6X1, Lockport, New York 5c Red on buff, unique complete stamp with margins all around, made from an older oval Lockport cancellation device, center design with red straightline "PAID" and manuscript "5," cancelled by manuscript "X", matching red "PAID" and Lockport "5" integral rate handstamp, March 18, 1846 on folded letter addressed to "Robert Morrell, Esq." in Geneva, New York, later turned and readdressed to sender in Lockport (March 24 Geneva cds and "10" rate handstamp), addressee's name has been cut out of the lettersheet but this does not affect the address panel with the stamp, Extremely Fine, the only complete example of this famous stamp on- or off-cover, and as such one of the greatest rarities in all of American philately, a true icon which ranks alongside other uniquities such as the Alexandria "Blue Boy," the Boscawen provisional, the "Large Beaumont" Confederate provisional, and the Dawson cover, offered publicly for the first time in over 30 years, signed "RHW Co" and 1989 Philatelic Foundation certificate (Scott $300,000 is based on an 1989 auction realization)
When John N. Luff was writing his seminal tome The Postage Stamps of the United States in 1902, he described the Lockport provisional as a stamp "practically without a history." While he was correct in the sense that there is no firsthand written or physical evidence of the stamp's creation, fortunately the ensuing decades have seen research carried out which has shed some light on this fascinating and mysterious stamp.
The Lockport provisional was created during the administration of, and presumably at the direction of, postmaster Colonel Hezekiah W. Scovell. At the time Lockport, located on the Erie Canal in Niagara County, was a city of only approximately 9,000 residents (today its population is just above 20,000). The cover bearing the only surviving example of Scovell's creation was not found until the end of the 19th Century by a collector named M.H. Hoover, who was searching the papers of the Holmes & Moss firm of Lockport, New York. Curiously, as the lettersheed had been folded and reused, the provisional stamp ended up in the city where it had originated and was actually on the inside of what appeared to be a plain stampless cover.
Hoover traded the Lockport provisional cover to the Scott Stamp & Coin Company, who immediately placed it with Count Ferrary. The Lockport cover sold for the equivalent of $8,000 on April 7, 1922; the buyer was Arthur Hind, upon whose death the cover was purchased by Warren H. Colson for Alfred H. Caspary. From Caspary the cover sold to Josiah K. Lilly, then to John R. Boker, Jr., thus completing its tour of arguably the five most important stamp collections of the 20th Century. Its last appearance at public auction was in the 1989 Christie's sale of the Weill Brothers' stock, where it was purchased by Mr. Erivan Haub.
For many years the Lockport cover was subject to scrutiny and suspicion, as its unique nature made it difficult if not impossible to prove its authenticity. This all changed with Scott Trepel's 1989 article in the Chronicle ("The Lockport Postmaster's Provisional," Vol. 41, Num. 3), which not only examined the ink and paper of the complete Lockport cover, but also revealed to the world a second cover with small portions of two Lockport adhesives (offered in the next lot). This, along with the Christie's auction description, are essential reading for anyone with even a passing interest in this legendary cover.
In the century and a quarter since its discovery, the Lockport provisional has been featured in Stamps of Fame (L. N. and M. Williams, 1949), Life Magazine's "World's Rarest Stamps" (1954), Philatelic Gems (Linn's, 1984), and many other publications. Today, with its return to the philatelic market after 31 years, we are certain the Lockport provisional will resume its rightful place alongside other similarly unique and legendary stamps.
Provenance: Count Philipp von Ferrary (Gilbert Sale 3, 1922)
Arthur Hind (Charles J. Phillips Sale 1, 1933)
Alfred H. Caspary (H.R. Harmer Sale 967, 1955)
Josiah K. Lilly, Jr. (R.A. Siegel Sale 312, 1967)
John R. Boker, Jr. (Private Transaction)
Weill Brothers' Stock (Christie's, 1989)
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Freitag 07.08.2020, 13:00 EDT