Rumsey to spread the love during Feb. 14 sale of U.S., Confederate States valentine covers

Feb 6, 2024, 9 AM

By Charles Snee

Love will be in the air Feb. 14 when Schuyler Rumsey Philatelic Auctions conducts its Valentine’s Day sale of classic-era United States and Confederate States valentine postal history.

The auction, consisting of 180 lots of U.S. material, 12 lots of Confederate items and five lots of collections and balances, will be held at 10 a.m. Pacific Time at the Rumsey gallery in San Francisco.

Among the most impressive and eye-appealing offerings are two covers and their enclosures that will cross the auction block one after the other.

First up is what Rumsey describes as an “oversized bronze floral ornamental Valentine cover” franked with two U.S. 1847 10¢ George Washington stamps (Scott 2) that was mailed from New York City to Lakeville, N.Y.

Rumsey notes that both stamps have “large margins around to just shaving frameline at bottom” and are “tied by red square grid cancels.”

The two stamps combined to pay the 20¢ rate for a 1-ounce letter sent more than 300 miles, at 10¢ per half ounce. A pencil “20” notation at left on the envelope indicates payment of the correct rate.

Accompanying the cover is the original enclosure: an ornamental lace valentine card featuring clusters of flowers in the corners and a central portrait of a young lady inside an ornate red and gold frame.

Beneath the portrait is a scroll that reads, “When first I saw those sparkling eyes, I felt love’s flame within me rise.”

Rumsey points out that both the envelope and card have been folded. In addition, the envelope has signs of edge wear and minor splitting on the folds.

According to Rumsey, the cover is “considered to be the finest valentine usage of the 1847 issue.”

The cover and card, accompanied by a 1985 Philatelic Foundation certificate, have passed through the storied collections of Elizabeth Pope, Duane Garrett, John Boker and William Gross.

Rumsey is offering this splendid 10¢ 1847 valentine cover and enclosure with an estimate of $7,500 to $10,000.

An example of the extremely rare U.S. 1851 1¢ blue Benjamin Franklin type I stamp (Scott 5) is part of the franking on the next lot: a striking bronze floral valentine cover mailed from Deep River, Conn., to Westbrook, Conn.

This stamp is often referred to as “7R1E,” philatelic shorthand that identifies it as coming from position 7 of the right pane of 100 printed from plate 1 in the early state. This is the only position of the sheet of 200 on the early plate 1 to show a complete design and ornaments.

Signature characteristics of the 1¢ type I stamp include complete curved lines outside the “U.S. POSTAGE” and “ONE CENT” inscriptions, and the presence of small scrolls at the bottom that are turned under to form little balls. The ornaments at top and bottom are mostly complete.

A census maintained by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries contains 98 records of Scott 5.

According to Siegel, “Examples of Position 7R1E (Scott 5) with large right and bottom margins, where there was very little space between it and the adjoining stamps, are true rarities.”

On the valentine cover, Scott 5 is the top stamp in the vertical pair of 1851 1¢ Franklin stamps in the bottom left corner. Its partner is Scott 8A, the type IIIa stamp, which shows the outer line broken at top or, rarely, at bottom but not both. The side ornaments are substantially complete.

Rounding out the 12¢ franking are an 1851 1¢ Franklin type Ib stamp (Scott 5A, position 3R1E) affixed to the tip of the backflap and three 1851 3¢ dull red George Washington type II stamps (11A).

The six stamps combined to pay the 12¢ domestic rate for a 2-ounce letter, at 3¢ per half ounce.

Faults noted by Rumsey include a “small bottom left corner repair from scuff” on the 1¢ type I, “small margin scuff and corner crease at bottom right” on the 1¢ type IIIa, and “nick and large sealed tear” on the 1¢ type Ib.

Included with the cover is the original “embossed ornamental Valentine enclosure with multicolored woodblock print and decoupage floral accents around [a] small embossed envelope holding an enamel card with four-line poem,” Rumsey said.

According to Rumsey, Hubert C. Skinner acquired the cover from Roger and Raymond Weill.

(The Weill brothers helped form some of the finest collections ever assembled while running a successful stamp business from their unassuming shop on Royal Street in New Orleans.)

Skinner discussed the cover in an article titled “Quintessential Covers: Part III” published in the November 1994 issue of the Chronicle of the U.S. Classic Postal Issues, the journal of the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society.

(In 1980, Skinner, who died in 2009, teamed up with Amos Eno to publish United States Cancellations 1845-1869. The work is still widely regarded as a classic of U.S. philatelic literature. An online update was published in 2019 by the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society.)

In his comprehensive 2001 census of position 7R1E, Jerome S. Wagshal lists the cover in the Rumsey Valentine’s Day sale as No. 5-COV-080.

The cover “is the only example [of the 1851 1¢ type I] in combination with any other denomination of the 1851 issue,” Rumsey said.

A pair of the 1851 1¢ stamp with one stamp type I is valued on cover at $95,000 in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers. That value is italicized to indicate an item that is difficult to value accurately because it seldom appears in the marketplace.

Rumsey is offering this magnificent valentine cover franked with the rarest of all the 1851 1¢ types with an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. Included with the cover is a 2005 Philatelic Foundation certificate.

The catalog prepared for Rumsey’s Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day sale is available for viewing online, or it can be downloaded from the same site as a PDF file. Online bidding is available through Stamp Auction Network.

For additional information, contact Schuyler J. Rumsey Philatelic Auctions, 47 Kearny St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94108.

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