Bidding starts at $1M USD for ‘Blue Boy’ cover

The famed 1847 Alexandria “Blue Boy” U.S. provisional stamp, which last appeared at public auction in 1967, is set to cross the block this June with bidding starting at $1 million USD (about $1.34 million Cdn.).

It’ll be offered as the first lot in the first part of the sale of the Erivan Collection, which is named after German business magnate and philanthropist Erivan Haub, by New York’s H.R. Harmer auction house. It’s the only extant example printed on blue paper from the rare U.S. postmaster’s provisionals issued in Alexandria, Virginia, around the same time the first U.S. federal government stamps were used in July 1847.

The yellow cover to which the “Blue Boy” is franked once contained a letter detailing a forbidden romance between two young cousins; it has two straight-line “PAID” handstamps, one of which is cancelling the stamp, plus a town cancel reading “Alexandria D.C. Nov. 25.”

The cover is addressed to “Miss Jannett H. Brown” in Richmond, Virginia. It was sent secretly by Brown’s second cousin James Wallace Hoof, by whom she was being courted – against the wishes of her family – according to a Washington Post story published in 2006.

The stamp only narrowly escaped destruction; at the bottom of his letter, Hoof writes: “Burn as Usual.” It’s unknown why Brown ultimately decided to keep this letter (but none of the couple’s other correspondence), but collectors are thankful for the “incredibly unlikely and romantic story of its use and eventual preservation,” according to auctioneers.

The couple eventually married in 1853.

The cover’s last recorded sale was in 1981, when Haub acquired it through dealer David Feldman for $1 million.

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