St Louis Bear Provisional rises up at Daniel F Kelleher's rare stamps sale

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.

St Louis Bears rare stamps cover
St Louis Bears cover - the earliest known
(Click to enlarge)

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.

The auction of the Jerome Wagshal collection of Classic US stamps at Siegel showed the depth and variety on offer amongst the Provisionals, which will help to ensure they remain a strong investment.

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.

St Louis Bear stamp
St Louis Bear stamp

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.


Join our readers in over 200 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock