The Matching Pair of 12c 1851 Bisects on Covers to Canada. Two grayish blue folded covers addressed in different hands to Thomas Casey in Quebec, Canada, both covers entered the mails in New York City
on the same day -- Thursday, August 21, 1851 -- and were stamped by the same person, one franked with upper right diagonal half of 12c Black (17a) and horizontal strip of four 1c Blue, Ty. II-II-IIIa-IIIa (7-7-8A-8A), Positions 53-56R1E, ample
margins to slightly in (small corner crease at top left), other with matching lower left diagonal half of the same 12c Black (17a) and horizontal strip of four 1c Blue, Ty. II (7), Positions 83-86R1E, ample margins to just touched, both 1c
strips undoubtedly cut from the same sheet from Plate 1 Early, the 12c bisects have mostly full margins (upper right just clear at top and lower left with tiny crease at tip of point), stamps on both covers well-tied by multiple strikes of "New-York
Aug. 21" (1851) circular datestamp, each cover with red "Montreal L.C. AU 21 1851" circular datestamp and "U.States" in scroll handstamp on front and "Quebec L.C. Aug. 24, 1851" receiving datestamp on back, receipt docketing notations in the same
hand indicate the name and location of each sender: the former (with upper right bisect) docketed "Messr. Drake Bros & Co. Havana, 7 August 1851" and the latter (with lower left bisect) docketed "Hy. A. Coit Esq. N. York", light folds
at bottom of each cover do not affect stamps or appearance
VERY FINE. A SPECTACULAR PAIR OF COVERS BEARING MATCHING HALVES OF THE SAME 12-CENT 1851 ISSUE STAMP, EACH USED WITH A STRIP OF FOUR ONE-CENT 1851 ISSUE STAMPS FROM PLATE ONE EARLY TO
PAY THE 10-CENT TREATY RATE TO CANADA -- ONE ORIGINATING IN CUBA AND THE OTHER IN NEW YORK CITY. THESE EXTRAORDINARY COVERS ARE AMONG THE GREATEST ITEMS IN CLASSIC UNITED STATES PHILATELY AND POSTAL HISTORY.
The pair of covers offered here is
remarkable in several respects. To begin, these covers were stamped in New York City on August 21, 1851, using the new 1851 Issue, which was released just seven weeks earlier on July 1 (the earliest documented date of use of the 12c 1851 is August 4,
1851). Further, the use of a 12c bisect to pay part of the 10c treaty rate to Canada is highly unusual. Although the 10c treaty rate took effect on April 6, 1851, the U.S. Post Office Department did not issue a 10c stamp until 1855, so the 10c rate
was usually made up with 1c and 3c stamps. We are aware of three covers to the province of New Brunswick with 12c 1851 bisects used with 1c and 3c 1851 stamps, but no other covers are known with strips of the 1c used with a bisect or mailed at this
early date. This is the earliest documented use of a 12c bisect, and the use of bisects was prohibited in late 1853. Finally, the unusual circumstance of mailing -- mailed on the same day by the same person to the same addressee, but originating from
two different correspondents -- provides a fascinating explanation for the two identical frankings and use of matching halves of the same 12c stamp.
We have been unable to learn anything of substance about the addressee, Thomas Casey. The
notation at the lower left of the cover from Havana either reads "v/ New York" (via New York) to describe the route or "of New York" to describe the addressee's residence. An internet search for Thomas Casey in New York City or in
Quebec during the relevant time period failed to produce any information. We can surmise that the senders conducted business with Thomas Casey, and we know something about their businesses. Drake Brothers & Company was a large New York-based trading
firm founded in the 1790's by British-born immigrant James Drake. The firm traded in sugar, coffee, jerked beef and precious metals, and it owned one of the largest plantations in Cuba, in collaboration with the United States Mail Steamship Company
(Richard P. Tucker, Insatiable Appetite: The United States and the Ecological Degradation of the Tropical World). Henry A. Coit was also a New York-based merchant and served as a director on at least one insurance company's board (New York
Times digital archives).
Drake Brothers & Company's connection to the United States Mail Steamship Company (USMSC) gives us a clue about how the cover travelled from Cuba to New York City. According to United States Incoming Steamship
Mail 1847-1875 (page 342), the USMSC Cherokee arrived in New York on August 21, 1851, after departing Havana around August 17. The previous sailing from Havana left on August 2, before the Drake Brothers letter was written on August 7 (per
receipt docketing). Although no forwarder marking appears on either cover, they were almost certainly handled by an agent in New York City, who would have had instructions to forward letters to Thomas Casey in Quebec. Beneath the stamps on each
letter is a pencil "10", indicating the rate for a letter to Canada. This type of notation is typical of mail handled by forwarding agents.
The two covers were together when they first appeared in the January 1900 auction of the F. W. Hunter
collection, held by Scott Stamp & Coin Co. They went separate ways after the 1900 Hunter sale, but the covers were illustrated and described in Ashbrook's Special Service in 1952 (pages 98, 106-107 and 163, photos 47 and 75), at which point
they were still apart in different collections. In an article by Mortimer L. Neinken in the May 1970 Chronicle (No. 66, page 63-65), he recapped the history of the two covers (quoting Ashbrook) and coyly noted "this commentator has ascertained
that the two covers are now reunited in one collection again." In fact, it was Mortimer Neinken who reunited the covers when he bought one in 1961 and the other in 1970.
The former cover with upper right bisect is known as the "Emerson" cover
and its pedigree is as follows: ex F. W. Hunter (Scott Stamp & Coin Co. sale, Jan. 10-12, 16-18, 1900, lots 189-190), W. A. Smith, Spiegelberg (J. C. Morgenthau sale, Jan. 10, 1911, lot 15), Barry (Nassau Stamp Co. sale, Apr. 2-3, 1914, lot 84),
Judge Robert S. Emerson (Daniel F. Kelleher Co. sale, Oct. 19, 1937, lot 78), Philip H. Ward private collection (per Ashbrook's Special Service, Feb. 1, 1953), H. R. Harmer sale (Feb. 17, 1970, lot 156) and Mortimer L. Neinken (acquired by
Jerome S. Wagshal privately from the Neinken estate).
The latter cover with lower left bisect is known as the "Hind" cover and its pedigree is as follows: ex F. W. Hunter (Scott Stamp & Coin Co. sale, Jan. 10-12, 16-18, 1900, lots 189-190),
Arthur Hind (Phillips-Kennett sale, Nov. 20, 1933, lot 145), Carl Brandenbury (Percy Doane sale, Dec. 6, 1943, lot 76), John A. Fox sale (Dec. 12, 1961, lot 582) and Mortimer L. Neinken (acquired by Jerome S. Wagshal privately from the Neinken
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SOLD for $135,000.00
Will close during Public Auction