Irving House, Hunt & Nash ExperimentalHB-153 Experimental 10¢ 1851 Envelope Stamp Irving House, Hunt & Nash Very Fine.
Both sides of this enigmatic and likely experimental piece are illustrated on page 85 of Fred Reed's book. Irving House was Gault's earliest customer, and it is likely that this piece was prepared by Scovill as a sample for Gault to show Hunt & Nash. The piece has clearly circulated, in spite of the fact that the stamp was demonetized at the start of the Civil War. Even were it not, it still would have been rendered valueless, as envelope stamps were neither redeemable nor valid for postage once cut from the envelope on which they were printed. Ten cents was a fair amount of money in 1862, and it is very unlikely that any member of the public would have had the savvy to reject this piece as having a non-valid stamp. After its use as a "trial" or "experimental," it was likely simply spent. The piece is clearly genuine and untampered with. Another strong possibility is that this was a patent model that was submitted by Gault to the patent office and subsequently sold by them. Items in the patent office were tagged by tying with ribbon. A small item, such as this, would have been holed and tied. Adding to its enigmatic status is the fact that it has been holed and has a ribbon knotted through the hole. No one knows the precise origin, date of production or purpose of production for the handful of Encased Postage pieces that fall into the "trial," "experimental" or "specimen" category. Pieces such as this, with a clearly genuine back that was part of Gault's production, are particularly interesting to collectors. A difficult item to estimate, but similar pieces in the Stack's '04 sale and our Mayer Collection sale realized in the $2000 to $6000 range. This piece certainly belongs at the upper end.
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