Where Have All These Thorp Numbers Gone?
By Allen Mintz   rubyfay@ma.ultranet.com

In 1984 when the last 19th stationery catalogue was published, page 317 had APPENDIX D titled THORP NUMBERS ELIMINATED. Over the course of getting this edition of the catalogue published four numbers were found, and one additional number was put in the 1863 Nesbitt Issue as a maybe.

One of the things that Dick Simchak and I were going to work on was to find out what had happened to these numbers. Unfortunately Dick died and I never got to it.

What I hope to do is write a series of articles covering these numbers with the information I glean from catalogues, Envelope World, auction catalogues and other sources and find out where the numbers have gone.

Thorp number will come first then Scott. References to Bartel are from the 1911 catalogue.

3 var. This First Issue entire is listed three cent on buff, wove paper, with no watermark size 3 knife 2. The envelope is UPSS size 7 knife 20. Notice that Thorp does not list the entire, which makes on wonder if he ever saw this entire or just heard about it. No other references could be found. I could not find any one who had ever seen this entire and this issue has many people who specialize in it. If the entire were found, it would be 3A/U2A. Bartels does not list this number.

39 var. This is a Second Issue one cent blue on yellow-buff, wove paper, Die 12(A), size 3, knife 5 with no watermark. The envelope is UPSS size 7 knife 22u with out gum. There is an entire listed in UPSS as 30a-0 in buff with a Thorp number of 37. While there is a paper color difference there is also the working die difference. 38 does not exist as a type 9 in Thorp. Bartels does not list this number The Barkhausen auction catalogue list Lots 72.  The lot does not mention the lack of watermark although the Thorp number of 39c is a mystery. This entire is a puzzle.

63 var. A Second Issue wrapper one cent dark blue, Die 12 (A), horizontal laid 148 x 225 mm. with no watermark, can be either die type 6 or 9.  The  UPSS size for this wrapper is W1 and while the wrapper is known, no copies without watermark have turned up. In many cases when no watermark is present it means the item is an Essay which may be the reason Bartels does not list this number.

64  This wrapper is also of the Second Issue one cent dark blue, Die 12 (A), wove paper, and no watermark. The wrapper is UPSS size W1. Wrappers exist with die types 6 and 9. As with the 63 variety no copies have turned up. Once again this may be an Essay although Maisel mentions neither 63 variety, nor 64. Bartels does not list this wrapper.

Perhaps both of these wrappers have been turned into cut squares!

82A,B,C  These entires with the one and three cent (12A) values of the star dies were made by slitting the one cent value adding the three cent value and restoring the envelopes after the addition per Maisel’s 1989 book on proofs and essays. Bartels list 88A as 77b, does not list 88B and 88C is number 80e. Maisel called these entires E 9 and that is how they are now classified. These essays may still exist.

82D,E, Ea  These entires have the three cent indicia printed on the left side.  82Ea is an entire with safety lines and is said to be unique. In Maisel’s book these entires are listed as E 10 essays and that is how they are now classified. These essays still exist. Bartels lists these as 79c and 80d with no number for 82Ea.

144A  This a Black Jack of the Fourth Issue. The entire is a two cent on buff UPSS size 7, knife 24 issued without gum. This is listed in the 2001 catalogue under the expanded Black Jack listing, Die25. The Editors feel it does exist and that the expanded listing may bring about its rediscovery; its number would be 114A/U54

156     This Fourth Issue two cent Black Jack Wrapper of light manila Die 25,Type 23, has wove paper and 133 x 200 mm. This would be UPSS W 1, with watermark 1 with a UPSS number between 117 and 118a, Scott W55. Many of these wrappers now exist as cut squares. Bartels-lists this wrapper as 156 so it must have existed at some time.

163A This 1864 entire Die 26 is a three cent pink on white size 1, knife 22 with a watermark 2. The UPSS size and knife would be 2. I have a note in my Thorp that this was issued without gum and probably was an essay. Maisel’s book has an essay E 22. The reference to this item of Bartels’ number 163A is not there.

156 and 163A are not listed in the Barkhausen and White sales.

181 This 1864 entire Die 26A (Die B) is a three cent pink. The B after the die referring to an indicia over 25 mm. wide. The paper is buff, size 3, knife 9 and the watermark is 1. The UPSS size is 7, knife 23. The 1984 catalogue does not recognize the Die 26A (Die B) which is probably why the Editors dropped the number. This is a project for someone to try to find out about these two dies.

199a On page 65 in Thorp one will find 199, but no 199a.

200u  As 199a.

