NJFSC Chapter #44S..........PHS Affiliate #1A..........APS Affiliate #95
Society & Member's Galleries....
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Featured Covers Gallery
May 2012 Issue of the NJPH Journal FIVE CENT 1856 STAMP ON COVERS FROM NEW JERSEY by Robert G. Rose
Have you ever fantasized, as have I, of forming a collection of United States
classic stamps used on covers from New Jersey? If so, the task to put such a collection
together would be a real challenge. For unlike its neighboring states with cities such as
Boston, New York and Philadelphia, where substantial commercial correspondences
were preserved to the later benefit of collectors, there have been no major “finds” of
covers from New Jersey bearing postage stamps from the first issue in 1847 and the
second issue of 1851-56.i
Were it not for the fact that a young bride living in Trenton
was a regular writer to her husband, a naval officer on patrol in China in 1856, there
would have been a total absence of covers from New Jersey showing use of the five cent
In 1856, Lieutenant Earl English was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Sloop Levant off
the coast of China. On May 12, 1856 the Levant joined the East India Squadron, having
set sail from the New York Naval Yard in Brooklyn on November 13, 1855 and arriving
by way of Rio de Janeiro, the Cape of Good Hope and Hong Kong.ii English was born in
Crosswicks, New Jersey, Burlington County, on February 18, 1824.iii He entered the
naval service in 1840 at age 16 and was graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis
in 1846. He was commissioned a lieutenant in September 1855.
Following the Levant’s arrival in Chinese waters, she carried the U.S
Commissioner to Shanghai, arriving there on July 1, 1856.iv With news of the breakout
of the Second Opium War, the Levant and her sister ship, the U.S.S. Sloop Portsmouth,
landed a detachment of 150 marines and sailors in Canton. While withdrawing from that
city on November 15, 1856, a Chinese garrison on the Pearl River opened fire on the
American ships.v The next day, the two sloops, accompanied by a steam frigate,
retaliated, engaging the Chinese Pearl River forts. Over the next several days, both sides
fired on each other.vi The fighting ceased on November 24, 1856 following the capture
of several of the Chinese forts by the American forces. During the engagement, the
Levant took 22 cannon ball shots into her sails, rigging and hull, and suffered one killed
and six wounded sailors.vii A year later, English took part in the Battle of Canton at
which he was wounded.viii He was a career officer, having later been commissioned a
Captain in 1871, a Commodore in 1880 and a Rear Admiral in 1884. He retired from the
Navy in 1886 and died in 1893.ix He is buried next to his wife, Elizabeth, at Arlington
Elizabeth was apparently a regular letter writer to her husband at the time the
Levant joined the East India Squadron in China. Three of her letters were postmarked at
Trenton, her home during this period, and are among the most sought after covers from
the classics period because she attempted to prepay each of her precious letters in an
attempt to insure their delivery with a strip of four of the five cent 1856 stamp, Scott No.
Two of the three covers, shown in Figures 2 and 3, are postmarked from Trenton
on August 19, 1856. The third cover in Figure 4 is postmarked on September 5, 1856.
The two covers in Figures 2 and 4 were once part of the collection of the five cent stamp
of 1856 owned by Frederick R. Mayer that was sold at public auction in 2005.xi
The first cover was prepaid with a strip of four of the five cent stamp and a single
one cent stamp (Scott No. 9) to prepay the 21 cent British open mail rate carried by
American packet to Southampton. The balance of the postage, amounting to 6 pence for
its carriage to Hong Kong, was supposed to have been collected upon arrival and the
cover should have been so marked with collect postage due on receipt, but was not.xii
The cover was backstamped upon its arrival in Hong Kong on December 1, 1856, after
nearly four months in transit.xiii
The second cover was postmarked in Trenton on August 19, 1856, the same date
as was the cover in Figure 2. However, the New York exchange marking is dated one
day later, August 23. Like the previous cover, the stamped postage prepaid the 21 cent
rate to Southampton but the cover should have been marked with six pence collect
postage due in Hong Kong.xiv
The third cover of the trio was postmarked in Trenton on September 5, 1856,
some three weeks later than the first two. Like those two covers, the stamped postage was
intended to prepay the 21 cent rate to Southampton. According to the description of its
routing in the Frajola & Mayer book,xv the letter missed the sailing of the American
packet and was carried as an overpaid five cent British open mail letter to Southampton.
