1852 The Cover from Hawaii
2013 SOLD 2.25 M$ including premium
Three values are released, corresponding to the three postage rates: 2 cents for a newspaper, 5 cents for a letter to the Western United States and 13 cents to the East. Printed on thin paper, these fragile stamps poorly survived.
These 13 cents enabled to pay 5 cents for the sending country, 2 cents to the boat and 6 cents to the destination country. They were paid to the post office of Hawaii which ensured the sharing of the fee.
In 1905, somewhere in the United States, a worker cleans a factory disused for about 35 years. The previous owners had not checked the incineration of their archives. The worker discovered in a stove, almost intact, one of the wonders of the history of philately: the Dawson cover.
Shipped from Hawaii to New York on October 4, 1852, the Dawson cover did not use the stamp of 13 cents but a combination from the two involved countries : 2 cents and 5 cents of Hawaii and two stamps of 3 cents each of the United States. This is the only known copy with this mixed postage.
It was sold for $ 2.1 million including premium by Robert A. Siegel in New York in November 1995. It is now estimated $ 2M, for sale by the same auction house on June 25.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold for $ 1.95M before fees, this prestigious piece of philately remained in the region of its lower estimate.
The file is shared by Wikimedia :
1854 Small Money in San Francisco
2018 SOLD for $ 2.16M including premium
The premises are tiny and the machines work badly. The setting difficulties accumulate, aggravated by the sinking of the boat which was bringing the nitric acid necessary for the control of the gold content. The continuation of the production is limited to the double eagle, the eagle and the dollar, more user friendly than the fractional denominations. There will be no other 1854-S half and quarter eagles.
About ten quarters have survived. This proportion seems normal. At that time the numismatists were not interested in the specificities of the mint branches. The other units were circulated, worn, melted.
The half is much rarer. Its population was increased from 3 to 4 in April 2018. This scarcity has no proven explanation. It is possible that almost all of its production was provided to a single client who melted it. In addition one of the first three specimens did not reappear after an armed robbery in 1967.
The sudden surfacing of such a rarity is an event. Having failed to convince the dealers, its owner has done a better job : requesting an analysis by one of the recognized organizations for certification, the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. The comparison with high definition photos of the remaining coins is flagrant : the new candidate is authentic.
This 1854-S half eagle was graded XF-45 by NGC which also verified that it is not the stolen coin. It will be sold as lot 5248 by Heritage in Philadelphia on August 16. Please watch the video shared in April by NGC to confirm this exciting discovery.
1854 Gold Dust
2020 SOLD for $ 1.92M including premium
In 1850, when California joins the Union, the gold rush is in full swing. The creation of a Branch Mint in San Francisco is disputed by opponents of decentralization. President Fillmore addresses to Congress a social argument which will be decisive : miners are forced to accept large discounts when they sell gold dust to private buyers, this trade must be centralized to end this injustice.
The San Francisco factory opens on April 3, 1854 to receive gold. The first deposit is made by The Adams Express Company, consisting of 50 ounces of gold recorded for $ 1,311.92 on April 11.
You can't improvise yourself as a coin maker. Two weeks later, the workers finally manage to control the furnaces. From April 18 to 20, the first batches of $ 20, $ 10, $ 5 and $ 2.5 are produced with respective quantities of 178, 260, 268 and 246 which are sufficient to demonstrate the feasibility.
The factory is unlucky. The technical difficulties have not all been resolved, and are aggravated by the sinking in February 1854 of the ship which transported the nitric acid necessary to purify the gold. In 1854 the factory will not launch another batch of $ 5 or $ 2.5.
On April 29, the Mountain Democrat, an El Dorado County newspaper, narrated that an agent of Adams displayed several examples of half eagles recently made in San Francisco. The other denominations are not mentioned. We will not see any 1854-S half eagle again in a collection before the 1910s, with a first public sale in 1932.
A total of four units appeared, one of which was probably lost irretrievably in a burglary in 1967. Please watch the video shared by NGC comparing the four specimens to announce their guarantee of authenticity for the fourth that had just surfaced. This coin graded XF45 was sold for $ 2.16M including premium by Heritage on August 16, 2018.
The Adams Express Company was a conveyor company founded in Boston in 1840. Its San Francisco office, established in 1849, also traded in gold dust. The deposit of 50 ounces made on April 3 is very small for such a powerful company, competing with the American Express. Its price in raw gold, indicated above, is equivalent to the price of 262 half eagles, to be compared with the 268 coins of the first batch of this denomination.
