an absolutely trivial light central vertical file fold, Very Fine in every respect and a rare single-franking paying the under 300 mile rate; "W.H.C." (Colson) handstamps at lower right of envelope; 2020 Philatelic Foundation certificate (Scott $17,500)

    Faiman/Bennet Census #33; Classics Society Census #21121

    Provenance: Louise Boyd Dale & Alfred F. Lichtenstein (HR Harmer Sale 2831, 1989)

    Start Price : 10,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 10,000.00 USD
    Hammer price : 30,000.00 USD

    Lot# : 11 Postmasters Provisionals

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    11X2, 1845 St. Louis, Missouri 10c Black on greenish, Type II, position 6, wide margined bottom right corner single with full balanced margins top and left, tied on folded letter sheet addressed to New York City by St. Louis Mo Dec 4 (1845) cds, ms "10" at right, stamp with a pre-use bends above "Office" and across right "Bear", still choice Very Fine and desirable corner margin single franking without the usual pen cancel and tied by St Louis postmark; "W.H.C." (Colson) handstamps at lower right corner, inside a "Burger & Co.," handstamp with ms "guaranteed genuine/ Burger & Co./ found personally", 2020 Philatelic Foundation certificate (Scott $14,000)

    Faiman / Bennett census.#16, Classics Society Census #21104

    Provenance: Louise Boyd Dale & Alfred F. Lichtenstein (HR Harmer Sale 2831, 1989)

    Start Price : 5,000.00 USD
    Current Opening : 5,000.00 USD
    Hammer price : 12,000.00 USD
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