Sale Number: 967
Sale Date:
Important and Superb United States Stamps

1867-68 Grilled Issue (Scott 79-101), including the 10c Z Grill
Lot Sym. Lot Description Est/Cat Realized
4184   3c Rose, A. Grill (79). Usual short perfs (not mentioned on certificate), less so than typically seen, light target cancel, a sound and attractive example of this difficult stamp, Fine, with 2008 P.F. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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1,750 550
4185 og 3c Rose, C. Grill (83). Original gum, nicely centered

VERY FINE. A SCARCE ORIGINAL-GUM EXAMPLE OF THE 3-CENT C GRILL.

With 2007 P.F. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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6,500 3,250
4186 ng 2c Black, D. Grill (84). Unused (no gum), centered to bottom left, perfs clear, wide at top and right, clear impression

FINE. THE 1868 2-CENT D GRILL IS A GREAT RARITY AMONG THE 1867-68 GRILLED ISSUES.

The Scott Catalogue states that the value for No. 84 is for a stamp in Fine grade. With photocopy of 1992 P.F. and 2008 P.S.E. certificates (Fine 70; SMQ $4,900.00). According to the P.S.E. Population Report, this is the only certified unused example (with or without gum) in their records. (Image Magnifier)

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6,500 2,500
4187   2c Black, D. Grill (84). Clear impression with essentially face-free cork cancel off to the left

FINE. A DESIRABLE SOUND USED EXAMPLE OF THE 1868 2-CENT BLACK D GRILL.

The Scott Catalogue states that the value for No. 84 is for a stamp in Fine grade. With 1976 and 1996 P.F. and 2008 P.S.E. certificates (Fine 70; SMQ $4,250.00). According to P.S.E. Population Report, this stamp shares this grade with only two others (three in higher grades) (Image Magnifier)

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4,500 2,000
4188 ng 3c Rose, Z. Grill (85C). Unused (no gum), light vertical crease, perfs touch to ever so slightly in at left, affordable example of this rare unused stamp, with 2007 P.S.E. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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9,000 1,700
4189   3c Rose, D. Grill (85). Radiant color, clearly-defined grill, neat strike of target cancel, unusually choice centering with Jumbo margins

EXTREMELY FINE GEM. THIS MAGNIFICENT USED EXAMPLE OF THE 1867 3-CENT D GRILL HAS BEEN GRADED XF-SUPERB 95 JUMBO BY P.S.E. -- ONLY ONE HAS GRADED HIGHER TO DATE AND NO OTHERS SHARE THIS GRADE.

With 2003 P.F. and 2005 P.S.E. certificates (XF-Superb 95 Jumbo; SMQ $10,000.00 as 95, $27,500.00 as 98). Only one has graded higher to date and no others share this grade. (Image Magnifier)

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1,250 15,500
4190°   10c Green, Z. Grill (85D). Target cancel, deep shade, strong grill impression, centered to upper left but perfs clear at top and just barely in at left

FINE AND SOUND. THE 1868 10-CENT Z GRILL IS ONE OF THE RAREST OF ALL UNITED STATES STAMPS WITH JUST FIVE EXAMPLES AVAILABLE TO COLLECTORS. A KEY TO A COMPLETE COLLECTION.

Our census of the 10c Z Grill is shown on the opposite page and is also available at http://siegelauctions.com/enc/census/85D.pdf

We record just six examples of Scott 85D, including one stamp contained in the Miller collection at The New York Public Library (85D-CAN-06) and another stamp (85D-CAN-01) which has not been seen since it last appeared in a Laurence & Stryker auction in November 1958. Until the status of 85D-CAN-01 can be verified, it is possible that only four examples of the 10c Z Grill remain available to collectors, three of which are sound.

