Trio of name collections in March 28-29 H.R. Harmer auction of U.S. postal history

Mar 17, 2023, 8 AM

By Charles Snee

On March 28-29, H.R. Harmer will conduct a sale of United States postal history featuring three important name collections.

The Van Koppersmith collection of Philadelphia postal history and the Leonard Piszkiewicz collection of Chicago postal history will be offered on the first day of the auction. The collection of Hartford, Conn., postal history formed by Tony Dewey will be up for bids on the second day.

All three collections are marked by substantial depth and breadth and present collectors with myriad opportunities to add items of notable quality to their collections.

Among the numerous classic-era stampless covers in the Koppersmith collection is a letter mailed Feb. 17, 1857, from Philadelphia to Coleraine, Ireland.

The cover bears a red straight-line “PAID” handstamp and a red Feb. 17 “Phila. Br. Pkt” exchange datestamp at upper left.

Also at upper left is a bold strike of the rare “America Dublin Paid” postmark, which shows the cover arrived in Dublin on March 3. A backstamp (not pictured) indicates the letter arrived in Coleraine the next day, March 4.

According to H.R. Harmer, approximately five examples of this elusive postmark are recorded.

H.R. Harmer is offering this attractive 1857 cover with a starting bid of $200.

Included in the Piszkiewicz collection is a Jan. 21, 1857, cover mailed from Chicago to Shelbyville, N.Y., and franked with a 3¢ dull red George Washington stamp (Scott 11) with unofficial gauge 12½ perforations. These perforations are known to collectors as the Chicago perfs.

A footnote following the listing for Scott 11 in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers provides additional details: “The unofficial perf varieties listed under Nos. 7, 11 and 11A represent the first perforated stamps in the U. S. made using a true perforating machine. Known as the ‘Chicago perfs,’ both the perf. 11 and perf. 12½ stamps were made by Dr. Elijah W. Hadley, using a machine of his construction. None of the perf 11 stamps are believed to have been used.”

H.R. Harmer noted that a history of the Chicago perfs has been published in the following issues of the Chronicle of the U.S. Classic Postal Issues: Vol. 38, No. 2 and Vol. 49, Nos. 2 and 3.

H.R. Harmer also noted that the stamp has small faults that include damage to the top left and bottom left corners before it was affixed to the envelope.

The Scott U.S. Specialized catalog values Scott 11 with Chicago perfs on cover at $8,000. This value is italicized to indicate an item that is difficult to value accurately.

H.R. Harmer lists this cover bearing a 3¢ dull red Washington with Chicago perfs with an opening bid of $400. A 1984 Philatelic Foundation certificate stating the cover is “a genuine usage” is included.

A key item from the Dewey collection is a mourning cover mailed circa 1850 from Hartford to Brooklyn, Conn., bearing a vertical bisect of the 1847 10¢ black Washington (Scott 2b). The bisect paid the 5¢ rate for a half-ounce letter mailed a distance under 300 miles.

Scott 2b is valued on cover at $30,000 in the Scott U.S. Specialized catalog.

H.R. Harmer described the cover as “the only legitimate 1847 10c bisect from Hartford.” A second example, which is listed in Thomas Alexander’s The United States 1847 Issue: A Cover Census, was proven to be a fake, according to H.R. Harmer.

The cover in the H.R. Harmer auction comes with a 1987 Philatelic Foundation certificate and boasts an impressive provenance, having once graced the collections of Philip G. Rust, Jerome Hawley, John R. Boker Jr. and William H. Gross.

H.R. Harmer is offering the cover with an opening bid of $5,000.

The catalog for the March 28-29 auction is posted on the H.R. Harmer website. The catalog is downloadable, and online bidding options are available after registering with H.R. Harmer.

Additional information is also available from H.R. Harmer, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 2607, New York, NY 10111.

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