Harmer-Schau offers scarce U.S. 1915 2¢ Washington rotary coil line pair

Apr 30, 2021, 4 AM
The Harmer-Schau auction taking place Jan. 8-10 in Fullerton, Calif., will include this used line pair of the United States 1915 2¢ red George Washington Type I rotary coil stamp (Scott 449).

By Michael Baadke

Harmer-Schau Auction Galleries of Petaluma, Calif., will hold its Jan. 8-10 worldwide philatelic auction in Fullerton, Calif., near Anaheim.

The public auction is taking place at the Howard Johnson Hotel and Conference Center, 222 W. Houston Ave., in Fullerton. The sale will include 1,635 lots in three sessions.

The Friday session will offer worldwide and United States singles, and includes almost 90 Dorothy Knapp hand-painted cachets on first-day covers from the 1940s and 1950s.

A featured item from that first session is a used line pair of the U.S. 1915 2¢ red George Washington Type I rotary coil stamp (Scott 449), pictured on page 10.

The top and bottom perforations on this pair are intact because the stamps were separated from the rest of the coil by cuts at the top and bottom that left parts of the adjoining stamps attached on both ends. Harmer-Schau notes that the census of used joint line pairs of Scott 449 records 10, plus one other within a strip of four.

“Of these at least six have faults leaving only 5 pairs (only 3 incl. this one confirmed as sound recently by certifying committees),” the auction description adds.

There aren’t many of these stamps out there simply because the curved rotary plate for the Type I stamps was quickly replaced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing because of concerns about the impressions that the plate made.

The used joint line pair for this variety is listed in the 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers with a value of $25,000 in italics (the italics indicating that these items can be difficult to value accurately). The pair in this auction carries an estimate of $16,000 to $20,000 and opens at $12,500.

Most of the U.S. stamps in this session are classics from the 19th century and early 20th century, but the sale also includes a used single of the yellow H-rate Hat stamp. Intended as a nondenominated postcard-rate stamp, it was to be issued in 1998, but after the stamps were printed the decision was made not to issue them at all.

However, examples of the yellow Hat stamp started to appear on mail in 1999, and since then there have been 234 examples discovered, with 105 in mint condition.

The Scott catalog does not list the yellow Hat stamp, but it does picture it and describes it in a footnote following the listing for Scott 3269, the nondenominated (33¢) Hat stamp on white background. The yellow Hat stamp is valued at $3,000 unused and $2,250 used.

The example in the Harmer-Schau auction is used with a wavy line postmark, and described simply as very fine. It is accompanied by a 2004 certificate from the American Philatelic Expertizing Service and listed with a presale estimate of $400 to $500 with an opening bid of $290.

The Saturday session offers U.S. possessions, U.S. collections, postcards and ephemera, with two used stamps from the 1851-52 Hawaii Missionary issue up for bids.

The 5¢ blue stamp (Scott 2) is struck with both a red Honolulu circular datestamp and a black circular datestamp. The stamp is described as having clear margins all around with repaired corner faults at upper right and minor paper wrinkles.

The used 5¢ stamp is listed in the Scott U.S. Specialized catalog with a value of $35,000; the catalog acknowledges that the Missionaries off cover “are almost invariably damaged.”

This stamp is listed by Harmer-Schau with an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000 and an opening of $9,500.

It is followed by a 13¢ blue (Scott 3) postmarked with a complete small grid-of-rectangles cancel, described as rebacked over repaired faults, attractive and a very collectible example. It is valued at $28,000 by Scott, with this example listed by Harmer-Schau with an $8,000 to $10,000 estimate and a $5,750 opening.

Both the 5¢ and the 13¢ Missionaries in this sale are expertized with 2015 certificates from Philatelic Stamp Authentication and Grading.

The auction’s third session on Sunday offers collections grouped as Commonwealth, foreign country and worldwide, with a selection of U.S. and worldwide currency to conclude the auction.

Additional information about the auction, including full illustrated lot descriptions and online bidding details, is available from Harmer-Schau Auction Galleries, 1333 North McDowell Blvd., Suite B, Petaluma, CA 94954.