Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, Inc.

Davis's Penny Post

Download the Introduction to Davis's Penny Post and descriptions from the Golden sale as a .pdf file (229k)

Suggested Plating of Davis's Penny Post 57L1

Census of Covers of Davis's Penny Post 57L1

The finest of the four recorded Davis's Penny Post covers

William D. Davis advertised for 25 “intelligent youths” in the February 1, 1856, edition of The Sun and followed this solicitation for employees with the February 5th announcement of his “One Cent Dispatch”. Letters would be delivered within the city or to the post office for 1c each, and a “Special Messenger” service was offered for 5c. Additional advertisements appeared in The Sun until February 18, just two weeks later, and none appeared subsequently. Evidently, Davis’s Penny Post lasted one Valentine season and was closed (source: Denwood N. Kelly, Collectors Club Philatelist, Vol. 50, No. 4).

The small typeset stamps issued by Davis’s Penny Post are rare, with just 14 examples recorded, including four genuine covers (two of these are offered in this sale). We have attempted to reconstruct the setting, using the typographic differences to distinguish one subject from the other. In Denwood Kelly’s comprehensive CCP series on Baltimore carriers and locals, he listed eight minor typographic varieties based on two basic types, acknowledging that some of the differences might be influenced by printing. Kelly also felt that the setting comprised ten subjects. In our analysis, the 14 recorded stamps show consistent typographic characteristics that can be classified as six subject types. Comparing this with the Kelly list, we are able to eliminate three of his eight types as duplicate subjects. There are no 57L1 multiples, so the only means to arrange the setting is to study stamps with sheet margins or showing bits of adjoining subjects. While the expectation is to find ten stamps in a setting, the surviving Davis stamps suggest a setting of six, each subject confirmed by one or more examples. A sheet of six stamps is reasonable, if one considers that the standard U.S. postage stamp at the time was 3c, and that the 3c silver coin minted in 1852 was circulating in 1856. Davis could have arranged his sheets as two columns of three stamps to facilitate sales in 3-cent increments.

Speculation is a necessary part of plating the Davis stamps, owing to the absence of multiples or a larger number of examples from which to work. The plating shown here is our best guess based on the material at hand. Positions 1 (Ty. A), 2 (Ty. B), 4 (Ty. D) and 6 (Ty. F) are based on sheet-margin stamps. Stamps from these positions with margins showing bits of adjoining stamps have been used to establish the spacing between subjects. Type C is found with what appears to be a trace of the ornament from the upper right corner of the stamp below, which puts it in Position 4. Again, the 14 recorded stamps can be matched with these six subject types.

The most significant stamp to come from this setting is Type B, Position 2, which shows the spelling error “Pennq” for “Penny”. A detail of the different characters is shown here. Remarkably, this error is not listed in Scott, nor mentioned in the Kelly series, nor in Sloane’s notes, nor in any publication we have read. However, we are not the first to notice the “Pennq” variety. Elliott Perry, writing in April 1959 to Eugene Costales, the Scott Catalogue editor, noted a variety in which “the y of Penny is a q.” For whatever reason, Costales did not change the Scott listing to reflect Perry’s report.

Currently, there are four recorded examples of the “Pennq” error, two of which are offered in lots 1022 and 1023. This is the first auction offering of these stamps that identifies them for what they are, and we anticipate that the current Scott editors will maintain consistency by listing them as 57L1a, along with other errors, such as the Honour’s “Conours” and “Bents” (4LB8c), Glen Haven “Gien” (71L1a, see lot 1088), Moody’s “Henny Dispatch” (110L1b) and Hoyts “Lettcr” (85L1).

 

SUGGESTED PLATING OF 57L1

Type A
Position 1
Frame breaks at top and bottom

Type B
Position 2
"Pennq" Error
"BALT." in Roman type

Type C
Position 3
Break in left frame

Type D
Position 4
"L" of "Balt." raised
and tilted

Type E
Position 5
"Davis's" in Roman type

Type F
Position 6
Wide break in left frame


Detail of Type B (Position 2) 
showing normal at left and the "q" error at right

 

Our records of 14 Davis's Penny Post stamps contain four genuine covers, as follows:

  • 1.) Ty. F, tied by red handstamp on Fountain Hotel corner card cover to Western Hotel, Baltimore, ex Hollowbush, Malcolm, offered in the Golden sale as lot 1019.
  • 2.) Ty. F, with bottom right corner sheet margins, tied by red handstamp on back of cover to Miss Louise Senss (?), Baltimore, ex Caspary, Boker
  • 3.) Ty. A, with top left sheet corner margins, uncancelled on small Valentine cover to Miss Caroline Lamden, ex Hollowbush, offered in lot 1020
  • 4.) Type unknown, tied by red handstamp, ex Brown (5c 1847 stamp added to cover at the time -- possibly removed now).

In addition to the genuine covers, there are other covers to which genuine Davis stamps have been added (all predate the post's existence). The cover census by Steven M. Roth (Chronicle 173) agrees with our data.

 

 

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