1851 1¢ blue Benjamin Franklin stamp carries six-figure estimate into Kelleher sale

Nov 14, 2016, 9 AM
The Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions Flagship sale Nov. 29-Dec. 1 includes this used 1851 1¢ blue Benjamin Franklin type I stamp, position 7R1E.

By Michael Baadke

Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions of Danbury, Conn., is offering its Flagship sale of more than 2,500 lots from Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.

The auction will feature United States, British Empire, and worldwide stamps and postal history.

The Tuesday session opens with a selection of British classics, including various Mulready envelopes and lettersheets, 19th and early 20th century postage stamps, and single lots of British Official stamps.

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That last group includes one unused lightly hinged example of the rare 1902 1-shilling green and carmine Queen Victoria stamp with Board of Education overprint (Scott O66). 

The full session includes some 840 lots of material from the British Commonwealth, Europe and colonies, Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

The U.S. postal history and stamp offerings begin on Wednesday morning, starting off with a selection of autographs and free franks that includes a handsome folded letter bearing the free frank of Alexander Hamilton as secretary of the Treasury, signed “Free A. Hamilton” at lower left, and additionally struck with a “FREE” hand stamp near upper right. The cover opens at $500 with an estimate of $1,000 to $1,500.

The U.S. stamp offerings include a used 1851 1¢ blue Benjamin Franklin type I, position 7R1E (Scott 5), with a black grid cancellation.

Of the original five 200-subject plates used to print the 1¢ blue, only the stamp printed at position 7 on the right pane of the early state of plate I (7R1E) shows the most complete original die design.

The stamp in the Kelleher sale is described as an “extraordinary example of this renowned position, in a quality rarely encountered,” citing the stamp’s wide margins, rich color, detailed impression and flawless condition. The stamp is graded very fine 80 by Professional Stamp Experts on a 2007 certificate.

Bidding on the 1¢ blue 7R1E will open at $50,000, with an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.

Skipping ahead some 66 years, this auction also offers a sharp example of the imperforate 1917 5¢ carmine error of color (Scott 485) centered in a block of nine, surrounded, of course, by the 2¢ carmine of the same George Washington design.

Condition and quality are top-notch for this never-hinged item, according to the auction catalog description, “without any of the gum skips or gum bends that plague this issue.” Graded extremely fine-superb 95 by Professional Stamp Experts, the block opens at $10,000, with a $20,000 to $30,000 estimate.

The auction will take place at the Kelleher galleries in Danbury; for more information and bidding options visit Kelleher’s website, or contact Daniel F. Kelleher Actions LLC, 4 Finance Drive, Suite 100, Danbury, CT 06840.