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Sale 79: The George J. Kramer Collection of Western Trails and Routes

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Lot 3403    

1856 (Mar. 7) Honolulu, Hawaii to San Francisco, Cal., vivid red "Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, Mar 7" cds (HON HI28 II) and bearing uncancelled Hawaii 1851, 5¢ blue (2), Type I, large to huge margins on three sides, a bit irregular at upper left and frameline just touched at right, short separation tear at upper left corner, free of any repair and very slightly creased by a vertical fold on California Penny Post Company, 5¢ black on buff entire (34LUI3A) with printed address "To Agent of the Penny-Post Co., San Francisco, Cal., Box 5150., Please Deliver To, Messrs. Noble & Haskel, Davis St., near California.", additionally franked with United States 1851 3¢ dull red (11), bright early 1856 shade, mostly large margins, tied by "San Francisco Cal. 21 Mar." cds, matching "Ship 6" clamshell-style circular due handstamp, Very Fine, ex-Richard Saffin, Advertiser; with 1995 P.F. certificate.
Estimate    $200,000 - 300,000.


Reference: Illustrated in Letters of Gold, Jesse L. Coburn, pg. 63
Illustrated and described in Hawaii Foreign Mail to 1870, pg. II 99-101, fig. 16-84.

This cover was carried by American Bark "Yankee" from Honolulu Mar. 5th 1856 to San Francisco arriving Mar. 20th. The 5¢ Missionary stamp correctly prepays the 5¢ Hawaiian postage for a single rate letter. The U.S. 3¢ stamp short paid the 6¢ ship letter rate delivered within port of entry, and no credit was given as the 6¢ due rating handstamp was struck. The California Penny Post Company 5¢ entire represents the correct fee for delivery from the post office to the addressees, Noble & Haskel. The Honolulu post office considered the U.S. portion of postage unpaid, as it was marked with the "Hawaiian-Islands" datestamp, not "U.S. Postage Paid."

The California Penny Post Company was started by J. B. Goodwin as a city delivery post in June 1855 and, by the beginning of 1856, faced increasing pressure from a hostile San Francisco postmaster. Service ceased after approximately one year in business. This envelope was a return envelope purchased from the Penny Post by the San Francisco firm of Noble & Haskel. They would have enclosed this in a business mailing, along with their letter, and sent it to a correspondent. Instead of mailing the reply from somewhere in the West where the pre-affixed 3¢ postage would have been sufficient, the sender mailed it from Hawaii. The box number facilitated the holding of mail at the post office until the Penny Post Co. picked up letters for delivery to the addressees. There is a pencil note on back, "Found in California Penny Post files", indicating that this may have been retained by Goodwin as evidence in his fight against the post office.

The use of a Hawaiian Missionary stamp on this March 1856 cover occurs late in the Missionary issue's life, but appropriately at a time when 5¢ stamps were in great demand and short supply in the Islands. The April, 1855 rate change in the United States effectively increased the composite rate from 13¢ to 17¢ and created an increased demand for Hawaiian 5¢ stamps that could be used in combination with U. S. 12¢ stamps. By the beginning of 1857, the shortage of 5¢ stamps had reached the critical point, and supplies of 13¢ Kamehameha III stamps were provisionally surcharged "5" cents. In the context of the new demands and shortages created by the April 1855 rate change, the use of a 5¢ Missionary stamp in March 1856 is understandable.

Of the 32 Missionary covers in Gregory's census, only six are mixed frankings with United States stamps, including one defective example and another with a repaired stamp. In the context of worldwide mixed-franking covers, the coincidence of two nations' postage stamps and local-post franking is, to our knowledge, unique in this
classic period.

Complete Images.

Realized: $180,000

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