US rarities at Schuyler Rumsey


30 November 2023
A 'Gems of Philately' sale is being held by Schuyler Rumsey at their San Francisco offices on 14 December featuring rarities including a rare American Civil War patriotic cover, a 'free frank' cover and signed letter sent by Thomas Jefferson, and examples of Ballon Monté covers.

Held as part of their four-day December sale, an American highlight in the auction is a rare American Civil War patriotic cover sent from Honolulu during the end of the Third Treaty period (lot 3067).

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This extremely fine cover was sent aboard the American bark Comet, which departed Honolulu on 18 April 1863 and arrived in San Francisco on 12 May with mail bound for the east coast postmarked the next day. Featuring an attractive red, white and blue Eagle and Flag patriotic design, bearing the slogan ‘Forever wave that standard free – Bear it aloft o’er land and sea!’, the cover has an estimate of $5000–$7500.

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Also from the USA, the auction features a free frank cover and signed letter sent by Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), the third president of the USA (lot 3006). The cover bears the manuscript free frank ‘Free Th. Jefferson Pr. U.S.’ of Jefferson on an 1808 folded letter. The one-page signed letter was sent to Abraham Bishop of New Hampshire, a vocal supporter of Jefferson. In a very fine condition, the cover has an estimate of $15,000–$20,000.

The auction also features a couple of significant Ballon Monté covers, including an 1870 Ballon Monté sent from Paris to Port Natal, South Africa. Carried on the balloon Le Délivrance, it is described as one of the most important balloon covers in existence to this very rare destination. With a red London transit handstamp, it has an estimate of $75,000–$100,000 (lot 3336).

Another significant Ballon Monté included in the sale is an 1870 cover sent to Yokohama in Japan, which was carried on the Victor Hugo (lot 3335). In an extremely fine condition, the cover has an estimate of $50,000–$75,000.

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