For reasons explained in detail in our introductions to the 1867-68 Grilled Issue and Z Grill rarities (both available on our website), there were probably two grilling machines running concurrently when regular grill production started in January 1868, following the experimental grilling period from August to December 1867. In our hypothetical grilling operation at the National Bank Note Company in New York City, one machine (#1) was equipped with the Z Grill roller, and the other (#2) with the D Grill roller. After sheets of the 1c, 2c, 3c, 10c, 12c and 15c were embossed with the Z Grill on machine #1, it was eventually refitted with the F Grill roller and used to grill all values through the 90c. The #2 machine was used to grill a small quantity of 2c and 3c sheets only (the highest-volume values) before the D Grill roller was replaced with the E Grill, which was then used to grill large quantities of 1c, 2c, 3c, 10c, 12c and 15c values (there are no 24c, 30c or 90c values with the E Grill). When the 1869 Pictorial Issue went into production, the F and E Grill rollers were replaced with the smaller G Grill.

Exactly when was the 10c Z Grill produced and issued? The answer can only be deduced, because production records were not kept specifically for grill types, which are a philatelic classification and not something the stamp manufacturers identified at the time. By our estimate, it took approximately ten days from the time a sheet was printed and gummed for that sheet to be grilled, perforated and delivered to the post office. Therefore, the Earliest Documented Use (EDU) dates for stamps listed in the Scott Catalogue can be used to approximate the production date for each grill type and value. Using this dating methodology and working on the assumption that the 10c Z Grill and E Grill sheets were produced in close proximity to each other, the 10c Z Grill stamps would have been run through machine #1 on or about February 11, 1868, ten days prior to the 10c E Grill (Scott 89) EDU of February 21, 1868.

What do the EDU dates for the different 1868 grill types and values tell us? Let us first start with the grill types. The earliest date for any regular-production grill is January 17, 1868, evidenced by a piece with a 2c Z Grill (Scott 85B). This is followed by a 3c D Grill (Scott 85, EDU Feb. 2). Thus, we have evidence that the Z and D Grills were the earliest regular-production grills to be manufactured. The earliest date for any E Grill, which indicates the point of conversion for machine #2 from the D to E roller, is February 12, 1868 (3c Scott 88), which also happens to be the EDU for the 3c Z Grill (Scott 85C) and 12c Z Grill (Scott 85E). The earliest date for any F Grill, which indicates the point of conversion for machine #1 from the Z to F roller, is March 21, 1868 (3c Scott 94). The EDU for the F Grill, which is 37 days later than the E Grill EDU, suggests that machine #1 was still equipped with the Z Grill roller while machine #2 was producing sheets with the E Grill. However, that does not reconcile with the relative rarity of Z Grills. Another possibility is that machine #1 was taken out of use, but that does not reconcile with the quantities of grilled stamps produced (at the rate of 6,700 sheets per day). A third possibility is that machine #1 was refitted in February 1868 with a grill that matches the dimensions of the E Grill, but philatelists have not yet identified two different types of E Grills. In this scenario, machine #1 would have been refitted a second time with the smaller F Grill, sometime before the March 21, 1868 EDU. If philatelists were able to verify that there are indeed two types of E Grills, perhaps by studying the grills on multiples, then the "dual E Grill machine" theory could be proved. This theory also explains why the high-volume 3c is so rare with the Z Grill. Only a small quantity of 3c sheets were grilled on machine #1 before the Z Grill roller was removed. It also explains the coinciding EDU's for the 3c Z and E Grills. They were grilled concurrently on both machines.

The EDU data also tells us when different denominations were first grilled. The 2c and 3c high-production values were the first to be grilled (Jan. 17 and Feb. 2). The 12c value was next (Feb. 12). We do not have dated examples of the 1c, 10c and 15c Z Grills, but all three were almost certainly produced prior to the 10c E Grill EDU of February 21, 1868. The 5c was not grilled until August (F Grill, Scott 95, EDU Aug. 19), followed by the 24c, 30c and 90c values.

The F Grill first appears on a 3c value (Scott 94, EDU March 21, 1868), followed by the 2c (Scott 93, EDU March 27, 1868), which indicates that the newly-equipped machine #1 was used to grill high-volume 2c and 3c stamps after the F Grill was installed. 10c F Grill production, using new sheets printed on much thinner paper, occurred two months later, in May 1868 (EDU May 28, 1868). In the same month we have the first 12c F Grill (Scott 97, EDU May 27, 1868) and 15c F Grill (Scott 98, May 4, 1868).

