Sale Number: 1022
Sale Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The D.K. Collection of Southern Postmasters' Provisionals

Mobile, Alabama
Lot Sym. Lot Description Est/Cat Realized
1056 c Mobile Ala., 2c Black (58X1). Huge margins all around showing parts of adjoining stamps at left and bottom, beautiful intense shade and impression, natural wrinkle from application, tied by bold "Mobile Ala. Sep. 1, 1861" double-circle datestamp on orange-yellow cover to G. Whitfield in Demopolis Ala., sender's notation "P/C" (Prices Current), 2c circular rate

EXTREMELY FINE. AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE USE OF THE 2-CENT MOBILE PROVISIONAL ON A CIRCULAR-RATE COVER AND ARGUABLY THE FINEST SINGLE-FRANKING EXTANT.

Lloyd Bowers was the postmaster of this strategically important Confederate port city during the war. He was one of the first postmasters to issue provisional stamps, and his decision to use the lithographic printing process places him in the company of only two other postmasters: Alfred Huger of Charleston S.C. and Stephen W. Murley of Livingston Ala.

Bowers' stamps have been intensively studied over many years. The most recent work by Van Koppersmith has resulted in progress toward a complete understanding of the sizes and layouts of the lithographic stones used to print the 2c and 5c Mobile provisionals. Koppersmith's articles on the Mobile provisionals can be found in the Collectors Club Philatelist (September-October 2005) and the Confederate Philatelist (April-June 2010).

The Mobile 2c and 5c sheets have multiple imprints below the bottom row which read, "Eng. & Pri. by W. R. Roberston Mobile." William R. Robertson was an engraver and lithographic printer in Mobile, and current scholarship identifies him as the person solely responsible for creating the lithographic stones and printing the provisional.

A pair in the Tapling collection at the British Library has a large top sheet margin with part of an imprint which reads, "(exclus)ively at the Mobile Post Office." This wording is almost identical to the imprint on the New Orleans provisional sheet, "Usable exclusively in the New Orleans Post Office." Postmaster Bowers must have seen the sheets used by his colleague down river, Dr. Riddell, and adopted the same instructive imprint for his provisional issue.

The same design was used for the 2c and 5c denominations. The central design element is a five-point hollow star with the numeral value in the blank center. The areas between the points of the star feature figurative symbols of the South and Mobile's marine heritage: young sailors in hats holding oars, a woman holding a rope attached to a large anchor, another woman holding a sickle, and an anchor and plow below the star. Only two Confederate post offices, Livingston and Mobile, issued stamps with a figurative design specifically created for stamps (the Danville postmaster used a stock image for his provisional envelopes). It is almost certain that the same printer -- William R. Robertson -- was responsible for both the Livingston and Mobile stamps. By identifying plating marks on sheet-margin stamps and vertical multiples, Koppersmith has determined that the 5c stone was five horizontal rows in height. He has speculated that the layout might have followed New Orleans: five horizontal rows by eight vertical columns.

The Crown census records only 23 covers with the 2c Mobile provisional. A survey of auction records shows a small number of four-margins stamps on sound covers, and none as fine as this stamp and cover.

Illustrated in the Crown book (page 219). Pencil note on back "T.B. & Co. 2/11/94" (1894 sale). Ex Caspary and Dr. Graves (Image Magnifier)

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6,000 17,500
1057 c Mobile Ala., 2c Black (58X1). Ample margins to slightly in, top and right margins slightly irregular and flawed from separation, crisp shade, tied by bold "Mobile Ala. Mar. 23, 1862" double-circle datestamp on small cover to Miss Maggie Marshall, in care of William T. Marshall in Mobile, 2c drop rate

VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE AND ATTRACTIVE EXAMPLE OF THE 2-CENT MOBILE PROVISIONAL PAYING THE DROP RATE.

The Crown census records only 23 covers with the 2c Mobile provisional.