There, presumably because of the weight of the one or two letters that were enclosed, the
cover was rated at 2 shillings due upon receipt. The ship that carried this cover on the last
leg of its trip from Galle, Ceylon to Hong Kong, was the P&O steamer Norma, which
arrived in Hong Kong on December 1, 1856 with a Hong Kong backstamp of the same
date. Thus, all three letters addressed to Lt. English arrived on the same ship. One can
only imagine Lt. English’s joy in receiving his wife’s letters while so far from his Trenton
i Only four genuine usages of the 10 cent 1847 Issue from New Jersey have been reported. See Robert G.
Rose, “10c 1847 Usage in New Jersey,” The Collectors Club Philatelist, Vol. 84, No. 2 (March-April
2005), p.79. A census of both 5 cent and 10 cent 1847 covers used from New Jersey can be found in the
monumental work by Thomas J. Alexander, The United States 1847 Issue: A Cover Census, pp. 319-28
(The U.S. Philatelic Society, Inc. 2001). The late Brad Arch assembled the finest collection of the 1847
Issue (Scott Nos. 1 & 2) used from New Jersey. Following his passing, his collection was sold by Robert
A. Siegel Auctions, Inc., Sale 825, June 27-29, 2000. A number of 10 cent 1851 Issue (Scott Nos. 13-16)
covers from the English correspondence have been sold at public auction; see Robert G. Rose, “New
Jersey Classics Featured in Recent Auction Sales,” NJPH, Vol. 31, No. 3 (August 2003), pp. 95-97; “The 10 Cent 1855 Issue on Cover,” NJPH, Vol. 31, No. 2 (May 2003), pp. 52-53. Only a single usage
of the 12 Cent 1851 Issue (Scott No. 17), has been reported from New Jersey, a bisect postmarked from
Trenton; see Robert G. Rose, “Twelve Cent 1851 Usage in New Jersey,” NJPH, Vol. 36, No. 2 (May
2008), p. 91.
ii USS Levant (1837), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Levant (4/30/2012)
iii http://www.arlingtoncemetary.net/eenglish.htm (4/30/2012).
iv USS Levant (1837), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Levant (4/30/2012)
v The Battle of the Pearl River Forts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Pearl_River_Forts
x Ibid. The Levant was lost at sea with all aboard after leaving Hawaii on September 18, 1860 while on
route to Panama. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki.USS_Levant_(1837)
xi R. Frajola & F. Mayer, The United States Five Cent Stamp of 1856, pp. 125-27, Figures 11-1 & 11-2 (The
Collectors Club 2005). All three covers have distinguished provenances:
xii R. Frajola & F. Mayer, op. cit., pp. 125-26, Figure 11-1. The description of the routing of this cover
between Southampton and Hong Kong differs slightly from what appears to be its correct routing as
described in its sale at auction of the Mayer Collection. In addition, the book’s reference to the pencil
notation “13th” (November 13) as its docketed date of receipt is incorrect, given the Hong Kong
backstamp date of December 1, 1856. Rather, as seen on additional covers from this correspondence, Lt.
English numbered the sequence of letters received from this wife with a pencil notation on the face of
xiii Matthew Bennett International, The Frederick R. Mayer Collection: The United Sates 1856 Five Cent
Issue, Sale No. 294, October 21, 2005, lot no. 163. The auction lot description provides an accurate
account of the routing and time sequence for each of the ships that carried this letter.
xiv Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, Inc., Rare Covers from the Dr. W.F. Amonette Collection, Sale 784,
October 29, 1996, lot no. 2063.
xv R. Frajola & F. Mayer, op. cit., pp. 126-27, Figure 11-2.
14 Illustrations below: http://www.ibiblio.org/chineseart/contents/arti/c02s01.html &
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/opium-war-1839.html (First Opium War)
Past Featured Covers
February 2012 Issue of the NJPH Journal A Wonderful Revolutionary Letter by Ed and Jean Sisken
In the Oct-Nov 1988 issue of La Posta, Tom Clarke wrote an article about a wonderful
Revolutionary War cover he had. Dated February 16, 1777, from New Brunswick, New Jersey...
November 2011 Issue of the NJPH Journal New Jersey Civil War Covers -Wyman the Wizard!
