Mint U.S. 1893 $5 Columbian plate number strip of four in Jan. 23-25 Kelleher Flagship auction

Jan 9, 2024, 8 AM

By Charles Snee

Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions will present its Flagship sale of United States, British and worldwide stamps and postal history Jan. 23-25 at its gallery in Danbury, Conn. Each day of this Flagship auction will commence at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

The auction includes more than 1,450 lots and features U.S. material from the collections of William L. Busch, Andrew Bushnell and Ethan Enzer; the Hans-Jurgen Hess collection of German areas; the Luxus collection of U.S. multiples featuring plate blocks; and U.S. and worldwide holdings from Falmouth Stamp & Coin.

Among the numerous impressive U.S. multiples on offer in the sale is a bottom margin plate number strip of four with imprint of the $5 high denomination (Scott 245) in the perennially popular 1893 Columbian Exposition issue (230-245).

What makes this $5 Columbian strip of four all the more remarkable is the pristine state of its mint, never-hinged gum.

The full bottom selvage (margin paper) of the strip shows a “D D” imprint below the first stamp, the imprint of the American Bank Note Company (the printer) below the second and third stamps, and a “No. 108” imprint signifying the plate number beneath the third and fourth stamps.

These markings occur only in the top or bottom selvage of multiples (blocks, strips and intact panes) of the Columbian stamps.

Kelleher describes the $5 Columbian strip of four as “an exquisite gem” that is “Post Office fresh with proof-like color and detail … on bright, fresh, sound paper.”

Accompanying the strip are expertizing certificates from the Philatelic Foundation issued in 1999 and 2008. Both state that the strip is “genuine, never hinged.”

In the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers, a plate number strip of four of the $5 Columbian with imprint and letter in mint, never-hinged condition is valued at $150,000. The value is italicized to indicate an item that is difficult to value because of limited market data, such as auction realizations and retail sales.

Aside from the unique plate number block of eight with imprint and letter, a strip of four of the $5 Columbian is “the only practical way to obtain and present the full imprint with plate number and letters,” Kelleher said.

Kelleher estimates this mint, never-hinged 1893 $5 Columbian plate number strip of four at $125,000 to $150,000 and is offering it with an opening bid of $62,000.

Also up for bids during the Flagship auction is a handsome plate number block of six with full top selvage of the U.S. 1916 $1 violet black Benjamin Franklin stamp (Scott 478) with gauge 10 perforations on unwatermarked paper.

The bold imprint of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and plate number 5782 can be seen just above the three stamps in the top row of the block.

An “A” imprint, with a row of vertical perforations running through its middle, is just visible between the BEP imprint and the plate number.

All of the stamps are well centered. Only the bottom center stamp has been hinged; the other five are mint, never-hinged.

According to Kelleher, “Only 13 top plate number blocks of #478 are recorded by Lewis Kaufman (plus four bottom plates), not all of which are full tops … ”

The block boasts an impressive provenance, having once resided in collections formed by philatelic luminaries such as Raymond and Roger Weill and William H. Gross. It also comes with a clean (no faults noted) 1989 Philatelic Foundation certificate.

Against a Scott U.S. Specialized catalog value of $10,000, Kelleher lists this 1916 $1 Franklin plate number block with full top selvage with an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000 and an opening bid of $7,500.

Kelleher has prepared a single catalog for the three-day Flagship auction that is available for viewing and download on the firm’s website, with online bidding options available on Stamp Auction Network.

For additional information, contact Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions, 22 Shelter Rock Lane, Unit 53, Danbury, CT 06810.

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