Hale & Co 5c sheet to lead US independent mail sale

A Hale & Co 5c light blue sheet of 20 is valued at $10,000-15,000 ahead of a May 4 postage stamp auction.

It will be one of the star lots of Robert A Siegel's sale of the Dr Carmen A Puliafito Collection of U.S. Independent Mails.

Hale Co stamps
Hale & Co was one of a number of independent US mail operators

This is the only known complete sheet of the issue, making it a key piece for collectors of US independents.

Hale & Co was founded by James Hale in 1838 and started out as a mail forwarder.

During the early 1840s it became one of a number of independent carriers competing against the US Post Office.

It issued its own stamps alongside a variety of incentives, including cheaper rates and faster delivery times.

Like most others it folded in 1845, after the government brought in legislation to sink the competition.

James Hale states in a letter dated 1887: "I gave all the unused sheets of stamps to my children for playthings and presumed they were destroyed.

"But within a few days my youngest son informed me that he believed he had a few 'stowed away somewhere' and would try to hunt them up."

It's believed that this sheet is one of those hidden away by Hale's son.

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