If you were to conduct a detailed review of the 190 Civil War
patriotic covers illustrated in NJPH whole nos. issues 100 and 117, or the
online exhibit of covers shown at NOJEX, you can begin to see the
emergence of some interesting patterns among the covers. An obvious
pattern is that there are several different correspondences represented in
the illustrated covers. Read more.....
August 2011 Issue of the NJPH Journal New Elizabeth, NJ Marking
ELIZABETHTOWN STAMPLESS POSTMARK ALTERED TO READ “ELIZABETH”!
This newly-discovered Elizabeth postmark falls at the time the name was changed from
Elizabethtown to Elizabeth, and a new handstamp was created from an existing Elizabeth-town
May 2011 Issue of the NJPH Journal Civil War Patriotic Covers from New Jersey.
The cover below is dated Mar. 10 from Bloomsbury, NJ to West Liberty, Ohio, with the imprint of S.C. Rickards, Stationers, 102 Nassau Street, N.Y., and shows one of the rare New Jersey Civil War patriotic images.
February 2011 Issue of the NJPH Journal A Folded Letter in art - was it from New Jersey?
This painting by Jacques-Louis David, painted in 1821, shows two Bonaparte princesses reading a stampless folded letter from their father, Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon. Was it written to them from New Jersey?
November 2010 Issue of the NJPH Journal REVOLUTIONARY WAR COVER
The cover of our most recent journal features this Revolutionary item, from Don Chafetz’s prize-winning exhibit of Morris County Mail Service, 1760 to 1850.
August 2010 Issue of the NJPH Journal NEW JERSEY ILLUSTRATED LETTER SHEETS
These items were made popular by the nice ones that exist from the California Gold Rush days, and those used during the Civil War, where they depicted contemporary scenes at the top of the letter sheet, the rest of which was then used to write a letter.
Earliest examples usually included an attached sheet and were used as stampless folded letters.
Later ones were more like letterheads, and were sent enclosed in envelopes.
May 2010 Issue of the NJPH Journal Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America!
Treasure Island Scout Camp occupies a fifty-seven acre island in the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The camp is operated by the Cradle of Liberty Council (formerly the Philadelphia Council), Boy Scouts of America. Read more.....
February 2010 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a 1995 cover of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, the last of the conventionally-powered US aircraft carriers, decommissioned in 2009.
This great ship served almost 50 years in service of her country.
November 2009 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a Holiday Greetings from Viet Nam
Just before Christmas of 1971, a GI-produced Christmas card was distributed to the troops of the 101st Airborne for them to send home. A hand-made envelope served to carry it home to New Jersey.
As it was late in December, member Jim Walker used a U.S. air mail stamp instead of the usual free frank available to soldiers in combat,
August 2009 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a a Graf Zeppelin cover.
L127 First Trip to the USA in 1928. Special credit to John Trosky for this nice article!
WEB-SITE SPECIAL: an addendum to this article with additional information on an originating 1928 LZ-127 cover from Len Peck!
May 2009 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a DPO cover from Maurer, New Jersey.
A pretty little letter sheet invitation from a local hotel in Maurer (now part of Perth Amboy, Middlesex County), NJ turned up at the Garfield-Perry Show in Cleveland, in JWF (Jim Faber’s) stock. Used in 1905, it is from a community that literally does not exist anymore. The location is now the site of a large “tank farm” belonging to Chevron.Read more.....
February 2009 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a cameo campaign cover.
A December 15, Hoboken, NJ postmarked Embossed Cameo Campaign Envelope produced by William Eaves was offered this March by Robert A. Siegel Auctions featuring a beardless Abe Lincoln. Only a few examples are known. This Hoboken, New Jersey cover hammered on March 25, 2009 for $2600.00 before the 15% buyers premium! Read more.....
November 2008 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a cover of seasonal greeting.
A RFD ”Season’s Greetings” post card, cancelled December 24, 1915 with a Pittstown, NJ postmark, sent by the carrier on Route 2 out of Pittstown to the people along his route. Special thanks to Member Jim Walker for sharing this cover. Read more.....
Members: One of the benefits of membership is sharing your interests and collections! If you would like to share an interesting single item from your collection, or have multiple items to share - the NJPHS Galleries offer you the opportunity to put your collectibles on center stage. Please e-mail your webmaster about contributing to our on-line Galleries. We can even help you if you do not have a scanner or digital images. Just ask. Remember, we are always looking for articles of interest for the NJPH Journal, and would welcome your contribution whether it's a single page or five page article.
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