By Michael Baadke
Kagin’s Auctions of Tiburon, Calif., is offering a major collection of encased postage stamps during the American Numismatic Association’s National Money Show in Irving, Texas, near Dallas.
The auction is taking place May 8-10, with the encased postage stamps all offered during the auction’s second session on Friday, March 9.
The Michigan Collection of encased postage stamps “is believed to be one of the most comprehensive sets ever and perhaps currently the finest and most complete including 145 different varieties,” according to the auction firm.
The Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers, which lists and values encased postage stamps, explains that the government authorized the monetizing of postage stamps in 1862 as a result of the hoarding of coins during the Civil War.
Although an estimated 750,000 encased postage stamps were sold, “only 3,500 to 7,000 are believed to have survived for collectors,” Scott notes. The eight stamps of the 1861 issue were used to create encased postage.
The encased postage stamps are protected in mica and clad in brass with commercial advertising on the reverse, which helps identify and determine the scarcity of the available pieces.
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Some are extremely rare, but even some of the rarest examples are being offered in the Kagin’s auction.
One such item is the 5¢ Thomas Jefferson-Arthur M. Claflin, Hopkinton, Mass., encased postage (Scott EP61).
The example in the Kagin’s auction is described as “choice extremely fine.”
Kagin’s reports it has confirmed only two known examples of the 5¢ Claflin. It describes this one as having an attractive golden brown color of the case and frame, with strong definition of the wording.
“The mica is largely free from distractions while just some light wrinkling of the otherwise bold stamp.”
Kagin’s reports this piece sold in 2012 for $15,275. The Scott catalog shows a value of $15,000 for the 5¢ Claflin, with the amount listed in italics to identify an item that can be difficult to value accurately.
The Kagin’s website opens bidding at $4,700.
The 1862 patent for a “Design for Encasing Government Stamps” was issued to John Gault, who also used his own innovative design to create encased postage that solicited advertising partners.
One variety of this is the Kirkpatrick and Gault encased postage (Scott EP113-EP120). The Kagin’s sale includes several varieties of this issue, with a 90¢ example described by Kagin’s as “likely the finest known.” The piece sold for $9,200 in 2012, and is listed in the Scott U.S. Specialized catalog at $10,000. The opening bid in the auction is $2,900.
The Michigan collection “represents many of the finest single specimens that could be obtained for each denomination and from every merchant,” Kagin’s notes.
The auction can be viewed on the Kagin's website, with online bidding options available.