Pencil note on back "12/27/88 Durbin & Hanes" (sold in 1888 by this old Philadelphia stamp firm). Ex Dr. Simon (Image Magnifier)

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6,000 2,900
1058 c Mobile Ala., 5c Blue (58X2). Position 1, huge margins including top left corner sheet margins, slightly irregular but large margins on other sides, some faint gum toning, tied by bold "Mobile Ala. Jul. 19, 1861" double-circle datestamp on small cover to Pine Apple Ala., Extremely Fine, very early use (the earliest recorded by Van Koppersmith is July 14) (Image Magnifier)

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1,800 2,400
1059 c Mobile Ala., 5c Blue (58X2). Full to large margins including part of adjoining stamp below, tied by "Mobile Ala. Aug. 31, 1861" double-circle datestamp on small cover to Marion Ala., Extremely Fine, ex Emerson and Dr. Graves (Image Magnifier)

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1,800 3,000
1060 c Mobile Ala., 5c Blue (58X2). Horizontal strip of four, full to large margins all around, razor cuts between the stamps to facilitate separation (a form of perforation), bright color, tied by two perfect strikes of "Mobile Ala. Aug. 30, 1861" double-circle datestamp on yellow cover addressed to Mrs. John J. Walker, Choctaw Agency, Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, quadruple 5c rate for distance under 500 miles, vertical crease in cover far to the right of the strip, slightly reduced at top and most of backflap removed

EXTREMELY FINE. THIS HORIZONTAL STRIP AND ANOTHER VERTICAL STRIP ON COVER ARE THE LARGEST RECORDED MULTIPLES OF THE MOBILE 5-CENT PROVISIONAL. THIS IS ALSO ONE OF TWO RECORDED MOBILE PROVISIONAL MULTIPLES WITH THE RAZOR-CUT PERFORATIONS -- THE OTHER IS A PAIR ON COVER. AN OUTSTANDING FRANKING OF ONE OF THE MOST ELABORATE PICTORIAL STAMPS ISSUED BY ANY AMERICAN POSTMASTER.

This cover comes from the wartime correspondence between Major John J. Walker of the 20th Division Headquarters Staff, Army of Tennessee, and his wife Maria Walker. The original letters are located in the archives of Mississippi State University Libraries. Major Walker and his wife lived in Choctaw Agency, located in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. Oktibbeha is a Native American word meaning either bloody water (because of a battle fought on the banks) or possibly icy creek (http://library.msstate.edu/specialcollections/manuscripts/civilwar.asp ).

The Crown book lists two strips of four and two strips of three. The two strips of four exist in vertical and horizontal form, each on cover. The only strip of three on cover is offered in the following lot. There is another strip of three on piece (ex Caspary). The "strip of five" on cover listed in the Scott Catalogue was based on a report by Charles J. Phillips, which all specialists now agree was incorrect.

Van Koppersmith records four covers with the 20c rate paid by Mobile provisionals: the two aforementioned covers with strips of four and two other covers, each with two pairs.

Ex Caspary and Dr. Graves (Image Magnifier)

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E. 10,000-15,000 21,000
1061 c Mobile Ala., 5c Blue (58X2). Horizontal strip of three, huge margins on three sides, just touching in two places along bottom where close, rich color, tied by two clear strikes of "Mobile Ala. Aug. 9, 1861" double-circle datestamp on yellow cover with Walker, Mead & Co.'s blue belt-shaped corner card, addressed to Mrs. John J. Walker, Choctaw Agency, Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, triple 5c rate for distance under 500 miles (1-11/2 ounce letter), very minor repaired edge tears at top, small sealed tear barely into margin of strip -- neither of these trivial flaws mentioned on certificate -- otherwise in excellent condition

VERY FINE APPEARANCE. THE SECOND LARGEST RECORDED MULTIPLE OF THE MOBILE PROVISIONAL ON COVER AND ONE OF TWO RECORDED 15-CENT RATE COVERS WITH THE MOBILE PROVISIONAL. THIS IS THE ONLY 15-CENT RATE COVER WITH AN INTACT STRIP OF THREE.

This cover comes from the wartime correspondence between Major John J. Walker of the 20th Division Headquarters Staff, Army of Tennessee, and his wife Maria Walker. The original letters are located in the archives of Mississippi State University Libraries. Major Walker and his wife lived in Choctaw Agency, located in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. Oktibbeha is a Native American word meaning either bloody water (because of a battle fought on the banks) or possibly icy creek (http://library.msstate.edu/specialcollections/manuscripts/civilwar.asp ).