The details of the financial transactions between Adams and the Branch Mint are not known but it was not unusual to pay the depositors with coins made with their own gold. If we assume that Adams bought the whole lot of half eagles, we see it as a clever promotional operation, including both a feedback to miners and a compliance with wishes addressed by former President Fillmore. After this operation, the coins were no longer useful to Adams. Most have probably been melted.
About eleven 1854-S quarter eagles survive. Compared to the production figure of 246 pieces, the proportion seems normal for an edition of coins delivered for circulation.
RESULTS including premium :
Half eagle : SOLD for $ 1.92M
Quarter eagle : SOLD for $ 384K
1855 A Dangerous Javanese Game
2018 SOLD for € 9M including premium
The action of a great violence involves ferocious beasts, together or confronted with hunters on horseback. His bestiary is too varied to be relying from personal Javanese memories : lions, tigers, deer, buffalo, boar.
The composition seems directly inspired by the hunting scenes painted by Rubens around 1620, with a swirling and vividly colored center in which the protagonists are intertwined up to the limit of readability. Men and animals express exacerbated feelings of panic and horror.
When he is in France, Raden Saleh is in touch with Horace Vernet but his more flexible lines are inspired by the Dutch landscape learned from Schelfhout. The similarity of his ardor with Delacroix's romantic orientalism is obvious, but the hunts by Raden Saleh were conceived long before the 1854 commission to Delacroix by the Beaux-Arts for a lion hunt.
Raden Saleh returned to Java in 1852, bringing with him the notoriety he acquired in Europe. Like Rubens, he is using very large formats. Like what tradition said of Rubens, he also likes to include his self-portrait in full activity among the hunters.
An oil on canvas 110 x 180 cm dated 1855 titled La Chasse au taureau sauvage Banteng (Banteng wild bull hunting) has just surfaced in Brittany, in a basement where the owners had hidden it for several decades because they were uncomfortable with its violence. Minor misses are reported. It is estimated € 150K for sale by Ruellan in Vannes on January 27, lot 1. Please watch the video shared by Interencheres.
1855 The Parure by Bapst for Empress Eugénie
2014 SOLD for CHF 2.3M including premium
Eugénie was one of the greatest users of jewelry of her time. She rushes to the Crown Jewels of France that had not been dispersed and selects some of them for assembling new pieces.
Alfred Bapst then recovers the role played by his ancestors who had been jewelers to the Crown. In 1855, Eugénie commissions to Bapst a parure (ornament set) that will remain one of the most prestigious jewelry of her reign.
The parure realized by Bapst is composed of three elements: a guirlande (necklace), a tour de corsage (turn-of-bodice) to wear on the dress and a devant-de-corsage (pin-to-bodice brooch). The motifs of currant leafs (feuilles de groseillier) are made by a paving of ancient-cut diamonds mounted in silver and gold.
After the fall of the Empire, Eugénie's jewels were auctioned. Many of them have been disassembled due to the market value of their individual gems. The Bapst groseillier brooch remained however as is. It is estimated CHF 1.9M for sale by Christie's in Geneva on November 11, lot 387. It is centered with a larger diamond and decorated with three hanging pampilles.
1856 The Rudimentary Stamps of British Guiana
2014 SOLD 9.5 M$ including premium
The invention of the postage stamp in England in 1840 is a revolution in communications. Hitherto limited to shipment operations, the Post Office of British Guiana is one of the first in South America to use stamps and to develop a local delivery, through the diligence of Edward Dalton, a colonial postmaster unwilling to wait for official authorizations.
The first stamps issued by the British Guiana in 1850 are made in black ink by woodcut printing on papers of various colors depending on the face value. The work is done by the printer of the local newspaper. They are so rudimentary that each sold stamp is authenticated by the handwritten initials of the postmaster or of one of his clerks. Their rough shape is square with or without cut corners.
These first stamps of 4, 8 and 12 cents are not rare because they have attracted the interest of collectors from the 1870s. They are identified by the nickname cottonreels. A cottonreel of 4 cents on a cover circulated in 1851 is estimated € 120K in the Feldman sale.
An additional cottonreel worth 2 cents was issued in 1851. This low value intended for taxing the mail inside Georgetown was very unpopular and this variety is extremely rare. A unit is estimated € 100K in the Feldman sale.
