Lot 3388Forwarded by Eldridge Brothers' Kansas Express, Collect "25", black on green printed label with manuscript collect rating, used on cover addressed to Leavenworth Kans., endorsed "(Eldridge Co's Ex.)" at lower left and additional "Collect 25" at upper right; label torn, upper right corner faulty, Very Fine and choice, ex-Eggen.
Estimate $3,000 - 4,000.
THE ONLY KNOWN EXAMPLE OF THIS ELDRIDGE BROTHERS' KANSAS EXPRESS LABEL, AND THE ONLY COVER CARRIED BY THIS EXPRESS.
In 1857, the Eldridge Brothers inaugurated the first stage line in Kansas Territory. The Kansas Express initially operated between Wyandotte and Lawrence. It was expanded to Topeka by way of LeCompton and also served the towns of Leavenworth City and Osawatomie. Three covers are recorded associated with this rare two-year express company, two of which have different all-over advertising on the reverse. This is the only known cover actually carried by the company before it was sold to the Western Stage Company in 1859.
Shalor Winchell Eldridge, the founder, was one of the most prominent Kansas and an avid free-state advocate. He was owner of the Free-State Hotel in Lawrence. As the site of the printing office of the "Kansas Free States" newspaper, the hotel was destroyed in 1856 by Sheriff Jones and his posse, a band of proslavery outlaws claiming to act under authority of the United States. The hotel was later rebuilt in 1857 as the Eldridge House.