US Coins

Radical campaign ferrotype in Early American sale

Early American’s April 29 auction features an 1864 presidential campaign ferrotype depicting Republican candidates John C. Fremont on the obverse and his vice presidential running mate, John Cochrane, on the reverse.

The 265-lot sale includes items under the categories of Historical Autographs, Colonial America, Colonial Currency, Revolutionary War Era, George Washington Related, Federal Period and War of 1812, Civil War Era, Postage Stamp Envelopes, Encased Postage Stamps, Fractional and Obsolete Currency, Abraham Lincoln Related, Slavery and Black History, Political Americana, Historic Maps, and Miscellaneous Currency.

Political ferrotype

The 25-millimeter ferrotype is described as in “Choice Near Mint” condition. It features John C. Fremont, the famed “Pathfinder,” representing the radical/liberal wing of the Republican Party, which split away from the Abraham Lincoln supporters in 1864, on the obverse. The reverse features his vice presidential running mate, John Cochrane.

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The ferrotype images are secured in a gilt brass frame executed by John Gault, the same type of encasement he designed for making postage stamps more durable for use as small change during the Civil War.

The frame features heraldic shields and laurel branches, and is holed at the top.

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The lower reverse side rim portion reads "Pat AUG. 12, 1862." in tiny letters, which is Gault’s overall design patent date.

The estimate is $2,000 to $2,400.

Presidential seal molds

Two steel molds bearing two different versions of the presidential seal are offered as a single lot. The catalog lot description states that they may have been created for making wax molds that would read respectively “Seal of the President of the United States” and “The President of the United States Air Force One.” The auction firm gives the molds’ grade as Choice Extremely Fine condition.

Measuring 4 inches square and 0.5 inch thick, the molds are edge-numbered, respectively, 92883 and 93207.

Each has notches on the top and bottom for wax and threaded screw holes in each of the corners on the blank reverse for pressing and holding them in place while cooling. The auction lot description says, “We are unfamiliar of their exact purpose,” but suggests the molds, which show evidence of “having been heated numerous times,” were likely used to emboss invitations, make wax seals, or for other official document purposes.

The estimate for the pair is $6,000 to $8,000.

Postage stamp envelope

With an estimate of $5,500 to $7,500 is a Civil War era U.S. postage stamp envelope imprinted “THOMAS RICHARDSON, Ag’t, Importer of Wines, Spirits, English & Scotch Provisions, 66 Maiden Lane, cor. William St., N.Y. 25 (Cents). U. S. Stamps.” The condition is described as “Choice Crisp About New.”

Some additional text at the bottom reads: “CHOP, STEAK AND OYSTER HOUSE. - Dunlop’s XX and India Pale Ale on Draught.”

The envelopes served dual purposes, as an advertising medium and for housing and protecting stamps that were used as small change in the amount printed on the envelope.

More detailed historical information can be found in Civil War Stamp Envelopes, the Issuers and Their Times by Fred L. Reed III.

The envelope was previously sold in the Stack's Oct. 11, 2007, Part XIX sale of the John J. Ford Jr. Collection.

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