Postal history in Dec. 8-12 Rumsey auction; Graham naval covers, free franks and more

Nov 25, 2014, 4 AM

Schuyler Rumsey Philatelic Auctions will present its huge winter sale Dec. 8-11, followed by an auction of the Robert Karrer collection of Charleston postal history on Dec. 12. These auctions will take place at the Rumsey firm’s San Francisco galleries.

The winter sale includes material from the Richard Graham collection of naval covers. Graham, a renowned postal historian who wrote for Linn’s Stamp News, the Chronicle of the U.S. Classic Issues (the journal of the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society) and other publications, died in 2012.

The Graham collection offerings begin with a handsome 1782 folded letter signed by Capt. John Barry while commanding the frigate Alliance. Barry was an officer in the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War.

“He was the first Captain placed in command of a U.S. warship commissioned for service under the Continental flag,” according to Rumsey. “After the war, he became America’s first commissioned naval officer, at the rank of Commodore, receiving his commission from President George Washington in 1797.”

The letter has a “L’Orient” (France) straightline marking and a manuscript “6.” It is addressed to Samuel White in Nantes, France.

Rumsey identifies the cover as one of the earliest naval letters recorded.

The cover is offered with a presale estimate of $3,000 to $4,000. More than 80 additional lots of material from the Graham collection are included in the winter sale, with single covers, groupings, collections and balance lots.

Along with the Graham material, the auction offers a selection of U.S. postal history, with Western Express covers, California postal history and illustrated covers, waterways, trans-Atlantic mails, exposition covers, fancy cancels, Civil War postal history, Union patriotic covers and much more, including postal history collections.

A section of free franks offers quite a few presidential signatures, beginning with a 1780 folded letter from George Washington and including covers from Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Roosevelt and many others.

Thousands of stamps from the United States and possessions will be offered, including one lot of two complete sheets of 50 of plate proofs on card of the 1875 reproductions of the 1847 5¢ and 10¢ issues.

Described by Rumsey as “an exceptionally rare set of sheets with only one or two other sets believed to exist,” these proofs (Scott 3P4-4P4) present these classic issues in an attractive and rarely seen format. The 5¢ sheet has a few very light water stains on the back that show faintly on the front, according to Rumsey, and the 10¢ has two small mounting thins that affect three stamps.

The lot of two sheets is offered with a presale estimate of $22,000.

Also on offer is a tete-beche vertical pair of the 1877 5¢ Buffalo Balloon semi-official airmail, Schoendorf Type II (Scott CL1a).

This issue is described as “extremely rare” with full original gum, a couple of hinge remnants, and a thin spot on one stamp, but with rich color and nicely balanced margins. It is offered with a presale estimate of $22,500, matching the value listed in the 2015 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers.

Lots can be viewed and bids accepted at, or contact Schuyler Rumsey Philatelic Auctions, 47 Kearny St., 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94108; telephone 415-781-5127; e-mail