Unicorn maiden voyage cover highlights Richard Winter collection

The outstanding Richard Winter Collection of Transatlantic Mails will be sold on February 4 in San Francisco.

The collection offers an outstanding array of covers that have passed over the Atlantic Ocean, with examples sent to and from countries around the globe. It includes pioneer transatlantic steamship mail, freight money letters and other transatlantic mail.

Cunard Unicorn maiden voyage cover
Nova Scotian Samuel Cunard was awarded the first British transatlantic steamship mail contract in 1839

Highlighting the sale is a fantastic cover sent from Liverpool on May 16, 1840 and which arrived in Boston on June 3. The letter was sent on the Unicorn ship's maiden voyage, which was completed as the first transatlantic voyage of the Cunard Line in anticipation of a feeder service between Pictou, Nova Scotia and Quebec.

The voyage was also carried out to ensure that Boston was ready for the first proper mail voyage of the line in July 1840. The cover at auction is addressed from Leith, Scotland to Richmond, Virginia and bears a red "Boston Ms. Ship June 4" circular date stamp.

It also includes a red manuscript 27, due to the 25c inland postage rate plus 2c ship fee. Marking the inaugural voyage of an important line, this cover is sure to attract strong attention and will sell with a $3,000-4,000 estimate.

A cover from the final voyage of the Unicorn, in 1846, will follow, selling at $500-750.

1851 Error rate cover
The cover was carried privately from China to California and posted 17 months later to Europe

Another highlight of the sale is the California section, featuring mails that were sent to or from, or passed through, the Golden State. Perhaps the most intriguing lot among those offered it a unique usage from German China to Europe, which travelled via California by British open mails.

Sent in 1851, the cover demonstrates California postmasters' uncertainties on how to implement new US rates on foreign mails, which led to error rates being used. Here we see a 25c error rate, which was then corrected to 15c, another error rate - an exceptionally rare error usage. It will sell for $2,000-3,000.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a superb collection of the finest stamps for sale, including what is believed to be the largest mint multiple from Penny Black plate 3. For more of the latest philatelic news, sign up to our free weekly newsletter.


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