St Louis Bear Provisional rises up at Daniel F Kelleher's rare stamps sale
An elusive rarity, interest in one of the USA's earliest stamps has been enhanced by recent auctions
After the July 1845 postal reforms paved the way for adhesive stamp use by simplifying the rate structure, the postmaster in St Louis, John M. Wimer, had his own provisional stamps printed. Wimer served the Midwestern gateway city of St. Louis as postmaster, alderman and mayor.
The basic design of the St Louis provisional stamps - two bears holding the state coat of arms - was chosen to symbolize Missourians' rugged durability. The "Bears" engraving is one of the most elaborate of all United States Postmasters' Provisionals.
The "Bears" were printed from an engraved copper plate comprising six subjects arranged in two vertical rows of three. The original plate was made by a local engraver, J M Kershaw, and it was altered twice.
That included the sale of the first known use of the Provisional on a cover which eased past its estimate of $30,000-40,000 to achieve $65,000, and also the absolutely unique reverse-side printing of a 10c Bear with a trace of a 5c Bear - the only recorded example of any United States postmaster provisional stamp printed on both sides - which achieved $67,000.
However, to buy into this fascinating area of philately is not quite so demanding. At the now complete Daniel F Kelleher auction in Tucson, Arizona a 10¢ black on greenish St Louis Bear with a trace of light red circular date stamp at the bottom right.
With well-balanced margins, it was described by the auctioneer as "one of the nicest examples we have seen of this elusive provisional" and duly sold just above its catalogue value of $8,000 for $9,500.
- Click here to view our stamps items for sale
- Learn how you can get pleasure and profit from the American stamp markets
- Read all the latest Stamps and Covers news
Recent and related articles...
· 'Radiant and vivid' Scarlet Vermillion stamp could deliver $35,000 | 12 January 2011
Many British North American stamps will sell with the $500,000 Black Empress of Canada in New York
· Spink Shreves offers the $500,000 'Black Empress of Canada' for sale | 10 January 2011
It is regarded as the finest mint example of a classic rarity: the 1851 12d black Canadian stamp
· Siamese twins, an astronaut and a Hitler 'mockery' sell in Connecticut | 9 January 2011
The autographs of Chang, Eng and astronaut Alan Shepard are on offer with a classic Szyk caricature
· The Story of... America's 1898 issue Trans-Mississippi stamps | 31 December 2010
At first unpopular with collectors, these stamps won through as a great example of engravers' art
· Signed, sealed and delivered... Our Top Five stamp sales of 2010 | 29 December 2010
This week, we take a look back at some of last year's most spectacular philatelic auctions
Images: Siegel, Daniel F Kelleher