213 The fifth issue or the Reay Issue, a one cent blue on white size 3 knife 20 watermark 2, Die 35, Bartel’s 214. This entire would be UPSS size 7 knife 25 number 144B and Scott U74. There is no record of the entire in the Maisel book, or Barkhausen auctions. While this envelope is mentioned in Bartels and Thorp, the entire has not been seen for many years and the size is quite different from the other blue on whites and would certainly be noticeable. Maybe it has been made into a cut square!

223 Again the one cent Reay issue Die 35, the color is ultramarine on amber. In Thorp the size is 3 and the knife is 28 watermark 2. UPSS size is 7 and the knife 25. The ultramarine is now coupled with the blue in the 1984 UPSS catalogue as well as by Scott. The problem with this entire is that between Thorrp 214 and 223 there is only a slight color variation. The Barkhausen sale had one of these entires, Lot 227, that fit both these numbers. If this entire could be found it would be interesting to see its color.

I think combining the two colors was right because an old entire could be expected to have some color change even if it was stored correctly.

224 and 225 These are Reay one cent blue entires Die 34. This die was changed to a working die in the 1984 UPSS catalogue. This action was probably correct. There is however a problem; 226 is now 149, 227 is now 152, and 229 is now 153 Why aren’t 224 listed as 144, and 225 listed as 147? This is one for future editors.

242 and 242B These numbers are Reay three cent green Die 37, size 1, knife 23 R/L, and watermark 2. In order to understand the “problem” with these entires it is necessary to read the note about the knife on page 80 of Thorp. Thorp says these entires were trimmed down from knife 24. They were included in his catalogue because they were included in Tiffany, Bogart

and Rechert in 1892 and in Bartels in 1911. These entires were not regularly issued postal items!!

 These entires can be recognized by the following preprinted addresses: W.E. Gurley/Instrument Makers/Troy N.Y. and F.T.Reid & Co. Nashville. It would be interesting to see how these envelopes were “cut down” and more interesting to find out why they were cut down by two companies who seem to have no relation to each other. See Lots 243 in Barkhausen and 193 and 194 in the White auctions because these entires should still exist.

254 This Reay issue is a three cent green on amber, Die 37.size 2, knife 27 on third quality paper, with watermark 2. Bartel’s listing of 255 in 1911 and 1904. The UPSS size is 6 and the knife 17 the number would be 183 and Scott U83. There are Essays known of this value on amber and this entire may know be classified as an Essay although Maisel makes no mention of it.. There is no mention of this number in the Barkhausen, White or Lilly sales.

275a  This 1870 Reay issue is the three cent on white, Die 37, size 5, knife 32 with watermark 2 on thin paper. Bartels does not list this entire and Thorp does not price it. This entire is Lot 260 in the Barkhausen auction. This entire did exist in 1955 but seems to have vanished. Today the entire would be UPSS size 10, knife 50, and be 176a/U82. 

276a This 1870 Reay issue is a three cent on amber, Die 37,size 5, knife 32 with no watermark. It is not listed in Bartels, and Thorp does not price it. An entire was in Lot 260 in the Barkhausen auction and seems to have vanished. Today the entire would be UPSS size 10, knife 50 and be 190b/U83 unless it turns out to be a Essay. The lack of watermark usually denotes an Essay. The entire will have to be found to know for sure.

313 This 1870 Reay issue is a ten cent brown on white entire, Die 39, size 3, knife 30 watermark 2. Bartel’s has it as 325. The UPSS size is 7and knife 27. This entire was Lot 277 in the Barkhausen sale. If this entire still exists it would be 214a/U91. Like many rarities either it was made into a cut square or incorrectly identified in a collection, or is in a collection of a very private individual.

331a This Reay issue is a twenty four cent light purple on white,  Die 39, size 3, knife 30. It is Bartels’ number 325. The UPSS size is 25 and the knife is 122 and the UPSS number would be 240a/U91. The twelve to ninety cent entires were lumped together in lot 279, in the Barkhausen auction. The only information of what was in the lot is from the picture on page 29 . The picture definitely shows color shadings. The large size of the entires would make it a candidate for a cut square. There is also the problem in recognizing light purple. In the Barkhausen sale Lot 302 was a Specimen of this entire. Unfortunately there was no picture of this lot and even if there were it is doubtful if it would help much. If the entire exists it would be 240a/U99.

332a As above on cream. The same problem with Lot 279 and again a Specimen is listed, Lot 307.  If this entire exists it would be 245/U102.

Could Thorp have come to the conclusion that these two numbers 331a, and 332a were really Specimens after he published his catalogue?

