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The Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito Collection of Independent Mails continued...

Wells Letter Express
Lot Sym. Lot Description  
206   ImageLetter Express (Wells), Vignettes Used on Stamps. Vignettes used for 5c and 10c stamps, Goddess of Commerce on People's Line receipt for payment dated Sep. 30, 1847, and American Marine Charging with Sword on Embreville (Pa.) Store 10c script dated Nov. 18, 1862, folds, Very Fine pair, ideally suited for exhibition (Image)

Search for comparables at SiegelAuctions.com (imagea)

E. $ 200-300

SOLD for $160.00
Will close during Public Auction
207   ImageLetter Express (Wells), 5c Black on Green Glazed (96L2). Horizontal pair, large to enormous margins (possibly top right corner sheet margins), uncancelled, vertical crease thru right stamp, both have tiny pinholes and wrinkles, overall Extremely Fine appearance, this uncancelled pair was removed from a cover offered in our Golden sale (a third stamp was cut out from the cover), for all practical purposes it is an unused multiple, no blocks are known and multiples are very rare (Image)

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E. $ 500-750

SOLD for $750.00
Will close during Public Auction
208 c ImageLetter Express (Wells), 5c Black on Green Glazed (96L2). Large margins, manuscript "X" cancel, Extremely Fine, remarkably choice example of this scarce stamp, ex Hall, with 2001 P.F. certificate (Image)

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E. $ 400-500

SOLD for $550.00
Will close during Public Auction
209 c ImageLetter Express (Wells), 5c Black on Green Glazed (96L2). Large margins to clear, clipped corner prior to use, tied by magenta manuscript "X" on folded letter to Cleveland O. datelined "335 Broadway, New York N.Y., July 20th 1844", sender's notation paid", conjunctive use with red "POMEROY'S MAIL" straightline handstamp and red "PAID." handstamp probably applied at Albany office, black "PAID" handstamp of unknown origin -- possibly applied at originating office in New York City or in transit at Buffalo -- pencil "Buffalo" where letter was transferred from Pomeroy to Wells' Letter Express for the remainder of the trip to Cleveland

VERY FINE. A SPECTACULAR INDEPENDENT MAIL COVER, SHOWING WESTBOUND CONJUNCTIVE SERVICE BETWEEN POMEROY'S LETTER EXPRESS AND WELLS' LETTER EXPRESS.

Advertisements for the "Letter Express" operated by Wells & Co. first appeared on July 12, 1844. By connecting with Pomeroy’s Letter Express, the Letter Express advertised service to and from Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago, using Great Lakes steamboats during the navigation season and also operating on the Michigan Central Railroad line. The postage for this extended service was 12-1/2 cents, or one of the circular stamps or two oval stamps. Mixed-franking covers with Pomeroy and Wells stamps are extremely rare and usually originated in one of the western cities served by Wells. This cover is an extremely rare westbound usage. Pomeroy's Letter Express carried it from New York City to Buffalo, and from there it was transported by Wells' Letter Express to Cleveland.

Illustrated in the Independent Mails book (Pomeroy's Letter Express chapter). Ex The Western Reserve Historical Society. With 2007 P.F. certificate (Image)

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E. $ 4,000-5,000

SOLD for $3,250.00
Will close during Public Auction
210 c ImageLetter Express (Wells), 5c Black on Green Glazed (96L2). Vertical pair and single, large margins to slightly in, tied at Letter Express office by single neat pen stroke on August 5, 1844 folded letter from W. Bingham & Co. in Cleveland to Pierpont & Hotchkiss in New Haven, Conn., conjunctive service and mixed franking with Pomeroy's Letter Express and American Letter Mail Company stamps, two singles of Pomeroy's Letter Express 5c Black on Yellow (117L1), each with full to large margins, cancelled by red "Cd." handstamp (impression ties thru paper) and American Letter Mail Co., (5c) Black (5L2), large margins to just touched at top left, uncancelled but tied by offset from address visible on back of upper right corner, red "PAID" straightline handstamp applied by American Letter Mail Co. New York office, matching "Forwarded by the/American Letter Mail Co/Office 56 Wall Street N.Y." three-line handstamp on back, vertical file fold thru one Pomeroy's stamp and top stamp in Letter Express pair (trivial flaws), letter refolded at bottom to show the backstamp

VERY FINE OVERALL CONDITION. THIS IS THE ONLY INDEPENDENT MAIL COVER EXTANT WITH STAMPS OF THREE DIFFERENT COMPANIES. UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED TO BE THE MOST VALUABLE AND IMPORTANT COVER OF THE INDEPENDENT MAIL ERA.