The great Z Grill rarities are probably the products of a short-lived chance encounter between sheets of 1c, 10c and 15c stamps and the Z Grill roller on machine #1, just before the device was refitted with another grill type. The craftsmen at the National Bank Note Company could never have foreseen a future in which these embossed stamps would represent the keys to completing a United States stamp collection. If they had, perhaps they would have left records to tell us exactly what happened in those early months of 1868.

Ex Ishikawa. With 1975, 1992 and 2005 P.F. certificates (Image Magnifier)

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225,000 550,000
4191   12c Black, Z. Grill (85E). Unusually wide margins, bold circle of wedges cancel and tiny bit of red transit at bottom, trivial slightly shorter perf at right, otherwise Very Fine, with 2008 P.S.E. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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2,500 600
4192   12c Black, Z. Grill (85E). Intense shade, clear grill, target cancel and trace of red transit, fresh and Fine, with 2004 P.F. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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2,500 650
4193   1c Blue, E. Grill (86). Unusually wide margins and very attractive centering, magnificent color and sharp impression, light face-free target cancel, Very Fine and choice, with 2008 P.S.E. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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550 375
4194   1c Blue, E. Grill (86). Rich color, light cork cancel, Very Fine, with 2005 P.F. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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550 550
4195   2c Black, E. Grill (87). Bright shade, well-defined grill, neat circle of wedges cancel and unusually wide margins, Extremely Fine Gem, with 2000 P.F. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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200 425
4196 og 3c Rose, E. Grill (88). Original gum, beautiful rich color and sharp impression, Very Fine and choice, a gorgeous stamp, with 2002 P.F. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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1,100 600
4197   3c Rose, E. Grill (88). Nicely centered and rich color, light crease and small thin spot, perfect bold Waterbury Conn. Shield cancel, outstanding example, ex Newbury (Image Magnifier)

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E. 200-300 2,000
4198   10c Green, E. Grill (89). Well-centered with extra wide margins at top and bottom, light circle of V's cancel, strong grill, Extremely Fine, with 2002 P.F. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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325 375
4199   10c Green, E. Grill (89). Nice color, full clear strike of "Hiogo Japan" double-circle, few blunted perfs at right, otherwise Fine and scarce (Image Magnifier)

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550 500
4200   12c Black, E. Grill (90). Solid block cancel virtually clear of vignette, nicely centered, Very Fine, with 1987 P.F. and two 2008 P.S.E. certificates (Image Magnifier)

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400 350
4201 og 15c Black, E. Grill (91). Original gum, minor h.r., wide margins, clear impression

FINE. A DESIRABLE EXAMPLE OF THE 1868 15-CENT E GRILL WITH ORIGINAL GUM.

With 2008 P.S.E. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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13,500 3,250
4202   3c Red, F. Grill (94). Fine centering, couple trivial nibbed perfs, fabulous bold Corry Pa. Eagle and Shield fancy cancel, full well-defined strike, perfection, ex Knapp (Image Magnifier)

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E. 300-400 950
4203   3c Red, F. Grill (94). Average, bold Waterbury Conn. Pumpkin cancel, just about as complete a strike as can be found on a single stamp, Very Fine and choice (Image Magnifier)

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E. 200-300 1,300
4204 og 5c Brown, F. Grill (95). Original gum, pristine and with barest trace of what may be hinging (appears Mint N.H.), beautiful rich color and exceptionally fresh, two irregular perfs at bottom left, Very Fine appearance, scarce and desirable original-gum stamp, with 1977 and 2008 P.F. and 1990 P.S.E. certificates, only the most recent certificate mentions the perfs (Image Magnifier)

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3,750 1,100
4205° og 10c Yellow Green, F. Grill (96). Original gum, clearly-defined grill, three wide margins

VERY FINE ORIGINAL-GUM EXAMPLE OF THE 1868 10-CENT F GRILL.

With 1999 and 2004 P.F. certificates (Image Magnifier)

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3,250 2,200
4206 og 12c Black, F. Grill (97). Original gum, uncommonly well-centered, clear impression, several tiny toning spots of little import, otherwise Very Fine, with 2007 P.F. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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3,500 800
4207   12c Black, F. Grill (97). Wide margins and wonderfully centered, neat large circle of wedges cancel, clear impression

EXTREMELY FINE GEM. A MARVELOUS 1868 12-CENT F GRILL IN CHOICE USED CONDITION, WHICH HAS BEEN GRADED XF-SUPERB 95 BY P.S.E.