In 1852, the government takes control of operations. Stamps for British Guiana are now printed in a specialized factory in England. In September 1855, it is a disaster. British agents had misunderstood the order and printed a quantity of stamps ten times lower than needed.
Faced with the shortage, Dalton released in 1856 a new series of locally printed British Guiana stamps, with the same rudimentary process as in 1850.
The 4 cents stamp to be used for mail is printed on papers of three color variants, magenta, carmine and blue, the latter in two variants with single or double sided blue. A blue 4 cents on a cover circulated in 1856 is estimated € 150K in the Feldman sale.
The 1 cent for the postage of newspapers is a lower denomination that had no reason to be kept by users. Only one survived. In poor condition, almost indecipherable, it is magenta in the same shade as one of the 4 cent variants. Collected in 1873 by a schoolboy in the archives of his uncle, it was formally authenticated by an expert in 1891.
The 1 cent magenta British Guiana stamp is the only British variety that escapes the royal collection. It is estimated in excess of $ 10 million at Sotheby's. Sold for $ 935K including premium by Siegel on April 5, 1980, it was already at that time the most expensive stamp in the world.
POST SALE COMMENTS
The most expensive stamp in the world was sold for $ 7.9M before fees by Sotheby's.
Here are now the prices before fees of the three stamps discussed above from David Feldman's sale: € 160K the 4 cents from 1850-1851, € 190K the 2 cents from 1851 and € 240K the 4 cents from 1856.
I invite you to play a video shared in 2008 on YouTube that I retrieved through the facebook page of Feldman:
1856 view of Constantinople by Aivazovsky
2012 SOLD for £ 3.23M including premium by Sotheby's
Shared by Wikimedia :
1857 The Laws of the Knickerbockers
2016 SOLD for $ 3.26M including premium
The spirit of competition requires fixed rules that will identify champions who will defend their title in the following season. In England, football has a similar story at the same period.
The activist of the standardization of base ball, which will later become the baseball, is the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club established in 1845 and named after the uniforms of the firefighters who lent to them their playing field.
The Knickerbockers were not the best in sport but they had the merit of endeavoring to impose their rules. They were also one of the two teams that played the first official match in 1846 and the first base ball club to use a distinctive uniform in 1849.
In 1857 in New York, the first congress of the National Association of Base Ball Players establishes the first regulatory body and freezes the rules that will remain virtually unchanged for ever, ending the initiatives of the Knickerbockers.
A set of three manuscripts that were almost unnoticed in an auction in 1999 gives a new vision on the fundamental and even unique role of the Knickerbockers in defining the final baseball laws.
In 1857 the President of the Knickerbockers is Doc Adams who had been a player in the 1846 pioneering game. The three documents are the first autograph draft written by Adams in 1856 (the last page is missing), an iteration annotated by him before the congress and the final laws submitted to Congress and approved.
These documents are grouped as the lot 1 in the online auction organized by SCP Auctions with bidding close out on April 23. I invite you to watch the video shared by the auction house.
We are record setters here at SCP #Auctions. Remember when we sold The Laws of Baseball for over $3,000,000? We’d love to help you with your #sports #memorabilia in our Summer Premier Auction. Send in your #consignments before it’s too late. pic.twitter.com/jVT7YCG3vh— SCP Auctions (@SCPAuctions) July 7, 2019
1857 The Only 3-Skilling Yellow
1996 SOLD 2.875 MCHF including premium by David Feldman
2010 SOLD over 2.3 M$ in private auction sale
No other copy will never be found, making this stamp the rarest and most desired piece on the philately market. Its story is told on the Treskilling Yellow page of Wikipedia, where it is illustrated. It was canceled in 1857.
It is a mistake and not a fake. This sample has all the characteristics of an 8 Skilling stamp, yellow, unless it bears the engraving of the 3 Skilling, which is green for all other known copies. The hypothesis to keep is that one of 100 clichés of a printing block of 8 Skilling was damaged, and the operator has inadvertently changed it by a 3 Skilling cliché. Nobody went aware of the error, and there is no way of knowing how many wrong copies were produced.
It was sold in 1996 2.875 MCHF including premium by David Feldman.
A scoop of the Telegraph has just announced its forthcoming sale without giving details, and it took me a few navigation tips to find the source: the 3 Skilling Yellow comes on May 22 in Geneva at private auction by David Feldman, with a specific catalog. You are now part of the happy few: here is the link to the catalog shared by the auction house.
David Feldman has done a quick calculation. Reduced to its weight, this small artefact of 26.75 milligrams is valued $ 70 billion per kilogram! Who says better?