This spectacular cover demonstrates the cooperation among Independent Mail companies that allowed them to provide service across a huge area for significantly lower rates than the U.S. Post Office charged. It also shows how postage was divided among the participating service providers by using each other's stamps. To explain the journey and the accounting procedure that produced this important artifact of the Independent Mail era, we will begin at its origin.

The letter was written from Cleveland on August 5, 1844, by W. Bingham Company, a hardware company founded by William Bingham in 1841. This firm supplied shipbuilding, mining, and railroad businesses in the region. The letter is written to Pierpont & Hotchkiss, a New Haven manufacturer of doorknobs and locks. The firm was founded by Asabel Pierpont and John G. Hotchkiss in 1836. Benton Mallory joined as the company's bookkeeper in 1840, and, after Hotchkiss died, Mallory became a partner and the firm was renamed Pierpont, Mallory & Company. The letter concerns a shipment of goods by express.

As a thrifty businessman, Bingham took advantage of the lower postage rates offered by the Independent Mail companies and used the new Letter Express company in Cleveland to send his letter to New Haven for 15c, instead of 25c charged by the Post Office. The three oval Goddess of Commerce stamps could be purchased individually for 6-1/4c each, or in quantity at 20 for $1.00, as the stamp itself states. The word "Free" on the stamp indicated that the letter would be delivered without cost to the recipient, in contrast to the custom of sending letters postage due. To visualize what this letter looked like at the Letter Express office in Cleveland, imagine it without the Pomeroy and American Letter Mail Co. stamps and markings, bearing just the three green Letter Express stamps.

To carry eastbound mail beyond Buffalo, Henry Wells relied on Pomeroy’s Letter Express, founded by George E. Pomeroy, who had been a partner with Wells in the Livingston-Wells-Pomeroy package express business prior to June 1844. A fair number of letters are known showing conjunctive service between Wells and Pomeroy at the 12-1/2c rate, or 10c in stamps (two ovals or one circular). Since Pomeroy only operated its route from Buffalo to New York City and intermediate points in New York State, a letter addressed to locations that required the services of a third company was charged 18-3/4c, or 15c in stamps (three ovals or one-and-a-half circular). The Letter Express advertisement in the Cleveland Herald (July 12, 1844) lists New Haven as a destination at the 18-3/4c rate, payable with "one and a half stamp" (at this date only the circular stamp was available).

To credit the other companies with their share of the 15c postage, two Pomeroy stamps were affixed by the Wells office (note that they were positioned to avoid covering the address). Upon receipt, Pomeroy cancelled the stamps with the "Cd." handstamp. Pomeroy could have taken the letter all the way to New York City or transferred it to the American Letter Mail Co. agent in Albany. Either way, Pomeroy credited American Letter Mail Co. for its one-third share of the postage by affixing a Large Eagle stamp with a "silent" denomination of 5c. When the letter was processed at ALMCo.'s New York office, it was backstamped and the "Paid" marking was applied to the front of the letter to indicate no postage was due from the recipient. The letter was carried by a Long Island Sound steamboat to New Haven (the rail line between New York City and New Haven was not completed at this time).

Considering that the first United States Postmasters' Provisionals would not be issued until nearly one year after this was mailed, and the first General Issue two years after that, the presence of six stamps in three colors from three different stamp-issuing entities on this letter must have been perceived as extraordinary, even in 1844 when it was delivered to Pierpont & Hotchkiss. Today, it is one of the undisputed icons of American postal history.

