Rare 1846 stamp with local connection sells for $460,000
Posted: December 12, 2012
The Winchester Star
NEW YORK CITY — A rare stamp with a local connection brought $460,000 at auction here on Tuesday.
The Alexandria Postmaster’s Provisional, one of only six in the world, was used Aug. 25, 1846, to mail a letter from Alexandria to Parkins’ Mills in Frederick County, south of Winchester.
Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries Inc., the country’s leading stamp auctioneer, didn’t immediately divulge who purchased the cover — the stamp and its envelope — which was valued at $500,000 in the company’s December auction catalog.
With the 15 percent buyer’s premium, the item cost $529,000, according to Siegel Senior Vice President John P. Zuckerman.
In March, the company sold an Alexandria Postmaster’s Provisional for $632,500, setting a world record.
Postmasters’ Provisionals are rare because they were issued for only a short time — from July 1, 1845, to July 1, 1847 — and by only 11 post offices, including Alexandria’s.
Created by individual postmasters, the provisionals helped fill a void between the passage of the Post Office Reform Act in 1845 and the creation of the first U.S. government general issue stamps in 1847.
The Post Office Reform Act led the way for prepaid adhesive postage.
This particular provisional was purchased for 5 cents by pharmacy owner William Stabler so he could send a letter to his nephew, Edward S. Leadbeater, who was staying at the home of Nathan Parkins.
The Parkins family operated several flour mills on Abram’s Creek in the county.
In 1926, Leadbeater’s son found the pristine letter among correspondence while visiting relatives in Parkins’ Mills. He must have realized he stumbled onto something of value, because he quickly sold it to Baltimore stamp collector Perry W. Fuller for $7,000.
Over the years, the item was sold about five more times, the last in 2000 for $200,000.
It’s unknown how many people bid on the item Tuesday.
— Contact Cynthia Cather Burton at email@example.com