Southern Letter Unpaid cover up 31% on estimate

A cover bearing the Southern Letter Unpaid stamp used during the American civil war has sold for $52,000 at Robert A Siegel in New York.

It was the highlight of the sale of the Benjamin Wishnietsky Collection of Confederate States, exceeding an estimate of $40,000 by 31.2%.

Southern Letter Unpaid Cover
The cover was sent from New Orleans to Paris via Louisville, Kentucky in 1861

In 1861 a suspension order was passed banning the transit of mail from northern to southern states, although it was still possible to send post in the other direction through Louisville, Kentucky.

On June 24, the Louisville office was ordered to remove all postage from letters from the south as stamps purchased in the region were no longer considered valid.

In response, the postmaster created a handstamp reading "SOUTHN. LETTER UNPAID" that allowed him to invalidate mail from the rebel states more easily.

The letter in the present sale was sent from New Orleans, Louisiana to Paris, France, arriving in Kentucky on June 24 1861, just as the datestamp came into use.

The letter was released on June 29 and forwarded on to France where a long-standing agreement between the two nations allowed for mail sent without postage to be paid on delivery.

The cover is one of 29 examples to feature the handstamp, one of five to have been sent to a foreign destination and one of two to feature the 1860 12c stamp.

We have a range of rare stamps available to purchase.

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