This triple mixed-franking letter has been illustrated in numerous articles and books. To the best of our knowledge, it has never been offered at auction. It was part of Elliott Perry's personal collection of Independent Mails, which was acquired intact from the Perry estate by Richard Schwartz. (Image)

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E. $ 30,000-40,000

SOLD for $28,000.00
Will close during Public Auction
211 ogbl ImageLetter Express (Wells), 5c Black on Pink Glazed (96L1). Top left sheet margin block of ten, original gum, mostly large margins, slight soiling at upper left, creases in two directions (slightly breaking in paper in places)

VERY FINE DESPITE INSIGINIFICANT CREASING. THE ONLY RECORDED BLOCK OF ANY OF THE WELLS' LETTER EXPRESS ISSUES. ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PHILATELIC ITEMS SURVIVING FROM THE INDEPENDENT MAIL ERA.

The stamps issued by Wells' Letter Express are remarkable both for the purpose they served and for their distinctive designs. The oval 96L1-96L2 stamps depict the Goddess of Commerce surrounded by bales and barrels with a merchant vessel in the background -- symbols of private enterprise and the robust economic growth of America during the 1840's.

All of the Letter Express stamps are scarce to rare. Used pairs and strips are rare. Unused or uncancelled multiples are extremely rare. This is the only block, unused or used, of any of the Letter Express issues we have located among the Sloane, Costales and Abt files.

Ex Weekes, Boker, Golden and Gordon N. John. With 2004 P.F. certificate (Image)

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E. $ 10,000-15,000

SOLD for $6,250.00
Will close during Public Auction
212 c ImageLetter Express (Wells), 5c Black on Pink Glazed (96L1). Full to huge side margins, pre-printing paper fold, light vertical wrinkle, uncancelled on greenish cover datelined "Painesville (O.) Sep. 4, 1844" to Buffalo N.Y., from the Sidney Shepard correspondence, bold strike of "Forwarded/ by/ M. L. Root & Co./ From/ Fairport, O." five-line handstamp, manuscript "Express" at bottom, Very Fine, a rare use of Wells' Letter Express with Matthew L. Root's handstamp, the town of Fairport Harbor on Lake Erie is three miles north of Painesville, where Wells had an office, this could have been carried by Root to Painesville or possibly given to a Wells messenger on a steamer that passed thru Fairport, illustrated in Independent Mails book, ex Petri, with 2013 P.F. certificate (Image)

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E. $ 750-1,000

SOLD for $900.00
Will close during Public Auction
213 c ImageLetter Express (Wells), 5c Black on Pink Glazed (96L1). Full to large margins, cancelled by manuscript "X", tied by filing crease on Sep. 5, 1844 blue folded letter from Detroit Mich. to Cleveland O., sender's notation "Pr Express Paid", Very Fine despite barely visible crease thru stamp, carried by steamboat from Detroit to Cleveland before the end of the navigation season, with 2003 P.F. certificate (Image)

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E. $ 400-500

SOLD for $550.00
Will close during Public Auction
214 c ImageLetter Express (Wells), 5c Black on Pink Glazed (96L1). Vertical pair, large to huge margins all around, neat manuscript cancels, used on Sep. 24, 1844 folded letter from Cleveland to New York City street address, Dwight Johnson correspondence, Extremely Fine, a superb pair of the oval Letter Express stamp paying the 12-1/2c (or two stamp) rate from Cleveland to New York City, ex Boker (Image)

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E. $ 500-750

SOLD for $400.00
Will close during Public Auction
215 c ImageLetter Express (Wells), 5c Black on Pink Glazed (96L1). Horizontal pair, huge margins showing part of one adjoining stamp, manuscript "X" cancels, used on folded cover to New York City street address, docketing indicates Detroit October 1844 origin, missionary society correspondence, vertical file fold thru left stamp, otherwise Extremely Fine, ex Schwartz (Image)

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E. $ 400-500

SOLD for $450.00
Will close during Public Auction
216 c ImageLetter Express (Wells), 5c Black on Pink Glazed (96L1). Vertical pair, large margins to clear at right, tied by neat manuscript cancel on Oct. 19, 1844 folded letter from Cleveland to New York City street address, Dwight Johnson correspondence, top stamp slightly creased by file fold, otherwise Very Fine, ex Frajola, with 2000 P.F. certificate (Image)

Search for comparables at SiegelAuctions.com

E. $ 400-500

SOLD for $550.00
Will close during Public Auction

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