Rare and Unique Alexandria Blue Boy Envelope to be Auctioned

03 Jun 2019  Mon

H.R. Harmer is going to offer the rare Alexandria Blue Boy envelope on 22nd June at the Collectors Club, 22 East 35th St., New York City. The envelope is franked by a 5¢ black-on-blue round provisional stamp issued by postmaster Daniel Bryan in Alexandria, Va. It is being offered publically for the first time after more than five decades. The item is a part of a collection owned by Erivan Haub and is being offered at a starting bid of $1 million. It’s the only example of this stamp in blue. It was issued in 1846 or 1847 and was stuck on a yellowish cover with a “PAID” postmark. The term “Blue Boy” is associated with the 18th-century oil portrait by Thomas Gainsborough. David Feldman from Switzerland had sold the cover for a record price of $1 million on 8th May 1981.

Six known varieties of the stamps in two different types are printed in black on buff. One type has 40 rosette ornaments around the text “ALEXANDRIA POST OFFICE PAID 5”, while the other one has 39 ornaments. Three examples of each type exist today. The offered stamp is of type I variety but is unique with respect to the colour of the paper on which it is printed. Researchers believe that they were printed in panes of two, one of each type in every pane. Edgar Snowden, the publisher of the Alexandria Gazette probably printed the stamps. The stamp on blue paper was possibly made for a new order by Postmaster Bryan when the new U.S. stamps issued on 1st July 1847 were not available quickly at the Alexandria post office.

The envelope carried a love letter from James Wallace Hoof of Alexandria which was addressed to Jannett Brown in Richmond, Va. James had asked Jannett to burn the letter so that her family would not find out about their romance. However, the letter and the envelope were later kept safely by Jannett. The couple also got married soon after the letter was delivered. The envelope was discovered in 1907 by Jannett B. Fawcett, the daughter of the couple. It was sold for $3,000 to George H. Worthington back then.

The cover was then sold privately to Henry C. Gibson in 1915 or 1916. It was then sold to Alfred H. Caspary in 1922. Caspary died in 1955, and the H.R. Harmer sold the item for $10,000. It was auctioned by Robert A. Siegel for $18,500 in 1967 as part of the Josiah K. Lilly Jr. collection. Before it reached John R. Boker Jr., it was sold three times in the 1970s. Finally, it was sold in 1981 for $1 million to a German collector.

The stamp has a fresh shade and is neatly cut, just touching the outer design. It is cancelled by the words ‘Paid’. It also has a similar second strike at left and the ‘Alexandria D.C. Nov. 25 [1847]’ town cancel. The cover is neatly restored with some sealed tears and minor faults.

Image Courtesy: H.R. Harmer Sale

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