POST SALE COMMENT
The Treskilling was sold for over $ 2.3 million to a group of buyers who required that the exact amount was not disclosed . I remind that it was a private auction.
Shared by Wikimedia :
1858 Kebab Merchants of Scutari
2009 SOLD 3.4 M$ including premium
He made long stays in the Middle East. During his returns to London, he exhibited at the Royal Academy the paintings he had created from his travel sketches. This was the case of "the Kibab (Kebab) Shop, Scutari," an oil on panel 53 x 79 cm, which was admired by John Ruskin when he displayed it in 1858.
This scene of life in the Middle East is remarkable in its details that recreate an intense life. The characters are seen in close-ups, quietly engaged in their business. The shop is very realistic, and Chinese import plates add a surprising touch of truth. It opens up entirely on the street animated by pigeons, two goats, a dog.
Sotheby's estimates this work at $ 1.5 million and is selling it in New York on April 24.
On 15 June 2005 in London, Christie's went close to £ 2.5 million including expenses for a midday meal in Cairo. This oil on canvas, bigger, with more characters, was the last work of Lewis (1875). Personally, I prefer the Kibabs Store, which I find more intimate and passionate ... and is an important milestone in Orientalist art.
POST SALE COMMENT
The price obtained, $ 3.4 million including expenses, paid tribute to the quality and earliness of the artwork. Forget the estimate, which was too low.
1858-1859 Class III Restrike of the 1804 Silver Dollar
2009 SOLD for $ 2.3M including premium by Heritage
Please watch the video shared by Heritage.
1858-1859 The Class III Restrike
2014 SOLD for $ 1.88M including premium
2020 SOLD for $ 1.44M including premium
The Class III Restrike is the designation used in 1962 by Newman and Bressett to describe a 1804 one dollar novodel, produced secretly at the Philadelphia Mint, distinct from the Class II by its lettered edge. One Class II and six Class III pieces survive.
The 1804 dollar is the last model made before the suspension of production of the silver dollar which will last until 1836. The 19,570 coins declared in the annual report for 1804 have always remained untraceable, creating fabulous myths like the disappearance of the entire production in a shipwreck. The tools existed nevertheless at the factory and had been kept.
In 1834 the government requests two specimens of each of the denominations of American coinage in the current year or the last year of production as applicable, to constitute inexpensive diplomatic gifts for the king of Siam and the sultan of Muscat. The factory does not have a 1804 dollar in stock. It is easy to recreate a few copies : this is the Class I, of which eight units are known, probably representing the entire production.
One of these copies is used in 1842 to illustrate a manual published by two employees of the Mint, Eckfeldt and DuBois. Collectors are going crazy. The factory accepts an exchange with one of them in 1843, recovering the unique example from a bygone gold coin project of 1785 with the inscription Immune Columbia.
The Class II restrike is created at the factory in 1858. It was a poor quality unauthorized operation intended to make profit from the greed of collectors. The Mint requests to recover them. Three are destroyed and one is kept as a specimen at the factory. No other Class II is known. The only surviving piece was struck on a Swiss thaler from 1857, with a plain edge.
The idea of producing restrikes goes up to the highest level of the hierarchy. In 1859 the Mint director JR Snowden tries in vain to obtain an authorization from the Treasury for such operations.
The production of Class III at the Philadelphia factory is indisputable, probably from 1858 or 1859. The blundering lettering will be done late on the previously struck pieces, which could have been earlier Class II made on blank planchets and remaining at the factory. The first Class III surfaced in 1876, tending to prove that the illicit uses of this variant had been successfully blocked until that date.
Four Class III have been artificially worn by rubbing in a pocket to make it look like authentic coins made in 1804. The batch was however made with a proof finish which did not exist before 1817.
A Class III graded PR58 by PCGS was sold for $ 2.3M including premium by Heritage on April 30, 2009.
Another Class III, graded PR55 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.88M including premium by Stack's Bowers on August 6, 2014, lot 13146. I narrated it in this column before that sale. Now coming from the Pogue collection, this coin is estimated $ 1.2M for sale by Stack's Bowers in Baltimore on March 20, lot 7304.
The production of silver dollars had already been low in 1803, allowing an extension of the use of the dies. The one dollar coins announced in 1804 in the annual report were certainly struck with dies from previous years, perhaps due to a too late availability of the dies on the date of 1804 which will remain unused until the Class I.