The legendary Dawson Cover has sold as part of Robert A Siegel Auction Galleries' sale of The Steven C Walske Collection of Hawaiian Postal History.
The cover is one of the most famous philatelic items, being the only cover to bear the Hawaiian 2c Missionary stamp as well as the only intact cover with two different denominations (2c and 5c) from the Missionary issue - a widely collected field.
However, despite its rarity and reputation within the philatelic community, it fell short of its $2m-3m estimate at the June 25 auction in New York, selling for $1.9m.
It sold for an identical sum at Robert A Siegel in 1995, and was later acquired for $2.1m.
The Missionary stamps of 1851 were the first to be issued in the Kingdom of Hawaii. They take their name from the fact that they were mainly found on the correspondence of missionaries working on the island.
The Dawson Cover was sent by a William C Dawson to "Miss Eliza A Dawson, Care Jacob H Dawson, 253 Cherry Street, New York" with "Give my love to all" written on the reverse.
As well as a 2c and 5c stamps from the Missionary issue, it also bears a horizontal pair of US 1851 3c Brownish Carmine stamps.
After presumably reaching its recipient, the cover was not seen again until 1905, when a workman preparing an abandoned factory for reuse found it within a bundle of letters that had been shoved into a furnace.
Luckily, the bundle was wrapped so tightly that the cover escaped the furnace with just a small singe mark.
Recognising the cover's importance, highly respected philatelist George H Worthington swooped in to purchase it and secured it for the hobby to enjoy.
It has since been included in some of the world's finest exhibitions and has passed through the hands of top enthusiasts.
Paul Fraser Collectibles is very pleased to offer The Black Empress - a unique and impeccable example of the Canadian 1851 12d Black and the country's rarest gem.