With 2007 P.S.E. certificate (XF-Superb 95; SMQ $2,700.00). Only two have graded higher, while nine others share this grade. (Image Magnifier)

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300 1,800
4208   12c Black, F. Grill (97). Beautiful margins and exceptional centering, circle of wedges cancel, Extremely Fine, with 2008 P.F. certificate (XF 90; SMQ $750.00) (Image Magnifier)

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300 425
4209   12c Black, F. Grill (97). Choice centering with wide margins, pretty shade, circle of wedges cancel, fresh and Extremely Fine, with 1998 P.F. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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300 325
4210   15c Black, F. Grill (98). Mathematically perfect centering with unusually wide and balanced margins, bright shade and crisp impression, clear grill points, light strike of target cancel leaves entire design clearly visible, long and full perforations all around

EXTREMELY FINE GEM. THIS MAGNIFICENT STAMP HAS BEEN AWARDED THE ULTIMATE GRADE OF GEM 100 BY P.S.E. THIS USED 1868 15-CENT E GRILL IS UNDENIABLY THE PERFECT STAMP, POSSESSING EVERY QUALITY ONE COULD POSSIBLY HOPE FOR -- CENTERING, IMPRESSION, STONG GRILL, FULL PERFORATIONS AND A LIGHT CANCEL.

We created Power Search for occasions like this, when superlatives fail to do justice to an extraordinary stamp. To see the centering, margins and cancellations on typical used examples of the 15c Lincoln -- ungrilled or not -- please use our website's Power Search feature to find Scott 77, 91 and 98 (three different searches). You will see that the 15c Lincoln is almost always a stamp of compromise. Great centering and margins, but heavy cancel. Light or colored cancel, but small margins or not quite centered. Great looking, but small faults. Then look at the "name" collections and see which 15c Lincoln stamps were included. No one -- and there are great collector names on this list -- managed to obtain this stamp or one even remotely like it.

When numerical grading started, the 15c Lincoln was on our list of "Try to Find a 100" stamps. We did not believe one existed. When this 15c F Grill was presented to us, we knew it was perfect without even looking at the grade. The Gem 100 grade and a note of praise from master grader Dr. William Litle confirmed our gut reaction.

The ungrilled version of this issue was released in 1866, about one year after President Lincoln was assassinated. It is regarded by many to be America's first commemorative issue, memorializing the martyred president as the nation started to heal from the wounds of the Civil War. In 1868 it was issued with two grill types, the E Grill (Scott 91) and F Grill (Scott 98). 15c usually paid the registration fee on domestic mail or the U.S.-French treaty rate. The 15c stamps used on transatlantic mail passed through foreign-mail exchange offices, where clerks were zealous about cancelling high-value stamps. For this reason, the 15c Lincoln usually has a heavy cancel or large cancel over the portrait. This stamp, with its light target cancel, is the rare exception.

There are certainly rarer stamps in this sale, and stamps that are worth much more, but we cannot think of a stamp that has conquered the odds better than this one. The perforating machine blessed it, the postal clerk respected it, and the generations who handled it managed to preserve its soundness. We are quite sure that the collectors who bid for this stamp will express their appreciation accordingly.

With 2008 P.S.E. certificate (Gem 100; unpriced in SMQ above the grade of 98, SMQ $10,600.00 as 98). This is the highest grade awarded to date and the only example to achieve this grade. The next-highest grade awarded is a 95. (Image Magnifier)

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375 50,000
4211 og 24c Gray Lilac, F. Grill (99). Original gum, attractive margins and beautiful color

VERY FINE AND CHOICE BY ANY STANDARDS AND EXTREMELY FINE FOR THIS RARE ORIGINAL-GUM EXAMPLE OF THE 1868 24-CENT F GRILL.

The higher-denomination F Grills were produced in limited quantities and seem to have caused National Bank Note Co. difficulty in applying perforations. They are typically off center with very choppy perfs This stamp has uncharacteristically precise centering and well-formed perforations.

With 2008 P.S.E. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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8,500 5,250
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