Postal history in Feb. 3-5 Schuyler Rumsey auction

Jan 3, 2014, 3 AM

An extensive range of United States and Confederate postal history will be featured in the Feb. 3-5 Schuyler Rumsey auction, including free franks from the Richard Graham collection, campaign covers from the Tom Alexander collection, exposition and fair covers, regular issues and more.

The sale will take place in the firm’s galleries at 47 Kearny Street in San Francisco.

Along with close to 150 lots of U.S. Civil War postal history, the sale features nearly 500 lots of Confederate States stamps, covers, ephemera, documents and collections.

Numerous usages of postmasters’ provisionals are offered, including an 1862 blue folded printed circular mailed from New Orleans to members of the Southwestern Bible Society. This example was addressed to Blossom Hill, La., and is franked with the 2¢ red provisional stamp prepared in June 1861 by New Orleans postmaster J.L. Riddell (Scott 62X2).

The auctioneer’s description explains that the 2¢ red stamps presumably were the first of the provisionals printed, and did not include the marginal inscription “Usable exclusively in the New Orleans Post Office” that appeared on the subsequent 2¢ blue and 5¢ issues. The 2¢ red stamps weren’t used until January 1862, when the 2¢ blue stamps were sold out.

Mailed at the circular rate, the cover includes a “New Orleans La. 7 Feb” circular date stamp. The auctioneer notes a couple of “unnoticeable” stamp flaws, describing the cover as very fine and attractive. It is accompanied by a 2005 Philatelic Foundation certificate.

The value for the stamp on cover, as listed in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers, is $25,000. The cover in the Rumsey auction is offered with an opening bid of $4,750.

Richard B. Graham (1922-2012) was known by many as the dean of U.S. postal history. For decades he authored a weekly column on the subject for Linn’s Stamp News, and he also contributed valuable information to the Chronicle of the U.S Classic Issues and The American Philatelist.

The Rumsey sale includes a section of free franks featuring the Graham collection. The covers offered represent franks from the executive branch, Congress and various cabinet departments, and include covers franked with signatures from numerous prominent historical figures: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin van Buren, John Tyler and many others.

A 1791 free frank cover from the Graham collection bears the signature of Alexander Hamilton, from the period of his service as the country’s first secretary of the treasury under President George Washington. The folded letter, addressed to Nathaniel Appleton of Boston, is docketed “rec’d 22d Jany /91” and is struck with a Philadelphia Jan. 12 Franklin mark and a “Free” rating handstamp.

The Hamilton free frank cover is listed with an estimate of $3,000 to $4,000, and an opening bid $1,450.

The auction opens with items categorized as American Expansion and the Journey West, with American Indian-related postal history, American forts, westward expansion, California postal history, Vanderbilt Line and via Nicaragua covers, Western Express covers, Revolutionary War covers, and a French and Indian War cover.

A segment of the sale highlighting state postal history encompasses more than 260 lots, including several prestamp covers from the District of Columbia.

The Schuyler Rumsey postal history auction can be viewed with descriptions online at Online bidding is also available.

For additional information contact Schuyler Rumsey Philatelic Auctions, 47 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108; or e-mail