‘Erivan,’ Don David Price CIA Invert collections in H.R. Harmer sales at WSS-NY 2016

Apr 29, 2021, 9 PM

By Matthew Healey, New York Correspondent

H.R. Harmer, of Tustin, Calif., will hold a two-session auction in New York in conjunction with World Stamp Show-NY 2016 on June 3 at 1 p.m. This will conclude six days of auctions at the once-a-decade international show.

H.R. Harmer, not to be confused with Harmers International or various other stamp-auction firms bearing that illustrious family name, is part of Global Philatelic Network, a consortium that includes Heinrich Koehler of Germany, Corinphila of Switzerland and the Netherlands, and John Bull Auctions of Hong Kong.

Highlights of this two-part sale include a selection of worldwide rarities as well as items from the “Erivan” collection of United States and Confederate stamps and postal stationery.

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Erivan Haub, a widely respected German philatelist, will also be showing items from his collections in the Court of Honor at World Stamp Show-NY 2016: five frames displaying U.S. and Confederate postmasters’ provisionals, and five frames devoted to an exhibit on 19th-century trans-Atlantic mail between German states and the Americas.

Haub, who lives with his wife Helga in his native Wies­baden, Germany, is the former managing director of a large German retail conglomerate with operations around the world. He spent part of his life in the United States, and at one time his firm owned the A&P supermarket chain.

“His love of philately was sparked at a very young age by his mother, who gave her son letters she received from around the globe,” according to H.R. Harmer. “Stamp collecting has remained a part of his life ever since. Mr. Haub has a number of fine collections, including world-class material from Canada and Germany.”

Among the highlights is a series of Wells Fargo Pony Express covers. One, bearing a $2 red stamp issued for the service in 1861 (Scott 143L1) on a U.S. star die 10¢ stamped envelope (U33), was sent from San Francisco on June 22, 1861, arriving in St. Joseph, Mo., on July 4 and continuing to New York.

While unused Pony Express stamps are not uncommon, examples on attractive covers in good condition are highly desirable. This one is listed with an opening bid of $20,000.

The year 1861 was also the year the Civil War began, and with it a disruption of mail service between the North and South. U.S. postage stamps ceased to be valid in the Confederacy, so many local postmasters produced their own interim replacements.

The Erivan sale includes a cover mailed from Louisville, Ky., to Norfolk, Va., on July 30, 1861, franked with a U.S. 3¢ Washington of 1857 (Scott 26) on a 3¢ star die envelope (U26). The Adams Express Co. carried it south through the lines to Nashville, Tenn., where a 10¢ Nashville postmaster’s provisional (Scott 61X6) was applied and the letter forwarded to Norfolk, Va.

Only six covers are thought to exist with that provisional stamp, and only two of those also bear other stamps. The cover has a starting bid of $40,000.

Another highlight of the H.R. Harmer sale is the Don David Price exhibit collection of the 1979 $1 Rush Lamp and Candleholder stamp and its most famous error, the so-called “CIA” Invert.

This 16-page exhibit, which is being offered intact, documents the production of the normal stamp, its postal history, and a range of errors and varieties besides the invert, which was first discovered by a group of CIA employees in Virginia.

The collection is offered with a starting bid of $50,000.

Among foreign rarities is a Philippines 1854 1-real slate blue with an engraving error, showing “CORROS” instead of “CORREOS” in the inscription (Scott 4c), in a used, left-margin vertical pair with a normal stamp, top. Said to be the only known pair of the error, it opens at $4,000.

All lots will be subject to H.R. Harmer/GPN’s 20 percent buyer’s premium. The sale catalogs can be downloaded free, or a printed edition can be ordered by writing to Harmer at 2680 Walnut Ave., Suite AB, Tustin, CA 92780-7052, or calling 714-389-9178.

The collections can be viewed all week at World Stamp Show-NY 2016 at Harmer’s booth, No. 729. Prior to that, it can be viewed by appointment at Harmer’s offices. For further information, email:

More World Stamp Show-NY 2016 auction news:

Gaertner Worldwide Rarities auction at World Stamp Show-NY 2016 May 30
Worldwide mint at June 2 Kelleher World Stamp Show-NY 2016 auction
In switch, Gross Switzerland collection sold privately; his Hawaii will be offered at New York show instead