The Crown book lists two strips of four and two strips of three. The two strips of four exist in vertical and horizontal form, each on cover (the horizontal strip is offered in the preceding lot). There is another strip of three on piece (ex Caspary). The "strip of five" on cover listed in the Scott Catalogue was based on a report by Charles J. Phillips, which all specialists now agree was incorrect.

Covers with 15c postage paid by Confederate States stamps are very rare, because the triple 5c rate for distances under 500 miles (1-11/2 ounce letter) was only in effect for thirteen months, from June 1, 1861, to June 30, 1862. On July 1, 1862, the distance provision was eliminated, and the rate for a letter up to one-half ounce became 10c.

Ex Wulfekuhler and Hill. With 1998 P.F. certificate ("genuinely used on cover") (Image Magnifier)

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14,000 8,000
1062 c Mobile Ala., 5c Blue (58X2). Vertical pair from the two bottom left corner positions on the stone, with huge left sheet margin and part of bottom sheet margin, rough separation but margins are mostly large at right and bottom, tiny margin tear at upper right, tied by two clear strikes of "Mobile Ala. Oct. 14, 1861" double-circle datestamp on cover to Florence Ala., from the Simpson correspondence, double 5c under-500 miles rate

EXTREMELY FINE. A MAGNIFICENT CORNER-MARGIN PAIR OF THE MOBILE 5-CENT PROVISIONAL, WHICH HELPED TO ESTABLISH VAN KOPPERSMITH'S CONCLUSION THAT THE STONE LAYOUT WAS FIVE ROWS IN HEIGHT.

Van Koppersmith's article in the Confederate Philatelist (April-June 2010) analyzes multiples and plateable stamps from the left column of the sheet and establishes beyond doubt that the Mobile 5c stone was five horizontal rows in height. The pair on this cover, apart from its superb quality, was used in Koppersmith's analysis.

Ex Brown, Brooks and Dr. Graves (Image Magnifier)

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2,750 3,250
1063 c Mobile Ala., 5c Blue (58X2). Large side margins, ample at bottom, slightly cut in at top, bright shade, tied by "Montgomery Ala. Nov. 25, 1861" circular datestamp on cover addressed to local Montgomery resident, waterstains away from stamp

FINE. ONE OF TWO RECORDED COVERS WITH THE MOBILE 5-CENT PROVISIONAL ACCEPTED FOR POSTAGE AT A POST OFFICE OTHER THAN MOBILE. THIS IS THE ONLY ONE POSTMARKED AT MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA.

Two covers are recorded with Mobile provisionals postmarked at other post offices. One is a January 1862 cover to Shelby Springs Ala. with the stamp tied by a Claiborne Ala. datestamp (Claiborne is 90 miles north of Mobile on the Alabama River). The other is the cover offered here, postmarked at Montgomery, about 170 miles north of Mobile. Because New Orleans and Baton Rouge accepted each office's stamps, it is believed that the Mobile postmaster made similar arrangements with postmasters along the Alabama River.

Ex Dr. Graves. Listed but unpriced in Scott (Image Magnifier)

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E. 4,000-5,000 4,250
1064 c Nashville Tenn., 5c Brick Red (61X3). Intense "Fiery" Orange Red shade, huge margins, tiny sealed tear at bottom right (so insignificant, it is not noted on certificate), tied by blue "Nashville Ten. Aug. 6, 1861" circular datestamp (year inverted) on light yellow cover to Mrs. David Wendel at Murfreesboro Tenn., forwarded to Estell Springs Tenn. with "Murfreesboro Ten. Aug. 18, 1861" circular datestamp, "Paid" in frame and manuscript "5" forwarding postage, mended flap tears

EXTREMELY FINE APPEARANCE. AN UNUSUAL AND BRILLIANT SHADE OF THE NASHVILLE 5-CENT PROVISIONAL ISSUE, AND A SELDOM-SEEN ARRAY OF MARKINGS.

Ex Worthington (pencil source code on back "10/12/06 New Eng BCSS"), Caspary, Gallagher and Hill. With 1998 P.F. certificate (Image Magnifier)

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E. 4,000-5,000 9,000
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