356 This Plimpton issue of 1874 is a manila wrapper Die 46A, watermark 2, Bartels 366. Dimensions of the wrapper are 162 x 239 mm. This die is now listed as a working die and the number is listed in the working die section. This die has a bust of Franklin with no ear. Thorp shows no prices for this entire nor is it represented in any auction noted. One wonders why Thorp gave it a number since it may not exist.

373A  A Plimpton one cent dark blue on amber Die 47( B), size 5, knife 50, watermark 2, UPSS size 10, knife 54. This item is not priced in the Thorp catalogue nor is it listed in Bartels. The 1984 combined blue and dark blue in one category so this entire should/could be 273/U114. I wonder why the dark and light blue were combined into one category and what the difference was between Thorp 373A and 398.

397A This is a Plimpton 1874 entire one cent blue Die 47 size 41/2, knife 49, watermark 5. There is no 397A on page 90 in the Thorp catalogue.

477 This is a Plimpton 1874-76 issue two cent red on white, Die 52, size 4 1/2, knife 49, watermark 5, Bartels’ 729. The UPSS size is 8 and the knife is 38. The UPSS catalogue lists only one entire size 8 and it is Thorp 486 with a watermark 6. It is hard to tell whether this entire was part of Lot 377 in the Barkhausen sale that consisted of entire with watermarks 5 and 6. This entire does not appear in either the White or Lilly sale. Where is it?

491 This entire is a two cent red on amber, Die 53,size 41/2, knife 49 watermark 2, Bartels 654. The UPSS size is 8, knife 38, this is probably UPSS S8 or 8a.

512a Not on page 97 in Thorp.

524 A Plimpton 1874-76 issue, three cent green on amber, Die 56, size 3, knife41, Bartels 435. The UPSS size is 10, the knife is 52 and the number would be 372/U160. There is a note in the Barkhausen auction to the effect that his collection was almost complete for this die but no 524 is found in the offering. The entire does not appear in the White or Lilly sales.

525     A Plimpton 1874-76 issue three cent green on amber, Die 56 size 2, knife 41, watermark 2, Bartels 436, UPSS  size 7 knife 30 and listed in the catalogue as 371a/U160 as a Specimen with a Thorp number 525.

525a  As above but with no gum, Bartels 436a. Barkhausen sale had a 525a as Lot 416 listed as a Specimen Form 15, Scott 160. Are 525 and 525a one and the same or is 525a an unlisted Essay? See E88 in Maisel’s book.

526     ,527, 528a  All are Plimpton 1874 three cent entires on amber third quality paper, cream, and white paper Die 56 (A). The sizes 3, 3, and 5 ( UPSS 7and 10) the knifes 41 and 42, ( UPSS 30, and 52). The watermark is 2 in all cases and all are listed in Bartels. The note, by Thorp, in the Barkhausen auction catalogue, says that his was probably the most complete collection of three cent 1874 ever assembled.  Yet there is no lot with 526, 527 or 528. These entires are also not represented in the White or Lilly sales. 528 is a Centennial and I just can’t imagine a Centennial can be missing! See discussion below.

541a, 548, 563, 568a, 572, 600 These are all 1874-76 Plimpton entires three cent green on amber. 568a, 572 and 600 are all amber third quality paper. These entires are all Die 57 ( B ), watermark 2. 541a is size 1 knife 37-UPSS 3 and 37; 548 is 3/39 UPSS 7/28; 568a is 5 and 42 UPSS 10/52; 572 is size 5 knife 43 UPPSS 10/53; 600 is size 7 knife 51 UPSS 21/100. As I have said before Thorp noted in the Barkhausen catalogue that this collection probably had one of the most complete collections of this three cent issue ever assembled, but none of these are represented in the auction! Nor are any of these numbers represented in the White or Lilly sale. 

All the two groups of three cent entire above are represented in Bartels so at one time they were known but at present either they have been made cut squares/full corners or there is another problem.

 I think that the main problem with these entire has to do with the knives of the entire. If you will look in the UPSS Catalogue ,or the Knife Book, and Thorp you will note the knives of these entires are very closely related to the knife around them. It is very difficult to tell which knife has been used especially with variances due to the 19th century cutting and folding equipment. I think this is where the problem lies and I doubt that much can be done about it now.

I think I am going to stop here. There is enough material here to keep who ever is interested and I don’t want to bore those who are not interested.

If you should find one of these “missing” entires let me know. Or if you are concerned about confidentiality send the information to Henry Stevens. You can contact me at rubyfay@ma.ultranet.com. A colored copy or at least a black and white copy of the front and back should be supplied. It should be understood that all the comments are mine and I can and do make mistakes.

Rev November 25, 2001


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