United States stamps, postal history headline Siegel auctions March 15-18

Feb 27, 2016, 2 AM

By Michael Baadke

In a series of four auctions presented March 15-18 in New York City, Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries will offer the Don David Price collection of United States bicolor issues; the Steven Walske collection of U.S.-France trans-Atlantic mail; U.S. classic stamps (plus postmasters’ provisionals, essays and proofs, and modern errors); and U.S. revenues, federal duck stamps and prints.

In an introduction to the sale bearing his name, Price describes his bicolor collection as the culmination of 24 years of effort that began with five invert stamps he saved when the collection of Milton Price, his father, was sold in 1992.

“Now, in time for collectors and exhibitors to enhance their own collections before World Stamp Show, I would like to give others the opportunity to own the items I have collected and exhibited with so much enjoyment and success,” Price wrote.

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The auction offers more than 250 lots of the appealing bicolor stamps, beginning with groups of essays and proofs for the 1869 series before launching into the stamps themselves.

The treasures in this sale are numerous, and include one used example of the 1869 30¢ ultramarine and carmine Eagle and Shield stamp with flags inverted (Scott 121b).

Of the 1869 inverts, which include the 15¢, 24¢ and 30¢ stamps, there are fewer used stamps known of the 30¢ than of the other two. The Siegel census for this issue records seven unused stamps and 40 used (two of which are held by the New York Public Library and the British Library, respectively).

Siegel notes in the auction description that of the 38 used stamps available to collectors, “only 13 are sound or potentially sound,” adding that “six are based on decades-old descriptions and need to be re-examined for condition.”

Siegel observes that of the confirmed sound examples, the stamp offered in the Price auction has better centering and a clearer cancel than most. It is struck with a New York circle of eight wedges cancel, and is accompanied by Philatelic Foundation certificates from 1946, 1969, and 1990. The stamp is listed by Siegel with the value of $100,000 found in the 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers. The Scott catalog value is printed in italics to indicate a stamp that trades infrequently and which can be difficult to value accurately.

The Walske collection of U.S.-France trans-Atlantic mail will be presented in two parts, with this first selection offering “covers that have dominant United States collector appeal.” The second part, with greater French appeal, will be offered in May in conjunction with World Stamp Show-NY 2016.

Walske’s exhibit of this material won an international large gold medal at Italia 97.

A highlight of the current sale is an 1856 folded letter sent via 20¢ American packet rate to Pontay, France, franked with four examples of the imperforate 5¢ red brown Thomas Jefferson stamp of 1856: a single and a strip of three. The cover was carried by the New York & Havre Line steamer Fulton, arriving at Le Havre Dec. 1. This is, according to Siegel, the only 5¢ 1856 issue franking correctly prepaying the 20¢ rate to France via American packet direct, and “one of the most outstanding 1856 5¢ Jefferson imperforate covers in existence.” Ex-Brown, Knapp, Ishikawa and Mayer, the cover is accompanied by a 1993 Philatelic Foundation certificate. Siegel sets an estimate for this item of $60,000 to $80,000.

A nice bonus in the Walske auction catalog is a detailed reference table of trans-Atlantic packet mail rates between France and the United States.

The March 17-18 sale of “Outstanding United States Stamps” fully lives up to its title with hundreds of choice classic issues and a large selection of spectacular modern errors including imperforate varieties and color-missing errors.

The final sale of this series presents U.S. revenue stamps and hunting permit stamps, plus dozens of prints and lithographs of duck stamp artwork.

Among the revenues are one example each of the jewels of the 1871 second issue documentary stamps: the $200 red, blue, and black “small Persian rug” (Scott R132), and the $500 red-orange, green, and black “large Persian rug” (R133). The latter stamp is being offered for the first time since the consignor purchased it in a 1971 Siegel sale.

The illustrated catalogs for all of these sales can be viewed online, and online bidding options are also available. For more information, contact Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, 60 E. 56th St., New York, NY 10022.