History of Expertizing and Catalog Listings- Calvet Hahn

Nov 1 , 1999

Cataloging Problems

The subject shown here is a cover with a Westfield, N.Y. ‘fancy rate’ cover with a 10 inside a boxed P A I D from the well-known Hutchison collection of New York stampless material and whether it should be given catalog status.  The item was offered with a February 17, 1953 letter from Harry M. Konwiser, creator and editor of the American Stampless Cover Catalog to Mr. Hutchison apologizing for the fact he failed to include it in the last edition  (1952) of that catalog which he edited, Exhibit 4.  There was also an August 10, 1936 letter from the Gun Shop ‘discoverer’ of the cover addressed to the Westfield postmaster of 1936 to determine if it was genuine, exhibit 1, and postmaster Skinner’s reply on the verso suggesting an ardent local collector, attorney Arthur Tennant, exhibit 2.  Exhibit 3 is Mr. Tennant’s reply that he felt the cover was genuine. The question of genuineness apparently arose because of a letter, (undated as to year) exhibit A from C. Malcolm Nichols, author of the definitive 1960 work on the postal history of Chautauqua County, where Westfield is located.  Mr. Nichols pointed out a the 10 and cds are of the same ink, a greenish cast black, while the PAID is a black, b) the PAID letters were applied separately and this was illogical for a postmaster to do c) if the mark were legitimate others should have turned up.

When the cover is examined in conjunction with other Westfield covers, additional reasons to reject it appear.  The 34mm cds size was introduced in 1850 in blue (the Dorr collection example of 8/15/50) along with two or three other examples.  Black was not used until about 1854 making this ‘10’ a double unpaid rate period cover rather than a prepaid ‘10’ which had to be prior to July 1, 1851 at which time the postoffice used blue handstamps not black.  Consequently the P A I D letters were added to enhance the value of this cover, and there is no reason to catalog it other than as a fake although it is a genuine example of the unpaid 10 double rate of the mid-1850s.

  History of Expertizing

The major portion of the talk was devoted to an examination of the 90¢ Armitage cover because the history of that cover provides a good picture of the changes in expertizing over three quarters of a century.  The cover has been examined by almost everyone if significance in the field and given a number of technical tests during the various examinations.  It was submitted for an opinion in November 1955 and given a genuine opinion, and again in November 1963 where the opinion was the 90¢ did not originate and the 12¢ had been added.  It was again up for examination in 1992.  I had written an analysis August 26, 1991 based upon postal history without personally having physically examined the cover, while Dr. Edward Liston had presented a technical analysis of the ‘Analysis of the Scanning Electron Microscope Findings’ of this cover. The cover was also subject of an Opinions V summary of the opinions current in 1963 written by William Crowe.