Rumsey April 25-28 auction series features U.S., worldwide, Civil War; Grassi classic U.S. collection

Apr 8, 2024, 10 AM

By Charles Snee

Schuyler Rumsey Philatelic Auctions will conduct its signature Westpex sale and two specialized sales April 25-28 in conjunction with the Westpex stamp show to be held April 26-28 at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront Hotel, 1800 Old Bayshore Highway, Burlingame, Calif., immediately south of the San Francisco International Airport.

All three auctions will be held in the hotel’s Bayside II ballroom. Note that the Westpex sale begins April 25, one day prior to the show.

A specialized sale of Civil War stamps and postal history will take place April 26, and the Armando Grassi collection of classic United States stamps will cross the auction block April 27.

The four-day Westpex sale, which includes more than 2,300 lots, will offer an enormous array of U.S. stamps and postal history, Civil War postal history, Confederate States, U.S. possessions, British Commonwealth, general foreign issues, and U.S. and worldwide collections.

Specialized U.S. holdings that will be up for bids are the William Rader collections of Martha Washington and the Ron Lerch collection of California miner’s illustrated covers.

Among the airmail rarities to tempt bidders is a 1935 registered solo flight cover carried by famed pilot Amelia Earhart. The cover was postmarked in Mexico City on May 2 and arrived in Newark, N.J., on May 8. It was then delivered to the addressee in New York City.

The overprinted Mexico airmail stamp (Scott C74) in the top right corner was issued for Earhart’s goodwill flight to Mexico.

Rumsey’s lot description provides additional perspective on the cover’s importance and rarity:

“In 1935, famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart paid a goodwill visit to Mexico City, carrying mail bound for New York City on her return flight to Newark, New Jersey. In honor of her visit, Mexico issued an airmail stamp for mail carried on the return flight (Scott #C74), by overprinting its 1934-35 20c [centavo] Lake ‘Eagle Man’ airmail (Scott #C68a). Seven hundred and eighty stamps were overprinted, of which 480 were additionally overprinted ‘Muestra’ and sent to the Universal Postal Union for distribution to postal administrations worldwide. Only about 35 to 40 pieces [were] ever carried by Earhart to New York City.”

Earhart inscribed the cover, “Carried by air Mexico D.F. New York May 8, 1935” and added her signature below.

Rumsey described the letter as “one of the most sought after Amelia Earhart signed flight covers.”

According to Rumsey, the cover is listed in the American Air Mail Catalogue as No. 1231 with a value of $10,000. Accompanying the cover is a 1992 expertizing certificate issued by Enzo Diena.

Rumsey lists this attractive 1935 Amelia Earhart solo flight cover with an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.

A highlight of the April 26 Civil War sale is one of six recorded examples of the Nashville, Tenn., 5¢ carmine postmaster’s provisional stamp (Scott 61X2) used in combination with U.S. postage.

The Adams Express Co. cover was mailed Aug. 3, 1861, from Nashville to Warren, R.I.

The Nashville provisional at upper left, tied by an Aug. 4 Adams Express Co. circular datestamp from Louisville, Ky., was used in combination with a U.S. 1857 3¢ dull red Washington (Scott 26) affixed over the Aug. 3 Adams Express datestamp at upper right. The Washington stamp was subsequently postmarked Aug. 5 in Louisville.

The pencil “2” marking at top middle represents the 25¢ express fee charged by Adams.

Rumsey provided additional background regarding the dual franking:

“Adams Express Company was required to ensure the prepayment of government postage (Federal and Confederate), although the letter was carried outside the regular mails. The [cover] never actually entered the mails at Nashville ... Very few covers are recorded with Confederate provisional stamps or markings used in conjunction with thru-the-lines express service.”

Rumsey noted that the Nashville postmaster’s provisional has a “vertical pre-use tear” and the 3¢ stamp has flaws at the top right corner.

“Of the Nashville provisional express combination covers, seven are known with the 5¢ and three with the 10¢ [Scott 61X6],” Rumsey said.

Scott 61X2 used on cover in combination with a U.S. 1857 3¢ stamp is valued at $25,000 in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers.

Rumsey is offering this attractive 1861 Adams Express Co. combination cover with an estimate of $7,500 to $10,000.

Rumsey’s April 27 auction of the Grassi collection of classic U.S. stamps includes a remarkable unused example of the 1847 5¢ dark brown Benjamin Franklin (Scott 1a) graded superb 98J by Professional Stamp Experts in 2008. The “J” designation indicates a stamp with jumbo margins. The stamp also comes with a 2000 certificate (no grade assigned) from the Philatelic Foundation.

According to Rumsey, the stamp possesses full original gum that has been lightly hinged only once. The oversize margins at left and right show parts of the adjacent stamps.

“This is one of two known examples graded Superb 98 Jumbo by [Professional Stamp Experts] with none higher,” Rumsey said. “Additionally, there are no recorded examples of the 5¢ Red Brown … graded higher than Superb 98, of which there is a single example …”

Rumsey sold that single example of Scott 1 graded superb 98 during its Aug. 27, 2022, sale of the Peter Iwate collection of classic U.S. stamps and covers.

In its listing for the graded superb 98J 5¢ dark brown Franklin, Rumsey cited the Scott U.S. Specialized catalog value of $7,000 for a stamp in the Scott benchmark grade of very fine 80. In the grade of superb 98, Scott 1a unused with original gum is valued at $35,000 in Scott Stamp Values U.S. Specialized by Grade.

The three auction catalogs prepared for the Westpex, Civil War and Armando Grassi sales can be viewed on the Rumsey website, or downloaded from the same site as PDF files. Online bidding is available through Stamp Auction Network.

For additional information, contact Schuyler J. Rumsey Philatelic Auctions, 47 Kearny St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94108.

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter